Picking up hitchhikers is always risky business. One day when Swami Kriyananda was driving, he spotted a hitchhiker who looked harmless enough and was apparently down on his luck. Feeling sympathy for the man, Swamiji pulled over to the side of the road and gave him a ride.
This was during a time in Kriyananda’s life when he had very little money and was working alone to raise the funds to start Ananda. The hitchhiker gave Swamiji a sob story about how he’d lost his job, his wife was ill, and he was badly in need of a loan until he could find work again. Reaching for his wallet, Swamiji gave the man half of what he had at the time (which wasn’t much).
With effusive gratitude, he said, “Please give me your name and address so that I can make sure to pay this money back to you. I wouldn’t want you to lose your faith in human nature.”
With a quiet smile, Swamiji replied, “If I’d had faith in human nature, I’d have lost it long ago. I’m giving this money to you because I have faith in God.” As it turned out, he never heard from the man again, but during Kriyananda’s lifetime, God repaid his “loan” to the hitchhiker many times over.
To put our faith in human nature is not always wise. To forgive others their mistakes and accept that we all err reflects more understanding. But real wisdom is to realize that the One True Friend who never lets us down is God alone. With this recognition, we can live with inner freedom and without fear of loss.
How do we deepen our relationship with this One True Friend? In the same way we do with our human friends. Spend time together (in this case, in meditation and prayer.) Open your heart (by sharing your thoughts and feelings.) Have fun together (by inwardly sharing the joys of life.) Be helpful (in service and self-offering.) Be committed (in unwavering devotion and dedication.)
As our divine relationship deepens, we can answer the question, “Whose friend are you?” by saying, “I am the friend of all because, first and foremost, I am a friend of God.”