To befriend the Buddha is
to familiarise with the perfect
embodiment and expression
of the Dharma.
Once, in the Sakyan country, Venerable Ananda said to the Buddha, ‘Venerable Sir, good friendship is half of the holy life.’ ‘Not so, Ananda!’ the Buddha replied. ‘Good friendship is the entire holy life. When one has a good friend, it is to be expected that he will develop and cultivate the Noble Eightfold Path – Right view, Right intention, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right mindfulness, and right concentration – each stage is based upon seclusion, dispassion and cessation, maturing in release.
Therefore, you should train yourself thus: “I will be one who has good friends.” When you have good friends, you should dwell with one thing for support: diligence in wholesome states not yet arisen, abandoning unwholesome states already arisen, developing wholesome states, and maintaining wholesome states. When you are thus dwelling diligently, those around you will think, “Let us also dwell diligently, with diligence for support.” In this way, you will be guarded and protected.’
– Samyutta Nikaya 3,18
What Is The Whole Of The Holy Life?