The Friendship scale looks at some basic attitudes, feelings and actions that describe how you are with others. On a surface level, these are important if you want others to be able to rely upon on. In everyday life, we usually develop friends based upon common interests; we share sports, shopping, drinking, service activities, and hobbies. There is another possible level to friendship that goes deeper and serves to mutually support our spiritual development.
Oftentimes friends come and go because we have “falling outs.” We disagree, say something in anger, are selfish, judgmental, or fail to support someone in their time of need. Our common interests are not sufficient to hold us together and we part ways.
There are a couple of items in this scale that give us a window into a higher type of friendship that is more enduring. Actually, there are more, but I don’t want to give away all the items in this scale. These two are worth discussing.
- I actively listen to my loved ones.
- I strive to be unconditionally loving with my friends.
If you actively listen to people, it requires that you are 100% present, unconditionally accepting, and have an open heart. If you have ever been in the presence of someone like this, you probably found yourself talking, sharing and revealing more than you normally do. This “active listening” state creates a field of energy or consciousness that allows the heart to flow and vulnerabilities to emerge. This is a higher form of love that is not based upon lust, personal desires, or ego gratification. It is the soul’s expression that embraces another.
Paramahansa Yogananda states that, “Friendship is the highest form of love.” He goes on to explain:
Friendship is a manifestation of God’s love for you, expressed through your friends. Friendship is the purest of all love. In filial love, in the love of parents for their children, and in the love of lovers there is compulsion. But in true friendship there is no compulsion.
If you open the door to the magnetic power of friendship, souls of like vibrations will be attracted to you. The friendlier you become toward all, the more real friends you will have. Cultivate true friendliness, for only thus do you attract true friends.
Be also a cosmic friend, imbued with kindness and affection for all of God’s creation—flowers, birds, animals and all sentient creatures. Such was the example set by Jesus Christ, Swami Shankara, and my Masters.
Unconditional love requires a degree of selflessness that is beyond the ego. If you want something, expect something, or have preconceived ideas about how someone “should” behave, it is impossible to be unconditionally loving. Hence, your friendship is qualified and can easily be lost. When you are touched by the Divine Hand and your soul awakens, your presence changes. The nature of Spirit is unconditional love. A depth of spiritual realization that reveals the unity of the little soul with God, changes the way we interact with people. Our heart’s desire becomes uplifted, and we strive to serve and support others. Divine Friendship lasts for lifetimes.
The following quote is from the book, Spiritual Relationships, by Paramahansa Yogananda.
Friendship is God’s love shining through the eyes of your loved ones, calling you home to drink His nectar of all selfishness-dissolving unity. Friendship is God’s trumpet call, bidding the soul to destroy the partitions that separate it from other souls and from Him. True friendship unites two souls so completely that they reflect the unity of Spirit.
Most of us have had the experience of meeting someone for the first time and feeling like we have known them before. This type of recognition is the soul’s intuitive realization that we have just been reunited with an old friend. These are significant friends, and it is worth taking the time and effort to nurture these relationships.
Yoganandiji wrote many poems. I have selected a few lines from a poem on friendship.
Friendship is noble, fruitful, holy,
When two separate souls march in difference
Yet in harmony, agreeing and disagreeing,
Glowingly improving diversely,
With one common longing to find solace in true pleasure.
When ne’er the lover seeks
Self-comfort at cost of the one beloved,
Then, in that garden of selflessness
Fragrant friendship perfectly flowers.
(Complete poem can be found at https://www.paramhansayogananda.com/friendship/)
I trust I have made my case for the spiritual potential and expression that can be found in friendships. Take a look at your friendship score and it may reveal the extent that your acts of friendship are imbued with a divine intent. You can magnetically create more love and nurturing friends when your heart is in the right place, and you strive to express your highest virtues.
I want to conclude this section with one final quote from Yoganandaji taken from his book on Spiritual Relationships.
Human love and friendship have their basis in service on the physical, mental, or business plane. They are short-lived and conditional. Divine love has its foundation in service on the spiritual and intuitional planes and is unconditional and eternal.
If you would like some suggestions and direction on how to enhance your capacity for friendship, please look at the Further Growth and Development section.