The Company that one keeps

Our life is influenced by our company. Have you noticed that? When you are in a group, in a company, whatever people talk, you quietly slip into it. Like the foot on the banana peel. You slip, and suddenly you realize. And many times one is not aware of what one is talking but is involved in deep conversation. You are not aware of what’s happening. Someone is talking about cars and you get involved. And suddenly someone is talking about the weather and you get involved in the weather. And topics change. You are not aware of what’s happening. And then you talk about books, then you talk about music, then you talk about this and that and finally you round it up. But you end up elsewhere.

Our company reflects our mind. And mind is influenced by company. You must have noticed in your life, someone tells you, that particular person is not good. Just one word they say about someone. Next time you meet that person, you meet him with the same idea at the back of your mind. The word of your friend is somewhere deep down below. So you look at that person from that perspective. You are not looking with a clear eye but with a coloured eye. Isn’t it? If you sit in a company of people who are very ambitious, you also become ambitious. You also want to show off that you are also good, you are better off, and you have a fine taste.

People sit and talk about what excellent taste they have or what wonderful sense of art appreciation they have. And you also want to say that. Say that you also do some art. People talk about what good collection they have so it creates an ambition in you, you also want to create, make a good collection. People want to speak about how good their children are doing at school or how excellent they are at sports. And you also want to see your children are good in school and so you force them to be the way you want them to be. Not just for your sake or for the sake of your children, but for the sake of your company. Have you observed this? This is more so in the third world countries.

They want their children to be doctors because their friend’s children are doctors. They are studying for medicine. They want them to do engineering because their friend’s children are going to engineering college. We are so stuck at what people think about us, what they say about us. Many people want to do meditation but don’t want anybody to know they are doing meditation because they might think that this person is crazy, he is doing all this meditation and singing and that he is not normal.

Some feel ashamed if tears roll from their eyes. To cry is nothing abnormal. If tears come out of your eyes out of emotion, you feel ashamed. You say, I am so sorry, I am so sorry, and wipe your eyes with tissue. Why should you feel so sorry about it? Tears come out due to gratefulness, out of joy, out of love, not only out of sadness. This reflects the depth of humanity in you. That you are life; you are not a computer. Still we’ve been given to an understanding that being emotional is not good.

Your company influences you to a great deal. Your company creates desire in you and frustration in you.

Your company makes you complicated and robs away all the innocence with which you could have been more happy. In school we tell children, you must come first, push everybody and come first. So we create that ambition in children. Ambition is poisonous to joy and love in life. One who is ambitious can never be happy and loving. That doesn’t mean become pessimistic.

When I say drop the desire, I don’t mean that you have to be pessimistic. There is a difference. You know only these two ends, the extremes. One, you are craving, you are feverish about getting something. Another, you go to the other extreme of being pessimistic, being sad, depressed and disappointed. We know that both desire or being disappointed mean the same. ‘No desires’ need not necessarily mean being in depression. Either you desire, be ambitious or you are depressed. But in joy there is neither desire nor ambition. Ambition promises joy somewhere in the future. It creates a mirage of joy and leaves frustration in your hands. Is this not your experience? You observe the most successful men in any field of life. In their life, even after attaining their desired ambitions and goals, are they happy? The answer is ‘No’.

The desire creates an illusion of joy in the future. When it is attained it creates a fear of losing it. You think, “when I become the mayor of this town then I will be happy or when I become a famous actress or actor I will be happy”. When you become a famous actor or actress then you start worrying as to how you can maintain that position. If this goes away, then what will happen to me? There is a fear of losing it. You do not even enjoy that which is already there. And when it is gone , the memory of it brings pain.


One of the past Presidents of India had come to see me. He was frustrated inside. I told him – see, you have achieved the highest post a man can achieve in this country. Now why are you unhappy? You are much better off than before. Look at that man who sells cigarettes in the shop around the corner. How frustrated he could have been. If you are unhappy after attaining the highest position in the country how would that small business man with a shop around the corner, that man who sells small things like cigarettes, feel? The memory of the position you occupied brings more pain. You feel that nobody cares for you now. Now, you are your own servant. Is it not so? It is just an illusion. The mind says – “now I don’t have any powers, so they do not respect me”.

Desire is living on borrowed power which never stays. It is a rainbow which you cannot catch. In Sanskrit, there is the same word for the rainbow and desire. It is Indradhanush. Desires are like the Rainbow. If desires are not created by yourself, if it rises within you, then it is a need. It is authentic. But when it comes through the company of people, then it is an illusion.

The next sutra says ‘Dussangaha sarva daivadwachaha’. Such company which puts drops of poison in you, which thirsts you, which disturbs you, which brings passion, lust and desires and thrusts them up in you is bad company. What is bad company? The company which disturbs your coolness, simplicity and innocence in you; which robs the joy from you is bad company. And what happens? With the desire, there is always anger. Anger does not come by itself. It is the smoke of the pain that is desire. Behind anger, if you examine, there is always a desire.

You can never get rid of anger without looking into desire. And when you look into desire, if it is authentic, real and needed, then it is a need. The need stays as need. If it is an ambition that is infused in you by your company, it will dissolve and disappear. For e.g. you are thirsty and you want to drink something, it is a need. You want a nice place to sleep. That is also a need. You want to go somewhere and you may need a car. That is a need. But that man has ‘so and so’ car and I should have a better car than him – ‘that’ is ambition. Do you see the difference? I have nothing against you for having what you want to have. The Rishi has nothing against you for growing or for having a high standard of life. You be a king, a monarch in the world but not looking at someone and competing with him. Competition destroys creativity. But we are told the other way around. People have always told you that you have to be competitive. You should win over the competition. Otherwise you cannot survive.

[Taken from Guruji’s commentary on Narada Bhakti Sutras]

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5 Responses to The Company that one keeps

  1. pm says:

    love this

  2. Kiran says:

    Love love this….

  3. Nilima gupta says:

    True universal knowledge!!

  4. Elisabeth says:

    Truly Beautiful!!!!

  5. Kapil Sharma says:

    true saying, but for those who want to absorb knowledge not for the one which like to prech knowledge

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