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An excerpt from The Dhammapada for Awakening
“After enjoying the taste of solitude and the taste of peace, one is freed from distress and evil, as one enjoys the taste of spiritual joy. It is good to meet with the saints. Living with them is always sweet. By not meeting fools one can be happy all the time” (Dhammapada 205, 206).
There are two forms of solitude and peace: outer and inner. The outer is a means to the inner, for it is the inner solitude and peace that is needed. Those who possess them are happy whatever the outer conditions of stress may be.
The word translated “saints” is really ariya (arya). So we need not wait to meet supremely great souls, but should seek out the company of those who, like us, are aspiring after a higher mode of life.
In India this is called satsang–company with Truth–for such persons are living truthfully.
The benefits of continued satsang
To live with other seekers is a great advantage, which is why Paramhansa Yogananda put such emphasis on the formation of spiritual communities. The company of other yogis can be the difference between success and failure, for Yogananda also said: “Company is greater than will power.”
One of his fellow disciples told me that whenever his guru, Swami Sri Yukteswar, gave instruction in yoga to someone he would ask if they knew anyone who also practiced that form of meditation. If they said they did, he would tell them: “Good. Then make them your only friends and meditate with them as much as possible.”
Just as important as company with other aspirants is the avoidance of fools. Fools come in many flavors, but Yogananda defined a fool as one who is not seeking God. That pretty well covers it all.
Buddha is not exaggerating: By not meeting fools one can be happy all the time. I know this by experience, living in a solitary ashram devoted solely to the purpose of the evolution of its members, and keeping the doors and gate closed to idlers and dabblers who have no interest in devoting their life totally to the quest for Liberation. Blessed peace!
Fools: a great evil
“A man who keeps company with a fool, will suffer for it a long time. It is always painful to live with fools, like with an enemy, but a wise man is good to live with, like meeting up with relatives” (Dhammapada 207).
Now here we have the right attitude. Fools are poison. Some kill slowly and some quickly, but they both kill. That is, by their presence they kill peace of mind and heart, and radiate destructive vibrations.
This is especially true when they are not vegetarians, but radiate the vibrations of the dead bodies they have eaten and assimilated. They are ghouls, feasting on the dead, and their bodies are graveyards.
If they also ingest alcohol and nicotine they are the embodiments of spiritual defilement. They are their own enemies as well as the enemies of others. Behaving like the animals they eat (serious studies are being conducted on this), they disrupt the life of human beings–those who seek liberation.
On the other hand, the wise are our true “kin.”
Seek the Wise
Now Buddha tells us the kind of people to associate with.
“Therefore, if he is a man of understanding and penetration, learned and habitually moral, devout and noble, one should cultivate the company of that just and wise man, in the same way as the moon keeps to a path among the stars” (Dhammapada 208).
Now we know the way to happiness and the way to avoid unhappiness. And it is very simple.
- Why You Should Find the Right Kind of Satsang or Spiritual Association
- The Spiritual Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
- More from The Dhammapada for Awakening, a commentary on Buddha’s Practical Wisdom