When Rinpoche was growing up, he was cared for by Chupur Lama, a Dzogchen yogi who lived with Rinpoche’s family. Chupur Lama once told him that if we become friends with a thief, that we will become like that thief. We become like those around us, so we should choose companions whose conduct we aspire to emulate.
Most of us have a tendency to seek out companions who are very much like ourselves. We are drawn to others who have the same interests, habits, personality traits, and way of being in the world. On one hand this makes sense logically. It’s easy to connect with and talk to a person who we have a lot in common with. A sense of comfort and belonging naturally and quickly develops.
But if we look a little closer, we can recognize that by gravitating to those who are just like ourselves, our sense of self is validated and strengthened. Our neurosis become more powerful, more rigid, as we add fuel to the fire of our afflicted way of relating with the world. Ego and self attachment are intensified, and we become more locked into really believing that our way of perceiving the world around us is justified and true.
Sometimes when we are with a group of people, we feel excluded. We feel uncomfortable with others, and wish things were different than they are. But if we step back a moment and examine our own thoughts and actions, we may find that actually, the feeling of exclusion is our own perception. Examine the ways in which you are creating your own feeling of exclusion. Where do you choose to sit, to to whom do you choose to speak , what do you choose to talk about, what does your body language say to those around you, and what expectations do you bring along with you?
When our personalities are less rigid, our insecurities and fears fade away, and we feel comfortable in any situation and with any group of people.
By consciously making a decision to connect with others who are different from ourselves, we are challenging our sense of self and working with our ego. In fact, by making connections with others who have developed excellent qualities of body, speech and mind, we learn new ways of being in the world. Our rigid minds become more flexible.