Good friends, companions, and associates are the whole of the spiritual life.
— Gautama Buddha, Samyutta Nikaya 3.18
Spiritual friendship is central to contemplative spirituality – especially in an interfaith group, forming bonds of community where there is no common foundation in doctrine, religious language or heritage.
In the contemplative branches of the world religions, friendship is frequently cited as an essential source of support, empowerment and accountability along the spiritual path. Buddhism sees kalyanamitra, or “admirable friends”, as essential to progress on the journey to enlightenment. Sufi poetry exudes friendly sentiments. And in Christianity, similar value is placed upon koinonia — a Greek word for how the Holy Spirit flows through the fellowship, communion and participation of the gathered community.
Spiritual friendship is also a key aspect of spiritual direction, which is often called “soul friendship,” “spiritual companionship,” or “anamchara” (Celtic for “soul friend”.)
Spiritual friendship is part of what makes a religious community a true community, a true sangha, and not just a bunch of people.