A young honeymoon couple was touring Southern Florida and stopped at a rattlesnake farm along the road. After seeing the sights they engaged in small talk with the man who handled the snakes.
“Gosh!” exclaimed the young bride, “You certainly have a dangerous job! Don’t you ever get bitten by the snakes?”
“Yes, I do,” answered the handler.
“Well,” she insisted, “just what do you do when you are bitten by a snake?”
“I always carry a razor-sharp knife in my pocket, and as soon as I am bitten I make a deep, crisscross mark across the fang wound and then suck the poison from the wound.”
“What? Ah, what would happen if you were to accidentally sit on a rattler?” persisted the bride.
“Ma’am,” answered the snake handler, “that will be the day I learn who my real friends are!”
Why are you worried? The real question has to be, “Am I friendly to people?” Do you know what friendship is? It is the highest form of love. In love, there is bound to be some lust; in friendship, all lust disappears. In friendship nothing gross remains; it becomes absolutely subtle.
It is not a question of using the other, it is not even a question of needing the other; it is a question of sharing. You have too much and you would like to share. And if someone is ready to share your joy with you, your dance, your song, you will be grateful to him, you will feel obliged. Not that he is obliged to you, not that he should feel thankful to you because you have given so much to him. A friend never thinks in that way. A friend always feels grateful to those people who allow him to love them, to give them whatsoever he has.
Love is greed. You will be surprised to know that the English word love comes from a Sanskrit word lobh; lobh means greed. How lobh became love is a strange story. In Sanskrit it is greed; the original root means greed. And love as we know it is really nothing but greed masquerading as love; it is hidden greed.
Making friendships with the idea of using people is taking a wrong step from the very beginning. Friendship has to be a sharing. If you have something, share it, and whoever is ready to share with you is a friend. It is not a question of need. It is not a question of the friend having to come to your aid when you are in danger. That is irrelevant – he may come or he may not come, but if he does not come you don’t have any complaint. If he comes you are grateful, but if he does not come, it’s perfectly okay. It is his decision to come or not to come. You don’t want to manipulate him; you don’t want to make him feel guilty. You will not have any grudge. You will not say to him: “When I was in need you didn’t turn up – what kind of friend are you?”