On Friendliness in Growing Happiness

As promised in the previous article on Karuna or compassion, we discuss here the role of one of the most important bhavanas or attitudes for human existence. This bhavana is called maitri, or friendliness.The literal meaning of maitri (मैत्री, maitrī) is:

coming from or given by or belonging to a friend, friendly, amicable, benevolent, affectionate

It also means – loving acceptance of others. No human relationship is possible without this. If we manifest hate rather than love toward the other, the relationship will end. The bhavana of maitri is directly connected to the state of human happiness, sukha (सुःख) as stated in
the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali (Samadhi Pada, 33) as follows :

मैत्री करुणा मुदित पेक्षाणां सुख दुःख पुण्यापुण्य विषयाणां भावनातः चित्तप्रसादनम्

maitrī karuṇā mudita-pekṣāṇāṁ-sukha-duḥkha puṇya-apuṇya-viṣayāṇāṁ bhāvanātaḥ citta-prasādanam

The literal meaning of sukha (Monier-Williams dictionary) is

ease , easiness , comfort , prosperity , pleasure , happiness (in m. personified as a child of धर्म and सिद्धि ), joy

Friendship in today’s busy world

As our lives get busier and busier, we perhaps have less and less time to form deep, enduring friendships with people. The friendships that we may have formed in the past may also be suffering due to lack of communication. I find it ironic that in this day of so many communication tools – cell phones, email, text-messaging, Facebook, Twitter, and many more – our communications with friends are getting fragmented and fractured.

But, we don’t need to despair. The bhavana of friendliness does not require any help from technology in order to be developed! We can exhibit friendliness in every action that we perform – whether it be to a child, a relative, a co-worker, employee or even a stranger. It is a conscious choice that we make in everything that we do.

Friendship in ancient times

Sudama Returns Home

Sudama returns home to find a golden palace, the gift of Krishna

The Hindu scriptures are full of examples of the bhavana of friendliness and enduring friendships. The story of Shri Krishna and his childhood friend, Sudama, is the stuff of legends.

Friendship and the Gita

Also, in the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 6, Verse 6, Shri Krishna states that friendship is not limited to external beings. Our own mind can be our best friend – For the being who has conquered the mind; that being’s mind is the best of friends.

bandhur aatmaatmanas tasya yenaatmaivaatmanaa jitaH

बन्धुर अात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जितः ।

The great sage, Ramanuja, interpreted this as:

“The mind is only a friend to those who are able to restrain it from flowing externally outwards after sense objects”

So, as we can see, friendliness towards others not only benefits the receiver, but also the giver. The bhavana or attitude is directly connected to our own peace and state of happiness – and if we are happy, we can make others around us peaceful and happy too. Make friendliness a choice – your friends will thank you!

What do you think? Does friendliness increase happiness? Or is it a prescription for pain?

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