Good company is not necessarily right company, but is better than bad company. Good company is the pleasure of being with friends and those with shared interests. There’s usually a warmth and camaraderie which affirms a sense of belonging, such as in those who share the same religious faith, political allegiance or group activities. In good company there’s the enjoyment of conversation and discussing the truth instead of living it as a way of life.
In good company people tend to relax and let their guard down, which is to remove the mask of the personality worn as protection in the world. A nice meal and some drinks create an intimacy where someone can speak more freely to another about their lives. Good company sustains the way of life until the individual begins to sense a lack of fulfillment that those in their circle of friends and acquaintances can no longer provide. There’s a place for good company of course; but eventually, at a particular point in the spiritual process, it’s necessary to stand alone. This is not in isolation from others but by being open to the uncertainty of life as the creative aspect of being. Company will always be there when it’s needed, but without any choice or interference from the person.
Bad company differs from good company in the intensity of desire to experience the sensual world. For example, every adolescent knows the pressure to mix with the wrong crowd, smoke the first cigarette or pop a pill to experience something extraordinary before the body and mind can contain it. In the mature man or woman, bad company manifests as being with anyone who is excessive in their intake of alcohol, drugs, emotional demands and moods to the detriment of the living life. In bad company the idea is to subvert the consciousness of another to a level of their own hopelessness; this attaches the person to the repetition of experience, whatever the cost to human dignity and the virtue of the individual. In bad company there’s no pause to determine the consequences of an action. What is wanted is taken now or, if obstructed, the effect is frustration, boredom and irritability.
Good and bad company are polarities of the same universal human condition of unhappiness; what was once good company can soon become bad company. An example is caring for someone that was initially taken on in love but later becomes intolerable through their emotional behaviour. Or living with a partner who no longer demonstrates their love for the other. Honesty is the prerequisite of right company and the death of both good and bad company. Even in good company, no one will ever risk saying to a friend or relative that they have no right to be unhappy and are being selfish by holding onto the pain of the past. This is not being honest to another or some ideology but to the integrity of life within. Such directness is not possible until having been inducted into right company. This demarcates a turning point in the life where the man or woman refuses to compromise any longer with their own emotional self or the emotional demands of others.
Eventually, through the miracle of life, everyone gravitates to a point in their lives for the opportunity to be in right company. The pinnacle of right company is being in the presence of the living master of love and truth, and those who’ve made the search for reality the main priority of their lives. All other company is a preparation for this privilege. In right company there’s no judgment of another, only the unswerving commitment to be free of any negativity within the body. However before this induction into a higher state of consciousness, it’s necessary to have passed through both good and bad company. Ultimately, right company is being at peace within the being behind the form, regardless of whatever’s happening in the outer world.