In this age of social media, the possibilities to reach and connect with people across the world have multiplied in an unprecedented manner. Add friends at the click of a button, keep them updated with your latest tweets or quickly build a following on your blog – the networking options are almost limitless. As the number of our virtual friends and followers multiply, have you ever wondered, how much of it is really “real?” What does friendship actually mean to you?

Today, Sadhguru tells us what friendship means to him.

Sadhguru: I made my first friend at the age of three or four, after they sent me to school. I built such a bond with him, he was more than anything else to me. I still remember his name. I am sure he doesn’t.

I had a wide variety of friends, hundreds of friends all over the place, but that’s different. I am talking about the bond that I built with real friends – I always thought it was absolute. But over a period of time, with the experience of life, I realized there are very few people who see friendship like that. Most people see friendship as context-oriented. When you are in school, you have one kind of friend. When school is over, you just drop them and pick college friends. When college is over, professional friends, and whatever else. That’s how people look at friendship. I’ve not been able to look at it like that. I am not disgruntled, but it has been a learning experience about human nature.

My need for friendship was never too much but the moment I formed a friendship, I always thought it was for good and in every way absolute. I’ve found good friends here and there, but even for them, as life situations change, their needs and their focus on the friendship changes. For me it never changes.

I wouldn’t say it is heartbreaking, but definitely it is disappointing that most people cannot form deep relationships in their lives. They can form relationships only according to their needs; they cannot form relationships beyond their needs. A relationship just for the sake of relationship, that is not there in most people. They form a relationship when they need it; when they don’t need it, they break it.

For me, friendship is not an advantageous transaction or give-and-take, for me friendship is a certain overlapping of life.

I am a little bit of a fool in such matters. Even now if I meet an old school friend, I still approach him the way I knew him at that time. But he is somewhere else, no longer the way he was. Probably they move on with life and I don’t. I have always stayed a little outside of it. I valued life that way, so I always kept it that way. I think it continues to be so even today.

I think life has been phenomenally generous with me. When I say generous, I am not talking about material things but the way life treats me wherever I go, the way it opens up for me without any effort. The life process is willing to open up all its secrets to me probably because of the bonding that I form with whatever I sit with. Even if I am in touch with a simple inanimate thing, I form a certain relationship with it. For example if I look at what Mysore means to me, I have a very deep bonding with that place simply because I spent a large part of my growing-up period there. I am not looking at it emotionally or sentimentally as people normally would. It is just the level of involvement I had with the land, the trees, the hills, with everything around. Lots of things have changed in the last 30 years, but still I can see so many places that I walked upon, how deeply I looked at things, and the billion questions that I asked at a billion different places in Mysore. It forms a very different kind of bond which brought me to a certain level of quest within myself.

For me, Mysore means a billion questions and at the same time an incredible answer too. Friendships also meant the same thing for me. Those few moments that I shared with someone, not necessarily just in terms of emotion – I was really not emotional about anyone in that sense – but somehow knowingly or unknowingly, moments of sharing were moments of uniting and becoming one in some way. I never saw sharing as giving and taking; I always saw sharing as two lives overlapping each other. I did not see friendship as an advantageous or useful thing, something that will help you live better or whatever else.

Even now when I travel around the world and meet all kinds of people, I don’t network with them, I don’t keep their phone numbers, I don’t try to contact them, but I share something very deep with them in those few moments of being together and many of them do share that with me too. But my sense of that sharing is a permanent process while I see that for most people, it is a passing process.

Probably my idea of friendship is too old-fashioned, or I don’t know if it was ever in fashion. Maybe it is a little silly, maybe it is not socially savvy, but in terms of life, I think my ability to bond with anything or anyone deeply – whether it is a tree, a place that I sat upon, a piece of land, a rock or people – has in many ways been the key which has opened up dimensions of life and nature to me.

So, for me, friendship is not an advantageous transaction or give-and-take, for me friendship is a certain overlapping of life.

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Image Courtesy: Kids in Israel by Tal King Photographer