Monday, January 15, 2018

What is Friendship?

Gurbani tells us a lot about friendship. We must ask ourselves who is a friend? Giani Sant Singh Ji Maskeen writes in his English-translated book Guru Chintan (Guru’s Meditation), “A stranger is like a puff of wind for us, came and gone. We remember either a friend or foe…The great men of our country has told us many criteria of friendship, who is helpful in difficulty, with whom secrets can be shared, with whom partnership of views can be established, who should be tearful on seeing our tears, who would join us in our laugh. He is [a] friend, who is helpful at the time of physical, mental and spiritual adversity.” Many of us have used these features throughout our life to find our friends, the sangat that we spend time with.

Beyond that, it is important to check out whether our friendship is based on maya (something that makes us forget God). Bhai Sukha Singh Ji described in his katha that when our relationship is based on maya, that is friendship with a manmukh (someone who uses their own mind instead of following Guru Ji). Gurbani says, “Friendship with the self-willed manmukhs is an alliance with Maya. As we watch, they run away; they never stand firm. As long as they get food and clothing, they stick around. But on that day when they receive nothing, then they start to curse. The self-willed manmukhs are ignorant and blind; they do not know the secrets of the soul. The false bond does not last; it is like stones joined with mud” (Ang 959 Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji). This leads us to understand the downfall of such friendships that are based on give and take. Maskeen Ji writes, “Worldly friendship has its limit. On reaching that limit, friendship takes a turn. Therefore it is seen that every friendship takes the shape of enmity in due course. As much as the height, from which a person falls, so much will be the hurt he gets. As much deep will be the friendship, it is seen, so much deep will become the enmity.” This enmity in turn is poisonous.

Rather than enmity, Maskeen Ji gives us the advice of Sufi Saint Hafiz, “You should grow the plant of reconciliation for your peace of mind and uproot the plant of enmity.” How do we plant the reconciliation? Giani Guljar Singh was giving a katha on TV about the 40 Mukhte yesterday and he said that they remind us that it is possible to restore what was once broken and repair relationships. Gurbani says that God is, “The Restorer of what was taken away, the Liberator from captivity, the Formless Lord, the Destroyer of Pain” (Ang 625). The way to prevent enmity is to place our faith and friendship in God: “If the One Lord is my Friend, then all are my friends. If the One Lord is my enemy, then all fight with me” (Ang 957) and “Whoever tells me stories of my Beloved Lord is my Sibling of Destiny, and my friend” (Ang 862).

We are not disappointed when we put our faith in Waheguru. It is our friendship with God that allows us to see people’s virtues and prevents enmity in our minds. It allows us to recognize that the sangat that we spend time with should be those that are inspired to learn and grow on this path, and to spread the love of God rather than love for maya. 

Guru Chintan by Sant Singh Ji Maskeen available at Sikhbookclub online:
Giani Guljar Singh Ji’s website:
Bhai Sukha Singh Ji’s katha

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