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Friendship Philosophy

"Friendship" - extract from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, published by William Heinemann Ltd: London in 1984 (first published 1926)

"And a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship.
And he answered, saying:
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay".
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know the flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."

"My Friend" - extract from The Madman by Kahlil Gibran

My friend, I am not what I seem. Seeming is but a garment I wear--a care-woven garment that protects me from thy questionings and thee from my negligence.
The "I" in me, my friend, dwells in the house of silince, and therein it shall remain for ever more, unperceived, unapproachable. I would not have thee believe in what I say nor trust in what I do--for my words are naught but thy own thoughts in sound and my deeds they own hopes in action.
When thou sayest, "The wind bloweth eastward," I say, "Aye, it doth blow eastward"; for I would not have thee know that my mind doth not dwell upon the wind but upon the sea.
Thou canst not understand my seafaring thoughts, nor would I have thee understand. I would be at sea alone.
When it is day with thee, my friend, it is night with me; yet even then I speak of the noontide that dances upon the hills and of the purple shadow that steals its way across the valley; for thou canst not hear the songs of my darkness nor see my wings beating against the stars--and I fain would not have thee hear or see. I would be with night alone.
When thou ascendest to thy Heaven I descend to my Hell--even then thou callest to me across the unbridgeable gulf, "My companion, my comrade," and I call back to thee, "My comrade, my companion"--for I would not have thee see my Hell. The flame would burn thy eyesight and the smoke would crowd thy nostrils. And I love my Hell too well to have thee visit it. I would be in Hell alone.
Thou lovest Truth and Beauty and Righteousness; and I for thy sake say it is well and seemingly to love these things. But in my heart i laugh at thy love. Yet I would not have thee see my laughter. I would laugh alone.
My friend, thou art good and cautious and wise; nay, thou art perfect--and I, too, speak with thee wisely and cautiously. And yet I am mad. But I mask my madness. I would be mad alone.
My friend, thou art not my friend, but how shall I make thee understand? My path is not thy path, yet together we walk, hand in hand.

Passage taken from Pavel Florensky, The Pillar and the Ground of Truth, trans., Boris Jakim, New Jersey, Princeton-1997, p313.

"Every external act of ones friend seems to the other insufficient because, knowing the friends soul, he sees how every action fails to conform to the inner greatness of his friends soul. As for heroes, some are amazed by them, others ignore them; some are carried away by them, others hate them. But a friend is never amazed by his friend and is never indifferent to him. He is not fascinated by him and does not ignore him. He loves, and for love precisely this soul, uniquely this beloved soul, is infinitely dear and priceless, outweighs the whole world with all its temptations. For friendship love knows a friend not by his outward pose, not by the dress of heroism, but by his smile, by his quiet talk, by his weaknesses, by how he treats people ordinary human life, by how he eats and sleeps."

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