Sunday, April 15, 2007


I was never very good at friendship: or at least I thought I was poor at it. I was thinking about it the other day and realized that it is hard to admit but I had to train myself to be friendly. It is a strange thing to realize. I still feel uncomfortable in party type situations – I never know just what to say - never know just what to do. I seem to always be afraid of saying or doing something stupid and have always admired the sort of person who is comfortable in group/party situations – admired and hated of course.

It is a mystery – a life long mystery. If you are trying to understand just what it is that you need to learn or to do while at the same time feeling paralyzed, you are certainly in a pickle. I never was good at snappy comebacks or being clever in a crowd. I suppose it came from feeling unworthy. But it does not matter so much where it came from as it does what to do with the information.

When you feel uncomfortable but do not know you are uncomfortable, that is a terrible stress on the psyche. When you feel uncomfortable and know you are uncomfortable, that is slightly better.

So, what does the above have to do with friendship? The older I get and the longer I am involved with Sufism the more I realize how precious friendship is.

"When, in friendship, a thought arises, 'I will love you as you love me', or, 'I will do to you as you do to me', this takes away all the virtue of the friendship, because it is a commercial attitude, prevalent everywhere in the commercial world: everything is done for a return, and measure is given for measure. Friendship should be the contrary pole to the practical side of life; for when a person is tired by the selfish surroundings of the world he feels inclined to take refuge in the love and kindness of a sympathetic friend. But if there is a question of selfishness in friendship, where can a soul go who is tired and annoyed with the selfish surroundings of the world?"

"Friendship as the average person understands it is perhaps little more than acquaintance; but in reality it is more sacred than any other connection in the world. To a sincere person, entering into friendship is like entering the gates of heaven; and a visit to his friend is a pilgrimage to a true loving friend."

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Realizing all of the above gave me a clue as to why I was always so uncomfortable in group situations. Most group situations are just like the above, entertain me and I will entertain you – as long as it is within this secret set of rules that only the specific group understands. But it always makes me uncomfortable because I can sense the insincerity. Then I realized that it wasn't insincerity per se, it is more of a situation in which I really did not belong. The conditions were fine for the people involved but not for me. That was a difficult thing to realize.

It seems to be axiomatic that the deeper you go into the inner being the less company you have. If your inclination is deep to begin with, which you cannot help, then you will constantly find yourself at odds with the culture around you. Some of us learn to adapt, many do not. On the other hand, when you are graced with a true friendship, as described above, all of the experiences of the past seem remote and unimportant. I am so graced.

I am married, as many of you know, and that is a particular form of friendship. But that is not the friendship that I speak of. No, there is another, of just the type that Pir O Murshid speaks of. It was a surprise when it appeared and continues to be a blessing. Suddenly I understood what all of the literature referring to friendship was really about.

So it is real – friendship is real.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


celticgoddess said...

I think we have had this talk a few times. No wonder we feel at ease talking to each other.
Blessed Be.

Anonymous said...

As you know, this is a subject I have thought on at great length. For most of my life I have felt awkward in social settings. I learned to compensate, and the result was that I have always been able to attract "friends" very easily and in great numbers--but rarely the unconditional friendship of which Murshid speaks. It is so hard for souls to truly touch, on any level. And I think the feeling of alienation is more common than people would admit to. I remember years ago throwing a party. As usual, it was well-attended and the apartment was packed with people drinking, eating, dancing, debating and appearing to have a most wonderful time. I, of course, was uncomfortable. I was also anxious to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves. A few hours into the party I noticed Christy sitting by herself on the stairs. Her head was down and her long hair covered her face. As I approached her I realized that she was crying. Christy is married to one of my profs. She has several degrees of her own and an amazing career as a union negotiator for a teachers' union. She makes the best desserts ever, and among our group was valued and loved. But she did not feel this. When I asked her why she was sad she just pointed to everyone else who seemed to be having a good time and said she wished she could make friends so easily. In the midst of the crowd she felt alienated, lonely and unloved. She felt exactly the same way I did, but was brave enough not to hide it as I did. Because of her honesty that night, we were able to develop a real friendship that has stood the test of time for 20 years now. I wonder how many other people at that party felt the same way that we did. How many suffered in silence, too embarassed or ashamed to admit the feelings either to themselves or others. I keep searching and hoping to discover a few more "Christy"ies or "Klaus"ies or, well a few others. I no longer feel the need to be the life of the party. I no longer wish to attract the multitude. One of the reasons I packed up the car and moved across country was because of the pressure I was feeling having made so many new "friends" at my place of work. Even with "acquaintances", in my mind, comes obligation and responsibility. The effort of trying to maintain and foster so many relationships, knowing that few or none would lead to unconditional friendship is more than I can handle at this point in my life. And since I have no desire to hurt anyone by rejecting their offers of "friendship", it was just easier to leave than to become any more involved in their lives. Searching searching searching...hoping to find...treasuring the friends I have made over the years...I am still lonely and alone and that still makes me sad, but I can also appreciate the few true friends I have made in my life and count myself more blessed than not. If that makes sense. Love Sabura

Anonymous said...

Pooh, I was always the classical lonely wolf. I even can not remember that I was ever invited to a party!

I know that I will be forgotten before burried like one who wrote his name with water. But I feel so alien to other people around me that I often wonder if I'm from a different species.

IMHO a true friend is somebody who tells you the truth and not what you want to hear.


frances m. hall said...

To me, a friend is someone who cares about you all the time. Through the bads times as well as the good times. A friend is someone who loves unconditionally, and listens to what you have to say. Someone who offers their best advice when they feel that you need it, or if you ask for it.
A true friend is a gift from God, A true, true jewel, that needs to be protected at all times, and be thankful for.

Jules said...

To me friendship is a rare treasure to be shared, never hoarded or coverted. It is not a business to be bought or sold as a comodity. And yes a friend will stick with you through good and bad times, and they will tell you the truth when you need to hear it, even though it may hurt at times. But they will be there to comfort you, and share your joys as well.
A friend is everything and nothing, shared times, quiet spaces, no quarter asked but always given, love unconditionally, truth when it hurts, ears to listen, eyes to see, a heart to feel, greatness, smallness, support, laughter, acceptance.
Love always Jules

Sarala said...

I read the first paragraph and thought maybe I wrote it - yes, I can be in front of a class and connect and relate with the participants, I can be with a private client or student and be so connected that I can actually SEE the pain or problem to be dealth with - but take me to a party and I feel like just standing behind the window curtains and watching. So instead I usually seek out one person - and often that person ends up being VERY interesting - and sitting and talking with that one all night. "Bad guest!" we're supposed to CIRCULATE at a party, right?
Funny I should read this tonight, earlier I had a conversation with a friend about just this - that giving is only truly giving when we don't expect a response, ie loving to be loved, giving a gift and looking for the gift you will receive in return. Maybe I can think this way now because at 51, I just have too much "stuff" Maybe I should have a garage sale :-)
Seriously, tho, doesn't it feel BETTER to just give without expecting? And even BETTER, doesn't it feel great to RECEIVE knowing that you aren't expected to reciprocate!
With love and friendship,