True Friendship

by Seasick Fist

“Those truly linked don’t need correspondence.
When they meet again after many years apart,
Their friendship is as true as ever.

In the distant past, there was once a young and wealthy statesman who was on a diplomatic mission. Pausing by a river at night, he heard the haunting sound of a lute. A passionate musician himself, he took up his own lute and eventually found a goatherd sitting on an old ruin. In those days, an aristocrat would not associate with a commoner, but the two men struck up a friendship through their music. Their playing was as smooth and natural as flowing water.
Once a year, the ambassador and the goatherd would renew their friendship. Though they had the chance to play their music with others during the rest of the year, each man declared that he had found his true counterpart.
The ambassador tried for many years to lift the goatherd out of his poverty, but his friend steadfastly refused. He did not want to pollute their friendship with money.
Years later, when the ambassador was gray-haired, he went to the appointed spot, but his friend was not there. He tried to play alone, but his melody was forlorn. Finally someone came to tell him that his friend had starved to death during a recent famine. This news made the ambassador despondent. He was caught in the irony of knowing that he had the money to save his friend, and yet he understood the man’s values as well. In sorrow, the ambassador broke his lute. ‘With my friend gone from the world, who will I play my music for?’
True friendship is a rare harmony.”

– Deng Ming-Dao (365 Tao Daily Meditations)

In this age of increasingly advanced technology it has become almost impossible to become out of contact with one another. Every person is just one click away. Likewise everyone is usually reachable no matter where they are (so long as there’s signal/wi-fi). And yet we’re becoming more and more isolated.

The very act of being sociable via technology causes us, ironically to become less sociable. For all those who spend the majority of their time on their phones, iPods, iPads and other portable devices, try putting them down a little more. Especially if you’re already with friends, family etc. Face to face is the only true path to being sociable, everything else is mere illusion. Or if that is not possible then at least being present when you are talking with one another, whether it be instant messengers, phone calls or video calls. Think only of the other person, listen compassionately to what they’re saying without allowing your mind to wander (When it enviably does, acknowledge it and gently bring your attention back to the other person), waiting for them to finish speaking so you can speak or talking over them.

For those who have fallen out of touch with someone who was once close to you, carefully read and absorb the above story. Just because you don’t speak to someone on a regular basis does not mean the friendship has ended. True Friendship transcends modern forms of communication, humans were not meant to be in perpetual contact with one another, nor do we need to be.

Even if you only speak once every few years, that does not make a true friendship any less valuable. Just make sure when you do speak, you do so with the entirety of your being, with compassion, gratitude and love.