The greatest joy and growth, pain and sorrows in this world all relate to our connection with others. And the highest form of connection is friendship. True friendship is a spiritual relationship of love, support and respect. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote “Friendship is God’s trumpet call, bidding the soul to destroy the walls which separate it from other souls, and from Him.”
My wife Gita and I will soon be sharing an inspirational workshop at our Ananda Portland Temple on this topic-–Radiant Relationships: A Yogic Approach to Love (join us in-person or online!). The focus is not intended for couples alone, which deserve special emphasis, but for all relationships which have basic and critical elements in common. Naturally we have been thinking of this topic and will share some of the following ingredients, crucial to the success of any relationship:
- Take care of yourself. Exercise, appearance, diet, meditation…what do these have to do with your friendships? If you are not in a healthy, balanced state it is hard to be at your best when relating to others. Meditation and spiritual practices, above all, help us relate with friends and loved ones from the highest place within us.
- Have fun. Be willing to laugh at yourself. Don’t take life too seriously, and maintain a good sense of humor. People are weird–face it, you are weird!–and this world is full of weirdness. The best approach, especially when is to comes to oneself, is to try to have fun and keep it light, without sacrificing your depth—see above re: balance.
- Learn to behave. Develop attitudes that will nurture your relationships such as thoughtfulness, kindness, and deep respect. Avoid acting or speaking out from an emotional state. Learn to accept and love others as they are. All our problems arise from our expectations of others, and of life. Remember, you are not the Guru of your spouse, friend or acquaintance. Be a good listener, a kind heart, and a thoughtful friend.
- Maintain perspective. Nothing is more important than your relationships. Don’t let “stuff” get in the way. As a great husband of many years’ once said: “When I married my wife, I told her I would make all the important decisions in our relationship. Since then there just haven’t been any important decisions to make.” Nothing is more important than our friends!
Ananda exists to support people in the quest to realize God. The medium for this to happen is first and foremost through meditation and the loving relationship between soul and Spirit. Then it all comes down to our interactions with people—in our homes and families, work and service, play and social spheres. Take note–this is where the bulk of our karma and growth takes place!
In fifteen years of living and serving at Ananda, far and away the greatest wealth I have acquired is true friendship: with myself, with others, and with God. Not a king’s treasury could compare in worth! There are hundreds of friends around the world who I share this deep connection with. While only a handful can be more personal, intimate friendships, the depth of true, divine friendship is timeless, transcendental and ever-sweet!
Prioritize these divine friendships over the less-important things in your life (hint: everything else) and nurture your soul relationships with all. The trumpet call of friendship is sounding! Will you answer the call?