In the search for what excites you in life, there is no thing to do or possess, no place to go, nothing at all that can replace the essential need and ultimate foundation of good companionship to make life in general more interesting and satisfying.
Certainly, we can be very happy alone, and enjoy many things, but if there is no companionship of a high quality in your life, a black hole will eventually develop. This is an emotional hole that expresses as a lack of motivation, not being able to find anything interesting to do, and a general apathy towards life which if not attended to sucks you in deeper and deeper, as you may already have seen in yourself or others.
To have high quality friends who meet or exceed your own intellectual, skill and interest level is essential to a complete life. The more such friends the better. This is very different than the many people that are referred to as friends in normal life, people you see once in a while to do things with to pass time or fill the need of companionship as much as possible, but they just do not give that completeness. We can see this in depressed people who have several such friends yet still feel alone. You may have encountered this, feeling alone in a crowd or even at a party.
Of course I am speaking of a mentally relatively normal person, not someone who has psychological hangups which make them avoid people by convincing themselves that social contact is a waste of time and in this way avoid dealing with their distorted inner life. On the other hand, many healthy people are alone and make that statement because of the overall valid disappointment with people they meet.
Buddha said, ‘100% of your spiritual growth is dependent on the sangha (spiritual community).’ and Christ says in the bible; ‘When two or more of you are gathered, I will be there.’ The Jews have a minimum of 10 men required to hold many prayer rituals. The Sufi teacher is to have 10 or 12 higher level students in the ‘inner circle’. There are many examples of such things, even in Star Wars, the master must have a disciple. Fiction is often based on truth.
There is so much talk about finding your passion and your true purpose in life, your special place and talent, and so many people selling programs to help the poor lost person find that special purpose which often do not work. Even I say that I can help people find the work they should do in life, and I have helped many people, although not all. After many years of observation, I have come to the conclusion that it usually works when a person has good friends and true companions who are suitable to their character and are loyal enough to fill the natural need.
In the search for the ‘perfect vocation’, it was usually found in working with the right kind of people, suitable good companions having some involvement in the activity. I believe that it is more the companionship that made the vocation satisfying than the work itself. Because you are more likely to find suitable friends through a common interest, people have confused the activity as the source of happiness rather than the companionship as the point of what they really seek. Of course, sometimes the work can be satisfying, but in reality, that person has the right companions in their life, even if not involved in their work which give the happiness in life.
We need friends for two reasons, give and take. A true friend will be there whenever you need, as my closest friend Michael was there for me. I was about to leave on a one year journey and still had some business ventures that needed some attention. I called Michael and asked to meet with him because I have a very big favor to ask. He said yes, just bring over what you need me to do. I told him that it was very big and he should not just agree so quickly, but his reply was very clear, “If you need it done I will do it, whatever it is.” That is a true friend. We need to know there is someone there who we can rely on, and also someone we can help, so that we serve a purpose. Give and Take.
My proposition here is to say that much of the misery that is attributed to work, or lack of purpose and not having anything you are passionate about has little to do with ‘what you do’ and all to do with ‘who is in your life’. As I have said, you are looking in the Yellow Pages for something that is not listed there. We are looking for things to do when the real problem is not what to do but who to do it with.
The conundrum is of course, how to find those special friends who can give your mind and heart the intellectual and emotional satisfaction that it needs. We need both, mind and heart, because it is when the two combine that they form an alchemical mixture which is the food of the soul. Either one alone simply is not satisfactory to feed the great hunger of companionship that we all need.
Why would a master need a disciple more than the disciple needs the master? There is a story of a great spiritual teacher who cried more deeply when his closest disciple died than when his own child died. This may sound strange, but it is a story after all and expresses the need of the mind and heart combination as being even more powerful than the heart felt love of a parent to a child without the intellectual stimulation. One of my teachers said; “A good teacher is hard to find, but a good student is even harder.” He often referred to me as having found a long lost son.
My own experience is the same. My creativity and ability to bring forth a higher quality of information is relative to the quality of the student or person asking the question. The point of saying this is for you to know that you may have a lot more creativity and talent in you, if it is given a suitable reason to come forth, someone who will appreciate it, and you.
There are many examples to prove this, a baby left untouched and without any affection has been known to die. The great punishment to prisoners is solitary confinement. And on the other side, the most profound spiritual practice is total isolation.
Now we have found something interesting, the very same thing, being totally alone, can kill or be a very powerful step towards spiritual enlightenment. This only proves the intense power of companionship because everything must have its complete opposite in order for it to exist.
If companionship is so powerful a force in our life, and the lack of it can cause so much pain, then it simply must have its equal and opposite effect when used with wisdom and understanding, that of total spiritual liberation. Death or eternal life, the question is the wisdom to know the power it holds, and work with it correctly.
The difficulty in finding such friends is clear, we all know about it, and this is a good explanation as to why there is so much suffering and misery in the developed world. I asked a Russian friend who had immigrated to Canada long before Russia opened to the world if he missed anything in Russia. There was no hesitation, “Friends”. His explanation makes perfect sense. When life is tough, as it was in communist Russia, the only thing you have is your friends and family, so relationships become very close. But in the western world with all the possessions and freedom we have, everyone is more interested in their things and protecting them to allow anyone to get too close emotionally.
I have found that with my schools in Canada, USA, Germany and New Zealand. People just do not have time in these developed (if you can call it that) countries to devote to building deep and meaningful relationships. Everyone is so busy with all their toys and activities that despite their claims as to what is most important to them, they are always too busy to put in more than the slightest effort towards building what they need the most. People or possessions and keeping your safe distance not getting too close, what is more important?
Choose your priorities and then put in all your effort and energy into building something of quality and substance, a focused group, business, hobby or charity for example that will draw others to you, or be willing to put yourself wherever that thing or place of quality may be. Your attachments to the things you have, the place you live, to anything that binds you to the life you live, if it is lacking in something that you just cannot describe but know something big is missing, those attachments which give you comfort are also destroying you by keeping you from the right companions.
Certainly there is a need for a purpose and work or activity, but my point is that true companionship is the core of happiness. If you cannot find that special purpose or place or job in your life, that you love and gives you a passion, and you identify with this concept of friendship and companionship as the ultimate foundation of happiness, what are you willing to do towards finding those people, or creating a place or group of the right people. How much are you willing to give or do towards having and being a part of that place? If you know what you need, why are you not doing everything you can to get it?
All it takes is a willingness to put people before possessions, and the courage to give your way of viewing life a change from confused independence which brings division towards mutual dependance which melts into unity, and let your heart, now self-protecting with walls of learnt concepts, open so it can get the satisfying food it needs to feel safe and content.
Are you like Nassrudin who was looking for his keys in the garden when his neighbor asked what he was doing.
“I am looking for my keys”, said Nassrudin.
“I shall come and help you then.”
After an hour, John asked Nassrudin if he was sure he lost the keys in the garden.
“No, I lost them in the house.”
“Then why are we looking here in the garden?”
“Because the light is better out here.”
It is impossible to find what you need if you are looking for something else.