Friends are like sign posts. One has to be careful in choosing friends. A proverb says that birds of the same feather flock together. Some friends can support and influence each other. Lucky are those who can get along with their friends. Sometimes, competition and jealousy can arise between friends. It is good to take the time to get to know the temperaments, likes and dislikes of each other to make the journey easy. Friendship is like an investment, it grows or diminishes in the course of time, unless they take good care of the needs of each other. Some sort of formal as well as informal meetings and sharing can go a long way to nurture the friendship. One has to set priority and create time to engage in activities together. This can be cooking, playing a game or going for a walk or for shopping together, etc. Can you enumerate what you like to do together with your friends? What are some of your fond memories of a friend? Do you really miss your friend? Did you ever experience a breakup in your friendship? How do you value friendship? What do you look for in a friend?
Friendship begins in the family. In the Family, we learn to share, care, give, take and forgive. We also learn to grow old together. This is also the place to discover and explore unknown areas such as affection, misunderstanding, tenderness and criticism. In building relationships, the family plays a significant role. Our family experience helps us to build strong friendship. What we experience in the family we pass it on to others. But, we cannot fully return it back to our parents, brothers and sisters. We can only pass it on to our friends and well wishers. Sometimes, when new friendship begins, the old friendship ends. Every friendship enriches our human experience. Do you think that your own family life experience can help you to get along with your friends? What do you think about your present family life? Do you think that the increase in broken relationship has something to do with the modern family life? Good families promote the real value of friendship such as caring, sharing, forgiving, mutual cooperation, team spirit and self sacrifice.
Choice of friends. Our life is full of choices. We can choose whatever profession, whatever study and whatever food that we like to eat and the places we like to visit and stay. However, one of the most important choices is the choice of friends or relationship. Our life span is limited. Therefore, one of the most important choices is: with whom and how do we spend our time? Often, our plans and programmes are influenced by our choice of friends. Friendship is something you cannot force upon someone or demand from someone. We need to be wise, careful and have the freedom in choosing our friends. You can have friends who are living close to you or living far away. Your close or intimate friend is someone you often long to be with in good times as well as in bad times. You may seek advice and or spend your holiday and free time with him or her. Some people wish to have close friends but do not put in any effort to cultivate their friendship. You need to invest time and resources to establish and maintain an intimate friendship. You cannot passively wait until someone comes to you and say, I like you or I like to be your friend. If you like someone, you need to tell him or her your good intention to be friends. But remember not to force anyone to be your friend, as real friendship can grow only if there is true freedom. Sometimes there can be rejection and painful moments in the process of cultivating a friendship. Are you willing to take the risk and try to reach out to the other to find a faithful friend or a partner in your life journey?
Charity and charitable deeds are stepping stones to progress in the path of spirituality. Spiritual growth can be measured in terms of selfless service, self-sacrificing love towards the less fortunate men and women of our time. Globalization and liberalization often tend to work for the advantage of the most skilled people. It creates increasing number of poor and hungry people. It is a painful fact that a few individuals and multinational companies manage the resources of the world with a profit oriented, capitalistic economic drive. Though many rich men and women as well as multinational companies are contributing their share of charity to the NGOs, the number of poor and hungry men and women are on the increase even in the rich countries. In what way can we respond to this challenge as spiritual seekers? Can you do something to express your solidarity in charity with the poor and marginalized, who lack the basic necessities in life? Can you recollect the face of a poor man or woman whom you may have seen in recent days? Allow the life of that poor man to challenge your comfort zone. Can you feel with the poor and listen to your inner voice to respond in charity? Then, you can speed up your spiritual journey and spiritual growth .
Do a good deed each day to practice charity. It is said that selfishness is the root cause of many problems in the world. Selfishness is a natural tendency in all Human beings irrespective of age and gender. Many research studies have shown that human beings have the capacity to outgrow selfishness. Spiritual writers have pointed out the importance of doing charitable deeds to overcome pride and selfishness. Fulfilling one’s duty without any selfish motive is a sure way to progress in a spiritual path. The expression of this attitude of offering selfless deeds can bring a self transformation. Doing a good deed each day consciously can help one to establish solidarity with less fortunate and marginalized people. Are you willing to give a try to become an agent of transformation by doing a selfless deed each day to promote charity towards creation and humanity?
Charity consist in speaking and thinking good aboUt others. Your words and deeds have to be in harmony while speaking about the other person. Speak no harmful words which can hurt the other person. Empty and silly arguments can go against charity . Let your dwords be of encouragement to each other. Be a good listener and inspire others and motivate them to do good that is real charity than giving money or matterial help. Try not to gossip and avoid grudges against others. Even when things go wrong donot loose your temper and provoke the other . Be kind and forgiving. This is the test ofcharity.
To become a kind,loving and sharing person requires an action programme. Most kind deeds and generous sharing are natural values that are to be lived daily. You can begin the day by asking today how can I be a service oriented person? If you have the real desire to serve others, you will always find ways and means to do it. Being of service is not a one time job. You do something nice to someone and wonder why others are not good to you. Remember that when you give, you also receive. You have the choice to be kind and take up unnoticed acts of kindness such as patiently listening to someone who needs your help and attention. Today, can you think of doing a kind deed to make someone happy?
The act of charity is reaching out to others. Often, resentment, petty arguments and misunderstandings keep people apart. Pride and ego keep us away from reaching out to others. We let the others be the first to apologize. In this way, we are deprived of happiness and joy in relationships. Only in charity can we think of reaching out to others by letting go of our ego and pride. If we take the initiative to reach out in charity, we can win over the other person. When you believe that your position is more important than happiness and joy, you cannot let go. The real way to be happy and peaceful is to let go. It is painful yet it is rewarding in the long run. You can reach out and allow others to be right in practicing charity. When you do so, others will become less defensive of his or her position.You can sow the seeds of peace, joy, happiness, love and charity to make this world a better place to live in for all. Thus, charity is not only giving money for a good cause but it is also giving space to the other to grow as he or she is in exercising his or her freedom.
Charity begins at home.Charity is a spiritual quality. One has to grow from self centeredness to other centeredness. To begin, one has to be charitable and kind to oneself. Charitable deeds have lasting value when it is done without any ulterior motive. When you do charity, you cannot expect anything in return. There must be no strings attached to the act of charity. It is a selfless giving. Nothing is expected in return. But, in the long run, all the charitable deeds are rewarded. These days, communication media and social media bring us closer. It is also possible to send help to anyone anywhere. Sometimes, the money can reach the places where oneself cannot be personally present. Due to globalisation, the whole world has become like a village. Charity and charitable words and deeds break the barrier of communication.
Often, it is easy to be kind and compassionate to others who are living in a distance. We can share our time, talent and resources to help others.At times it is a challenge to be charitable to one’s own family members and life partner. Can you recollect a selfless deed that you did to someone recently?
The act of kindness to some is like tonic for the day. When you share with generosity, whatever small things that you do, doubles your joy. It makes you feel that you are thoughtful of him or her. You always feel good when you give something to someone without a selfish motive. One has to give for the sake of giving without expecting anything in return. This is often difficult. Can you remember a day or an event when you gave your time, talents, resources or ideas to someone freely without expecting anything in return? The world continues to be a good place to live in when people begin to do the right things without expecting
anything in return. Often, a spiritually matured or balanced person can do things without expecting anything in return. If you are a seeker of true happiness, try to do things without attaching yourself to the end result but do it as best as you can and the result will follow in the course of time.