THE HOLY RELATIONSHIP
"The holy relationship is the old unholy relation-
ship transformed and seen anew."
If the special relationship is the ego's response to the
creation of the Holy Spirit, the holy relationship is the
Holy Spirit's response back. The 'holy relationship is
the old, special relationship transformed.' In the special
relationship, the ego guides our thinking and we meet
in fear, mask to mask. In the holy relationship, the Holy
Spirit has changed our minds
about the purpose of love
and we meet heart to heart.
A Course an Miracles describes the difference
between an unholy and a holy alliance:
"For an unholy relationship is based on differences,
where each one thinks the other has what he
has not. They came together, each to complete
himself and rob the other. They stay until they
think that there is nothing left to stat 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.
A holy relationship starts from a different
premise. both one has looked within and seen no
lack. Accepting his completion, be would extend
it by joining with another, whole as himself."
The purpose of a special relationship is to teach us
to hate ourselves, while the purpose of a holy relation-
ship is to heal us of our self- loathing. In the special relationship,
we are always trying to hide our weaknesses.
In the holy relationship, it's understood that we all have
unhealed places, and that healing is the purpose of our
being with another person. We don't try to hide our
weaknesses, but rather we understand that the relation-
ship is a context for healing through mutual forgive-
ness. Adam and Eve were naked in the garden of Eden
but not embarrassed. That
doesn't mean they were
physically naked. It means they were emotionally naked,
totally real and honest, yet they were not embarrassed
because they felt accepted completely for who they
The Course presents an image of the special relationship
as a picture set in a frame. The ego is more
interested in the frame-the idea of the perfect person
who will fix everything-than we are in the picture,
which is the person himself. The frame is baroque, and
decorated with rubies and diamonds. But the course
says the rubies are our blood and the diamonds are our
tears. That is the essence of specialness. It is not love
but exploitation. What we call love is often hate or at
best, Robbery. Although we may not know it consciously,
our search is often for someone who has what
we think we don't have, and once we get it from them
we'll be ready to move on. In a holy relationship, we're
interested in the picture itself. All we want by way of a
frame is a light support that does just enough to keep
the picture in place. We're not interested in our brother
for what he can do for us. We're interested in our
The holy relationship is, above all else, a friendship
between two brothers. We are not put here to audition
one another, put someone on trial, or use other people
to gratify our own ego needs. We are not here to fix,
change or belittle another person. we are here to sup-
port forgive and heal one another. I was once counseling
a couple who were in the
process of messily completing
their relationship The man had moved on to
Jane someone else and the woman was angry. During
our session she said to him about the new girlfriend,
"You only like her because she tells you how wonderful
you are all the time!" He looked at her very seriously
and quietly said, "Yeah, I think that has something to
do with it."
How do we find a holy relationship? Not by asking
God to change our partners, but by asking God to
charge our minds. We don't run away from someone
we're attracted to because we're afraid of specialness.
Anytime there's a potential for love, there's a potential
for specialness. I often ask audiences, "What's the fine
thing we should do when we're attracted to someone?"
and they reply in pep-rally Edition, "pray!"' The prayer
go" something like this: 'Dear God, you know, and I
how, that I have more potential for neurosis in this
area than in any other please take my attraction, my
thoughts and feelings about this person and use them
for your purposes. Let this relationship unfold according
to your will, Amen."
Spiritual progress is like a detoxification. Things
have to tome up in order to be released. Once we have
asked to be healed, then our unhealed places are forced
to she surface A relationship that is used by the Holy
Spirit becomes a place where our blocks to love are not
suppressed or denied, but rather brought into our conscious
awareness We never get crazy like we do around
the people we're really
attracted to. Then we can
our dysfunctions clearly, and when we're ready ask God
to show us another way.
As temples of healing, relationships are like a trip to
the divine physician's office. How can a doctor help on
unless we show him our wounds? Our fearful places
have to be revealed before they can be healed. A Course
in Miracles teaches that 'darkness is to be brought to
light, and not the other way around.' If a relationship
allows us to merely avoid our unhealed places, then
we're hiding there, not growing The universe will not
The ego thinks of a perfect relationship as one in
which everybody shows a perfect face. But this is not
necessarily so, because a show of strength is not always
honest. It is not always s genuine expression of who we
are. If I pretend to have it together in some area where
I really don't, I am fostering an illusion about myself I
would only be doing this out of fear-fear that if you
saw the truth about me, I would be rejected.
God's idea of a "good relationship" and the ego's
idea of one are completely different. To the ego, a good
relationship so one in which another person basically
behaves the way we want them to and never presses our
buttons, never violates our comfort zones But if a a relationship
exists to support our growth, then in many
ways it exists to do just those things; force us out of our
limited tolerance and inability to love unconditionally.
We're not aligned with the Holy Spirit until people can
behave in any way they choose
to, and our own inner
peace isn't shaken. There have been times in my life
where my thought about a relationship was, "This is
terrible," but upon further reflection I realized God
would probably be saying, "Oh, this is good." Mari-
anne gets to see, in other words, her own neuroses
A girlfriend once told me she had broken up with
"Why?" I asked.
"Because he didn't call me for five days."
I didn't say anything.
"He knows I need verbal reassurance on a daily
basis," she continued. "So I set my limits. Don't you
think that's good"
"No,' I said "I think it's childish." I paused.
"Have you considered accepting him as he is?"
"Well, thanks for the support," she said.
I responded, "You're welcome."
I knew she thought of support as agreement from
others that her boyfriend was guilty. Support for the
belief guilt is extremely easy to find. But real support
is When we help one another see beyond someone's
errors, to drop our judgments and see the love that lies
Our neuroses in relationships usually stem from our
having an agenda for another person, or for the relationship
itself. It's not our job to try to make a relation-
ship into something we think it should be. If someone
doesn't behave like a great
romantic partner, then per-
haps they're not meant to be that for us. That doesn't
make them wrong. Not every relationship is meant to
be the ultimate romance: if the train doesn't stop at
your station, it's not your train. The ego seeks to use a
relationship to fill our needs as we define them: the
Holy Spirit asks that the relationship be used by God to
serve His purposes. and His purposes is always that we
might learn how to love others more purely. We love
purely when we release other people to be who they
are. The ego seeks intimacy through control and guilt.
The Holy Spirit seeks intimacy through acceptance and
In the holy relationship, we don't seek to change
someone, but rather to see how beautiful they already
are. Our prayer becomes "Dear God, take the scales
from in front of my eyes. Help me see my brother's
beauty." It is our failure to accept people exactly as they
are that gives us pain in relationship.
Our ego is merely our fear. We all have egos, that
doesn't make us bad people. Our egos are not where
we are bad but were we are wounded. The Course
says that we are 'all afraid on some level that if people
saw who we really are, they would recoil in horror.'
That is why we invent the mask, to hide our true selves.
But the true self- the Christ within us -is that which
is most beautiful. We must reveal ourselves at the deep-
est level in order to find out how lovable we really are.
When we dig deeply enough into our real nature, we
do not find darkness. We
find endless light. That is
what the ego doesn't want us to see: that our safety
actually lies in letting down our mask. But we cannot do
this when we're constantly afraid of being judged. The
holy relationship is a context where we feel safe enough
to be ourselves, knowing that our darkness will not be
judged but forgiven. In this way we are healed, and
freed to move on into the light of our true being. We
are motivated to grow. A holy relationship is this:
"a common stare of mind, where both give errors gladly to
correction, that both may happily be healed as one."