Every one of us have friends. They are one of the most cherished ones in our lives. They are the ones whom we can freely express ourselves, share our joys and sorrows and derive encouragement and inspiration in career and life. However we experience lapses in our friendships – belittlement, neglect, indifference, opportunism etc. Let us explore the art of friendship and discover ways to insulate our friendships from these lapses.
What makes a friendship happen?
There are three aspects in friendship – basis, means and purpose. The basis of a friendship is like-mindedness. It can vary from sharing the same bench in school, the same portfolio in office, the same business interest.
The means refer to means of exchanging affection i.e. the activities they perform together. For children, it can be playing indoor games and exchanging toys. For school students, it can be playing outdoor sports and exchanging homework.
In friendship, we look forward to derive few benefits from our friends. For school children it can be help in studies. For businessmen, it can be business advice.
The reality of worldly friendships
The things of this world are subject to constant decay and eventful destruction (BG 2.14). So also the activities based on these things. If the basis, means and purpose of our friendships are dependent on the worldly things, our friendships are subjected to ups and downs in due course of time.
The like-mindedness between two individuals may not hold in the course of time. The roles we play, the positions we hold, the places we stay change over time. In childhood, Drupada and Drona are school friends. There was like-mindedness. After they passed out of school, their positions changed, one was poverty-stricken Brahmana and another an opulent king. There is no like-mindedness.
Even if there is like-mindedness, the affection exchanged can be subjected to ups and downs. The ability to be affectionate and the ability to reciprocate with that affection change over time. The priority to reciprocate in a particular relationship also changes over time because of other relationships.
Even if the like-mindedness and affection remain intact, the purpose may not hold. We may not be able to serve our friend’s purpose over time.
The friendships we form in this world are subject to dynamism – intimate to favorable to neutral to unfavorable to worse. Are wrong to invest in worldly friendships? Even if we have to reject these friendships, do we have an alternative?
The worldly friendships have limitations. It is not possible for us to undone them. We need a relationship that is beyond these influences. BG 9.26-34 reveals to us about such a divine relationship with God.
This divine relationship is natural for every one of us as indicated by BG 14.4. It is not dependent on any external conception of like-mindedness. God’s ability to be affectionate and reciprocate with our affection is eternal and unlimited. Our ability to be affectionate to God is eternal. We are love seeking by constitution. God is all-loving. The impetus for this relationship is eternal and natural.
In the course of cultivating this relationship with God, we can try to make our worldly relationships God-centered. The like-mindedness is to be interested to cultivate God consciousness. The means of affection are activities that are favorable for God consciousness. The purpose is to mutually enhance our God consciousness. This way our friendships will remain unaffected by worldly disturbances.
The relationships among the five Pandavas are examples of God-centered relationships. They were together despite many disturbances because the common center is Krishna. Arjuna and Bhima are champion warriors. They could have become kings themselves. They did not because the relationships are based on mutual spiritual advancement through service.