Prem Maitri means love, friendship, and friendship has a higher quality than love. The next step of love is friendship. Not that it is lower, as it is understood ordinarily; it is not.
In love there is passion, lust; love is more rooted in the physical. Friendship is purer, not rooted in the sexual at all. Friendship is between two beings: it is asexual and transcendental to the physical.
Friendship has a coolness in it. Love has heat, hence it goes high, low; sometimes everything is beautiful and sometimes everything is ugly. Love changes. Friendship has a more eternal quality to it; it doesn’t change.
Love has moods and climates, it can move to the opposite: it can become hate. And something of the hatred is always involved in love: you love the person and you hate the person too, so a constant conflict is part of it.
Friendship is more unearthly. You simply rejoice in somebody’s being, you celebrate somebody’s being for no reason at all; it is very irrational. Love has a rational quality to it but friendship is very irrational.
I have given you the name ‘Prem Maitri’; it means to pass through love, to go beyond and arrive at friendship. Let love be the first step and friendship the climax.
Friendship is more meditative. It has no passion but it has tremendous compassion. Love is very jealous: it is very difficult to love two persons; there is bound to be trouble. But friendship is non-jealous: you can be friendly to as many people as possible, you can be friendly to the whole existence. There is no jealousy involved, so friendship is higher and more spiritual.
But we have to move through love because we are rooted in the body, in the gross, and we have to refine our being slowly, step by step, inch by inch. So even if you are in love with some person, try to make it more of a friendship, then it will have more permanency. It will have more joy, it will have more communication and more communion.
It is almost impossible to see a husband and wife as friends. They may be lovers and they may be enemies, both are possible and both are possible together too, but to think of a wife and husband as friends is difficult. And that is very ugly, because you love a person, you live with a person, and the friendship is not growing.
My feeling and my observation is that love is just like the starter in a motor car: you cannot run the car on the starter. It starts the car, that’s its function; then the car has to take over, the motor has to run. Love should function as a starter to friendship but it cannot run the whole show; that’s why love fails.
Unless friendship grows love is bound to fail. So while love is there make sure that friendship is growing, because sooner or later the romance of love will disappear and if the friendship has not grown by that time then the whole thing falls flat. That’s what is happening in the West every day….
People move into love with such great enthusiasm, with such great hope and fantasy. With high hopes they enter into love and within days it is gone! In fact the honeymoon is not over and the love has gone. What is happening? And then the whole thing becomes a drag — dragging, ugly, and one somehow manages, pretends… a hypocrisy.
My feeling is that love is just a starter; don’t depend on it. It is good, it is needed to start with, but when the car has started don’t depend on the starter: its work is done! Now the car has to run on its own; that’s what friendship is.
So before the romance wears out make sure that friendship has arrived, then love has done its work, has served beautifully, has made the possibility for friendship to descend. Now its function is over.
If it does not happen that way and the friendship has not arrived and the function of love is over, then all is over! Then there is nothing left behind, only frustration. And next time even love will become more difficult because now you will know that it all fails.
Once love has failed once, twice, thrice, one starts feeling hopeless, one starts feeling that it is all nonsense, just a dream. It doesn’t happen, it is not real, it is not true — an hallucination or an auto — hypnosis but nothing more.
Love is not an hallucination, it is a moment of high passion, but one cannot remain on the high moment forever. One has to cool down, come back to earth, move on the plains; that’s where life exists. You can fly high in the sky for a few moments but then you have to come back to earth.
Before you come back to the earth create friendship because that will last. So love, love as much as possible, but always remember that love has to give space to friendship.
Use love as a stepping-stone towards friendship.
[The Zero Experience]