On Friendship, Solitude and Loneliness by MGB

Simplistically summarizing, Gibran on friendship is saying, “Friendship sustains the spirit, affording openness of heart and mind, deepening of the spirit, and companionship in all of life’s experiences.”
Line by line and altering the perspective to that of seeing from liberation, the text is transformed to:

ONENESS if it appears to have a need — seems to have the need to feel more than EMPTINESS; it has a need to feel FULLNESS. Humans (created in the image of GOD) are social creatures capable of seeing the divinity in their fellow man. As social animals, we feel the need for others. We feel the need to not be alone — we often feel lonely when alone. Friends, better than anyone, make us feel not alone — they fill our need for connection.
What you put into your friendship and how you love and nurture and care for it is what you will receive back yourself.
Often you go and see your friend because you need his understanding, listening and caring. You need it like you need food, and your friend gives you peace by giving you what you need.
When your friend speaks to you of how he feels or what is on his mind, you naturally give him space without judgment or censure.
Even when he is silent, you stay in a state of presence and feel the presence back in him.
When presence is shared, there is no need for words or proclamation as all thoughts, desires and feelings arise and are immediately shared and acknowledged.
Even when you are apart, for example, living in different countries or cities, your friend is still there. When you see each other again, talk on the phone or on a smartphone app, your friendship will continue as if never interrupted, so there is no point in grieving over the physical distance.
Often being apart shows even more what you value about your friend. The space allows for a more encompassing view.
Friendship is about making you more conscious, “deepening your spirit.” The closer someone is to you, the more lessons there are to impart to you. Friends are GOD’S messengers and angels in your life, and you are theirs.
Friendship is about sharing presence, ideally sharing UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, nothing more. If you are looking for gain, be it financial or otherwise, then you have a false friendship, and you will not gain any of the fruits of true friendship (deepened presence), only playing ego games.

Always give your friend the best that is inside you — UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
Spend quality time with your friend during both the highs and lows of your life.
Do not use your friends only when you are feeling lonely.
You will find that friendship is about sharing aliveness. It is about FULLNESS, not EMPTINESS.
It is only through FULLNESS that laughter and sharing of pleasure may be experienced.
You can even suggest that for GOD, it is the point of the manifestation of ALL that IS, to see FULLNESS in the EMPTINESS.

Are cross-sex friendships the same as same-sex friendships?

This subject has been hotly debated in popular culture, for example, famously in the movie When Harry Met Sally with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Historically, there are actually very few examples of cross-sex platonic friendships. From an evolutionary psychology standpoint, males form friendships with females to increase their likelihood of sexual access, and females with males for protection and access to their resources. Both, in the end, come from long-term mating acquisition strategies. Everything, it appears, is ultimately motivated by the egoic sex drive.

On a personal level, I have a few long-term cross-sex friendships (outside of familial) which did not at one point have a sexual component to them. I have many cross-sex friendly acquaintances that have never had a sexual component, but acquaintances do not have the same depth of feeling as friendships.

In a study by Guerrero and Chavez (2005[ Relational Maintenance in Cross-Sex
Friendships Characterized by Different
Types of Romantic Intent: An
Exploratory Study
Laura K. Guerrero & Alana M. Chave]) cross-sex friendships are categorized into four types:
● mutual romance (the participant believes that both she/he and the friend want the friendship to turn romantic)
● strictly platonic (the participant believes that both she/he and the friend want the relationship to stay platonic)
● desires romance (the participant wants the relationship to turn romantic but perceives that the friend does not)
● rejects romance (the participant does not want the relationship to turn romantic but perceives that the friend does)

Cross-sex friendships also face certain sex and romance issues that same-sex friendships do not:
● the emotional bond challenge (i.e., confusing closeness and liking with romantic attachment)
● the public presentation challenge (i.e., having to explain the nature of the friendship to others)
● the sexual challenge (i.e., negotiating the sexual boundaries of the relationship)

The answer to the question is no. From the above, it is clear that cross-sex friendships are not the same as same-sex friendships. However, both same-sex and cross-sex friendships have the same characteristics, including affection, kindness, love, virtue, sympathy, empathy, honesty, altruism, loyalty, generosity, forgiveness, mutual understanding and compassion, enjoyment of each other’s company, trust and the ability to be oneself, express one’s feelings to others and make mistakes without fear of judgment from the friend.

On Solitude And Loneliness

Solitude is the state of being alone without being lonely. It is about being comfortable in the EMPTINESS without feeling the need for FULLNESS.

It is a beautiful, positive and constructive state of engagement with oneself and even with the ONENESS. Solitude, therefore, is a desirable state of being alone where you provide yourself wonderful and sufficient company.

Solitude is useful for the deepening of presence by doing one of the many different types of practices available for that (meditation, nature hikes alone, music with headphones on, etc.). It is also great for reflection and insight. Solitude has been known to enhance nature, ideas and creativity.

Solitude allows one to notice quiet, joy and peace. It is part of the SILENCE of EMPTINESS and is innately refreshing and replenishing in the same way that deep sleep is.

It is the necessary counterpoint to intimacy that allows us to have a self worthy of sharing. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives rather than having them run by schedules and demands.

Solitude allows for a new perspective and the ability to ask the big questions in life like, “Who am I?,” “What makes me unique?,” “Where am I going in life?,” and “Am I comfortable with myself?”
For Nietzsche, men without the aptitude or opportunity for solitude are mere slaves because they have no alternative but to parrot culture and society. In contrast, anyone who has unmasked society naturally seeks out solitude, which becomes the source and guarantor of a more authentic set of values and ambitions:

“I go into solitude so as not to drink out of everybody’s cistern. When I am among the many I live as the many do, and I do not think I really think. After a time it always seems as if they want to banish my self from myself and rob me of my soul.”

What is the difference between loneliness and solitude?

Loneliness is marked and entangled with the sense of isolation, deficiency, estrangement, discontent and suffering. Solitude, on the other hand, is a state of being alone (often self-chosen) without being lonely and can lead to self-awareness and higher consciousness. Solitude restores body and mind. Loneliness depletes them.

In loneliness, one feels that something is missing. It is possible to actually be with people and still feel lonely — this can perhaps be the most bitter form of loneliness. In solitude, there is no feeling of incompleteness. Nothing is missing, and you are sufficient for yourself.

NEXT: On Talking, Language and Silence by MGB



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MGB is the author prophesied in The Prophet by Khalil Gibran: “A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me"