In five ways should friends and colleagues as the northern direction be respected: by generosity, kind words, acting for their welfare, impartiality, and honesty.
And, friends and colleagues so respected reciprocate with compassion in five ways: by protecting you when you are vulnerable, and likewise your wealth, being a refuge when you are afraid, not abandoning you in misfortunes, and honoring all your descendants.
In this way, the northern direction is protected and made peaceful and secure.
We move now to more public relationships. Friends and colleagues, whether at school, work or in other activities, form a constantly changing set of contacts. Friends come and go, and become closer or more distant. People move away from each other, literally and socially. As one’s work situation changes, new people come into the picture.
Between friends and colleagues, good relationships are characterized by generosity, kind words, being aware of the other’s welfare, treating people evenhandedly (not showing undue favoritism), and a reliable honesty. Think for a moment. Would your friends and colleagues describe you in this way? What behaviors would you have to change to be perceived as honest, fair, kind and generous? Which of these characteristics is most in need of improvement?
In return, friends and colleagues respond by protecting you when you are vulnerable, for example when you’ve suffered a major loss, or are temporarily incapacitated. A good friend will also help you avoid doing foolish things with your resources. She will provide comfort when you are afraid, whether your fear is reasonable or not. And she will stand by you when circumstances are difficult.
The idea of honoring one’s descendants may simply mean that the respect one has for a friend or colleague automatically extends to that person’s family. You might look after the children of a friend who is unwell or absent. Once respect and compassion are established in the relationship, they naturally extend outward.
This may seem like a very general list of qualities to look for in our relationships with friends, but they do form the foundation of deep and wholesome relationships. Some of us rely on friends more than others do, so this may be a good time to consider whether the friendships we have are receiving an appropriate level of attention.
You may want to go back and have a second look at the posts on wise speech (see topic list to the right of this post). Speaking with care can prevent many unintentional hurts. Careful speech, if practiced diligently, will support increasing honesty, generosity and other desirable modes of behavior.
The posts on friendship (also on the list to the right) presents a deeper reflection on how we choose our friends.