You bring out the worst in me


Do you have any friends, neighbors, or Family members who make you feel as thought they bring out the worst in you? What about people who you feel bring out the best in you? Are you a bad influence on them, or are they the bad influence on you?
It’s likely that we are attracted to those who bring out the best in our character, and probably avoid those who bring rise to our unwholesome traits. And while this may seem practical, and the best way to be happy and peaceful, I have gained an increased awareness of several things wrong with this scenario.
The first one, of course, being clinging (upādāna) and aversion (dosa). And the more powerful discovery that I have observed is one of perversion. Thinking this is me or that is me. That another being somehow is “making” you be anything other than what you are. And avoiding those with unwholesome or destructive tendencies is only avoiding careful observance of yourself. With the same thing applying to those who are kind, loving and generous. Because you associate with a person of quality does not necessarily transfer this to your nature. You are still who you are, based on your own experiences and how diligently you have practiced to cultivate wholesome qualities. One of which, of course, is goodwill towards all living beings.

From the Dhammapada Chapter 23: The Elephant:
327. Be not thoughtless, watch your thoughts! Draw yourself out of
the evil way, like an elephant sunk in mud.

328. If a man find a prudent companion who walks with him, is wise,
and lives soberly, he may walk with him, overcoming all dangers,
happy, but considerate.

329. If a man find no prudent companion who walks with him, is wise,
and lives soberly, let him walk alone, like a king who has left his
conquered country behind,–like an elephant in the forest.

330. It is better to live alone, there is no companionship with a
fool; let a man walk alone, let him commit no sin, with few wishes,
like an elephant in the forest.

And from the Khaggavisana Sutta: A Rhinoceros:
If you gain a mature companion,
a fellow traveler, right-living & wise,
overcoming all dangers
go with him, gratified,

If you don’t gain a mature companion,
a fellow traveler, right-living & wise,
wander alone
like a king renouncing his kingdom,
like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,
his herd.

We praise companionship
— yes!
Those on a par, or better,
should be chosen as friends.
If they’re not to be found,
living faultlessly,
wander alone
like a rhinoceros.

The teachings here are to encourage prudence in our choice of associations, but without judgement or avoidance of all others. We are each charged to examine our own minds first, purifying our thoughts, that we may be a Noble friend to ourselves. We all live and work in a society with a Family and social framework, and as such, must be skillful and discerning. Mindful of our words, thoughts and actions. Realizing that no other person can, will, or should provide this for you. In the end, this path is our own individual journey. And may it be one that is kind, compassionate, loving and gentle towards yourself and all other beings.

May you be well, happy and peaceful.