Friendship. The Lord Buddha corrected Ananda when he asserted that noble friendship was only half of the holy life and stated it was no less than the whole of it. But, for those of us who find themselves in a society where spiritual practice is pushed to the back burner it is near impossible to know with whom association would be fruitful.
Furthermore, the real issue for me is one of time: with two kids and a business I often feel at a loss for time to do anything other than work, parent and practice. This has had a detrimental effect on my ability to get to know the parents in my daughter’s class but, when I think about it, the same holds true. Get togethers and meetings invariably involve alcohol and I often feel the need to hold back in my conversations for fear that the Dhamma would not be welcomed. Clearly this is my own problem but I have to admit they’re is some passion and suffering associated with the perception of bit being known or liked.
Reflecting on all this it now seems to me that the best way to deal with the situation is metta. Loving-kindness to the parents, karuna for myself and the understanding that I don’t need or even necessarily want to be deeply enmeshed in the lives of others. I can’t quite articulate what I’m trying to say but, in a reality where there is no lasting self why try to befriend fizzle and capricious personalities when a truly noble aim would be to care for all impartially. After all, we have all been parents, siblings and children to one another side time immemorial so anything less is inauthentic.