“All your identities at the body-mind level have been changing continuously, and none of them has been constant and faithful to you. Why then are you attracted to any of these identities by stating ‘I am like this’ or ‘I am like that’?” Nisargadatta
Regardless of our age, when we look back over the course of our lives, we will see an interchange of numerous friendships that have come and gone, while others have stayed. Few of us actually give much thought to the phenomena of ‘friendship’; what does it really mean and why do we pursue this aspect of our lives with such a priority and need. In addition, many of us have had lovely friendships with kindred spirits, while other friendships have caused us tremendous pain and suffering.
Through our human interaction we have certain limitations, projections, and ideals that we measure ourselves and everyone else by. Thus, when we meet someone who appears to imbue qualities that we idealize for ourselves, we put forth the effort required to make that person our friend. However, what happens when that person does not live up to our ideal of friendship and our expectations are not meant. The result is that we turn against them and create some reason why we are no longer friends, often moving from a place of really liking that person to disliking them. Rarely do we actually stop to see the situation for what it really is, as our own version of ‘reality’ takes place within the perceptual faculties of our mind, which is often tainted by our own version of how we choose to see ourselves and others. We measures others value based on our own self measurement and we accept or deny others based on this very finite principle of our own self perception. Also, there is always something to be gained through friendship, even if we can not immediately see this, we are all searching for something better than ourselves, to fill the empty feeling that we all embody.
This feeling of emptiness can only be felt when we can slow our minds down enough to attain a sense of inner reflexivity. In this state of awareness we all feel a deep sense of being incomplete. However, when we are not aware of the unconscious expression of our inner emptiness, we spend our lives constantly running after material objects, experiences, relationships of all kinds, and anything that we can find to keep our mind distracted, to fill the void of emptiness that we feel. Of course, friendship can be a beautiful phenomena of sharing and having the strength and support of someone who we feel fully accepts who we are. However, if that same person did something that we found unacceptable, most likely the friendship would be over. In this way, we go through life measuring our own sense of self and value based on the people we are constantly interacting with, mainly our group of friends. As we continue through life, these people often change, as we are constantly re-negotiating our own sense of self. Therefore, as we change and grow we seek to surround ourselves with such people who we feel are relatable in the ways that we value and find important.
At a spiritual level, all people that we come into contact with are karmically there for some reason, to teach us various lessons. This phenomena can be seen when we have very long and lovely friendships, yet even more so when we have friendships that turn out to be very painful and cause suffering to us in the end. In my own life, the majority of friendships have been very positive and strong, with many continuing friendships with people I have know for thirty years when we were young children, up to the new friends I am continuing to make.
Like most people, I have numerous positive friendships, yet in the last few years I have gone through some of the most negative experiences with people who were assumably friends. I mention this term very lightly in my own personal experience, as I know the feeling of a strong friendship and all of these negative experiences I never really felt that these people were actually my friends, yet due to other related factors, they were considered ‘friends’. In essence, I experienced some of the most psychologically manipulating and dysfunctional relationships of my life. The reality for me was very clear, as this was a pattern that this particular individual perpetuated in numerous relationships in their own life; constantly seeking to replicate this dysfunctional behavior. The lesson for me was that we need to be very careful who we allow into our lives, even if you are a kind person and have a huge range of acceptance of others, its very important to be highly discriminating.
It is not my intention to ‘other’ people for their behavior, yet I strongly realize from making the mistake of feeling that I had to accept everyone no matter who they were. Dysfunctional individuals are very self destructive and if you associated with them, you will run the risk of great loss in some way.
In this way, difficult situations teach us the most profound lessons related to renegotiating our own inner strength, boundaries, and the level of discrimination that we need to live a life with as little harm as possible. In such situations, sometimes it is not until we can gain a more distant perspective that we can really asses the situation and realize that for whatever reason we had to go through that friendship and learn from it. In truth, we all carry inner negativity and certain levels of toxic behavior such as anger, greed, jealousy, hatred, and similar such emotional states. Everyone who comes through our lives can show us profound insight into ourselves, both the beautiful qualities that we embody and the deeper, darker unconscious negative tendencies that we all have to some degree.
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