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Friendship and Association

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Friendships are about giving and receiving, like a dance where first one person leads, then the other, and sometimes it seems like an invisible partner is directing us. Other than a saint who makes no distinctions between people, seeing everyone as a soul, there is some calculation in who we choose for a friend. We see or feel something in them, some quality, attractiveness, that causes us to want to be with them. We are charmed, fascinated, or at least interested to know more, and have their company. We may see some quality in them we would like to have, or they or we may be in need and we are drawn to help them or be helped by them in some way.

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I have been thinking today of friendship and its power of influence over us which indicates the secret meaning of association. This seems more like the domain of poetry, but that is not what is happening today.

Our heart is compared in the scriptures to be like a clear crystal that reflects what is before it. We become like who we associate with closely or intimately. That means that when we open our heart to someone, and they open their heart to us there is an exchange of energy or power--we and they are influenced.

I meet people all day where I work. Some I have gotten to know well, others casually. I see coming together with someone like two doors facing each other. Behind each door is many pathways leading to different oceans. So two people coming together has the potential of revealing many oceans. We could get lost in our own or anothers' ocean unless we can uncover the soul, which is what spiritual association can offer us.

There is an urge of human beings for intimacy---to be able to share their story and who they currently are or are trying to become. Sharing our self means being able to open our door to let someone in. It may be a crack to reveal our particular color of light in the beginning, as we are all eventually guarded as to who we let in---otherwise we may have boundary issues.

Everyone has needs and the desire to be needed. Perhaps the single most important reason many people come together is the desire to be understood. From that we feel we gain strength, can be our self, with the ability to face the world which can seem alien, being inhabited by those other people that don't really understand us. We doubt our self and want to find someone who believes in us. This doubt or low self esteem drives many people to therapists or spiritual paths. From a spiritual perspective, real self esteem comes from realizing our nature as souls who are part of the Supreme Great. He or we could say---They, as in Radha and Krishna--is (are) our real friend(s).

This urge to share the details of our life and it's journey is fascinating to me. We think this sharing of who we "think we truly are" to be what friendship and intimacy is about---with the addition of giving support and respect to one another, while accepting who the other is without negative judgment.

In our personal life as well, we have acquaintances, and close friends. I mentioned sharing the details with another and mutual support and acceptance, though there are other things as well which constitute friendship. What do you think they are?

Some further ideas I have are as follows.

Friendships are about giving and receiving, like a dance where first one person leads, then the other, and sometimes it seems like an invisible partner is directing us. Other than a saint who makes no distinctions between people, seeing everyone as a soul, there is some calculation in who we choose for a friend. We see or feel something in them, some quality, attractiveness, that causes us to want to be with them. We are charmed, fascinated, or at least interested to know more, and have their company. We may see some quality in them we would like to have, or they or we may be in need and we are drawn to help them or be helped by them in some way. Birds of a feather, flock together, or are attracted in the first place. Or on the downside, we could want to exploit them for our selfish purpose, which when revealed can end the so-called friendship. Sometimes even with a real friend, there may be a mixture of both the good and bad, since we are imperfect human beings.

Most people are hungry for relationships, either as friends or lovers. Since we have forgotten our original, primal love with Krishna and our true spiritual self, we seek the fulfillment of our eternal needs through the flesh, which is our conception of who we are. Even in material relationships we can gain much and learn more about our self because people are like mirrors that reflect back to us what we like or dislike, or want or hate. We devotees of Krishna or anyone on a spiritual path can also gain those things from relationships, yet more importantly in spiritual relationships we are reminded of our true spiritual self interest, and object of love.

Friendship or good relationships are synergistic, there is more substance in the combination than there is with one person alone. Some metaphors have come to mind this morning regarding this effect of friendship. One is that friendship is like two flowers cross pollinating each other---helping each other to realize their potential and fullness. Or we provide encouraging words or support which act like fertilizer to help one another grow and move forward, or upward. Sometimes two creepers may intertwine in such a way to also help each other grow individually upward, moving off the ground and on to a mighty oak tree where they go higher than they ever could alone and touch the stars. So we can think of sankirtana (group chanting of the holy name) or the power of saintly association with devotees as the perfection of friendship and association.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive, definitive essay on friendship and association as it is my usual method of writing flow. Perhaps you could share with me and the other readers, your insights about what friendships are to you, and the meaning of all types of association. Discerning what are positive and negative association with others is important. In fact we learn that spiritual advancement is helped by first associating with devotees in openhearted friendship (and in the case of a guru, with friendly reverence) and secondly by avoiding intimate dealings with the unfaithful. Therefore this is an important topic to understand and discuss.

Thu, 10/09/2008 - 23:50 —

Thu, 10/09/2008 - 23:50 — prashanth das1
harekrishna

harekrishna prabhu i am prashanthdas


Wed, 10/01/2008 - 08:24 — Snehal
Interesting Post

HAre Krishna!

Thank you for this wonderful post. This topic can have many aspects. One friendship with Krishna, two friendship with other devotees and three friendship with non devotee.

I see that friendship with Krishna is already discussed and so would just say that Krishna is such a friend who will never cheat us, who will never leave us in midst of difficulty and He is always available us. As we all know that we have to regain the lost relationship with Krishna, it is important to understand that friendship forms the bases of any relation (be it husband wife relationship or parent child relationship or brother sister relationship). I have seen and expierenced that the relationship which has a tinge of friendship in it is a healthy relationship per se. So no matter what relationship you want to establish with Him, we should first try to be friends with Him.

Regarding devotee friends. I think it is very important to have devotee friends. Because devotees have Krishna in common, it becomes easier to deal with each other. Of course, I understand that inspite of being devotees two people can have different interests and likings but ultimately when things come down to Krishna, they at least try to tolerate each other. Having devotee friends gives us oppurtunity to serve devotees (as it is already said that friendship is about serving each other). Learning and growing (spiritually) together is helpful.

Friendship with material people need to be balanced very tactfully. It can be dangerous as too much associating with material person will again pull us back to material affairs. But we do need to be friends with material people. So its vey important to understand how intimate we need to get with such a persons. At the same time we also need to extend your association to them, as you never know how and when one might turn to Krishna. May be Krishna has arranged us for some soul to get him back. So very tactfully we need to balance our friendship with such people.

Haribol!

Snehal


*Reply*

Thu, 10/02/2008 - 05:12 — Karnamrita.das
Good points

We need to be ideal men and women as human beings and as devotees----at least we can strive, and pray for that. Our life in all circles is an opportunity to practice and perfect this. Kindness and consideration--or our actions and dealings, are often more important than just sharing the philosophy with others. When we do speak we have to consider the needs and nature of our audience and our relationship to them, so we don't speak "at" them but address them personally, relevantly. Who we really are comes through. If people like us as a person, they are more apt to be interested in what we are about. We tend to listen to those we think have our interest at heart. Good relationships are the key to success in every arena.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


Wed, 10/01/2008 - 00:14 — Mistia
Friendship

I truly enjoyed this blog topic..to me friendship is defined in a poem written by Camus..do not lead i may not follow..do not follow i may not lead..just walk beside me and be my friend..a friend will heighten one's own spirituality encourage it..a closeness with Krishna..which by the way..I add this..why not let Krishna be one's best friend..yes He is omnipresent and all yes..but talk to Him as one's other friends..reverence yes but share one's joys and sorrows..why ask..just give Him time as one would do a valued friend..friendship is all about caring and sharing..caring of the heart..sharing of the life we lead..being genuinely interested in the person we call friend..there's a saying I picked up along my way..I'll say here..choose your words wisely ..choose your friends equally wisely..for they are a reflection of oneself..that's my thoughts on friendship


*Reply*

Wed, 10/01/2008 - 05:25 — Karnamrita.das
Insightful

Thanks for your insightful comment. Friendship is a type of oneness of shared interests. Certainly we should consider Krishna our dear friend and speak to him like that. At the same time we need other human beings who are devotees to learn about giving and receiving, loving and tolerating, and endeavoring to see the best.

I have added a little more to my post from some thought I had this morning: Everyone has needs and the desire to be needed. Perhaps the single most important reason many people come together is the desire to be understood. From that we feel we gain strength, can be our self, with the ability to face the world which can seem alien, being inhabited by those other people that don't really understand us. We doubt our self and want to find someone who believes in us. This doubt or low self esteem drives many people to therapists or spiritual paths.

From a spiritual perspective, real self esteem comes from realizing our nature as souls who are part of the Supreme Great. He or we could say. "They", as in Radha and Krishna--is (are) our real friend(s). Our friends here help us to remember and act on this principle.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


Tue, 09/30/2008 - 12:30 — bhaktingeri-lynn
Hare Krsna! The line:

Hare Krsna!

The line: "Friendships are about giving and receiving"
I really think is important to remember in our friendships with the souls here on earth and especially in our relationship with Krsna. I feel that sometimes we focus too much on what Krsna can do for us, but not enough on what we can do to please Him.

This is a great post! nicely done! Haribol!


*Reply*

Thu, 10/09/2008 - 23:52 — prashanth das1
krishna

harekrishna i am prashanthdas


*Reply*

Mon, 10/13/2008 - 01:31 — narasimhadev
Hare Krishna,prabhuji

I m new to this site ,newly sign-in today.My name is Raja ramu from Malaysia.Began to be active in Krishna Consciousness since Feb 2008.


*Reply*

Wed, 10/01/2008 - 06:14 — Karnamrita.das
Bhakti is all about giving

Certainly the most fundamental thing about bhakti is serving or giving to Krishna. We are learning gradually that our real self interest is not just serving our body, mind or family but in serving Krishna---the source of everything. Of course we are not advocating neglect of these things, but we have to see everything in the right perspective.

Our body and mind are meant to be used for serving and remembering Krishna, which also results in helping others to awaken. Our spouse and children are actually Krishnas' so we serve them as service to him. He gives us our home, food, and possessions, which are all for helping us and others awaken spiritually.

The idea that we help our self by helping other is true, yet we have to realize it, which means that we gradually come to this level of understanding and pratice. It is easy to imitate in youth or the beginning of our spiritual life (and many immature devotees or givers have burnt out by neglecting their physical necessities), though to feel and know it in the core of our being takes philosophical study, time, prayer, and grace. Some day, all we will need is the holy name and mercy of Krishna and our service and giving to Krishna and others will be just like our breathe---natural and easy, our very life!

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita