By Nayaswami Narayan
December 3, 2019
As a kid growing up, I started getting into some trouble. One time when I was only 14, I was arrested for underage drinking.
My mother decided it was time for an intervention. Her parental approach was not the normal: “What were you thinking?!… You could have killed yourself!… You’re young and stupid!”
These were all true, yet she acted with tact and consideration. I remember sitting down with her at the kitchen table and she simply said to me, “Maybe you want to think about having some different friends.” That was it. Silence. She said no more and gave me space to take in her words.
She drew me in further by how she said it. I did not feel judged. She conveyed genuine concern for my welfare along with loving clarity and common sense. Ma (my affectionate name for my mother) was my first teacher. I am deeply grateful to God that I was blessed to have such a kind and loving parent like her.
Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Environment is stronger than willpower.” At the time, I didn’t realize what a negative influence this circle of friends had on me. Ma’s love, acceptance, and guidance pierced the dark mist of delusion that surrounded me.
She gave me a moment of clarity and I began to see the light. “She has a good point,” I thought to my teenage self. “Why not expand my horizons and look for other friends?”
Through the grace of God, the very next year I met someone who became one of my best friends for life. The influence we had on one another was altogether different and strongly positive.
What was special about this friendship? We encouraged each other. We saw the best in one another. And like friends do, we started using nicknames! He would call me “Phil the Thrill” or “Thriller” and I would call him “Mikey the Lover” or “The Sunshine Kid.” In hindsight, it was our East Coast form of spiritual names!
Yoganandaji said, “Friendship is noble, fruitful, holy.” This is what I felt through my friendship with Michael – I felt ennobled. Not ego balm, but someone who recognized my soul potential.
Have you thought about having some other friends? Since we’ve entered the holy season, how about befriending Christ and the Masters? They certainly know our highest potential. Their spiritual magnetism and beneficial influence will introduce you to the Friend of all friends.
In divine friendship,
by Paramhansa Yogananda
Is friendship the weaving of the red strings of two hearts?
Is it the blending of two minds into a spacious one-mind?
Is it the spouting of love founts together-
To strengthen the rush of love on droughty souls?
Is it the one rose grown ‘twixt twin mind-branchlets
Of one compassionate stem?
Is it the one thinking in two bodies?
Or, is it like two strong stallions,
Disparate in color and mien,
Pulling the chariot of life together
To the single goal with one mind sight?
Is friendship founded on equalities or inequalities?
Is it built on diverse stones of differences?
Is friendship the unthinkingly agreeing,
The hand in hand, blind walking of two souls,
Foolishly rejoicing in their united folly,
Falling at last into a pit of disillusionment?
Friendship is noble, fruitful, holy-
When two separate souls march in difference
Yet in harmony, agreeing and disagreeing,
Glowingly improving diversely,
With one common longing to find solace in true pleasure.
When ne’er the lover seeks
Self-comfort at cost of the one beloved,
Then, in that garden of selflessness
Fragrant friendship perfectly flowers.
For friendship is a hybrid, born of two souls,
The blended fragrance of two unlike flowers
Blown together in love’s caressing breeze.
Friendship is born from the very core
Of secret inexplicable likings,
Friendship is the fountain of true feelings
Friendship grows in both likeness and difference.
Friendship sleeps or dies in familiarity,
And decays in lusts of narrow-eyed selves.
Friendship grows tall and sturdy
In the soil of oneness in body, mind, and soul.
Demands, deceptions, sordid sense of possession,
Courtesy’s lack, narrow self-love, suspicion,
These are cankers which eat at the heart of friendship,
Ah, friendship! Flowering, heaven-born plant!
Nurtured art thou in the soil of measureless love,
In the seeking of soul-progress together
By two who would smooth the way each for the other.
And thou art watered by attention of affection
And the tender dews of inner and outer sweetness
Of the inmost, selfless heart’s devotion,
Ah, friendship! Where thy soul-born flowers fall –
There, on that sacred shrine of fragrance,
The Friend of all friends craves to come and remain!