[i]‘Thus have I heard.
At one time the Buddha was staying in Śrāvastī, at Jetṛ’s Grove, in Anāthapiņḍada’s Park. Then the Exalted One said to the bhikṣus:
One should keep close company with a spiritual friend (kalyāṇamitra) lest one should fall into the habit of doing evil and be convinced of [the harmlessness of] evil action. Thus, O bhikṣus, by keeping close contact with a spiritual friend one is finally convinced of one’s progress (bhūyobhāva) and growth (vṛddhi)[ii] [in regard to the following]: considerable growth in learning (śruta), generosity (dāna), insight-knowledge (jñāna) and wisdom (prajñā). If a bhiksu keeps close company with a spiritual friend, he will not fall into the habit of doing evil. But if he keeps company with a bad friend (pāpamitra), he will lose trust (śraddhā), be wanting in moral training, in learning, insight-knowledge and wisdom.[iii]
For this reason, O bhikṣus, you should keep close company with a spiritual friend and not with a bad friend. Thus, O bhikśus you should train.
After listening to the Buddha’s words, the bhikṣus (T2, 597a) were pleased and respectfully applied themselves to practice.’
[i] CBETA, T02, no. 125, p. 596, c22-p. 597, a1. This translation originally published as Ekottarāgama XXV, Buddhist Studies Review 16.1, 1999, p 76-77. Translated from the Chinese version by Thích Huyên-Vi and Bhikkhu Pāsādika in collaboration with Sara Boin-Webb.
[ii] There is some resemblance of this EĀ sūtra – not a parallel – to a) A 1, 7.10 (p.13), 8.1 (p.14); b) Tripathi, pp.78 (Nip. I, 17.42), 155 (adapted): (nāham ekadharmam api samanupaśyāmi yena anutpannāś ca pāpakā akuśalā dharmā notpa)(d)y(a)nte utpannāś ca prahīyante; anutpannāḥ kuśalā dharmā utpadyante, utpannāś ca bhūyobhāvavṛddhivipulatāṃ gacchanti yathā kal(yāṇami)tr(ata)yā… yathā (pāpamitratayā… evam)…
[iii] For a similar passage cf. EĀ XVI, BSR 11, 1 (1994), p.63.