DAAJI speaks of friendship and the important role it plays in our lives. He also shares a practice for removing enmity and making friends of our enemies. Finally, he shares 4 tips for becoming a better friend.
Who Is a True Friend?
The word “friend” comes from an Indo-European root meaning “to love. ”Friendship is about a shared experience of life, sometimes lasting decades, and in that friendship we bear witness to each other’s struggles, happiness, and journeys. Friendship has a special place in our relationships because it is not romantic, and so it is uncomplicated by the addition of any sensual intimacy or family ties. There is a purity that is not found even in familial love. In fact, Kahlil Gibran wrote in The Prophet, “Let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.”
Making Friends of Enemies
The opposite of friendship is enmity, and here I will share with you a simple method for transforming enmity into friendship. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” Friendship is not intended to be exclusive, to create discrete circles of friends, based on likes and dislikes among people. Instead, friendship can create ever-expanding circles of connection and support that grow into a vast network across all existence. To grow in friendship is to cut off the heads of enmity and separation, one by one, just as Hercules cut of the heads of the Hydra in the second of his twelve Labors. That is also a symbol for the heads of ego that we must behead in our journey toward the universal consciousness.
Friendship can create ever-expanding
circles of connection and support
that grow into a vast network
across all existence.
So here is a method for transforming enmity into friendship. If there is a relationship that you need to mend, do the following:
Think of a person with whom you feel any disturbance, conflict, or fear, as your friend and well-wisher. Develop this practice diligently.
Sit alone, and meditate with the thought that, “This person is my friend and well-wisher.” Imagine their form in front of you and think that all evil or negative thoughts about you have gone out from them, and thoughts related to your welfare have been infused in them.
Whenever you have the opportunity to go near them, fix your eyes on their face. When you breathe, add the thought, while exhaling, that particles of your love and affection have entered into their heart. While inhaling, have the thought that you have pulled from their heart all the negative thoughts they have about you, and have thrown them aside.
Establish a cycle with the inhaling and exhaling of the breath. This is very beneficial, and within a few days the entire thing will take a turn like water, and you will be surprised what a miracle has taken place. By practicing this, your hate turns to love. Initially, it will be difficult and this task will look as heavy as a mountain, but for a person of courage everything is easy. There are no difficulties that cannot become easy.
How Does Friendship Ennoble Us?
True friendship is to understand and be understood; to accept and to be accepted. Friendship offers a mirror for our growth, letting us see ourselves through the eyes of another. During misfortune, friends are a refuge and a comfort. At other times, they uplift us, and keep us out of trouble. And it is in the little acts of friendship that the heart is renewed: in the silence of good company; in the longing of absence; in a touching card or letter; in the sharing of experience; and in the joy of meeting after a long time. Friendship is rekindled over and over again through forgiveness, understanding, and mercy. Without patience, acceptance, and mercy, all friendships would cease.
We are all expressions
of the divine, and our souls
are all woven into the
With old friends, we are able to let our guard down, and be authentic, even stupid, without worrying about the consequences. We are naturally humble in these circumstances. In fact, one of the qualities of good friendship is humility, because a humble person is looking for the best in everyone and thus invites a friendly response from the world. If we extend that to being friendly to all beings, it means we walk through the world in humility, encouraging the best in others, and accepting those faults that make them lesser. It is not that friendship doesn’t reveal the shadow side of ourselves and others, but we uplift and support each other rather than drag each other down.
Friendship is often underestimated, even in spiritual circles, where attachment to anyone other than God or the Guru is often undervalued. In some traditions, “The Friend” is one of the names for God. While that is a beautiful understanding, it is sometimes mistakenly used to infer that the only friendship that matters is God’s or the Guru’s.
I don’t agree with that view, because we are all expressions of the divine, and our souls are all woven into the universal being. As part of the whole, we are here to support, help, and love each other. True friendship enriches, ennobles, and endures, sometimes throughout a lifetime, sometimes after death. It is a state of belonging together, even when there is physical separation. Ultimately, as we become more god-like in our nature, we become a friend to all, just as God is a Friend to all.
Friendship means we make time for people, we value our connection with them, and we share and learn from each other. In fact, a person with no time for friends, because of overwork, ambition, and personal gain, leads a life of imbalance. The trick as we evolve is to have ever-expanding circles of friends, with the attitude, “May everything be my friend.” The bias of likes and dislikes becomes less and less important as those circles widen.
Friendship means we make time
for people, we value our
connection with them, and
we share and learn
from each other.
Does it mean that we must hold onto all our old friendships, come what may, even when they are not beneficial? We may no longer want to spend time with a particular person whose influence is negative, but what would be the purpose of discarding that person from our hearts and excluding them, when one day the connection may bring that person also toward a nobler path?
As friends, we are there to witness each other’s journeys, to accompany each other, sometimes for the briefest moment, and other times for life after life. It is like getting onto a bus or a train and traveling together for some time, then getting off at different stops. We share part of the journey.
It is not a journey we can make alone, so I would ask you to take a moment to remember and honor all those friends past and present who have accompanied you, as I will also honor the friends past and present who have traveled with me.
Illustrations by JASMEE MUDGAL
Kamlesh Patel is known to many as Daaji. He is the Heartfulness Guide in a tradition of Yoga meditation that is over 100 years old, overseeing 14,000 certified Heartfulness trainers and many volunteers in over 130 countries. He is an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the fields of spirituality and science, blending the... Read more