Make every effort to rediscover your friends of past incarnations, whom you may recognize through familiar physical, mental, and spiritual qualities. Try to resume such friendships, begun in a preceding incarnation, and perfect them into divine friendship.
One may come in daily contact with some people and yet not feel in sympathy with them. You have to adapt yourself to such persons and learn to love them. But there are others with whom you feel instantaneously sympathetic at first meeting; it seems as though you have always known them. This indicates that they are your friends of previous incarnations. Do not neglect them, but strengthen the friendship existing between you. Always be on the lookout for friends of past incarnations, by being calm within when you meet others; mental restlessness and inattention may prevent your recognizing such friends. Not infrequently such old friends are very near you, drawn into the orbit of your life by the friendship born in the dim, distant past. They constitute your shining collection of soul-stars. Add to it constantly and seek in these bright galaxies to behold the one Great Friend smiling at you radiantly and clearly. It is God who comes to you in the guise of a true and noble friend to serve, inspire, and guide you.
Each human being has his own conception of what constitutes physical and mental beauty. What seems ugly to one may appear beautiful to another. Looking at a crowd, you like some faces instantly; others do not attract you. The immediate attraction of your mind to the inner and outer features of an individual is your first indication that you have found a friend of the past. Your dear ones whom you loved before are drawn toward you by a prenatal sense of friendship.
Do not be deceived by physical beauty. Ask yourself whether or not the expression of a face, the manner of walking, everything about a particular person appeals to you. Sometimes overeating and lack of exercise may sufficiently change the features of a friend of former lives so that he escapes your recognition. But an unattractive body may harbor the soul of a real friend. Sometimes a beautiful woman falls in love with a homely man, or a handsome man with a physically plain woman. Therefore to be sure that your eyes have not deceived you with regard to physical characteristics of a person whom you surmise may be a former friend, ascertain whether you are mentally and spiritually congenial.
Guard yourself against being prejudiced by little peculiarities. Delve deeply into that person's mind in order to find out whether your tastes and inclinations essentially agree. Seek your friends of past incarnations in order that you may continue your friendship with them in this life, and perfect it into divine friendship. One lifetime is not always sufficient to achieve the perfection of unconditional divine love between friends.
Ugliness of disposition and selfishness drive away all friends of former incarnations, whereas friendliness draws them toward you. Therefore be ready always to meet them half-way. Never mind if one or two friends prove false and deceive you, for others that are true will bring you many blessings.
Author: Paramahansa Yogananda