What is a good friend?
These last days, my attention has been focused on a question Shi Zu raised, and some Todais answered: What is a good friend? Being very interested in the subject, and feeling the needed to research in myself what a good friend was, I started to meditate on the subject.
As some may have remarked, I am sometimes active on the blog and sometimes not, and I publish very few videos. This though, isn’t the mark of a shrinking motivation, but rather a need that I have to concentrate for quite some time on a particular subject, and to express myself through writing. I guess each one of us have a specific way to express in which they are more efficient. Writing is mine. For the moment, I value scarcity more than being prolific, since I am only starting to study the spiritual aspects, I don’t have the experience to express that often without making mistakes.
So what is a good friend?
Having thought about it, I asked this question to some of my friends, trying to analyze their reaction. The first insinuation, which seems to me, as a misconception is “in friends that you have, tell me which one is good and why?”
I have always been reluctant to the notion of best friend, because it seems as a devaluation of your relationship and interaction with the rest of humanity. A best friend, in the common sense, seems to be referred to as the person you feel is the closest to you, who understands you better than others and who would do anything for you.
Doing anything for you, to me, is nothing valuable in itself, but more a symptom of the idea of having, possession and attachment to you.
It has always surprised me how friendship is often related to “having”. You can find numerous books on “how to have great friends, a beautiful girlfriend…”.
The fact of the matter is I don’t own my friends and they don’t own me. How could they ever own something which is changing every second?
Friendship and responsibility
Your friends, and people with who you interact with, do have influence on you and your actions. “Influence” is an interesting word. Most of the time, it is used in its negative sense, when for example, parents come to me because their beloved son seems to be led by some friend to do things he would never do by himself. This is a terrible misconception, a Manichean vision as well as a clear lack of objectivity. How can someone else destroy your son’s own consciousness? Doesn’t he know right from wrong? On the same token, I do not vouch for my friends or their action. In any sort of relationship, I believe each person has to take the responsibility for their action. Many people have been surprised when I opposed to some friends or even members of the family who were going the wrong way. In spite of psychological and physical training in dealing with confrontations, I have never backed up someone involved in a fight if he was deliberately wrong. At first they said “my principles” were stupid. Later they apologized and told me they understood. It is also interesting to see that those with who I had the toughest confrontation with, have remained my friends ever since.
Being rather than having
What I am trying to say is that we should not strive towards “having” great friends but rather “being” a great friend. Someone who will gently lead you to better yourself, with sincerity, even though he might be wrong. Someone who has enough love in himself to share with others, and who is not waiting for anybody to help him or to take responsibility for him. Someone who is training hard every day to improve what he is and what he has to give. We, as martial artist sometimes get this question : Why do you train for?
We train for the struggles of life.
I believe you cannot wait for someone to come and help you when you are not even questioning yourself. And I believe those who are ready to connect and exchange will do so. There is an old saying that tells “the master appears when the disciple is ready”. Some people say “choose your friends. It seems so restrictive! Once again, friendship and love have nothing to do with possession. I want to be a friend to the whole humanity, because I believe I have something to share with everyone and more importantly, that I will grow from the contact life provides me each and every day.