Just read your essay on Friend-ships. Very good. Your point about the “tribe” versus all your acquaintances is particularly apposite. A key challenge in living a cosmopolitan lifestyle is maintaining meaningful relationships with past friends. With time, former friends lapse into acquaintances. How to maintain the relationship over distance and time? How does one determine whether a person remains an acquaintance or becomes a member of your tribe – random chance, gut feeling, or is this something one should actually think about strategically? And how should we try to “be” so that others decide to include us in their “tribes” rather than leaving us in the generally less-enriching acquaintance zone?
Friendly Challenges II
I was pretty spiritual/metaphysical in Part One. Since it focused on the first part of your question Part Two will focus on the second half. Part Two will focus more on the egoic attachments represented in the question. Let’s start with the phrasing of “How does one determine whether a person remains an acquaintance or becomes a member of your tribe—random chance, gut feeling, or is this something one should actually think about strategically.” In all seriousness the word “strategically” made me laugh with glee. It couldn’t be farther from the truth and in a way it couldn’t be a more apt description.
If we were to say your strategy is to be yourself, then yes. If it’s to get or keep friendships then no. People don’t choose to be in tribes together. The only way in is to be yourself. And then all of the similar yourselves all melt into one pre-thought consciousness when they meet. So you can’t really look for them, and you don’t choose them nor do they choose you. Ultimately everyone is in your Spiritual Nation, but at this stage of human development most people can only remember being in touch with this part—the part where your similar ways of thinking allow you to seamlessly comprehend each other in profound ways. You can literally feel that they think using a very similar logic framework to yours. Again, everyone is psycho-logical, but when the logics really line up the spirits can see each other.
You recognize your Tribe members very soon after meeting them. It’s a nice feeling and a hint at what Enlightenment feels like when you’re awake for it. Often the reasons they’ll think like you is that they had very similar experiences growing up. There’s seven billion of us—it’s highly unlikely you’ve ever run into a unique problem in your life. The similar backgrounds only serves to create an even closer connection as stories are easily shared in a very reciprocal manner. So far from figuring how to earn your way into a Tribe with your coolness, you have to relax into a Tribe with your authenticity.
The other issue I want to bring up relates to time and attachment. If you want to live the most profound life possible then shoot to be as aware and conscious as possible. To do that means to lose all sense of time relevance. Yes you will always have to step out of Now to plan a lot of later but at least you can hover near Now most of the untime. But that has to be something on your agenda to do. It has to be a priority. So thinking about other times (thinking about active friendships from your past) guarantees that you are pulling your consciousness away from the Present Moment and into another time where your reaction is to feel forlorn. That’s why it feels icky. It’s your spirit telling you not to stay there thinking that for too long. It’s urging your back to Now.
Yes, love your friends. I’ve never loved mine more than I have in the last decade. But I’m also not attached to them. I try to stay focused on the Present Moment as much as I can. I don’t mind at all that some people misinterpret what I’m doing and are critical—I get that they can’t see what I’m doing. And I’ll even choose to think those melancholic thoughts sometimes just to feel melancholy for a while. But I feel most peaceful when I’m in the Present, focusing on what’s before me in that Moment.
So do not use narrative thought to build a cord to call your past and wish it was your present. It was your present, and a lot of what made it feel good was your presence. So don’t lament that you don’t have that feeling Now by thinking about then, it is that very thinking that is the barrier between you and the profundity of the Present Moment.
Do it right and everyone’s your friend. And then you totally get how Mother Teresa did the leper thing. I wish you every good fortune in your efforts.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.