The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda, Volume 3
by Paramhansa Yogananda
Chapter 1: Friendship
The Art of Gaining Friends
Friendship is Gods love shining through the eyes of your loved ones, calling you home to drink His nectar of all selfishness-dissolving unity. Friendship is Gods trumpet call, bidding the soul to destroy the partitions that separate it from other souls and from Him. True friendship unites two souls so completely that they reflect the unity of Spirit.
True friendship is broad and inclusive. Selfish at-tachment to a single individual, excluding all others, inhibits the development of divine friendship. Extend the boundaries of the glowing kingdom of your love, gradually including within them your family, your neighbors, your community, your country, all coun-triesin short, all sentient creatures. Be a cosmic friend, imbued with kindness and affection for all of Gods creation, scattering love everywhere.
To have friends, you must manifest friendliness. If you open the door to the magnetic power of friendship, a soul or souls of like vibrations will be attracted to you. The more friendly you become toward all, the greater will be the number of your real friends. When true friendship exists between two souls and they seek spiritual love and Gods love together, when their only wish is to be of service to each other, their friendship produces the flame of Spirit. Through per-fected divine friendship, mutually seeking spiritual per-fection, you will find the one Great Friend.
Unfailing Laws of Friendship
Be neither unduly familiar with, nor indifferent to, a friend. Do not limit him by telling him, I know all about you. Respect and love grow among friends with time. Familiarity breeds contempt between those who are mutually useless, selfish, material-minded, and unpro-ductive of inspiration or self-development. The greater the mutual service, the deeper the friendship. Why does Jesus have such a wide following? Because He, like the other great masters, is unequaled in His service to humanity.
To attract friends you must possess the qualities of a real friend. Blind friendship may end in sudden, blind hate. The building of wisdom and spiritual understanding by mu-tual effort can bind two souls by the laws of everlasting divine love. Human love and friendship have their basis in ser-vice on the physical, mental, or business plane. They are short-lived and conditional. Divine love has its foun-dation in service on the spiritual and intuitional planes, and is unconditional and eternal.
When perfect friendship exists, either between two hearts or within a group of hearts in a spiritual organi-zation, such friendship perfects each individual. In the heart purified by friendship, one beholds an open door of unity through which one should invite other souls to enterthose who love him as well as those who love him not. When divine friendship reigns supreme in the temple of your heart, your soul will merge with the vast Cosmic Soul, leaving far behind the confining bonds which separated it from all of Gods creation.
Consider no one a stranger. Learn to feel that eve-rybody is your kin. Family love is merely one of the first exercises in the Divine Teachers course in Friendli-ness, intended to prepare your heart for an all-inclusive love. Feel that the life-blood of God is circulating in the veins of all races. How does anyone dare to hate any human being of any race when he knows that God lives and breathes in all? We are Americans or Hindus or other nationalities for just a few years, but we are Gods children forever. The soul cannot be confined within man-made boundaries: its nationality is Spirit, its country is Omnipresence.
This does not mean that you must know and love all human beings and creatures personally and individually. All you need to do is to be ready at all times to spread the light of friendly service over all living creatures which you happen to contact. This requires constant mental effort and preparednessin other words, unselfishness. The sun shines equally on diamond and charcoal, but one has de-veloped qualities that enable it to reflect the sunlight bril-liantly, while the other absorbs all the sunlight. Emulate the diamond in your dealings with people. Brightly reflect the light of Gods love.
Why Love Your Enemies?
The secret of Christs strength lay in his love for all, even his enemies. Far better to conquer by love the heart of a person who hates you than to vanquish such a one by other means. To the ordinary man such a doc-trine seems absurd. He wants to return ten slaps for the one he has received and add twice as many kicks for good measure. Why should you love your enemy? Love him that you may bring the healing rays of your love into his hatred-stricken heart and burn away the parti-tions of misery that separate your soul from another.
Avoid doing anything that brings harm to yourself or to another. If you are self-indulgent, or if you encourage a friend in his vices, you are an enemy disguised as a friend. By being true to yourself and a true friend to others, you gain the friendship of God. Your love will expand until it becomes the one Love which flows through all hearts.
The Heart of Friendship
I will remain in hearts as the unknown friend, ever rousing them to flaming feelings, silently urging them through their own noble thoughts to forsake their slum-ber of earthliness.
I will behold the person who now considers himself as my enemy to be in truth my divine brother hiding be-hind a veil of misunderstanding. I will tear aside this veil with the dagger of love so that, seeing my humble, forgiving understanding, he will receive the offering of my good will.
The door of my friendliness will ever be open equally for those brothers who hate me and for those who love me.
I will feel for others as I feel for myself. I will work out my salvation by serving my fellowman.
The Social Way to Omnipresence
The social way to attain cosmic consciousness is to expand the germ of divine love within the soul. Too much love of your own ego confines the soul to the boundaries of the flesh. The soul is an omnipresent re-flection of the all-pervading Spirit. The ego is the body-bound consciousness of the soul. The soul as ego for-gets its omnipresence and considers itself limited by the body.
When the ego begins, through practical sympathy, to feel itself in other bodies, it begins to regain its for-gotten omnipresence. Unlike the shortsighted worldly man, the divine soul works not only for himself as one body, but also for himself in the body of others. You must learn to seek nourishment, prosperity, healing, or wisdom, not for yourself in one body only, but for your-self in all bodies.
The social way of developing cosmic consciousness is to love your family, neighbors, country, and the whole world as yourself. You are the king, and the kingdom of your love includes not only all human beings, but also animals, flowers, stars, and all living creatures. Love all men as your brothers, love all women as your sisters, love all elderly men and women as your parents, and love all human beingsthe black, brown, yellow, white, red, and olive-colored racesas your friends and brothers. This is the social way of attaining cosmic con-sciousness.