5 thoughts on ““Should a seeker not find a companion who is better or equal, let them resolutely pursue a solitary course.””

  1. The origin story from the commentary to it:

    Mahakassapa

    While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verse (61) of this book, with reference to a resident pupil of Thera Mahakassapa.

    When Thera Mahakassapa was residing near Rajagaha, he had two young bhikkhus staying with him. One of them was respectful, obedient and dutiful to the thera, but the other one was not. When the old thera chided the latter for his slackness in his duties, he was very much offended. On one occasion, he went to the house of a lay-disciple of the thera, and lied to them that the thera was ill. Thus, he got some choice food from them for the thera; but he ate the food on the way. When admonished by the thera for this he was extremely angry. The next day, when the thera was out on his alms-round, the young foolish bhikkhu stayed behind, broke the pots and pans and set fire to the monastery.

    When a bhikkhu from Rajagaha told the Buddha about this, the Buddha said that it would have been much better for Thera Mahakassapa to live alone than to live with a foolish companion.

    Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
    Verse 61: If a person seeking a companion cannot find one who is better than or equal to him, let him resolutely go on alone; there can be no companionship with a fool.

    At the end of the discourse, the bhikkhu from Rajagaha attained Sotapatti Fruition.

  2. They would have to be equal, wouldn’t they?

    If they are better, then that means they are choosing as their companion somebody inferior. How could somebody who makes such an unwise move be better?

    1. I’d take the Buddha’s words as depending on the context of one’s spiritual maturity. If you’re easily influenced by others’ moods, opinions, etc., then it’s best to associate with people who are wiser and more compassionate than oneself. Failing that, stick with people who are at least not more negative than oneself. But if you have genuine wisdom, then by definition you’re not so easily influenced by others, and you might well have companions who are less wise and compassionate than yourself.

      If we were to apply this verse as rigidly as you’re suggesting, then either the Buddha would never have started a sangha, since everyone who could join it would be less developed than he was, or you have to say that the Buddha is “unwise.”

  3. I wish only to thank you for these pages and also for the thoughts of your correspondents. I find it difficult to get out among the Sangha locally and your on-line discourses mean a great deal to me.

    Many Thanks,
    Love, Peace, Namaste.

    _/|\_

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