We have a teaching in Tibet. "The influence of friends is so powerful." Honestly. I don't remember very clearly now. But there were two guys from one village. One of them was a very nice guy and didn't eat meat and didn't drink alcohol. The other guy was a little loose, ate meat. That's very common in Tibet, no doubt about it. Not eating meat is very rare. It is a very good quality. As for alcohol, a lot of people drink and a lot of people don't. Drinking alcohol is considered not that good in Tibetan culture, as well as from the Buddhist background. In Buddhism that is considered very important. It is not the alcohol itself, but the intoxication. That makes your mind unstable. You will lose awareness. That's the problem, not necessarily the alcohol is the problem.
So one of these guys was very good and didn't eat meat and didn't drink. The other ate meat and drank a lot of alcohol. They went away for a month. A big lama was teaching in some big city somewhere. They went together from the village. Then, one guy camped with a nice group of people. So he was the one with the habit of eating meat and drinking alcohol. But in the group he came into nobody drank alcohol and nobody ate meat. He wanted to drink and he wanted to eat meat, but it was a little embarrassing. So he couldn't. Then day by day he got used to it. For a whole month he didn't get meat and alcohol. He could then live without meat and alcohol and became quite a good person.
On the other hand the good guy was living with a group of drinking people who cooked meat. So he kept on eating and drinking with them. A month later these two came back to the village and the good, well-behaved guy became the other way round and the other guy didn't drink alcohol or ate meat anymore. He became very good. So it changed.
People can change. Change is because of the company you keep. The power of companions is so important. If your companions are all good, educated people, you will also pick up on that and become nice. If your companions always eat meat and drink, and don't get up in the morning and then sleep till 5 in the afternoon, and then get up and have a night life, you will also become like that. It is the power of companions.
~ Gelek Rimpoche, Garrison Institute, June 30, 2013
Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019