About friendship

Jul 2018
Hong Kong
Today I watched an article about Aristotle (from the Japanese website). The author made an interesting comparison about the quotes of both Aristotle and Maeda Toshiie. Definitely Toshiie would have much profound resonance with Aristotle's striking quote about friendship.

Aristotle was a 4th century BC great scholar and philosopher, very knowledgeable and rhetoric, once a private tutor of Alexander the Great. He founded an academy in Athens and contributed a lot in education and development of intellectual system.

Aristotle's famous quotes :

"Life is full of chances and changes ; while you're in prosperity, the others are probably in misfortune. Misfortune reveals those who're not really your friends."

Maeda Toshiie also had this quote :


In english : "Only when you're in adversity, you'll know the meaning of friendship."

Maeda Toshiie certainly realized the bitterness of these quotes when he was in adversity. He was one of the most prominent general and daimyo in the Japanese Sengok Era renowned for the epic founding of the "Kaga 1,000,000-koku Domain" (加賀百萬石), which made the Maeda Clan effectively the vassal owning the largest tract of land throughout the Edo Period. His excellent talent in interpersonal relationship was one of the crucial factor for his huge success in lifetime.

However, no matter how successful a great man was in his life, he surely had downs moment.

When Toshiie became one of the favorite personal retinue of Lord Oda Nobunaga in 1550s, many people came to please him because he was close to Nobunaga. But in AD 1559, a disaster struck, Toshiie furiously slew one of Nobunaga's favorite retinue when the latter jeered at him. Nobunaga was very angry and even thought of killing Toshiie at the spot. Though he was spared, Nobunaga banished him from the Oda Clan and refused to let him serve again.

Without stable income, Toshiie was in great trouble financially and suffered an impoverished life thereafter. Everybody who supposed to be his "friends" now abandoned him and not even offer slight help to him. But in such desperated moment, one man did come to help him — his name was Kinoshita Tokichiro (木下藤吉郎), who was more known for his later name Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉). He offered money to aid Toshiie who was in trouble, and sincerely expressed his concern and caring over Toshiie's fate. According to the legend, this was how Hideyoshi and Toshiie became true friends afterward.

Such art of friendship is tersely concluded by Aristotle :

"You must behave as a friend if you truly want to be someone's friend."

You could only taste the real friendship in misfortune. It's really invaluable for you to have one of those "real friends". Cherish them once you grasp them !

Whether the "Eastern Philosophy" or the "Western Philosophy", it seems like both have same perception on the field of friendship : quality > quantity ; the real friendship blossom in misfortune rather than in prosperity of your life.

What do you think about the art of friendship ?