So much of our spiritual work can feel isolated from other people. We may pray, study, or meditate on our own. We soul search and dig deep to find the areas of ourselves that we need to focus on transforming. And yet, although each person’s spiritual journey is an individual path, none of us can do it alone. Our friends offer us the support, guidance, and love necessary to make the transformations that we need to make.
The kabbalists teach that our friendships don’t just help us with our spiritual growth, they are the very purpose of it. In fact, friendship is the essence of spirituality. Here’s why:
The true test of friendship isn’t how you much you love someone when they are at their best, but how much you love them when they are at their worst. It is the purest form of loving thy neighbor as thyself.
To love someone unconditionally is to love God. It is the ability to see the spark of the Creator in them. Every time we see negativity in someone else, we disconnect from the Creator, because we fail to understand that those traits are specifically designed by the Creator. When we love someone despite their faults, we connect to the Light of the Creator.
Reaching this level of friendship is incredibly rare. To have even one friend that you love unconditionally is an enormous blessing!
Loving someone unconditionally also means loving someone with no expectation of anything in return. We often expect things from other people – we want them to do favors for us, to give us their attention, to make us feel better about ourselves. But when we have a true friendship, we put aside our own selfish desires because of our love for them.
Our spiritual work is designed to transform ourselves into more selfless, giving beings. The more we grow unconditional love for our friends through acts of sharing, the more we change ourselves into more spiritual people.
We are meant to ultimately become like the Creator, an endless source of sharing. With every step we take toward having genuine love, tolerance and human dignity for others, we align ourselves more and more with the unconditional love of the Creator. To love others unconditionally is to love them the way the Creator loves us.
Think about how you can be a better friend to those around you. How can you be more giving, more selfless, and more unconditionally loving? The more we actively think about this and take steps towards building that kind of friendship, the more we transform ourselves and the world around us. This is the purpose of all our spiritual work and the reason friendship nourishes the soul.