Everyone As a Friend

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Meditation: Your best friend as the model for everyone

You begin practice with friends; if you begin by considering an enemy, you'd have a weak sense of him as a friend, at best, with nothing to prod you on to more reflection or a deeper feeling.

Take the person who appears in your min d as your best friend. Then consider your next-best friend. Recognize that friend number two was just like friend number one in a former lifetime. Gradually, person by person, see that all your friends have been like this best friend in former lifetimes. Then take neutral people. Then start with the least of enemies and work on down to the worst of enemies.

Keep reflecting this way, using details of your relationship with your present best friend to evoke the feeling of strong association, and extend it to the other person, contemplating in detail until you experience a change of attitude. When the feeling comes, you'll notice it—it will be so vivid, so refreshing. Remain with this new attitude for a while; don't race on to the next friend. Savor the new knowledge.

I don't recommend forcing yourself to take your mother as the model of the closest friend, but I do suggest being open to the reawakening of childhood feelings. In my own experience, they are so strong that when you do reawaken them—when they do battle with the later difficult feelings—they win rather easily, because they are deep-seated.

It's interesting how we freeze our view of particular people. We exaggerate certain aspects we see in others, thereby fixing them into narrow, unproductive categories of relationships and limiting our ability to feel close and act out of a sense of intimacy.

We are loosening our process by superimposing the best-friend feeling onto other people. We're becoming more flexible.

In the meditation of recognizing others as having been our best friend, we are loosening our process by superimposing the best-friend feeling onto other people. We're becoming more flexible. The practice reveals a plenitude of possibilities with others. What would it be like for these people if we acted as if they were friends? If, when we saw them, we had an internal feeling of such strong intimacy? What would happen if we inwardly treated strangers in stores as best of friends? There would be a greater warmth and a considerable amount of extra energy available both to us and the world.