How Holiness "Shows Up"

It seems to me there is some confusion out there as to what happens when you turn a relationship over to the Holy Spirit or choose to see another’s holiness rather than their ego (these are the same thing). Pretty much life goes on as before, only your attitude changes. Your experience of relationships changes and others may change toward you because of this. You really only need to experience your holiness once through another for this to happen. Choose to see your holiness in one relationship and you’ve changed them all because they are all the same – your relationship with your self.

I hear a couple of different expectations from students about the practical results of choosing to see holiness in another. The rare one is that if you see holiness in someone they will change to become what you want them to be. Far more often, however, students think that once they turn a relationship over to the Holy Spirit their own personal needs should be ignored. They should only focus on holiness and put up with whatever is going on in the relationship in the world. In my own experience, once I decide to see holiness instead of what is appearing one of two things happens: The relationship is transformed or it falls away. Remember, you cannot see holiness in another until you are ready to accept your own holiness. Especially in the beginning, when you are still in relationships that began when you believed you were sinful and guilty, your decision to see your own holiness often results in these relationships falling away. They no longer serve the original purpose you had for them and they are no longer appropriate for your new, loving relationship with yourself.

On my own spiritual path and from what I see as a mentor for students of A Course in Miracles, the idea that love means sacrifice is one of the hardest ideas to overcome. Spiritual awakening is a process, and what may feel like sacrifice when you are first a student will be meaningless as you advance. But you have to live right where you are and the Holy Spirit can only work in you and through you right where you are. If you pretend to be more advanced than you are it will only lead to repression and its consequences: Anger and fear.

Let me give you a scenario. Jane has been married to Bob for many years and they have children together. She is a student of the Course; Bob isn’t. After many years of marriage, Bob tells her he loves her, the children and their lives together and wants them to continue, but he would like to be free to have sex with other women. Before Jane was a student of the Course and even when she was a new student, much of her identity was wrapped up in Bob and being his wife. Back then she would have responded to such a request in one of two ways: She would have been afraid of losing Bob and would have said go ahead, even though she was not okay with it (sacrifice); or she would have used emotional blackmail to try and hold on to him (“If you do this I will make sure you never see your children again!”).

Jane has long since turned her relationship with Bob over to the Holy Spirit. The result is that she no longer needs Bob for her identity because her primary relationship is with the Holy Spirit. She knows she is whole and she knows that Bob and everyone else is, too. She knows that she is only responsible for her own relationship with God, but she sees by Bob’s request that he is still searching externally. In this case he is unhappy and thinks having sex with other women would be his salvation. She evaluates her life with Bob and realizes she wants it to continue. So they set up boundaries for their open marriage. She is not feeling a sense of sacrifice because she knows she is whole and that Bob is trying in his own way to work out his own salvation. She is whole and can live with or without Bob and has freely chosen to continue living with him.

She could also respond by saying, “Honey, marriage to me means being sexually exclusive with your spouse. If you have to do this to be happy I support you, but I cannot continue to be married to you.” In both scenarios she is coming from love (I’m whole and Bob’s whole and we can live with or without each other) not fear (I can’t live without Bob; I can’t be happy unless Bob is the person I want him to be).

When students argue with me about what it means to see holiness in someone, they would say that the only correct thing for Jane to do is to stay with Bob, let him see other women and focus on his holiness. Jane, they would say, “should” not be concerned with her own ego’s desire for a certain kind of marriage. Let’s look at this:

First, if Jane still values a certain kind of marriage, for her to give it up would be a sacrifice in her mind. She cannot pretend she doesn’t value what she does value. If she does, she will feel deprived and teach/learn that sacrifice is real and valuable. She will be angry and resentful at Bob and at God.

Second, the choices we make in the world don’t matter in themselves because the world isn’t real. There is no wrong or right way to live. None of it touches God. But what is important to Jane’s spiritual awareness is what she is coming from when she makes a decision – love or fear. To come from a place of love is to come from a place of wholeness. This “shows up” as self-respect and respect for others, and in a relationship, a balancing of the needs of all involved.

Third, fighting your ego (trying to control it) and embracing your ego are the same thing – they both make ego real in your mind. The goal of spiritual awakening is to let go of ego. This results in letting ego be – in you and in others. There is no need to judge what ego wants – it is never real. Letting go of ego “shows up” as not needing any ego to be a certain way for you to be happy. You let “people” – including your “person” – be as they are because they aren’t real. Seeing “holiness” is not seeing a perfect person (whatever that would be), but seeing Spirit instead of a person. Resting in Spirit within yourself is not going to change your ego, but it will change your attitude toward ego in yourself and others – you will let them go.

Sometimes people embark on a spiritual path as a hedge against loss. They use a certain interpretation of the Course -- or any other path -- to justify repressing their real feelings by pretending that they see through the veil of the world when they do not do so yet. But that is not how spiritual awakening works. As you choose to follow the Holy Spirit (the Love in you), what changes are not the events in your life, but your experience of and attitude toward these events. In the world loss is inevitable; suffering is a choice. Choosing to see holiness in the world shows up as experiencing your inherent Wholeness and therefore naturally giving up a world from which you need nothing. This is a process; it cannot be forced.

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marian said…
Nicely said!
Anonymous said…
Very well written.

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