Why is maintaining good company so critical in life? Bhagawan lovingly explains to us in crystal clear terms.
When a piece of iron is buried in dust, it gathers rust. But the same iron, when it is put in fire, gets rid of its rust and becomes bright and soft. Similarly, dust rises up in the sky with wind, but with water, it goes down into a pit. The dust has no wings to fly up in the sky, nor does it have feet to step down into a pit. It is only due to the effect of its company that it rises in the sky or falls into the pit. Whatever bad or good occurs to you is due only to the influence of good or bad company. That is why Adi Sankara said, Good company leads to detachment; Detachment makes one free from delusion; Freedom from delusion leads to steadiness of mind; Steadiness of mind confers liberation. When you join good company, you attain sacredness and Divinity. On the other hand, when you associate yourself with bad company, you develop bad thoughts, bad intentions, and bad behavior, which impel you to undertake bad actions. Therefore, it is very necessary for one to develop humanness by joining good company. One can even rise to the level of Divine if one associates with good company.
– Divine Discourse, Jul 23, 1996.