" Perfect love casts out fear. "
A good relationship isn't always crystals and rainbows. It's a
birth process, often painful, often messy. When my daughter
was first born, she was covered with blood and everything else. There
was a lot to go through before the Gerber baby finally appeared.
A "spiritual relationship" isn't necessarily one in which two
people are smiling all the time. Spiritual means to me, above all else,
authentic. At my New Year's Eve service last year, I said that
we were together
not for mindless but for mindful celebration. That would include
some grief and acknowledgement
of disappointments in the past year, which would have to be
processed and forgiven before we
could honestly celebrate the stroke of midnight and the mark of a
And so it is that, in relationships as well, we're brought
together for real work. Real work can
only occur in the presence of rigorous honesty. We all long for
that, but we are afraid of honestly
communicating with another person because we think they'll leave
us if they see who we really are.
A couple from my lectures once came to me for counseling. Earlier
that day, the man had told
the woman he was breaking off their relationship. She was shocked
and hurt and asked him if he
would come with her to see me in order to help her work through
the loss. As the two of them sat
across from me on my couch., I assured Bob that I wasn't there to
try to get them back together, but
to join with them in asking for peace.
I remembered a similar situation I had been in myself once, and
how brilliantly my therapist
had handled it. I said exactly the things that she had said. I
said to him, "Bob, why are you so angry
"I'm not angry at her," he said.
"Well, you sure sound angry," I told him.
"I know that it's not my job to fix Deborah," he said. "I don't
want to change her; I just want
"Oh, I bet you think that's so spiritual," I said.
He looked surprised. I think he thought he'd been a good A Course
in Miracles student.
"You haven't suspended judgment of Deborah," I said. "You've
withheld vital information from
her, data without which she couldn't function effectively within
the relationship. Why don't you tell
her why you're so angry.
Once again he repeated, "I'm not angry."
"Well," I said. "You're an actor. Just pretend you are. Go on
Bob) we're safe here. Let her have
And boy, once he got started, did he let it out. He told her that
she had no concept of how to
live with another person. She just did everything however she
wanted to do it) and if he wanted to
come along, well that was just great. I don't remember exactly
what else he had to say, but there was
a lot of communication that came gushing out once he allowed it
to. When he was finished,
Deborah., obviously moved, said quietly and sincerely, "I never
knew that. Thank you for telling
They left my office and did not break up. Their relationship,
they later told me, was reborn in
that session. The anger that Bob was feeling was pent up energy
that came from the fact that he had
felt it "unspiritual" to share his honest feelings with Deborah
as they went along.
It's far better to communicate than to suppress our feelings.
Anger is often a result of a series
of un communicated feelings building up inside of us and ultimately
exploding. In a holy relationship, we consider it part of our
commitment to stay current in the
honest expression of our feelings, and to support our partner in
doing the same. So much is then
communicated as we go along that the chances of anger building up
inside either of us is lessened.
Until then, we must deal with what's real. If anger comes up, it
must be accepted. If we think
our partner won't love us if we get angry, then we stop being
honest and the relationship is doomed
for sure. I've suggested to couples that they agree not to break
up a relationship because of a fight.
It's very important to have a safe space for fighting. I say that
because fighting isn't always fighting.
Once I was having a "dramatic discussion" with a friend. A mutual
friend of ours spoke up and
said) "I can't stand the way you guys arc always fighting."
"We're not fighting," I said. "We're
Jewish." He thought we were fighting; we thought we were having a
Anger is a hot topic for spiritual seekers. Many people, for
instance, have an issue with Jesus's
anger with the money-changers. If Jesus was so pure, they ask,
then how could he have gotten
angry? But no Jew or Italian would have a problem with that
scene. The removal of ego is not the
removal of personality. What we call Jesus's anger was energy. An
outburst of emotion doesn't
have to be so quickly labeled anger. It's a release of energy and
doesn't have to be thought of as a
negative or "unspiritual" emotion.
Just because someone isn't expressing their rage, by the way, doesn't
mean they don't have any.
Rage turned outward is called rage. Rage turned inward is called
ulcers and cancer and things like
that. The unhealthiest thing you can do with anger is to deny you
have it. The miraculous
perspective is not to pretend you're not angry, but rather to
say, "I'm angry but I'm willing not to be.
Dear God, please show me what it is I'm not seeing." There is a
way of sharing our anger with
people, without expressing it as an attack. Instead of saying,
for instance, "You made me feel this or
that, " you say, "This is how I'm feeling. I'm not saying you
made me feel this way, or that you're to
blame. I'm simply sharing this as part of my healing, in order to
release this feeling and move
beyond it." In this way, you're taking responsibility for your
feelings, and what could have been
seen as an argument-or even avoided as unpleasant-can become an
important part of the healing
power of relationships. We're then not adversaries in the
conversation, but partners. Real
relationships demand honest communication, and no matter how
painful, no matter how
frightening. A Course in Miracles says that miracles arise from
total communication given and
When you ask God to heal your life, He shines a
very bright light on everything you need to look at.
You end up seeing - things about yourself that maybe
you'd rather not see. We have a lot of armor that has
accumulated in front of our hearts-a lot of fear self-
righteously masquerading as something else. As anyone
who has ever been in serious psychotherapy is well aware) the
process of personal growth isn't
always easy. We must face our own ugliness. We often must become
painfully aware of the
un workability of a pattern before we're willing to give it up. It
often seems, in fact, that our lives get
worse rather than better when we begin to work deeply on
ourselves. Life doesn't actually get
worse; it's just that we feel our own transgressions more because
we're no longer anesthetized by
unconsciousness. We're no longer distanced, through denial or
dissociation from our own
experience. We're starting to see the truth about the games we
This process can be so painful that we are tempted to go
backwards. It takes courage-this is
often called the path of the spiritual warrior-to endure the
sharp pains of self-discovery rather than
choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last
the rest of our lives. I laugh
whenever anyone suggests that A Course in Miracles has us taking
an easy way out. It's a lot of
things, but it's not easy. We have to look the ego straight in
the eye before we have the power to
The ego isn't a monster. It's just the idea of a monster. We all
have demons and dragons within
us, but we also have the dashing prince. I've never read a fairy
tale where the dragons triumphed
over the prince. And I've never really tried to outgrow a pattern
and not had the experience of
God's grace given me when I sincerely and humbly asked. "You take
the good with the bad,"
my father used to tell us when we were children. The more we
learn about the light within us, the
easier it ultimately becomes to forgive ourselves for the fact
that we're not perfect yet. If we were
perfect, we wouldn't have been born. It's our mission to become
perfect, however, and looking at
where we're not is an important part of the process. We become
perfected personalities by
accepting the spiritual perfection which already exists within
There is a story about Leonardo da Vinci that has always moved
me. Early in his career, he was
painting a picture of Christ and found a profoundly beautiful
young male to model for his portrait
of Jesus. Many years later, Leonardo was painting a picture that
included Judas. He walked
through the streets of Florence looking for the perfect person to
play the great betrayer. Finally he
found someone dark-looking enough, evil-seeming enough to do the
job. He went up to the man to
approach him to do the modeling. The man looked at him and said,
"You don't remember me, but I
know you. Years ago, I was the model for your picture of Jesus."
In the movie Star Wars, Darth Vader turns out to have been a nice
guy after all, a long time ago.
And Lucifer was the most beautiful angel in Heaven before he
fell. The ego is simply where a glitch
occurred, where the wires got crossed, where love be-came
blocked. As many times as I've
expressed negativity instead of love in my life, there's one
thing I'm very
sure of: I would have done better if I had known how. I would
have expressed with love if I had felt
at that moment that I could have, and still had my needs met.
Until we fully appreciate that the ego is the impostor within us)
we often feel embarrassed to
admit to ourselves, not to mention anyone else, the games we
play. Instead of feeling compassion
for ourselves, and remembering that our neuroses are our wounds,
we tend to be too ashamed to
look at them. We think we're bad. 'We think that if we, or anyone
else God forbid, were to see the
real truth about us, we would all recoil in horror.' The truth,
rather, is that if we, or anyone else)
were to see the real truth about us., we would all be dazzled by
the light. In looking deeply into
ourselves', however, we first have to face what A Course in
Miracles calls the 'ring of fear.' Before
the Prince can save the damsel in distress, he has to slay the
dragons that surround her castle. So
do we all. Those dragons are our demons, our wounds, our egos,
our brilliant ways of denying love
to ourselves and others. The ego's patterns have to be rooted
out, detoxed from our system, before the
pure love within us can have a chance to come forth.
A spiritual teacher from India once pointed out that there is no
such thing as a gray sky. The
sky is always blue. Sometimes, however, gray clouds come and
cover the blue sky. We then think
the sky is gray. It is the same with our minds. We're always
perfect. We can't not be. Our fearful
patterns, our dysfunctional habits,
take hold within our minds and cover our perfection. Temporarily.
That is all. We are still perfect
sons of God. There has never been a storm that hasn't passed. ray
clouds never last forever. The
blue sky does.
So what are we to do with our fear, our anger, the clouds that
cover the love inside us?
Relinquish them to the Holy Spirit. He transforms them through
love, and never through an attack
on another person. It is attack, not the anger itself, which is
destructive. Yelling into pillows has
become popular in certain circles, and for good reason. Getting
the energy up and out is often a
good way to shed the physical tension that makes it so difficult
to pray when you need it most. Our
anger stands in front of our love . Letting it out is part of the
process of relinquishing it. The last
thing you want to do-ever-is to buy into the insidious delusion
that spiritual lives and spiritual
relationships are always quiet, or always blissful.