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12. “I will lose all my friends.”

When we embrace spirituality our entire worldview shifts, causing our habits, goals and interests to subsequently change. It’s inevitable that the relationships with people who we shared so much with will also change. It can be unsettling on both sides, and we may fear losing our friends and family forever, wondering whether that emotional gap can ever be filled. Can spirituality alienate us from the society we live in and cause us to lose our friends?
In Chapter Twelve, Krishna describes how the awakening of pure devotion upgrades one’s character in a beautiful way. One who sincerely and seriously takes to spiritual life frees themselves from envy (advesta), becomes friendly and compassionate to all (maitrah karuna), gives up all sense of greed and proprietorship (nirmamo), and is purified of pride, arrogance and vanity (nirahankarah). In all situations the devotee embodies equanimity, and remains unaffected by the inevitable rollercoaster journey of life (sama dukkha sukha ksami).
Far from losing friends, with genuine spiritual advancement comes the increased capability to have gracious relationships with one and all. Equipped with spiritual vision that penetrates beyond the externals, one remains unaffected by annoying idiosyncrasies, ideological differences, unpredictable personalities, and undesirable character traits. We’re able to see something deeper, the underlying beauty of the spirit. We can see the heart. At this stage of purity, we have no enemies, even if others view us as such. When we become spiritually immersed, we actually find real friendships, and also become real friends to others.
The metaphor of a tree can help us better understand our interactions in this world. Some friends are like leaves – they come and go, changing with the winds and seasons, in our life for a few scenes of the story. They appear beautiful, but the next moment they disappear. Other friends are like branches - they're stronger, stay for longer and foster a greater confidence and reliance within us. At some point, however, they also snap and turn out to be unpredictable. These friendships, which we strongly identify with, lack the deep substance of genuine connection. A few rare friendships are like the trunk, which stay for the entirety of one’s lifetime and provide constant support and nourishment in our life. Those friends, often overlooked, are solid and substantial. They accept us for who we are. Through this lens we can better understand the varieties of friendship, and become better equipped to ascertain where it genuinely exists in our life.
In concluding Chapter Twelve, Krishna expresses how he becomes conquered by those who wholeheartedly invest themselves in the process of loving devotion, bhakti-yoga. On the spiritual journey one is ultimately introduced to the best friend of all – Krishna! Through that relationship with Krishna, our connection with everyone else naturally blossoms. When we shine a light into a diamond, that light is beautifully reflected in all directions. Similarly, when we direct our friendship toward Krishna, the diamond, that mood of fraternity expands unlimitedly.

One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me – such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me.” (Bhagavad-Gita 12.13-14)

References

12.13-14 – The friendly nature of the spiritualist that also connects them with the Supreme Friend.