FROM NOUK: This is an illuminating teaching about the special relationship by my wonderful friend and colleague, Coreen Walson
Jesus tells us in the Course that the special relationship is the ego’s chief weapon for keeping us from the kingdom of Heaven, which He defines as the memory of Union. Wow! The chief weapon. Let’s examine just why this is so.
In order to experience ourselves as separate beings with separate minds, we needed to believe we came out from Oneness. We made up a body for this purpose, to give us a sense of autonomy. The belief that we are a body is what the ego calls “sin”, an unforgiveable act punishable by death. As long as we believe we are a body, we must accept that we have sinned against God. To make this very simple, let’s recognize that the belief in body = sin = death.
“While you believe that your reality or your brother’s is bounded by a body, you will believe in sin. While you believe that bodies can unite, you will find guilt attractive and believe that sin is precious. For the belief that bodies limit mind leads to a perception of the world in which the proof of separation seems to be everywhere. And God and His creation seem to be split apart and overthrown. For sin would prove what God created holy could not prevail against it, nor remain itself before the power of sin. Sin is perceived as mightier than God, before which God Himself must bow, and offer His creation to its conqueror. Is this humility or madness?” T-19.III.7.
In order to perpetuate this dream of separation, the ego convinces us through the body that we are indeed guilty of this sinful act. We live in constant state of fear and guilt, and because these states are intolerable, we project them out onto a make-believe world that operates only as a holographic mirror, sending us images that make us feel the fear and guilt that we initially attempted to rid ourselves of through projection. This tidy circular house of horrors is the human condition and is founded on the dream of birth, death, amnesia and reincarnation. All of this as a result of the Christ Mind wondering what it might be like to step outside of God, to become an independent Creator apart from God, to become godlike, to be cause and not effect.
So there you have it, the ego thought system in a crude nutshell. We are here to awaken from this dream. We found the Course, undertake the workbook, join with mighty companions, and read the text. We join with Jesus and Holy Spirit to undo all the blocks that we have imposed between our mind and the awareness of the Love that we already are. We sweep away various thoughts of littleness, of lack, and even of bodily illness. We forgive our projections in our relationships, in our work place, and in our families. Like an onion, we work through layer after layer, experiencing miracles and the Holy Instant where we experience Reality, albeit briefly, resulting in a transfer of our trust and a shift in our perceptions.
Yet this is rarely achieved without some great tumult. The ego, which is the false identity we assumed in order to experience ourselves in a separated state, is not enthused about this choice for its demise. The further we peel back the layers of the onion, the more the ego begins to feel the direct threat to its strong hold in our thought and it begins to increase its attempts at maintaining its strongholds in our thinking. It seems as though our problems increase, depression deepens, self-doubt roars in our thinking, and our mental cages are rattled frequently. Eventually we come to see and accept that this is “par for the course” and is not unique to our experience. In fact, we can actually use this ego resistance as a way to assure ourselves that progress is being made, otherwise it would not protest too much.
We will all make tremendous progress as we keep our sights on Jesus and Holy Spirit and continue to do our forgiveness of the images we made and accept the Atonement on our own behalf. There comes a time where a very specific obstacle will seem to stand in your way. This is where the special relationship comes into play. Imagine that you are a coach of some sports team, and that you have to place your very best defensive player in front of the goal. You will no doubt use your biggest, strongest, perhaps fastest player in front of the goal. You will coach and instruct that player to not let the ball pass them by under any circumstance. This is exactly what the ego has done to prevent you and I from passing through the eye of the needle into the full awakening from the dream of separation. Jesus was not kidding when he said that the special relationship is the ego’s chief weapon.
Recall that the ego as the false self requires fear and guilt in order to perpetuate the belief of separation. After all, what we are as the Christ is pure Light and Love. It takes a phenomenal dream of monumental proportions to keep us mesmerized against the Memory of God and our Holy Self! So constant “doses” if you will of fear and guilt are necessary. The ego has many favorite suppliers that it looks to, such as addictions, abuse, and illness. Yet its biggest and most prized distributor is the special relationship.
The special relationship is an incredible weapon that is a master minded assault of fear and guilt on the mind. Once you see it completely, you will no doubt marvel at the complexity and genius behind it. First, it is the ego’s substitute for the Love of God here in the dream. The ego has its version of everything that God Created, but it reverses it and flips it upside down. God Created us perfect, the ego made imperfection. God decrees eternal Life, ego insists that death is the law of life. So too, God Created perfect, Divine Love. The ego made its version of “love” and made the special relationship.
Special love is usually found in the romantic relationship although it is found in every relationship where there are roles and expectations involved, such as parent/child, teacher/student, husband/wife, friend/friend, etc. For purposes of this article, we will use the romantic relationships as our model. Two bodies meet somehow in the dream. There may be an instant charge or perhaps it develops, but the two feel “chemistry”, an excitement, a period of euphoria, life is wonderful, the sky is bluer, we feel healthier, we are more optimistic than ever before, and we believe we have finally found “the one” that was made by God to complete us and make us truly happy. We cannot stand to be without the other one, we spend every waking moment with the other that we can, and our partner is all we think about. Sound familiar? Isn’t this what the movies depict as “happy ever after?” Isn’t this what Valentine’s Day commercializes? Isn’t this what is sold to every young girl as the goal to achieve to be whole and happy?
Jesus describes this phase in the Course as the period where two people see in each other a better version of themselves and actually trade in themselves for the “self” of the other. It is a period of giving oneself away to another, and this is LITERAL!!! We abandon all concept of ourselves and pour our very best onto the other. Our “tentacles” reach out and begin to penetrate and anchor in the partner. It is a mutual exchange and is the planting of the seedlings of future resentment, score keeping, feelings of ownership, jealousy and hatred.
“For an unholy relationship is based on differences, where each one thinks the other has what he has not. They come together, each to complete himself and rob the other. They stay until they think that there is nothing left to steal, and then move on. And so they wander through a world of strangers, unlike themselves, living with their bodies perhaps under a common roof that shelters neither; in the same room and yet a world apart.” T-22.in.2:5-8
Further still is the enmeshment of each partner’s being when sex is used as bait within the relationship. The pseudo intimacy and the rush of physical orgasm seals the deal mentally, physical and emotionally, convincing both partners that this indeed is the love they have been searching for.
After the “Honeymoon phase” is over, a settling down period commences and what started out as perfect love begins to reveal the unwritten script that was agreed to between the parties. Each partner has their role to play, one that requires that the other sacrifice, abandon themselves, play small, and hide their Light. If one partner should refuse or forsake their obligation within the relationship, the other partner gets angry and becomes either hostile or withdraws their love. This looks like pouting, withholding, silent treatments, or outright yelling, swearing, threats and even physical abuse. This so-called love is fragile, conditional and can change on a dime. Both parties give to get, keep score, and end up resenting the other for the amount of sacrifice that they do in order to get this “love” that they think they must have in order to be happy. Memories of how good things used to be keep both believing that some core of true love must still exist in the relationship and both continue to seek without finding.
What the ego is harvesting in all of this special relating is the guilt that is the final product of all the Self abandonment taking place within all special relationships. While we all wear masks in our relationships and are busy being what others want us to be instead of what we truly are, we abandon our Holy Self (our true Identity as the Son of God) and we end up resenting others and of course ourselves for doing so. Yet compared to the amount of resentment and guilt that come from the primary special relationship, the other relationships pale in comparison. The primary, special relationship is the ego’s main supplier, it’s greatest distributor of its “life line”, and it’s most protected and coveted provider.
Think about this. We are so fiercely protective of our special relationship because we actually believe that real Love is to be found there. We cannot believe that the euphoria we felt, the closeness, the connection, the laughter and the bonding wasn’t authentic. We are fixated on extracting from our partner in the special relationship the good and the Love that we need to be happy in the world. And our partner is equally fixated on extracting it from us! We are addicted to seeking in our partner what isn’t there. We are educated to believe that in therapy and counseling that a change in our and our partner’s behavior will somehow bring us back to those original happy moments and that our salvation lies in changing (manipulating!) our partner. We are not to judge our blame ourselves for this, but we do need to take a step back and look at how the entire world is set up to promote this form of special relationship, encourages it, sells it, portrays it in the media, and makes us feel unworthy if we don’t match its cookie cutter definitions of love.
Now I want you to envision a coin. On one side of the coin, is the romanticized version of the special relationship. It’s the fun, the love, the good, the laughs, the common interests. It is what the world expects of us and our family celebrates for us. It is the highest form of “love” the world peddles. It is the ego’s tale of god’s love here in the dream and it is the separate self’s greatest idol. On the other side of the same coin, is the special relationship unmasked. It reveals how far we abandon ourselves in order to stay in and maintain the relationship. It is the fact that this so-called love can be withdrawn in a second, be given to someone else, or withheld to punish. It is a laundry list of all that one has done for the other and how unfairly treated he or she is. It is seething resentment for an unfair, unequal, perhaps forced arrangement. It is despair, disillusionment and depression for not living according to one’s sense of themselves, a rule prohibiting one from coming out from behind their mask to actually shine as the one God Created them to be.
This resentment, grief and self-hatred for how far we have abandoned our Holy Self for fake love is projected onto our greatest repository . . . the body. This neutral body which merely serves our thoughts and beliefs, becomes ill, ages, decays, becomes diseased and dies due to the amount of guilt, hatred and resentment that is stored up within it over the illusion of time. At long last we finally unearth and reveal the real cause of all disease . . . guilt. When one looks honestly upon their special relationship, and they are radically honest about how much they abandon themselves in it, they cannot help but recognize the correlation between the guilt and self-hatred and the body’s condition. It is this writer’s firm discernment that all cancer in women is directly caused from this level of self-abandonment.
Seeing the cause of all disease as being Self-abandonment also clarifies how all use of magic and surgery is only manipulation of effects in the dream and never comes anywhere near the healing of the cause. It doesn’t make the use of magic wrong, but it does prove that until the cause is healed, the effects will continue to manifest in one form or another.
So the ego’s substitute for the Love of God is also the ego’s greatest weapon for manufacturing and amassing the very guilt and fear that kills the body. That is about as simple and straight forward as it can be stated. It is why, as long as we continue to think the special relationship has something we value, it will be our greatest obstacle to awakening. And because it is so convincing and so heavily fortified in the world, it takes great desire and discipline to allow Holy Spirit to repurpose the special relationship and to use it for our awakening instead of the body’s death.
Just when we see how enormous this obstacle is and the cost we pay for it, there is more! The ego has made its own special back up plan in the event that we actually start making progress in disentangling ourselves from the special relationship. Their names are jealousy, lust, anxiety, and control. There is nothing more emotionally paralyzing than the feelings of jealousy and anxiety at the thought that you are losing your special relationship. The drive for sexual pleasure is also a major factor in keeping partners together who might otherwise attempt to repurpose their relationship or separate. The feeling of losing the sense of control in one’s life due to a relationship being overturned will drive special relationship partners back to the “status quo”. These power packed emotions are used by the ego thought system as its defensive ploys to overcome any possible sanity from entering the relationship via the Holy Spirit.
Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that the ego will simply allow its greatest and most trusted supplier of its life force to be given up. It will fight with its greatest available defensive mechanisms. Now before we go thinking that the ego is some mad man or real entity trying to destroy us, it is imperative to recall that the ego thought system is a program that the Christ made up as a substitute for the Mind of God. We needed some substitute in the dream of separation in which to think and we made the ego up. The program is designed so that the body dies off before the player (separate self) wakes up. As we awaken, the program is designed to ramp up its defenses to try and keep the player asleep and “protected” from awakening.
“All forms of sickness, even unto death, are physical expressions of the fear of awakening. They are attempts to reinforce sleeping out of fear of waking. This is a pathetic way of trying not to see by rendering the faculties for seeing ineffectual. “Rest in peace” is a blessing for the living, not the dead, because rest comes from waking, not from sleeping. Sleep is withdrawing; waking is joining.” T-8.IX.3:2-6
This program is completely fantastic, and totally unreal. It was made by the Christ who shares its Power with the Mind of God, so even though unreal, the program is almost completely “bullet proof”. Yet as far gone as we become in the program, the Love of God (the REAL DEAL) is so perfect, so unfailing, that even in the midst of this awesome program our connection to our Creator remains present and always available to us when we seek it whole heartedly. This is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter that Jesus promised us when He ascended over 2000 years ago. As the Course teaches, when we make every decision with Holy Spirit and seek God with all our heart and minds, we can rest assured that our awakening is imminent and guaranteed.
The Holy Spirit’s remedy for the special relationship is the Holy Relationship. When we surrender all our special relationships to Holy Spirit for repurposing, and allow Him to take us through the transformative process whereby we begin showing up in the relationship authentically, no longer abandoning ourselves, but allowing ourselves to use the relationship as the training ground for showing up fully as the Holy Self, all the former effects of self-abandonment are reversed, including pain, sickness, aging and yes, death. The goal of the Holy Relationship is Union, and is the exact opposite of the special relationship. It does not objectify bodies, it does not give to get, it does not hold grievances and practice conditional love, but two or more join in the common goal to only witness to the other partner’s spirituality, their innocence, purity and perfection. The body flourishes in this relationship as it is no longer used as a dumping ground for guilt but glows with the Light within each partner as it is used only for the Will of God.
We must be willing to honestly look at our special relationships and what we are using them for. Only when we recognize them for what they are will we be willing to repurpose them and seek Holy Relationship. We are supported in this transmutation by the Holy Spirit and by Jesus himself. As we begin to experience Holy Relationship or relationship without sacrifice or abandonment, we will come to desire only real Love. The old, former way of relating becomes intolerable as the contrast we experience in Holy Relating becomes our standard for Love. Because the ego’s greatest weapon for hell is the special relationship, the Holy Relationship is literally the Holy Grail and our passport for Heaven here on earth.
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