I want to begin this article by sharing a small incident that took place this morning. I was on facebook a couple of minutes ago and there was a post about dogs. We all know the amount of reactions and comments that such posts attract.
Anyway, I was scrolling through the comments and I found this one comment that had the maximum number of likes and reactions. I will quote the exact words written in the comment:
“Universal fact / axiom of life – Dogs > Humans.
Keep fighting over this comment but I’ll never disagree with this fact. Wish dogs lived 100 years and we humans only for 10-20 years”.
I don’t know what your reaction to this comment would be, but as a human being reading this, it made me really sad. What made it even worse is that a lot of people agreed. So, I went through this feeling of disgust and anger for a while and I then realised the play of existence. As disgusted as I felt in that moment, after a while, I realised that this can be used as a great opportunity for me to start today’s article.
I don’t think there was any generation prior to ours that respected and loved dogs or any pets for that matter as much as our generation does. The good thing is that we have learnt to show our compassion towards beings that are lower than us in terms of consciousness. The bad thing is this – we have become hateful towards our own species.
All the great things in life are achieved through small events of goodness that take place initially. The other side of this is also true – all evil or vice in the world stem from situations that seem very trivial in the moment. This dog incident that I shared may be a very trivial thing. It may not even be a big deal to most people reading this, but to me, the smallest things in life are big deal.
Just as a huge oak tree begins its life from being just a small seed, so do things in life that are evil, spout from circumstances and situations that may seem insignificant at first.
Buddha has spoken about compassion as one of the essential qualities of a spiritual seeker and I have this strong feeling that a lot of us do not really understand compassion for what it truly is. Compassion is the ultimate, and therefore, one cannot cultivate it as part of oneself unless the basics are understood.
To understand a tree, you need to know the seed. If a farmer for example has no knowledge of a seed and its potential, he won’t take the first step to plant the seed in the soil. Compassion is the tree, and to understand it, you need to understand friendliness. Friendliness is the seed from which compassion comes forth into existence.
Love and non-violence – the compassion of Jesus and Mahavir:
I would like to give you an understanding of friendliness through the perspective of three renowned mystics – Buddha, Jesus, and Mahavir. Buddha emphasises on compassion as being supreme. Jesus emphasises love to be supreme to an extent that he equates God with it. Mahavir emphasises on non-violence. Therefore, according to these great masters of the world, compassion, love and non-violence are all supreme qualities that a human being needs to develop, but here is the big problem – these qualities are impossible to develop or practice.
Try to be compassionate and you will fail. All Buddhists around the world have been trying to be compassionate and they have failed. You cannot try to be compassionate. You are either compassionate, or you aren’t.
Also, if you are somebody who thinks that they understand love better than compassion, try to love your enemy and you will see that your love is nothing but a pretension. The enemy helps you see your love as false. Jesus, throughout his life has been telling people to love, and their love went so deep that they ended up crucifying the very same person who gave them one of the greatest teachings of life. Do you get the picture now? If not, try to understand the non-violence of Mahavir.
The more non-violence you try to develop in your life, the more violent you will become. The Jains throughout the world were the most non-violent people you would find, but if you ever come across a Jain Muni which is equivalent to a Buddhist Bhikku, you will see violence all around him – he has given up violating people outside and he has become violent towards himself.
He will go through unnecessary starvation, pull his hair out and do all sorts of things that clearly portray violence – the only difference is that he does it to himself and not to others, but how does this make any difference? To annihilate violence means to be non-violent to others – This is absolutely true, but it also means to be non-violent to yourself because the other is just as much part of you as you are part of the other and in violating yourself, you also violate the other person, but in an indirect way.
Indian women for example have understood this very well and therefore you will find that whenever a woman here in India hates her husband, she will become violent towards herself. She will not beat her husband, but she will beat herself – of course, this was the past and it does not happen as often as it used to years ago, but even today, women in India and around the world have their own ways of portraying violence.
When a woman hates her husband, she will start to eat too much and grow fat, she won’t dress well while she is with him, she won’t groom herself, she will be unkind towards her children and so on. There are hundreds of ways through which violence can assert itself and the more cunning a human being becomes, the more subtle will be his violence.
Adolf Hitler is a simple man; if he has to portray violence, he will just throw you inside a gas chamber, but in my vision, we all carry a Adolf Hitler within us. The only difference is that our violence is more sophisticated than Hitler’s. It has to be. I mean, it has been more than 5 decades since Hitler is gone and so of course, over the years, people come up with more sophisticated techniques to show violence. Along with technology, the negativity that is part of human beings also becomes advanced.
When a human being shows love to a dog or any animal for that matter, he is indirectly showing hatred towards human beings. What he is indirectly saying is that I hate human beings and so, just to appear as being loving and kind, I will love a dog, but if you notice, the dog or the pet here is just an excuse to avoid violence and hatred.
By avoiding situations that make us violent, angry, and impatient, we are suppressing these negative emotions within ourselves which is bound to show up some day or another – This is how non-violence and hatred come from the back door? Therefore, never try to be compassionate, loving, or non-violent in life – it is impossible.
If Buddha was alive today in flesh, he would give you a knock on your head if you even uttered the word compassion from the place where you stand. Compassion, Love, and Non-violence are part of your dreams right now. For you, they have no basis in reality.
Start with Friendliness:
Like I said before, compassion, love, and non-violence are all higher virtues in life and to develop these higher virtues, one has to learn the basic language of friendliness that all the Buddha’s learn. What is friendliness? Friendliness is the fragrance that all men and women are born with. We are all born with friendliness within us and this is one of the basic energies that one has to work with.
When a child is born, he is immensely friendly. His friendliness is so authentic that he freely expresses all of his emotions, both positive and negative towards those around him without any judgement or idea of what his relationship with the other person is. He is so authentic that he will show hatred towards the same person whom he was loving towards a moment ago.
Through a child, we come to an understanding that friendliness means authenticity. If you are authentic, you will automatically become friendly, but because we have built these ships which we call “relationships”, we lose our authenticity.
All human beings have laid relationships as a foundation for the important virtues in life. For love, we have marriage, for care and compassion, we have family, and even for friendliness, we have developed a false foundation of friendship.
Authentic virtues like love, compassion and friendliness cannot stand on false foundations of marriage, family, and friendship – this is not only mathematically and logically true, but also true existentially.
When a child comes to this earth, he has nothing but his friendliness and authenticity to give, but sooner or later, he gets entangled with all these egoistic human relationships that we have built around these authentic virtues. He then starts to hold these relationships as prime and forgets the essence of love, compassion, and friendliness that were supposed to be part of these relationships. He holds on to the false and he drops the truth. It is almost like opening a chocolate wrapper and throwing the chocolate into the dustbin instead of the wrapper, but this is how it has become with human beings. We have thrown all our sweets into the dustbin and we start hoarding our wrappers. Relationships are nothing but wrappers.
Lossen your grip on Relationships:
When practicing dharma, loosen your grip on relationships and give more emphasis on that which is authentic. Friendliness is the basis of all human relationships. Jesus always says to his disciples, “Be a child and enter the kingdom of heaven”. It has been over 2000 years since Jesus has uttered this statement and I am here to remind you the truth in it all over again.
Just do it and see how your life transforms. Be a child and the whole existence becomes yours. Be a child and you will become meditative and all those virtues that you’ve been struggling to develop in your life will come into your life so easily that you will be astonished.
Therefore, be a child, don’t try to become, because you already are a child. We are all children pretending to be adults. Put an end to this pretension and be what you are. To be a child means to be friendly. The question is not about how to develop friendliness because if you try to develop it, again, you will destroy the possibility of developing those higher virtues.
Becoming itself means inauthenticity. Therefore, just settle down into yourself, sit down silently and be. Just be, and you will start to develop friendliness. You will feel a certain fragrance coming out of you and this fragrance can manifest itself as anger or even as love, but be the fragrance and do not be indifferent towards one particular type of fragrance.
When your wife or husband hates you, the hate is only on the surface – this hatred is their fragrance in the moment which is manifesting as filth. Deep down, there is love and because there is love, there is hatred as well. The day people stop hating you is the day they have stopped loving you as well. Anyway, that is a whole new topic of discussion altogether which we can talk about another time, but for now, my only message to you is to be friendly.
You are already friendly the way you are and so, to be friendly is not as much of a challenge as you may think it is. Also, let go of all friendships and just be friendly. At least leave friendliness out of the domain of relationships. I don’t care if your compassion, love, and patience is inauthentic because those virtues are all far away from the place you stand.
I am concerned with what is true for you in the moment. In the moment, the truth is that you are friendly, but to understand and see the truth in that, you will have to take off the blindfold of friendship which you are wearing.
What is your friendship anyway? If a friend says that they can’t meet you on a particular day for drinks or just to hang out, you get mad at them – this is all that your friendship is. Your friendship is simply enmity, jealousy, hatred, lonliness, and sorrow turned upside down. Give up all this nonsense.
Avoid friendship at all costs because I’ve had friendships with many people in the past and I’ve realised that friends are nothing but two or more people sitting together talking shit about a common enemy – this is how confined your friendliness is.
Your friendliness is so confined that you make friendships just so that you can hate or gossip about others and therefore, my understanding is that friendship is the basis for enmity.
At the beginning of all friendships, you gossip about and show hatred towards other people. As friendship grows, you become enemies with each other because somehow, you get tired of gossiping and hating on others – you then start to hate your own friend, and to do that more efficiently, you make some new friends with whom you can gossip with about your old friend.
Slowly, as years go by, you look around and you find that everybody has become your enemy and the person who is your friend right now in the present is nothing but your enemy in the future – this is why we look around and see an ugly world. No other human being is responsible for it except you.
Stop blaming humans and comparing them with your pets saying that your pets are better than humans. The truth is that you have given rise to this ugly humanity which you keep pointing fingers at. The moment you put an end to your gossips about others and look within, you take the first step towards friendliness.
Friendliness is not a gossip; friendliness is a communion between two or more hearts. Friendliness is all there is to a human being and if one settles down in ones being, one will find this vast ocean of friendliness that is there waiting to express itself.
Friendliness is the language of the Buddhas. All Buddhas, Christs, and Mahavirs start with friendliness. To learn the divine language of love, compassion and non-violence, you have to learn the human language of friendliness.
You may have all heard the story of Buddha leaving his palace. That was Buddha’s way of saying goodbye to all relationships. Every mystic has had to go through this struggle of giving up all human relationships including friendship. You can only be a true friend when you have given up friendship and the day you know what it means to be a friend, all other qualities will come forth.
These words, I have written with the hope that you begin your spiritual journey with friendliness. To you, these may seem like words but to me, these are not just words. These curves that shape themselves in the form of words are part of my whole life. They are part of who I am in this moment as I’m typing these words. I was fortunate enough to start my spiritual journey back in 2014 with an understanding of friendliness and I want to give this gift to you as well.
I may not be a Buddha as yet, or to say it more clearly, I may not be the most compassionate, loving or non-violent human being you may come across, but from where I am right now, I can certainly give you a share of this friendlfridnliness that I am in this moment – Please, take a sip.