In this next section of Admonitions to Beginners, the Venerable Ya-un reminds us of the influence our environment can have. We tend to go in the direction of our thoughts, so there’s a good argument for being careful in who we associate with and what situations we put ourselves in.
Associate with virtuous friends and avoid evil people.
When a bird wants to rest, it chooses a good grove of trees. Like this, a person who wants to learn the way has to choose his teachers and friends. If a bird chooses a good grove, it rests peacefully. If teachers and friends are well chosen, great learning will be attained. Therefore, show devotion to good friends as you would to your mother and father, and keep wicked acquaintances far away from you.
Just as a crane does not associate with crows, how could a majestic phoenix associate with cowbirds? Among a forest of pine trees, even an arrowroot vine can rise a hundred meters into the sky, but in a field of weeds, even a pine tree can’t rise more than three feet. Keep far away from low-minded and malevolent people, and always stay close to those outstanding beings who have attained the great meaning.
always associate with virtuous people,
and remove all weeds and dust
from body and mind.
When all weeds and dust are removed,
the way forward will suddenly
be bright and clear,
without taking even one step forward,
You penetrate the meaning of the Patriarchs.