Bad Company: an excerpt…

The Suttas (Buddha’s teachings) warn one against companionship with bad people in this way: because of bad company one gives ear to evil advice; because of such advice evil reflections occupy the mind; because of such reflections mental confusion prevails and the senses are uncontrolled; as a result of this, actions of body and speech are faulty and the five hindrances gain strength holding one to earthly cravings and resulting in sufferings.

On the other hand, through companionship with the wise the sequence is: listening to good advice, rational faith, noble thoughts, clear thinking, self-control, good conduct, conquest of the hindrances, gaining of wisdom and the consequent liberation.

It should be said here that while it is essential for an ordinary person to keep away from bad company, one who is advanced in self-control, full of loving-kindness and compassion and thus immune to the evils of such association, may live in the midst of such persons for the noble purpose of leading them to a better understanding while all the time on guard against evil influences. Though his body moves with them, his mind should be beyond their influence. If he is not certain of his own self-control, he should avoid the company of such people. He may associate with them only when he is sure that his good influence is flowing to them, and not their evil influence to him. The advice of the Buddha is that there should not be any entanglement with fools, from which one can neither extricate oneself nor them.

The word Puujaa means “homage” and “those worthy of homage.” The examples are the Buddha, monks (bhikkhus), holy persons, parents, teachers — all of whom are of great assistance to us in life.

Some people do not like to show respect, or to express reverence, even when it is quite proper to do so in the presence of those who have greater and purer conduct in mind, speech and body, than they have. Such people suffer from pride, they estimate themselves too highly and do not want to admit that others could have achieved more than themselves. They are, so to speak, “standing in their own light” and they will not be able to see the right way to go. Their pride will only lead them to the strengthening of other defilements of mind, and so they go from bad to worse. They have shut the door in their own faces and can go no further. And how they quarrel with others!

Respectful persons are not like this. They are a pleasure to live and associate with, unlike people with much pride. They not only “fit” well into whatever society they are in, they also have the ability to learn more since they recognize that others know more than they do. So they have one of the factors necessary for any progress, whether in worldly prosperity or on the Path of Dhamma. Humility is another “Blessing.”

This practice of honoring the honorable is the foundation for humility.