When I was a sophomore in high school, my parents divorced and my mother and I moved to Rapid City, South Dakota to live with my aunt. The high school there was almost as large as my hometown back in Kansas. I felt lost for the first week. But a tall, gangly red-haired girl with freckles caught sight of me in the sea of faces and became my friend. Mari and I clicked right away and we understood each other even though we could not have been more different in backgrounds and looks. I was a short brunette. My father had raised pigs in Kansas. Mari had always lived in the city and her father dressed up to go to work, although I don't remember what he did.
Even though it was a difficult time for me, being away from my father and all my friends in Kansas, Mari made it easier. She helped me to see within myself qualities and strengths that I didn't know I had.
Have you ever encountered people that you are immediately drawn to in a way that mystifies you? Maybe this person hasn't even opened his or her mouth but they have an aura about them that you find attractive. You may feel an electricity between you. It may feel like you have known them before, and perhaps you have.
Caroline Myss wrote a book called "Sacred Contracts". In it, she talks about the people that come into our lives because we have a contract with them, made even before we entered this lifetime.
In a sacred contract, we make an agreement to show up in someone's life to help them learn valuable lessons. These lessons are part of our soul's transformational journey. The lessons may be joyful and pleasant, or they may be painful, forcing us to confront major issues in our lives.
In the Buddhist tradition, there is what is called a "kalyana-mitra" or "noble friend." "Your noble friend," says author John O'Donohue, "will not accept pretension but will gently and very firmly confront you with your own blindness. No one can see life totally. As there is a blind spot in the retina of the human eye, there is also in the soul a blind side where you are not able to see. Therefore you must depend on the one you love to see for you what you cannot see yourself." My husband and I are noble friends to one another. I depend on him to tell me when I am not seeing something which is important to my highest good.
After my sophomore year in Rapid City, I moved back to Kansas to live with my father. Mari and I made a pact to stay friends and keep in touch. Now, some 40 years later, we continue to learn from each other and although our lives have gone down different paths and we live in different parts of the country, our connection is still strong. I definitely consider Mari to be a noble friend.
On the other hand, there are those people for whom we may have an immediate dislike. We may find ourselves drawn into a clash of ideas and power plays. Carlos Castaneda calls these individuals the "petty tyrants". They push our buttons and can become a mirror for us to see the same qualities within ourselves, if we are open to it. Otherwise, we just do the dance and create more drama in our lives. These people are also part of our sacred contracts. Behind the mask of that petty tyrant is a soul that has agreed to come into our life to help us grow and learn.
When we have the belief that all people are in our life for a reason, we begin to see the good in all relationships and experiences. We can step back and ask ourselves, "What am I supposed to learn from this person or experience?"
As Caroline Myss points out, "the petty tyrants are just as helpful and significant in your life as your most beloved noble friends." Why not take a few moments and consider who are the noble friends and petty tyrants in your life.