Lean on me when you’re in trouble, as that fabulous old hit goes, I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on….Right on, bro, when life administers yet another unkind kick to the butt, there’s nothing like a friend to dispel impending doom: a crabby aunt who gifts you hard cash when the mortgage is due; a stranger who points you in the right direction when you’re panicking in a new city; a muse who whispers encouragement at critical moments; the buddy who stays loyal, even after you tumble off your lofty pedestal, revealing frayed and dirty knickers.
Certainly everyone who supports us in this cold world is a treasure. And yet…to that rare human who ventures into the uncharted territory of inner worlds, a higher level of alliance becomes essential. This is the realm of the kalyanamitra, a friend who dances to subtle inner rhythms, refusing to conform to the standards of an insane world. If you’re lucky enough to attract a kalyanamitra to you, make sure you always give this precious one the right to hoist you out of the sulphurous quagmire of delusional thinking and hazardous habits—and be ready to return the favor!
While mutiny often brings exhilarating freedoms in its wake, the freshness of being a maverick can quickly pall. During my own trajectory out of the mainstream, I’ve seen a thousand rebels fall into the abyss of depression and addiction, grow bitter, dull, or insanely self-destructive. Some tuck their tails between their legs and limp back home, unable to hide their relief to be back within familiar, if not happy, surroundings. Better a known devil than an unknown angel, as that old saying perspicaciously points out.
Those who have famously strayed off the beaten path know the value of a spiritual friend. In fact, over two thousand years ago, Gautama Buddha gave us the Three Jewels—of Buddha (guru), Dharma (the right teaching for you to evolve) and Sangha (spiritual community); a kalyanamitra fits into the third category. Gautama even went so far as to list the seven qualities of an ideal kalyanamitra: one who inspires love, respect, and emulation; counsels you in times of trouble; listens patiently; is able to discuss profound subjects; and who refrains from leading you into bad habits.
Read more in Part 2…