37 Practices-Practice #5

If we spend our time with those who don’t understand, encourage and value our spiritual concerns, we will lose interest in truth and Dharma. As a result, we will meditate and pray less; we will lose sight of our vow to practice love and compassion for all others. Don’t surround yourself with people who don’t support your spiritual aspirations. The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.

Lama Das’ Commentary:

When walking the spiritual path, it’s wise to avoid people whose conduct and influence pulls us in other directions away from our goals. Someone once said that if you want to know what a person values, look at his or her friends. Khyentse Rinpoche said, “A clear, pure crystal takes on the colour of the cloth upon which it is placed, whether white, yellow, red or black. Likewise, the people you spend your time with, whether their influence is good or bad, will make a huge difference to the direction your life and internal practice take.”

Self-Examination:

Do I seek out meaningful, fulfilling relationships and connections or do I gravitate toward people who pull me away from my spiritual path?

Shihan Henderson’s Commentary:

The above practice #5 can be re-written almost exactly as is except for replacing the main Buddhist phraseology with Budo terms. It is important to understand this practice as it often comes back to Budo practitioners throughout their careers. It is very important that one surrounds oneself with other Budoka so that your own connection to the greater group or community can be reinforced. “No one is an island” as the phrase goes. Through that reinforcement you will grow stronger and stronger.

Conversely, if you surround yourself with nay-sayers and detractors you will surely loose sight of your Budo goals and cease to practice. You must also recognise that nay-sayers can also take the form of those who are closest to us, since they may not understand your true desire and drive. They may not consciously be trying to detract you but subtle cues can cause strong internal opposition as you might be very pre-disposed to making these people happy. Sometimes no reinforcement is as negative and detrimental as overt detraction, so be aware of its effect on you and when necessary look to your like-minded Budo partners and friends for that needed reinforcement.

This type of distraction also holds true for things as well as people. That is, during our day we are constantly bombarded with stimuli and marketing ads trying to obtain our attention and subsequently our diversion. We must be aware of this process and of the fact that it can have a detrimental effect on our studies, our growth and our psychological health in general. We must be diligent in remaining aware of how we might be reacting to these forces.

Within Budo practice we need to recognise that every person has their own level of commitment, going from the very committed to the not very committed. Surrounding yourself with other Budoka is important but surrounding yourselves with other dedicated Budoka is even more important. Remember: “you can’t soar with the eagles if you fly with the ducks.”

Moreover, if Budo practice means more to you than simply bu-juitsu, i.e.: spirituality, then you need to find like minded people who understand your spiritual interest in Budo. This is essential to your personal growth.

Lastly, if you find yourself to be one of the not so motivated, it is important to recognise that you need to surround yourself with those strongly motivated types of people. Their influence and study practices will wear-off on you and you will be able to learn to be a better budo practitioner by osmosis. This is true for life in general.

Budo-Examination:

Do I find myself gravitating to people who are down or unmotivated? Am I seeking out positive role models and motivated partners? In life, am I surrounding myself with the proper types of people that understand my more personal needs and who will ultimately add to my own personal growth and serve as an example?