Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > the way of spiritual friendship


the three kisses - the way of friendship

May 5, 2020

This essay explores friendship within a contemplative, developmental model of intimacy. Varied sources are utilized: The Beatles' song "In My Life"; Dzigar Kongtrul, Simone Weil, Thomas Merton, Ken Wilber; Jewish and Christian scriptures; a humorous dialogue between a red oak and a crow. The principal source is teaching of Aelred of Rievaulx (12th Century), the three kisses. Also explored is the ending of a friendship, being not-befriended, and friendliness between professionals and those they serve.

Open to the Light

Brian Wilcox 'Open to the Light'

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Your spouse, your child, your parent, your friend, your teacher, your student - whoever it is - is just another sentient being with her own mind; her own past, present, and future; her own need to give and receive warmth. For this relatively short span of time, karma has brought you together. But this does not give you a claim on one another. Rather, it gives you a wonderful opportunity to enjoy mutual love and caring. It gives you a chance to water your seed of tsewa [Tibetan, "tender, open heart"]. This is the best way we can share our time together. This is what makes our eyes sparkle and our hearts fill with bliss.

*Dzigar Kongtrul. Training in Tenderness.

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A visitor asked a follower of the Sage, "Why is it so many are drawn to your teacher? There appears nothing impressive about him. Yet, I, too, feel a strange attraction to him." "For," replied the follower, "what is so impressive about him, to me, is he relates with all in friendliness, lording it over no one. His power to draw others is in his humbleness, power with others, not over others." "But doesn't this compromise his position of authority?" "No, it enhances it, for his authority arises from his heart, an authority of love."

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In Karen Applegate's, Wishtree, Wishtree, the red oak, and Bongo, a crow and tenant of the red oak, discourse on friendship.

Trees, as I said, are meant to listen, to observe, to endure. And yet, just once, before I said good-bye to the world, what would it be like to be something other than passive? To be an actor in the stories unfolding around me? Maybe even to make things a little bit better?
“Bongo,” I said softly. "Are you awake?"
“I am now,” she grumbled.
“I have a question.”
"I'll get back to you first thing in the morning."
“How does friendship happen?”
Bongo responded by snoring. I could tell it was a fake snore. Her real snores are so loud they scare the baby opossums.
“I’m serious,” I said.
Bongo groaned. “I dunno. It just happens.”
“But how does it happen?”


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Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > the way of spiritual friendship

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