In a recent recording from Treasures Along the Path, Swami Kriyananda mentioned that Master [Yogananda] said that people we are close to in this lifetime are souls that we have been with before. Can you please elaborate more on this idea? Thank you.
Yes, closeness is never by chance. It’s a new chapter in a long story.
Master says that you can’t feel love for a person if you haven’t loved him/her before. “Your dear ones whom you loved before will be drawn toward you by a prenatal sense of friendship.” He teaches us to consciously search those who are our real friends, close to our soul: they have been friends before, and that friendship is a gift of God. Master spoke much about the blessing of friendship based on spiritual values, but wasn’t a fan of the usual romantic love-story closeness. Even couples should become true solid friends. True friendship is higher form of love than falling in love.
Closeness is about perfecting self-giving love and pure friendship. If you are close with someone, yes, you have been with that person before, probably many times, in different kinds of relationships. In this life that old relationship has its outer appropriate expression, and needs to be brought into the right direction: selfless love, without possessiveness, being useful, inspiring the other to grow toward God. In other words, being close to someone is a call to work on ourselves, to express love and friendship ever more purely. It’s a process which goes on life after life. The result, divine friendship, is one of the most precious things on earth.
Inward closeness, without being outwardly close, can be most beautiful too: two souls touching on an inner level. Both know about it, the rest of the world doesn’t.
These three quotes by Master are inspiring, I think, for living soul-closeness with friends and loved ones:
“When true friendship exists between two souls and they seek spiritual love and God’s love together, when their only wish is to be of service to each other, their friendship produces the flame of the Spirit.”
“The unity one finds in divine love is possible only to the soul. It cannot be experienced by the ego.”
“In distant-closeness Love lives. In wrong familiarity it sleeps.”
I hope that touches on what you wanted to hear about, and wish you closeness with true souls, and with Master,