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kalyāṇamitra (P. kalyāṇamitta; T. dge ba'i bshes gnyen དགེ་བའི་བཤེས་གཉེན།; C. shanzhishi 善知識) - a "good friend" or "spiritual friend" who supports one's journey on the spiritual path. A kalyāṇamitra can be a teacher, mentor, companion or sponsor.

The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism states:

Association with a kalyāṇamitra is said to be one of the foundations of religious progress: it is one of the seven things conducive to the welfare and weal of monks and one of the indicators that a monk will perfect the seven constituents of awakening (bodhyaṅga).[1]

In the Pali Canon's Upaḍḍha Sutta, the Buddha emphasizes the importance of spiritual friends on the path. In this sutta,

Ananda says to the Buddha:
This is half of the holy life, lord: having admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues.
And the Buddha replies:
Don’t say that, Ānanda. Don’t say that. Having admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & colleagues, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path.[2]

Thanissaro Bhikkhu states that having spiritual friends "means not only associating with good people, but also learning from them and emulating their good qualities."[2]

In the Gandavyuha of the Sanskrit tradition, the spiritual seeker Sudhana has encounters with 50 kalyāṇamitra, who guide him on the path.

The Tibetan translation for this term (dge ba'i bshes gnyen) can mean "virtuous friend" or "friend of virtue."[3]