The Seemingly-Parallel Goals for the Self

A few weeks ago I wrote about the two spiritual paths, spiritualizing the self and transcending the self, and then a week later a follow up. Since those articles some have spoken to me about their confusion over which path is theirs. Part of the confusion is because, as I wrote, even those on a transcending path will go through a long period of spiritualizing the self. The greater arc of their path will lead to transcending but while they are in the stage where they spiritualize the self they can’t really see beyond it.

Another reason for some confusion is that they expect that if they had truly made the choice for Truth, Truth would be all that they wanted. And it just doesn’t work that way. The choice for Truth is made in an instant but in time that choice unfolds as a process. For a long time, even if your goal is to transcend the self, you have what seems to be two parallel goals for everything.

As an example, last week I wrote about my experience of the mystical Holy Relationship. I experienced the Holy Relationship in the midst of an ongoing (for me) special relationship. My desire for the special relationship did not fall away because I experienced the Holy Relationship.

“It is no dream to love your brother as yourself. Nor is your holy relationship a dream. All that remains of dreams within it is that it is still a special relationship. Yet it is very useful to the Holy Spirit, Who has a special function here.” – T-18.V.5

All relationships in the world are special in that they are each unique. Just as each self is unique. But, as always, the Holy Spirit can transform “special” for its own purposes. Where the ego (personal thought system) uses “special” to reinforce the unique self, and therefore your sense of separation from Truth, the Holy Spirit gives the special relationship a purpose that leads you back to Truth. This is what makes the special relationship a Holy Relationship.

The self is what desired a special relationship. Specifically, in my identification with a self I wanted a lifelong relationship. That desire was neutral. It had no meaning in itself. It was not good or bad or right or wrong. It was not a harmful or harmless desire because it was neutral. Whether it was helpful or not for this mind was determined by this mind’s goal (wholeness) and the teacher (thought system) it chose to reach that goal.

The ego is a thought system of lack, guilt, and fear. Through it I came to believe that a special someone would fill the lack it told me was there in me. All my fantasies were of meeting the “right” woman and being “saved” from the pain of lack, guilt, and fear. This is the kind of “special” that A Course in Miracles points out is not helpful. It does not undo lack; it reinforces the belief that lack is real. It does not undo guilt and fear; it reinforced the belief that guilt and fear are real. This is why special relationships are so conflicted and painful. I couldn’t see this then because the only way to wholeness that I could think of was the way that the ego showed me. But given that my goal was wholeness the ego was not the helpful teacher.

The Holy Spirit, however, saw this same desire for a special relationship as a classroom where I could learn that I am already whole in Truth. On some unconscious level I was willing to learn this. So I experienced the mystical Holy Relationship in which I experienced an ongoing higher miracle. In that higher miracle I experienced the Oneness, or Wholeness, that was in my mind beyond the self and the ego. The Holy Spirit was the helpful Teacher.

My desire for the special relationship did not fall away with the Holy Relationship. I was presented with the choice of to which thought system I wanted to attend, so which would grow in my awareness. As I shared, for a long time I was angry and chose the special relationship. But eventually I accepted the lesson of the Holy Relationship. And when I met my wife years later I was ready to express those lessons in a practical Holy Relationship with her. Our relationship is still special in that it is unique, as is all form in the world. But in content it is Holy because I choose to use it to learn that I am whole in Truth. The ego’s “special” fell away because I no longer needed to look to anyone else for wholeness.

This is how the path works: You have two thought systems in your mind, ego and Holy Spirit, each with their diametrically opposed goals for the neutral world of form in your mind. When you become aware of them you can decide which you want to follow. For a long time, as you sort them out, you will choose both. They will seem to run parallel in your mind; they will seem to be simultaneous. But really you cannot be in both at the same time. However, you will vacillate between them so quickly sometimes it will seem like you are in both at the same time.

As long as not-Truth (the universe of form) is in your mind the self and the ego will be in your mind. The self’s neutral desires and preferences will be there and the ego will tell you how to use them to be whole. But as you grow aware of the Truth in you and become aware that you are already whole you won’t feel a need to follow the ego. You will hear to it tell you how to use the universe of form to be whole but you will disregard it. You will rest in wholeness and watch without judgment the story of the self unfold.

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Anonymous said…
very clarifying and validating. your sharing often serves to reassure me i am not spinning my wheels.
in gratitude, nicci
Anonymous said…
I read with interest Liz's opening remarks about some students' confusion re. "which path was theirs". When Liz first introduced this topic a few weeks ago I read it as though I were in a group of trainees about to start some grueling program and the trainer
was telling us,"You know when this is over only a handful of you will be left standing!"
Yikes, talk about the ego speaking first! After a couple of reads however, I saw that Liz's article was totally neutral! I have no doubt what my path is NOW - and I sure ain't nowhere ready to let go of the world and the guilt that made it. But "What me worry?" as Alfred E. Newman used to say. We have plenty of work to do. Let's take it a day a time and when the time comes we'll know what choice to make.
Mari said…
If you don't mind, I'd like to share my thoughts on Holy/Special relationships. As Jesus emphasizes in different ways in the course, our special relationship is with the ego; the Holy relationship with HS/Jesus. The one we choose is what will flow through us and into our worldly relationships. Just a matter of form vs. content. Yes we think we are 'form' (bodies) and do believe special and Holy are thus manifested in form, but he is teaching us very simply that the one we choose is the relationship & identity we will have. love & hate is content, not form. Nothing really to do with bodies, they are irrelevant, however useful tools while we go through this process of returning Home. ��
Unknown said…
Thanks for sharing and clarifying Liz. It helps me not despair when I, once again, find I listened to the wrong teacher
Unknown said…
so clear, many thanks Liz !
Susan B said…
Thanks for clarifying and using examples from your life, it really helps me to grasp these concepts and to let go of guilt when running my parallel lives.
Christine said…
Thanks for these postings, Liz. Very clear!
will said…

You write "So I experienced the Mystical Holy Relationship..."

When I read these experiences you have had, my mind says "This is a requirement, I have to experience a Mystical Holy Relationship to eventually transcend the self." I tend to do this with all the "experiences" you have had, that they are a part of the process we all must have.
ACIM Mentor said…
Will, it's a cumulative process. All miracles, "little" everyday ones and the one's I call "higher" (like the mystical Holy Relationship) build on each other. You will have whatever you need to attain the peace that you can accept. You just have to be willing. Really, there is nothing else to it.
will said…
That’s an interesting and important answer. You’re bringing my question back into the present which is where spirituality takes place. This mind wants to live in the future, wants to anticipate the future. It’s true for all of us, our minds are programmed that way. Talking about the present is so mundane compared to anticipating the future.

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