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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
41 SpRiNG 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Appreciating spiritual companion- ship means associating with any wake- ful groups dedicated to compassionate activity. If slander and sarcasm are the daily bread of our communal meals, the determination to awaken gradually weakens and grows dim. Basic confi- dence and life-force energy decline. In a chapter in Ruling Your World called “Hanging Out With the Right Crowd,” Sakyong Mipham asks: “Life is precious. Whom are we going to spend it with?” Gaylon FerGuson is the author of Natural Wakefulness: Discovering the Sanity We Are Born With. He teaches religious and interdisciplinary studies at naropa university in Boulder, Colorado, and is an acharya in the shambhala Buddhist tradition. Two of my most significant ongoing practice opportunities are dedicated commitments with friends who live time zones away and whom I rarely meet in person. My friends are teachers, as I am, but in both cases we are not trying to teach each other. Rather we are friends learning together. The Buddha emphasized the impor- tance of spiritual friendship. It is said that Ananda, one of his principal disci- ples, asked, “Is it true, Lord, that noble friends are half of the holy life?” The Buddha is said to have responded, “No, Ananda. It’s not true. Noble friends are the whole of the holy life.” Carol and I have been sending each other daily gratitude emails for several years. The general form is, “Today what I am grateful for is...” They aren’t let- ters. Sometimes one of us responds to a specific item in the other’s email. “I’m grateful for your colleagues who sup- port your being with your family during this difficult time,” or, “I’m gladdened to know that you returned from that long trip safely and feeling good.” For the most part, though, we each use the daily communication as an attempt to continually frame our experience in a way that preserves (or establishes) mind- ful acceptance of it. I might, for example, write: “Everything went wrong today. There was terrible traffic and then...” You get the idea. Often a complaint narrative works Mentors: Spiritual Friends Help Guide the Way By Sylvia Boorstein ©ChrIstInealICInosandyMansFIeld