A Friend Is A Friend
Jagabandhu das: “One who is not envious, but is a kindly friend to all creatures, who does not think himself a proprietor; who is free from false ego, and equal in both happiness and distress, always satisfied, and engaged in devotional service with determination, and who is compact in mind and intelligence with Me — he is very dear to Me.” (Sri Krishna as translated by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada in Bhagavad-gita AS IT IS, Ch.12, Verses 13-14, Collier-Macmillan Edition 1968)
“Prahlada Maharaja continued: My dear father, please give up your demoniac mentality. Do not discriminate in your heart between enemies and friends; make your mind equipoised toward everyone. Except for the uncontrolled and misguided mind, there is no enemy within this world. When one sees everyone on the platform of equality, one then comes to the position of worshiping the Lord perfectly.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 7, Ch. 8, Verse 9)
Throughout this life I’ve been very fortunate to have many true friendships with souls of all diverse spiritual beliefs. My own irrevocable sublime convictions do not require for others to believe as I do. Such true friendship transcends everything but the idea of unconditional friendliness itself. And it’s highly praised in the Gita wherein Krishna Himself tells all souls for all time that “a kindly friend to all” (maitrah) is very dear to Him. And I’m constantly reminded of the Six Goswamis unconditional friendliness to both sadhus and scoundrels.
Because of the basic ephemeral nature of misconceived thoughts and ideas, they are similar in substance to malign spirits in that they gain credence, validity and potency in direct proportion to how much endorsement we give them. Therefore, if we blatantly refuse to accept the fundamental political duality of friendship and enmity, then it will cease to exist. Like a phantom in a nightmare. Rather, in it’s place will be the comprehensive and pervasive warmth of maitri, unconditional friendliness to all, spontaneously resting at the primal core of being. This stage is merely the beginning of true inner luminosity.
It may be interesting to note that within Tibetan Buddhism, maitri(unconditional friendliness) is actually considered to be a preliminary manifestation of impending enlightened awareness.
Possibly my own favorite story demonstrating the unconditional friendliness(maitri) of true friendship is the one from Mahabharata about Yudishthira and the dog.
“O Wisest One, Mighty God Indra!” Yudishthira cried, “this hound hath eaten with me, starved with me, suffered with me, loved me! Must I desert him now?”
“Yea,”declared the God of Gods, Indra, “all the joys of Heaven are yours forever, but leave here your hound.”
Then exclaimed Yudishthira in anguish, “Can it be that a god can be so destitute of pity? Can it be that to gain this glory I must leave behind all that I love? Then let me lose such “glory” forever!”
…The brow of Indra darkened.
“It is decreed,” he replied sternly. “As you know, the very merit of prayer itself is lost if a dog touches the supplicant. Whoever enters Heaven must enter pure. Beside the stony path you left your wife Draupadi and your brothers. Surely for this common creature you will not forfeit the joys of the Heaven?!!!”
Yudishthira gently laid his hand upon the hound’s head and turned to depart.
“All powerful Indra,” he answered softly with somber rectitude, “the dead are dead; I could not help them. However, there are four deadly sins: to reject a suppliant, to slay a nursing mother, to destroy a Brahman’s property, and to harm an old friend. But to these I add a fifth, as sinful: to desert the lowliest friend when you pass out of tribulation into Joy!”
“Farewell, then Lord Indra. I go—and my friend the hound with me.”
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