The Sixth Relationship: Spiritual Friendship

There are five essential relationships ordinarily found in social life:

1) parent ↔ child

2) friend ↔ friend

3) lover ↔ lover

4) teacher ↔ student

5 pastor ↔ congregant

All of these are connected by a common thread:  a mutual need or election between the two.  Once the mutuality is not met by either one or both of the parties, that relationship is essentially over, and the bond, once strong, is weakened or severed. That is basically how life unfolds as we move along this mortal coil.  New relationships are formed (or not), but always on the model of the above five.

However, there is a sixth, encompassing and embracing the other five but is distinctly different from them.  This one is called the Spiritual Friend ↔ Disciple.  The term “disciple” comes from the same root as the word discipline.  A disciple commits him/herself wholly, body and soul, to a chosen path (like a boxer, or painter, for example), usually under the tutelage of a mentor, teacher, coach, toward whom they have faith, trust, and believe in wholeheartedly.  You become a disciple of/in a discipline.

A spiritual friend acts as a father or mother, friend, teacher, religious adviser, lover (in the unconditional sense, neither sexual nor romantic), all in one. But this relationship is unique as the spiritual friend accepts you unconditionally, without standards, strings, conditions, or perceived images that have to be fulfilled. There are no judgments or criticisms; you are accepted as you are, for who you are right now.  Here, a space of freedom is created for you to just be. It is unlike any relationship you have ever had.