Friendship is a word which we all use in our everyday language, and yet it could take one’s whole life only to realize its
meaning. However learned a person may be, however pious, spiritual, or experienced, if he has not learned that nature and
character of friendship he has not learned anything. This is the first and the last thing we have to learn. We so often use this
word lightly, calling every acquaintance a friend, or professing to be somebody’s friend; but the more we realize the meaning of
it, the less we are able to claim friendship. For everything in life we are tested, examined, and tried, but to pass this examination
of friendship is the most difficult thing in the world.
What is the reason for this? Why is it so difficult to be a friend? One would think that it was the easiest thing there is! The
reason is that there is something in ourselves which is always against our being friendly. It is the the ego.
As long as this ego is standing and lives, a man cannot claim to be anybody’s friend. And when he is not somebody
else’s friend he is not even his own friend, for one learns friendship by being a friend to another. A selfish man may seem to be
a friend to himself but, it is on the surface, not in reality. He has not yet learned how to be a friend to another, so he cannot be
a friend to himself. In our pursuit of truth we want to learn a great many things: the nature of life, the secret of life, the character
of life; and to understand the meaning of friendship seems so easy and simple that we never trouble to think about it, nor about
the responsibility of being a friend.
It is a simple lesson, and it is a lesson that we have to learn; today when nations are against nations and races against races,
when communities are against communities, and one religion against another, it is now that friendship is so much needed.
Besides, friendship is the first lesson of spirituality that one can learn. One may think that friendship, a personal friendship,
means nothing; that one does not become spiritual through a personal friendship. But one does. (more…)