There are four aspects important to man. They are Maitri (friendship), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (pleasantness) and Upeksha (disregard).
People are under the impression that Maitri pertains to friendship alone. This misunderstanding arises because there is no one to explain the true meaning of Maitri. Moreover, people do not have the capacity to think and contemplate over it. What is friendship? Whom should we be friends with? How should our friendship be? One should know the person who is equal to him and make friends with him alone. One should be friends with a person who is equal to him in age, wealth, health, education, and circumstances. He should not be friendly with a person who is above or below him in these aspects. This is the true meaning of friendship. If you befriend a person who is above you, there is a chance that you may become submissive to him. Your friendship is at stake if anything happens in contradiction to his expectations. If you befriend those who are younger to you, you may wish to exercise control over them. Again your friendship would be at stake if they do not agree to what you say. Hence, you will enjoy a lasting friendship only when you befriend those who match you in age, wealth and education.
Karuna (compassion) is not something to be had towards everyone. You should be compassionate towards those who are less privileged than you. You should be compassionate towards those who are inferior to you in terms of wealth, health, education and age. This increases the value of compassion, making it worthier.
Mudita, or the quality of being pleasant, comes next. You should feel happy looking at others who are compared to you. You should feel happy if you see someone who is healthier than you. You should feel happy if you see someone who is wealthier than you. You should be happy with people who are getting higher marks than you. Hence it is about being pleasant and happy with people who are better compared to you, without developing any sort of hatred or ill feeling towards them.
The fourth aspect is Upeksha or disregard. Apeksha means liking someone. Upeksha means not liking someone, or in other words, having disregard for someone. You should not like people who harm others or who indulge in evil deeds. You should not be friendly with those who entertain evil thoughts, involve themselves in wicked deeds and who harbour an evil nature. You should not accept such people.
Put into practice all these four things. There are no other qualities worth aspiring for in this human life. The four activities, in summary, are being friendly with people who are equivalent to you, being compassionate to someone who is less privileged than you, being happy with the merits, wealth and riches of others, and staying away from evil people. Man is not conducting himself properly within the guidelines of these four principles. Hence the level of living is declining.
Note: Excerpt from the Discourse delivered in the Sri Sathya Sai Hostel, Prasanthi Nilayam on June 20, 1989