evil friend ［悪知識］ ( aku-chishiki): Also, evil companion or evil teacher. One who causes others to fall into the evil paths by misleading them in connection with Buddhism. An evil friend deludes others with false teachings in order to obstruct their correct Buddhist practice. The Nirvana Sutra states: “Bodhisattvas mahāsattva, have no fear of mad elephants. What you should fear are evil friends! Why? Because a mad elephant can only destroy your body; it cannot destroy your mind. But an evil friend can destroy both body and mind. A mad elephant can destroy only a single body, but an evil friend can destroy countless bodies and countless minds. A mad elephant merely destroys an impure, stinking body, but an evil friend can destroy both a pure body and a pure mind. A mad elephant can destroy the physical body, but an evil friend destroys the Dharma body. Even if you are killed by a mad elephant, you will not fall into the three evil paths. But if you are killed by an evil friend, you are certain to fall into them. A mad elephant is merely an enemy of your body, but an evil friend is an enemy of the good Law. Therefore, bodhisattvas, you should at all times keep away from evil friends.” The term evil friend is contrasted with good friend who helps lead people to the correct teaching. Evil friends refer to those who influence or approach other people with the intention of leading them away from correct Buddhist practice and to an erroneous teaching. Nichiren (1222–1282) suggests, however, that even the most evil of individuals—those who persecute or harass practitioners of the correct teaching—can function as good friends if one is determined to use their presence as a stimulus to deepen one’s faith and practice and attain enlightenment. In The Actions of the Votary of the Lotus Sutra, he states, “Devadatta was the foremost good friend to the Thus Come One Shakyamuni. In this age as well, it is not one’s allies but one’s powerful enemies who assist one’s progress” (770). See also mitra.