The condition which high friendship demands is the ability to do without it. To be capable of that high office requires great and sublime parts. There must be very two, before there can be very one. — Emerson, on 'Friendship'
One cannot study Emerson's Essays without becoming deeply impressed with the fact that two very essential attributes of his character were his profound conception of friendship and his lofty ideal of what the noblest expression of love should be. To him, evidently, they were spiritual, transmuting powers insulated against the revival of past weaknesses which, in the arduous labor of overcoming personality, had passed through fire-cleansing experiences. Having become alchemically purified, the truest and most sacred in the heart-life could venture to bare itself to them in faith and absolute confidence.
How I have pondered over the following words: "the condition which high friendship demands is the ability to do without it." Is it not so, for truly, personal desire once transmuted into impersonal love, that noble attribute beneath which still lurk disparities, desires nothing for itself, but relatively contributes the stalwart ability to do without it. Verily, each must find himself before he can find the other! But longing to unfold this thought to a more satisfactory conclusion, I looked to Mother Nature to help and inspire me, as she did in my earlier years. Then, enwrapped in the gentle folds of her soothing harmony she would clarify my understanding, and thenceforth I never was quite able to deny myself her ready and unfailing response. Notwithstanding this, she and I appeared to be 'very two,' and yet, how was it when she and I at heart were 'very one'!
Seating myself in one of her lovely sanctuaries, templed by the filtered shade of gleaming leafy boughs, the clear cool atmosphere reflected a rare mystical azure, a harmonious blend of the distant manasic-blue mountains, the smiling blue sky and the marine-blue auric veil floating over the sea, which seemed to palpitate with some consecrated message. The perfume-laden breeze, like honeyed sweetness, diffused the fragrance of aromatic herbs distilled in Nature's laboratory, linking her impersonal consciousness to mine for holier communion. Thereafter, portals opened into shining chambers beyond, and the glory glimmering in each human heart, reacting to a spark of the awakening spirit, burst into lovely flame. It was thus I learned that the higher never acts directly on the lower; it requires an intermediate transmitting agent to intervene everywhere, and the eye of the lower, as the spiritual soul or Buddhi-Manas does through the visualizing power of Manas, the Higher Ego or Thinker.
All our Leaders have taught that there is a mystic alliance between man and Nature, that man is a child of the universe, that the forces and powers that comprise the one are inseparable and identic with those that comprise and construct the other. Although we must learn to walk alone, the solitude imposing itself for further self-acquaintance is but a temporary necessity to spiritual growth. Again I learned, that although man and Nature appeared to be 'very two,' they were, indeed, 'very one.' When we realize that man in his dual nature is mortal and immortal, an animal-man and a god-man within his corporeal body, we further learn that androgynous man in the Third Root-Race separated into sexes, one positive and the other negative. Each, like spirit and matter, knew itself not, both being the opposite aspects of Reality, and through incalculable ages each evolved the dual aspects of itself — the spiritual and the corporeal.
Truly, in the spiritual sense, true friendship and impersonal love, ever expanding in the consciousness of oneness with the Universe, under the fire of heroic experiences, blossom forth to glorify true manhood and womanhood by their perennial beauty, strength, and lofty aspirations. In their higher unfoldment, each guards the other as his counterpart, and like progressive spiritual entities, gains the ability to do without the other, and in acquiring and recognising these majestic attributes in the other, the rarified virtues forge a closer bond and each blends more intimately and becomes at one with the other. These two beloved attributes, like towering, glistening, snowy peaks, rise majestically heavenward out of the deep bosom of divine Compassion, and in their compelling mysterious power they pulsate rhythmically and elevate the ideals in the core of the inner god and in every human heart.
Their beauty, strength, and nobility, inspire and shield, and ever stimulated by loftier ideals, these expanding attributes soar onward with extending gold-tipped wings, flashing ever more brilliantly in the dazzling rays of the divine Monad or Higher Self. The happiest mortals are they who no longer crave the gratification of the desires and senses, for the unerring law brings evidence that true friends are self-elected. Besides, these loved qualities have a lustrous power to disperse the shadows of life and metamorphose the lower traits into the higher. Thus by irradiating their magnanimity to exalt the eager soul, it follows the magnetic channel and finds the way to open the portals to the Vision Sublime — at-one-ment with the All. Therefore, all personal desires, like the stone of matter, must be banished, rolled away, not to hinder, but to aid the pursuit of the long-sought ideal of infinite beauty and universal compassion concealed in the heart of every human being. Dr. G. de Purucker says:
You yourself must awaken in your own soul the holy flame; and it is the same with every other step in spiritual and intellectual progress that you make. You yourself must experience the unspeakable delight of Compassion — the ineffable feeling of being at one with the All. You yourself must be the vehicle of the inner light, must gain it. It is both in you and above you, invigorating you and inspiring you. Be it. — Golden Precepts of Esotericism, p. 133
Since there are as many different orders of friendship and love as there are individuals, some general but brief definitions contrasting them might be helpful. Whereas friendship is tempered by reason it lacks the ardor of love, while ordinarily, love is more selfish and involved with the passional nature, so that, as commonly said, love is blind to the faults of the loved one. But not so with impersonal love. It seeks nothing for itself nor temporizes with the personal weaknesses, but if necessary, prefers gently, wisely, and patiently to transmute a fault into a virtue, thereby extinguishing the baser, in order to conserve the highest welfare of the beloved. True friendship and impersonal love act in harmony with the Voice of Divinity within, thrilling every motive to vibrate as unselfish action which draws souls to each other.
Neither stoops to affect a glamorous charm. Both seek virtue and wisdom, hence scorn to envy or supplant the well-merited position of either the loved one or the true and tried friend. With unfaltering confidence and trust, each unquestioningly supports the other through any failure or trial. When love is impersonal, it lacks the desire for self-advantage; and friendship, its twin sister, becomes its backbone, as it were, stimulating love's holy desire gladly to sacrifice life itself, if need be, for the welfare of the loved one. These beloved attributes, functioning as twin-sisters, have their root in the eternal god-spark or Monad, and operate as electro-magnetic forces drawing all similar things to themselves like a magnet. Their standard may be gauged by the indissoluble strength of the links forged in the purifying trial of fire. The heart-force augmented by boundless sympathy distinguishes an exemplary character. May not the ideal relationship of Michael Angelo and Vittoria Colonna approximate more or less this latter type?
Love is peace; love is harmony; love is self-forgetfulness; love is strength; it is power; it is vision; it is evolution. Its power so expands the inner nature that slowly you become sympathetic, because you become at one with the entire home-universe in which you live and move and have your being; — and you become at one with the divinity in the heart of all things. — Golden Precepts of Esotericism, pp. 118-19
The Messengers and Teachers, in their all-inclusive and Almighty Love, express the most inspiring, beautiful, and enduring friendships. I wonder whether anything in human life surpasses the beauty of such an ideal devotion. They never unclasp the hand of friendship and love with their disciples. The more changeless, loyal, and enduring is the unselfish devotion of the disciple, the more beautiful and unbreakable the bond. Through incarnations the golden link of spiritual brotherhood enlivens and glows in the endless acts of altruistic service evoked in the one and the other. Such a bond of love and friendship is an unspoken covenant with the Divine and makes of the 'very two,' the 'very one.' These great and sublime qualities distinguish the mighty and heroic characters of the highly evolved Messengers, inspiring by their all-permeant love all high-minded and spiritually inclined men and women for incarnations to come.
An endless trail of grades of evolving entities are attracted to them not only by their electro-magnetic and spiritual power, but by their unfolding oneness with the All. Their energizing radiations help them to mount from height to height, and on reaching the human stage to advance from men to heroes, from quasi-divine beings to gods and super-gods, progressively evolving to at-one-ment with the Boundless All. They, having passed through unspeakable trials and heart-searing experiences, are through their compassion cemented indissolubly in a mystical sense, through the very blood of their hearts, becoming 'very one' with the Guardian Wall which protects Humanity from yet greater suffering and despair!