There is a fellowship that serves as one of the main foundations of one’s spiritual path. It can occur naturally or can be formally initiated. In the Buddhist tradition, it is held as an indispensable circumstance for one’s inner awakening. Such a fellowship develops between a guide and an individual while they walk together on the path to enlightenment. It is imbued with trust and good intention and is what is known as kalyana-mitrata or noble friendship. It can take many forms in accordance with who we are and where we are in our ever changing human life. This process can be truly transformative as well as unique to each individual.
Buddha stated that kalyana-mitrata is one of the most important things to be held in the life of a spiritual practitioner. It can be a source of inspiration, courage, transformation and can ultimately lead one to inner liberation. Yet the seed for it has to be planted with thoughtfulness; we need to inquire whether our participation is based on the right intention. As long as the teacher and the individual have the right intention, then they can enter such a noble friendship with the trust that it is going to be beneficial. The right intention would be the sincere willingness for inner awakening. The definition of teacher here is not narrow; the teacher can be regarded as a guru or just a guide who helps you walk towards inner liberation. I regard my role as a guide rather than a guru.
Since people have been asking me to be their dharma teacher, I have decided to start a kalyana-mitrata; it is called the Dharmata Fellowship. If people feel a strong aspiration to be a part of this fellowship under my guidance, they may request that I invite them into it. I will then formally offer them an ordination to become part of it. I ask people to reflect deeply before deciding upon entering the fellowship. People can talk directly or write to me to get more clarity about whether they have the affinity for this or not. I do not encourage people to enter this fellowship; yet I welcome those who have a genuine feeling to walk along the path with my spiritual friendship.
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