I just returned from a few days in Sacramento where I presented two programs about kundalini and awakening experiences based on my new books, (“The Kundalini Guide” and “The Awakening Guide”) at the invitation of some close friends. Their gracious treatment and care for me has prompted some reflection on the deep value of friendship. All of us thrive in the warmth of a few intimate friends, and no matter how awake or how spiritual we are, this quality of friendship enhances our lives. We humans need to share and reflect upon our experiences, consider new ideas, express feelings, care and be taken care of, and take time to play. Sometimes family members are our closest friends, but more often your closest friends become family.
In my many years of spiritual searching there have been times when I have been too introverted or preoccupied to fully appreciate friendship. But as I am aging it is more and more clear how crucial these connections are to mental, physical and spiritual well-being. I’ve noticed that older adults with meaningful friendships have vitality, enthusiasm, creativity and a sense of adventure that is lacking in those who are more isolated. Invitations, options, connections and affection make it more fun to be alive and give a reason to awaken and meet each new day.
The people I met through my good friends this week are all exploring life and contributing to others in many ways, such as teaching yoga, hospice work, healing practices, alternative medicine, centering prayer or meditation groups, facilitating radio programs, channeling, counseling, painting and in many other expressions of their passion and engagement in life. They are enthusiastic friends interested in giving to one another and being nourished in return. Many are in a spiritual awakening process.
Non-duality can seem like a dry teaching at times, stripping one of identifications and old patterns of thinking, or making a person feel disengaged from the ordinary preoccupations of the world and socially detached. Waking up to Oneness can make being alone restful and peaceful, but also somewhat empty. Many people who write to me have expressed the feeling they can no longer relate to old friends because their interests have changed and they no longer like listening to “stories” or problems. But underneath the surface of the non-dual realization is the recognition we are one consciousness playing these many roles in life, reflecting many facets of potential and each in our own unique dance. Compassion and love are stirring. So it is the case that even if we are illusions, we are still a reflection of the infinite and can enjoy the many other dancers around us. I’ve often thought how the source of life must love diversity as it seems one of the most consistent patterns on the planet. No two of us are exactly alike and we evolve consciously as we meet ourselves in this multiplicity of divine expression.
So we can enjoy friendships with those quite different from us, and find new depths in ourselves through those quite similar. We learn and grow through friendships. A good friend is someone who listens, shares their truth, laughs with us, explores possibilities with us, feeds us whatever we may need at the moment, and whose projections upon us make us feel wanted in their lives.
We do not awaken in a void. Although I am a person who spent many hours meditating in a darkened room it is through my connections with others that the barriers of separation often fell for me — sometimes a chance encounter, at other times through classes, retreats, music, therapy and in a myriad of ways. The gifts of friendship and the openness to what another spirit had to offer opened the possibility of seeing Truth, or feeling the bliss of unitive moments through chanting, movement, or shared silence. Friendship encourages expression and contribution to the world around us.
If you wish a vital and spiritually full life find a friend or a few who are open to exploring life, Truth and potential with you, and treasure them.