“You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me”
Two friends were once camping in the woods. As they were having their morning coffee near their tent, they heard a rustling sound in the bushes. Suddenly, they saw a large, grizzly bear heading towards them at full speed. One man grabbed his running shoes and started to put them on. His friend asked him, “What are you doing? Do you think you can outrun the bear?” Without turning around, the man answered, “No. I just need to outrun you!”
You will move in the direction of the people that you associate with….
It is important to associate with people that are better than yourself.
The Warren Buffett Book of Investing Wisdom
Today, our lives are driven by social media, where we seek constant validation from our many online “friends”. We comfort ourselves with the idea that the more friends we have, the more people we can rely on when things get tough. However, as we go through life’s adversities, we may have experienced times when friends or companions whom we imagined to be by our side were nowhere to be found. We see how easily people “unfriend” us socially and digitally. We eventually realize that we can never achieve the kind of security and comfort we seek from the world.
The company and friendship of worldly people is transitory and evanescent. Some leave us when we face difficulties, while others desert us in the end. But the Master is the true protector and helper of the disciple. He is always with him at the time of need or difficulty. He does not leave him alone at the time of death or even later.
Maharaj Sawan Singh, Philosophy of the Masters, Vol. V
Our relationship with the Master is not only the most intimate bond of trust, but also an unbreakable pact that lasts throughout this life and beyond death. Sadly, we are so blinded by our transitory attachment to near and dear ones that we fail to realize that it is only the Master who is our greatest benefactor and everlasting friend. He is here to extricate us from the cycle of transmigration and take us back to our true home. And yet, we do not take the time to establish and cultivate that relationship with him.
What kind of relationship should we cultivate with the Master? As disciples, we tend to put the Master on a pedestal. By doing so, we distance ourselves from him and create a barrier, which is not conducive to an open and loving relationship. In fact, the Master wants us to be so close to him that we walk beside him as friends.
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.
Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.
365 Meditations for Teachers by Teachers
The Master does not expect us to literally walk beside him. But if we could imagine walking together with a close friend, what would that entail? It would mean communicating, sharing our thoughts and problems. Our simran repeated with love and concentration is the only vocabulary we need to communicate with our Master. Repeating our simran regularly as promised at the time of initiation is the first step to strengthen our relationship with him. It is through simran that we shift our attention from the worldly to the divine.
In addition to our daily meditation practice, we can try to consciously live in the Master’s presence as we go about our daily lives. For example, before each meal, we can take a moment to acknowledge his presence and give our heartfelt thanks through simran. At work, when we are at a business meeting or talking with our colleagues, we can visualize his form right beside us. When we walk anywhere alone or when we have fears or worries, we can imagine that the Master is lovingly holding our hand. We then discover that we are not alone. The Master guides and protects us every second of every day.
As Saint Teresa of Avila says in The Way of Perfection:
Imagine that this Lord himself is at your side and see how lovingly and how humbly he is teaching you. If you become accustomed to having him at your side, and if he sees that you love him to be there and are always trying to please him, you will never be able, as we put it, to send him away, nor will he ever fail you. He will help you in all your trials, and you will have him everywhere. Do you think it is a small thing to have such a Friend as that beside you?
Practising Master’s presence in our daily activities will calibrate our relationship with him. He will stop being the Master who is distant from us in Dera or elsewhere and instead become our everyday companion and intimate friend.
This bond between Master and disciple – this friendship is eternal; it is something which cannot be compared to anything else in the world. In the movie Aladdin, there is a song called “Friend Like Me,” in which the genie tells Aladdin that he is a friend unlike any other. He ends the song with the words: “You ain’t never had a friend like me!”
When we attend to our meditation diligently and practise the Master’s presence in our daily lives, we will finally understand that the Master is a friend unlike any other, and we ain’t never had a friend like him!