Q: I sometimes hear that Ananda devotees should not be too familiar. Can you tell me what that means?

A: Familiarity is that which takes the little and makes it everything. We need to recognize that it’s our aspiration, not our personalities, that define who we are. People at Ananda are doing their best to find God. But for somebody to say, “Oh, come off it. We know you like to do this and that’s who you are,”—that’s being too familiar.

You would be right to say, “No, that’s not who I am. And if it’s who I am, it’s who I don’t want to be. I want to change.”

A true friend would encourage your aspirations, rather than constantly remind you of aspects of your personality that you’re trying to overcome. Try to meet people on a more Godly level.

Many times people smile at me. I don’t smile back. I don’t feel that I am this personality relating to another personality. I’m asking Master to flow through me and I feel that’s the reality. We want to relate to each other more on that level.

There was a woman I knew in Davis who said to me, “Oh I know you.” But she didn’t know me at all. Once, after a talk at the Sacramento Ananda Center, she tried me engage me in a familiar joking way, but that wasn’t the right level. If I’m blessing you at the Festival of Light and you say, “Hi, Swami, how are you? It’s good to see you.” It’s inappropriate.

There were two brother disciples of mine who had too much familiarity on a human plane. Master told them, “Don’t mix with each other.” Unfortunately they didn’t listen and that’s why they left. They fed each other’s weaknesses through worldly gossip. They might have felt, he’s my friend, why shouldn’t I. But a true friend is a friend of your soul. If somebody is going to claim friendship and use that to bring you down, he’s not a true friend.

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