Circumstance or choice - What determines your company?

"Tell me your company and I shall tell you what you are." This is a famous quote by Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, my Guru, Guide and God. How true this statement is!
But, during my numerous interactions and conversations with youth, I have come across this viewpoint many a time - that our company is perhaps not in our hands. More often than not, we are sitting amongst relatives whom we did not choose, or in an organization where our colleagues are not chosen by us. Then how can our character be a reflection of who we are seen with?
The answer to this is simple. When Swami says that our company decides our character, He simply means to ask - whose company do you keep all the time? Swami's or the world's?
Swami Himself has given the example of the tongue living between the teeth as an ideal. The tongue has sharp teeth all around it. However, it navigates its way all the time without getting hurt by the teeth. Similarly, irrespective of who is around us, if we can stick to a set of personal values and choose not to be affected by the world around us, I believe we are in the right company.

Now, coming to circumstances, we have a case where we have people around us at the workplace who are not necessarily the best examples of ideal behavior. However, there is a difference between those who are 'around' us and those who are part of our friends' circle. We cannot choose the people around us. But we can certainly choose our friends. And it is here that we need to make a wise choice.

Whose company do you keep? Mine or the world's?
During one interview, Swami was telling us the futility of talking unnecessarily. I was thoroughly confused because I could not really differentiate what could be unnecessary. I asked Swami for some clarity and He kindly explained, "It is very simple. There are only three types of conversations that are not unnecessary. First, if the conversation is about something that is useful to you. Second, if the conversation is something that will benefit the other person in the conversation. Or third, if the conversation is something that will benefit the society or world. All conversations which are not part of these three are definitely unnecessary."
That defined a clear yardstick to determine what kind of conversations to engage in. It also gave me clarity on what kind of company I should keep. Very simple - only those kind of people who engaged in the above three kinds of conversation.

Who surrounds us is a reflection of what our personality is. Not by circumstance, but by choice. It is only when the flower has nectar that the bees come to it. It is only when the lump of sugar has sweetness that the ants come to it. Similarly, it is only when one has goodness that good people come to one. It is not that the company determines who you are. It is just that the company reflects what your personality is like.

That is why Swami always says:

"Tyaja Durjana Samsargam (Run away from bad company)
Bhaja Sadhu Samaagamam (Seek the company of the pious)
Kuru Punyam Aho raatram ( Do good deeds day and night)
Bhaja Nityam Anityataam "(Constantly discriminate between the temporary and the permanent)

Either ways, I guess keeping Swami as your constant companion is the only solution. Then circumstance is arranged by Swami and the choice becomes His.


Venu this is just great. I just read it after i woke up. I felt it so very true as i experienced most of it. Thanks for this blog. Our surrounding have a great role on our mind & behaviour, but now a days in this world where do we get a good company. Everyone including me have the "I" or EGO quotient within. That itself is the greatest destructor or the root cause for most of the problem. My personal feel.
Absolutely Prashant. The whole game of Sadhana is to get over the ego.
CS.Bala said…
Very hearty bloging...keep doing it for the sake of those who are in the process of bettering themselve. Sairam
Anonymous said…
Sai ram Brother, that was wonderful. Thank You.
Anonymous said…
Wonderful Post. As always!
- Amit.

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