A true test of character lies in how well one is able to be a friend. Here are some often-ignored thoughts on friendship:
Friendship can be particularly difficult to maintain among those who seek to be enlightened. To understand why this seeming contradiction exists, we should examine some often overlooked aspects of what friendship is.
Friendship is a form of exclusiveness; a decision to value the camaraderie and company of one more than another. As one seeks to cultivate universal love and inclusiveness, singling out one over another becomes more difficult.
The one who seeks mastery and enlightenment should remember however, that to forfeit showing friendship to others in the name of cultivating universal inclusiveness, is a lonely place. One can’t expect to have a friend when one needs one if one can’t be a friend to another the rest of the time when you don’t.
Those who don’t want to be a friend, often feel victimized by others when they find themselves excluded from the warmth of the tribes of friendship that form around them. Those who feel victimized by the exclusion of the group (which they’ve brought upon themselves) can become vindictive in their attempts to create division and ill will among others.
Friendship is a tenuous relationship even under the best of circumstances. In part, this could be due to some of the following factors:
• If one or both parties refuse to acknowledge the other one’s faults. By building one’s friendship on a carefully crafted Illusion of how another should be, rather than on how he or she actually is, leaves a relationship vulnerable to some very unpleasant surprises.
• Very few live the principle that “my being is my sustenance.” Therefore, there are very few who do not on occasion need the support of others. To use the support of others when one is not prepared to give the same back is to be a user of the goodwill of others. Such a user has become adept at identifying who are the ones who will accept the unacceptable in the name of being charitable and compassionate.
Many light seekers abound who allow themselves to be used by others who are not willing to give loyalty or kindness in return.
• Some who are the most destructive to friendships, can be the peacemakers. Those who “see both sides.” Peacemakers often strengthen the vindictive user’s folly and deny them a growth opportunity, by “seeing their side” instead of speaking up about what is unacceptable. It gives the peacemaker a feeling of being “righteous and equitable”, but it has turned a “wrong” into a right.
• One of the most valuable gifts of friendship is the way it can allow another to unburden their heart (called venting by Toltec mystics). This eases the burden of the hardships of life for another.
But this needs to be treated very carefully: if one vents more than inspires, one turns the friend into a personal dumping ground. Secondly, the sharing of the heart’s burdens by another must absolutely be kept in confidence — something that many listeners seem to forget in the name of “being truthful” — another very destructive way in which the listener feels “righteous.”
Many injurious things are shared to the eager ears of others, under the guise of being “truthful.” Has the trend of tearing another’s trust, friendship, and reputation apart in the name of having a right to freely share information, then become the new way of excusing gossip?