Do not underestimate the influence of the company that you keep. Even if you do not drink or do drugs, being in the company of people who do impacts you on a completely different level. Most human beings are – knowingly or unknowingly – shaped by the company that they keep. They may not realize to what extent. It is not only your family and friends who have an impact on you, but your social exposure in general. I would say your social exposure has shaped almost ninety percent of your personality. Choosing your company is not about being discriminatory, but about being discretionary as to where you want to be and with whom you want to be. It is definitely not ideal to be among people who are so compulsive in nature that you can consider them addicts, no matter what they are addicted to.
Your whole effort is to move from compulsiveness to consciousness. Being among people who are very compulsive is not supportive. You have not yet reached a place where you can be among the most compulsive people and still be absolutely conscious and unaffected on the level of your system. You may or may not get addicted yourself. I hope you will not, but it definitely influences you in many ways. If external influences did not have an impact, why would anyone make the effort of building an ashram? It is one big headache to maintain a spiritual place which is like an oasis in a churning ocean. To keep it like an island that remains untouched by what is happening around takes a lot.
Sometime visit any spiritual community center, so many people visit such place especially in nation like India. To welcome them, to let them be part of it, and not to become them is a great challenge. Such centers need solid people. Otherwise, everyone tries to bring a bit of their home, their street, their town and make it a part of the ashram. People try to introduce their whims and fancies, their likes and dislikes. Almost everyone who comes tries to exert some influence upon the ashram. Some ask about doing or having things in a certain way – others just do it. To politely or sometimes forcefully refuse their influence is not easy. The idea of an ashram is to maintain a space that is dedicated towards a purpose.
Wherever you live, you need to maintain your space in such a way that it is dedicated to the purpose for which you are living. Your private space should reflect where you want to go, rather than someone else’s compulsive ways of living. This is very important; until you come to a place where, even if you go to hell, you will come out untouched. Right now, you tend to get carried away. Do not overestimate yourself.
Creating the right kind of space – and if necessary moving away from negative influences – is very important for your growth. This is not only about avoiding people with a drug addiction, but with any kind of excessive compulsiveness. People are dedicated to their compulsiveness. If you look at the way many so-called normal families live – “normal” in the sense that the children are not drug addicts, the husband is not an alcoholic, and the wife is not a shopaholic – the way they exist is so anti-consciousness. If you can transform them, that is great. If you cannot transform them, the best thing is to step away. For almost all human beings, the kind of company they keep shapes their lives. To what extent may vary from person to person, but it definitely determines a lot of things.
Let’s assume you are a successful personality today. Maybe right now, what kind of company you keep does not make any difference to you. But the company you kept in earlier times definitely determined who you are today. If you had kept the wrong kind of company then, things would surely be very different for you now. What was relevant for you then is relevant for you now. It is very important for your growth that you either cultivate the right kind of company or make choices not to be in the wrong company.