Friendships affect us in subtle ways. We walk and laugh together. We share meals and voyages. We keep mementos and photographs of happy moments.
Yet beneath these experiences is an even quieter force binding us to one another – instilling qualities like loyalty and devotion that can last a lifetime.
Perhaps, as the Dalai Lama suggests, friendships affect us so powerfully because coming to know a friend is really coming to know oneself:
“We discover that all human beings are just like us, so we are able to relate to them more easily. That generates a spirit of friendship in which there is less need to hide what we feel or what we are doing.”
The Dalai Lama often invokes that good and genuine friends can shape our path towards spiritual purity and wisdom…
“A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals the secret of some hidden treasure.”
…and that moving through the world with an unfailing attitude of friendliness can knock down walls and move even the most intimidating mountains:
“I defeat my enemies when I make them my friends.”
The Dalai Lama also advises that worthwhile friendships require effort and strength on our part. Viewing friendship as a goal to be obtained, or asking “what can I get out of this?” can be damaging to our wellness – but a shared approach of acceptance, balance and support can greatly improve our health and happiness:
“To be kind, honest and have positive thoughts; to forgive those who harm us an treat everyone as a friend; to help those who are suffering and never to consider ourselves superior to anyone else: even if this advice seems rather simplistic, make the effort of seeing whether following it you can find greater happiness.”
In an impermanent world, even the greatest of friendships are by nature, temporary. However just because things cannot last forever doesn’t make them any less important. According to the Dalai Lama, what is really important is to appreciate and honor one another in the present moment:
“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend or a meaningful day.”
Our final thought: With patient nurturing the most beautiful flowers grow – similar to our own lives and friendships, in which care and kindness are as essential as air and water.
Do you have a favorite personal quote, reflection or meditation on friendship? Please share with us in the comments below.