Home Wisdom Articles Pujya Gurudevshri Pujya Gurudevshri Insights Are Friendliness and Friendship the Same?

Are Friendliness and Friendship the Same?

Celebrating friendship day this August, let us check whether we are in tune with the Jain saying of universal friendliness – ‘Mitti Me Savva Bhooesu.’ Read on to discover as Pujyashri Gurudev explains who actually is a friendly person.

It does not matter whether you go to the Himalayas or into a cave; in order to attain the Divine, it is essential to dive into the depths of love. Why have the so-called religious people become callous? Why have they become stone-hearted? Even stones are not as hard as human beings are these days. Man seems to be giving birth to a violent society. He spends his life behaving cruelly and hurting others. Every activity of his, whether it is standing, sitting, walking, eating, drinking, looking or speaking, has become harsh and heartless. Only those who can soften their hearts and allow themselves to flow towards the world, in the form of friendliness and compassion are truly religious.

The saints ask, “Why have your hands become cold and insensitive like that of a corpse? On seeing or hearing about violence, why do your eyes remain dry and ears unaffected? How is it that you do not shudder? Have you no compassion?” The Divine reveals Himself only to those who are ready to extend and flow in the form of compassion and friendliness. Love that flows outwards is compassion, is friendliness.

Love and Friendliness

What you understand as love is conditional love. Love limited to one person gives rise to impurities. It gets adulterated. If your heart is filled with love for only one person, naturally there is no love for the rest of the world. And when there is no love for so many in the world because you have restricted your love to just one, then that love is surely selfish, conditional and sullied with expectations. The love that has no selfish motive, is unconditional and has no expectations in it, is love that is extended to all; it cannot be limited to just one.

The love that stagnates starts accumulating the dirt of negativities. The love that stops flowing, the love that gets trapped in one, starts smelling of possessiveness and expectations. The love that flows is fresh, alive and fragrant. The love that is static becomes stale and dies. The love that streams forth keeps increasing. The more it flows, the more it deepens and extends to others.

The depth of love is measured by its extensiveness. They go hand in hand. The love that is not bound to one, and flows towards all becomes friendliness. Such love has non-attachment, humbleness, open-mindedness and no reservations.

The emotion that arises in the heart is love and what flows unconditionally towards all is friendliness. If love is like water-laden clouds, friendliness is like the rains that appeases the thirst. As long as water remains trapped as clouds in the sky, it cannot quench the thirst of those on earth. Only when it pours down on the earth as showers of rain, can it satisfy others. Love is the soul; friendliness is the body. Love is formless; friendliness has a form. Love is an experience; friendliness is an expression. Love is unmanifest; friendliness is its manifest form. Love is a poem in a poet’s heart, friendliness is the recitation of the poem on the lips. Thus, love in action is friendliness.

Friendliness and Friendship

Interestingly, friendliness and friendship are not the same. It is very essential to understand the difference between them.

As long as there is friendship there will be enmity too. To have friendship with one means to be adverse to those who stand in opposition. Friendliness means the end of hatred. There is no animosity in friendliness. Friendship may lead to vindictiveness. One who is a friend today may become a foe tomorrow. During the Second World War, America and Russia were friends but soon after the war ended, they became enemies. In friendliness, hostile feelings cannot last. Enmity is destroyed in friendliness.

In friendship, the virtues and the merits of the friend matter a great deal. Only those who have a similar style of thinking and living become friends. In friendship, the friend is expected to have certain qualities, and if he does not demonstrate them, the friendship may break. Or if one finds anything other than expected, enmity may begin. This is not the case in friendliness. No matter what one has or how one is, friendliness remains.

Friendship is dependent on the other. Friendliness depends on one’s self. It is an inner state of being while friendship is an external relationship.

Stages of Friendliness

Friendliness is not merely wishing well for others but it is doing good to others too. It is putting others before oneself. Caring for others takes priority over taking care of one’s self. The ego dissolves. Unlike an egocentric, lustful life where the whole world is only for ‘me’; here, ‘you’ becomes more important than ‘I’.

Friendliness progresses in three stages – the first is to realise upon deliberation, the second is to experience the feeling, and the third is to flow out in expression.

In the first stage one understands the nature of friendliness at the level of the intellect. The whole universe is an integrated existence. Everyone and everything in the world is interlinked. It is not a fragmented but a whole existence. I am not an entity which is separate from totality. Therefore, friendliness is a vital factor and it is very important to understand its necessity, importance and its exalted position.

The second stage is experiencing the feeling of friendliness. It is not enough to just know theoretically about friendliness, it is equally important to experience it. Thinking and understanding that, ‘Existence is one continuous chain’ is essential, but this should also be experienced. Only when you pass through this experience does that understanding become a living faith.

The third stage is the stage of extending. Just as mere intellectual understanding is not sufficient, an experience by itself too is inadequate; it must be demonstrated in life. The third step involves bringing friendliness into action, that is, having a firm resolve to alleviate others’ sorrows, sufferings and troubles and to conduct oneself with an inclination to work for others’ welfare and happiness. It is to bring friendliness in every activity. This flow of friendliness is a truly religious life.

Friendliness becomes complete only when it manifests fully in thoughts, experience and action. There is sorrow, suffering, and distress all around. If friendliness does not become active and does not reach out to others, how will you attain the feeling of oneness?

It is not that friendliness can be expressed only by building a hospital or an animal sanctuary. Simply lifting a stone from the road and putting it aside or wearing a smile on your face is also an expression of friendliness. The point is that friendliness must be expressed. What kind of friendliness, or how much is secondary. One does not require preparation or planning to show friendliness. A small gesture of love and kindness is enough to complete the journey of friendliness. To have a heart filled with compassion for all beings, to have an inclination to relieve others’ sorrows, to wish for the welfare of all and to express that wish even through a small deed is enough.

Teachings in Practice

There was once a saint in Japan. In the autumn of his life, he felt the urge to translate Buddhist scriptures from Pali to Japanese for the benefit of the Japanese natives. This was an enormous task and demanded a great deal of energy as well as finances. Nevertheless, he was determined to achieve his goal. He travelled to many places gathering the necessary funds. After ten years and much effort, he managed to collect the amount required to begin. Just then, the region was struck by famine. His heart went out to the suffering masses and he offered all that he had collected towards famine relief.

Again, he began working relentlessly towards putting together the necessary resources. This continued for another ten years. As he was about to commence his work, floods hit the region, destroying almost everything. Unable to bear the misery of the people, as he had done earlier, he offered all that he had collected towards their relief.

The saint had now grown very old but was undeterred; yet again, he set out to raise the necessary funds. He succeeded in this endeavour and was finally able to complete the translation. The text was published in Japanese. The words, ‘Third Edition’ were written on it, surprising the readers. The saint explained that the funds collected twice before had been given to charity, as that was the need of the hour. That too, he said was nothing but a translation of Lord Buddha’s friendliness. Though the first two editions were not published, they were still translations of the Lord’s message. Therefore, this can be rightly called the Third Edition of the Lord’s teachings.

Thus, friendliness finds its fulfilment in its expression. It is inadequate to just wish for the happiness of all and not bring it into action, in day-to-day living. The lives of Great Beings like Bhagwan Mahavir and Param Krupalu Dev are expressions of friendliness. Their way of life represents the third stage of friendliness.

May there be friendliness, compassion and empathy in every heart and in each action.


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