We all need friends. On the journey of life there are twists and turns, ditches and dead ends, obstacles and opposition. But as John Lennon sang "I get by with a little help from my friends." Those who embark on the spiritual journey are brave indeed. They strive for purity in a world of degradation, they embrace simplicity amongst rampant materialism, and they cultivate selflessness in an atmosphere charged with exploitation. Anyone who goes against the grain in such a bold way will be faced with temptations, doubts, ridicule and moments of weakness. Without the encouragement, support and good advice of spiritual friends how can one continue? It would be a case of one small loner trying to hold off a tidal wave! Unfortunately, there are sincere spiritual practitioners who have given up on their spiritual friendships. Many have frankly told me that they found more integrity, morality, kindness, and love in their previous relationships with family and friends. They hoped that their friendships in spiritual circles would be deeper, warmer and more loving. Regrettably, they never really experienced that. Why would 'material' relationships seem more intimate and close than friendships amongst spiritualists?
Firstly, in the material world the standard bar is "every man for himself." Anyone who rises a little above that stands out as a great friend. In spiritual circles, however, the standard bar is "selflessness, humility and tolerance." Thus, it’s easy to see the faults in others, constantly measuring how much they fall short of the standard, all the while forgetting that they are amazing souls striving for an amazing standard. Our expectations of others on the path may be too high, and thus we feel frustrated, let down and cheated when we observe their character. Patience is essential since spiritual friendships are formed over time. We are all ‘works in progress’ and therefore we cannot expect utopia amongst even sincere seekers of the truth.
Secondly, spiritual friendships force us to grow beyond our own pride, anger, lust and envy. When we are with spiritualists we are constantly reminded of how much we are personally falling short. Feelings of guilt and failure can make us leave our spiritual friendships. Instead, we opt for the easier option of relationships where we cover these things up, brush them under the carpet, and not really give them a second thought. Spiritual friends are like a mirror helping us to see what we are really like. Instead of being scared and disappointed by what we see, we should feel empowered to know where we need to improve and how we can advance on our spiritual journey.
Thirdly, spiritualists also have personalities. Even amongst those who follow one path, there are a multitude of different approaches and moods. After all, the spiritual world is full of variety. It may take some time, but with sincere desire, determination and discrimination, one will be able to find good spiritual friends to deeply connect with. Spiritual friendship is based around an eternal truth, an eternal world, and an eternal connection. No matter how intimate the relationships of this world may seem, they will always be circumstantial and time-bound. Real soul mates have to connect on the level of the soul.