In Buddhism a spiritual friend (Skt. kalyāṇamitra; Tib. དགེ་བའི་བཤེས་གཉེན་, Wyl. dge ba’i bshes gnyen) is the spiritual teacher of a student. This friendship is built on a deep respect for the teacher's knowledge and the student's potential. It’s important to understand that there are different levels of teachers who support and guide us appropriately on our journey through the yanas.
According to Chögyam Trungpa’s explanation of these levels, in the path of individual liberation, the teacher acts as kind of a parental principle and is somewhat like an instructor or a school-teacher; whereas in the Mahayana, the teacher is known as kalyanamitra, or spiritual friend, which is more than a school-teacher. The Mahayana teacher is a like a physician and friend at the same time. He or she is concerned with your spiritual development and well-being.
Finally, in the Vajrayana, the teacher is called vajra master, or guru. This level of teacher works much more directly with students and has a keen unflinching interest in their problems and buddha potential. Consequently, the search for profound instructions, profound wisdom, or profound methods of awakening is most fruitful with the guru.