Kalyaana Mittataa is a Buddhist term for “spiritual friendship”. It can include student-teacher dyads and peer groups, what one might call one’s spiritual community.
This would be a community focused on spiritual development rather than simple social gatherings. But it would also depend on how we come to it. We can come to even a dysfunctional family gathering and use it as a self-reflective experience. Or we can come to a spiritual gathering and gossip about someone out of earshot.
From the Buddhist perspective, the key is in developing the noble virtues. Are we exposing ourselves to “good advice, rational faith, noble thoughts…” or favouring the drama?
I remember running into an old contact about 30 years after we’d attended the same long retreat together. When we began to share memories, it quickly became obvious that we’d had a completely different experience of the course. They remembered the secret relationships and breakups. I remembered the profound experiences people were unfolding. Neither of us were aware of the others stories. It’s all about the attention.
If you tend to drift away from a higher motivation, it may just be habit that needs awareness. You may have to turn away from the people or circumstances that encourage it for a time. But if it has a driver, ask yourself – what’s in it for me? What is the reward that reinforces the behaviour? The answer may not be pretty but made conscious, it can be resolved.