“Am I correct in believing that having admirable friendship, admirable companionship and spiritual friendship is half of the path?” The Buddha responded: “No, Ananda, that is not half of the path. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, spiritual friendship is actually the whole path.”
This explanation helped Ananda understand the critical importance of having supportive relationships based on shared Buddhist teachings and the pursuit of awakening. Such friendships are equally important for both monks and lay Buddhists. It is common, when someone embraces a Buddhist way of life, that relation shifts begin to occur naturally whereby former companions with whom one participated in more materialistic, pleasure oriented gatherings such as eating, drinking alcohol, and partying are replaced by those whose values and interests are more virtuous, noble, admirable, spiritual and supportive of Buddhist values.