Clarifying the Holy Relationship

As another Holy relationship has come into my life, several readers have mentioned that they thought the Holy relationship was with the Holy Spirit (Awareness of Truth in your mind) not with another. It is both. It is with another through the Holy Spirit.

In A Course in Miracles, the Holy relationship, one of its chief teaching tools (along with the Holy Instant it expresses), is introduced in Chapter 17 (part V) in “The Healed Relationship”. From then on it never lets it go! And it is very clear throughout that it is referring to the relationship between Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford.

“A relationship, undertaken by two individuals for their unholy purposes, suddenly has holiness for its goal.” (T-17.V.5)

I have experienced the Holy relationship in two ways: mystical and practical. ACIM teaches both, but the labels are mine. The Holy relationship in the Text is clearly mystical. But in the supplement to ACIM, Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice, Helen and Bill are being taught how to turn their relationships with their psychotherapy patients into practical Holy relationships. And the Workbook is full of examples of using relationships as classrooms.

Many readers questioning the Holy relationship quote Ken Wapnick. He seems to describe the practical Holy relationship. I am not sure if he ever experienced a mystical Holy relationship. They are not the same, but the mystical Holy relationship is also, in practice, a practical Holy relationship.

The mystical Holy relationship involves spiritual Vision. You and another actually see and experience your Oneness (wholeness/sameness) together.

“Did you see the holiness that shone in both you and your brother, to bless the other? That is the purpose of your holy relationship.” (T-20.III.8)

“A holy relationship starts from a different premise. Each one has looked within and seen no lack. Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining with another, whole as himself. He sees no difference between these selves, for differences are only of the body.” (

“This is the function of your holy relationship. For what one thinks, the other will experience with him. What can this mean except your mind and your brother's are one?” (T-22.VI.13)

Though seen with one another, you recognize that the Oneness you see is not exclusive to the two of you. The dropping of the boundaries between your two minds makes you aware that, in Truth, there are no boundaries between any seemingly-separate minds. There is only One Mind.

The mystical Holy relationship is an expression of the Holy Spirit within you. Each one is unique, though the content is the same. It occurs when you are ready to accept this miraculous Vision. It deeply threatens the ego (personal thought system) in your mind as it undoes it, so it will only occur when you are ready to face this.

“Those who have joined their brothers have detached themselves from their belief that their identity lies in the ego. A holy relationship is one in which you join with what is part of you in truth. And your belief in sin has been already shaken, nor are you now entirely unwilling to look within and see it not.” (T-21.IV.3)

The practical Holy relationship does not involve spiritual Vision. It is a choice you make to use a relationship to learn of the Holy Spirit within you. Rather than seeking for wholeness in another, you turn inward to the Holy Spirit instead. Your relationship with the other is then the means for growing your relationship with (awareness of) the Holy Spirit within.

“God's Teacher speaks to any two who join together for learning purposes. The relationship is holy because of that purpose, and God has promised to send His Spirit into any holy relationship.” (M-2.5)

So both experiences of the Holy relationship involve the Holy Spirit and another. A mystical Holy relationship between you and another comes from your relationship with the Holy Spirit. A practical Holy relationship between you and another is how you deepen your relationship with (awareness of) the Holy Spirit.

Two questions I’m often asked is whether or not the Holy relationship can be one-sided and does it extend to everyone. It is possible to experience spiritual Vision of another without their awareness. In fact, the Vision of the mystical naturally extends to your other relationships. So what begins with one extends to all others.

“Think what a holy relationship can teach! Here is belief in differences undone. Here is the faith in differences shifted to sameness. And here is sight of differences transformed to vision. Reason now can lead you and your brother to the logical conclusion of your union. It must extend, as you extended when you and he joined. It must reach out beyond itself, as you reached out beyond the body, to let you and your brother be joined. And now the sameness that you saw extends and finally removes all sense of differences, so that the sameness that lies beneath them all becomes apparent. Here is the golden circle where you recognize the Son of God. For what is born into a holy relationship can never end.”  (

The practical Holy relationship is a choice you make to use a relationship as a classroom to learn from the Holy Spirit whether or not the other is doing the same. That attitude and approach also naturally extends to your other relationships. In fact, the first shift students of ACIM make is to use every situation as an opportunity to learn from the Holy Spirit. This makes everything a Holy relationship for you!

However, you can see by the quotes above and below that what ACIM means by a “Holy relationship”, whether mystical or practical, is one where both parties are conscious of Oneness (mystical) and/or have chosen together to use the relationship as a classroom (practical). The term is meant to describe a specific type of intentional relationship between two people.

“To each who walks this earth in seeming solitude is a savior given, whose special function here is to release him, and so to free himself.” (T-20.IV.5)

“The ark of peace is entered two by two, yet the beginning of another world goes with them.” (T-20.IV.6)

“…I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams. That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship. He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you. But He does use it differently, as a help to make His purpose real to you. The special relationship will remain, not as a source of pain and guilt, but as a source of joy and freedom. It will not be for you alone, for therein lay its misery. As its unholiness kept it a thing apart, its holiness will become an offering to everyone.” (T-18.II.6)

Two voices raised together call to the hearts of everyone, to let them beat as one. (T-20.V.1)

If you want to benefit from my experience and lighten your process, email me at to set up an appointment for mentoring. Learn more at


will said…
"It will not be for you alone, for therein lay its misery."

Never have truer words been spoken. The misery of two people together is each grasping for their separate needs. I have had a lifetime of this behavior. The ego wanting and needing for itself.
hannah said…
im still sure a holy relationship doesn't have to be consciously with another as well as with the holy spirit in your mind. of course it can show up that way and acim focuses on that because it is always focusing on healing projection from where we think we are via the format we think we exist in, ie being individuals in relationships with others. so yes it spends its 'time' there. but as liz said, when youre in relation with the holy spirit all your relationships are holy, it doesnt matter in the slightest if another is consciously working with you toward forgiveness, peace/truth. so if youre relating to the ego, all your relationships are special, trying to fill a perceived lack. if your relating to right mindedly within yourself, all your relationships are holy.

so as long as you identify as a separate individual youre always going to 'need' (use) 'others' to relate to, be it holy or special, as you journey toward realising that all seeming 'relationships' reflect and in fact are the one Actual 'relationship'. (mind shifting from relating to itself (self concepts), to knowing itself (just being)). but you sure dont need one of the 'other minds' to be aware of the relationship as holy, be it practical or mystical, for it to be experienced so within your 'own' mind.
will said…
“I. The Invitation to the Holy Spirit
Healing is a thought by which two minds perceive their oneness and become glad. This gladness calls to every part of the Sonship to rejoice with them, and lets God go out into them and through them.”
Chapter 5, Text.
will said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
will said…
Chapter 5, Text-Not just pretty words. "Rejoice" is a lot. It is a lot more than happy or glad. It is a call for us to meditate with the Holy Spirit and learn to spiritually Rejoice. Jesus is calling us to a very difficult thing. You cannot use the ego to Rejoice in this context, it simply cannot go to that level. Jesus is calling us to stretch ourselves beyond our comfort level and receive God through others. To make a radical commitment to God in a new way. To enter the Ark two by two. It is the Slipstream.
will said…
Jesus uses Rejoice only rarely. We Rejoice at his birth and his Resurrection from the cross. He is using it in the blog to tell us to look at his Course through his eyes. To put down our previous perceptions and paradigms. To put down our intellectual understandings for just a little while and hear him. To look at the Holy Relationship as his call to see and receive God through others. This is his call for us to be Teachers.
will said…
We can use what has happened with Liz as the Holy Spirits example on how to receive God through others. To look past the Liz that was to the Liz that is. Receiving is not about receiving from personalities. Jesus asks us to receive through the Holy Spirit that is in all of us.
hannah said…
i just thought id add that Liz said to me that she thought i was saying the same thing as her in my comment above.. i musta misread what she meant in the blog :)
will said…
If you are a newer student:
Receiving the Holy Spirit through others is as difficult to understand as it is to do. To first attempt it gives rise to feelings of phoniness. The ego would block us from trying by mocking us. It is uncomfortable in its newness.

As with most things of this nature, we (the ego) are not the ones doing it. Our job is to put ourselves in a spiritual place where He can can help us. Spirituality will happen through us. We follow the same process as other things in the course. We talk to the Holy Spirit about what we are trying to do and ask His help. You can be sure He will hear you and respond. If we feel confusion it may not be the time to attempt it. Perhaps there are other things the Holy Spirit would have us do. As always we remember we are not setting the course but following His instructions.
will said…
For newer students:
What does it mean to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit or Jesus? For most of us talking to Jesus seems to be a one way conversation. We talk and all we get in return is silence. After awhile it can get frustrating and we say "What's the use?" Like us Jesus had the same frustrations. In spirituality silence is the Holy Spirit talking. It takes a lot of practice to hear Him. We may feel a certainty about a course of action. It just feels right. Perhaps we will read something or someone will be talking and we know we were supposed to see it or hear it. A great joy of the Course is over time you will intuitively know what the Holy Spirit is saying. Yes, it takes time and commitment but you can be sure the Holy Spirit will let you know he is there; so listen!
nicci said…
hi liz. i sent you an email this morning that for some reason the system failed to deliver, so will use your blog to wish you well on your upcoming departure for australia and continuing unfolding journey.

and to thank you for your help and guidance. it has showed up strongly this week with your translation of the Course's use of the word freedom into limitlessness. this subtle exchange has had the effect of deepening my understanding and enriching my practice, drawing me more deeply into Love.

thank you ever, n
ACIM Mentor said…
Thank you, Nicci.

I'm glad you find my teaching useful.
will said…
I had to laugh having confidently spoke of silence above as if I knew what there was to know. I do get a laugh at my own expense.

"Through past experience I have become familiar with many types and levels of silence. There is a silence within; a silence that defends from without; a silence that stills existance; and a silence that engulfs the entire universe. There is a silence of the self and it's faculties of will, thought, memory, and emotions. There is a silence in which there is nothing, a silence in which there is something; and finally, a silence of no self and the silence of God."
'The Experience Of No Self', by Bernadette Roberts

Well, no harm done...
will said…
"Descends from without"... correction.
will said…
A way to look at our relationship with the Holy Spirit in terms of this week's blog and as Teachers is to not see ourselves as the starting point. For instance, to try moving away from thinking of the Holy Spirit going from us to others. The Holy Spirit needs us to reach others but we are only a conduit. I used to install air conditioners and part of the installation was connecting these very large flexible aluminum tubes from vent to vent to carry the cool air. All I am is one of those tubes with the Holy Spirit passing through. Much needed! But in a rather passive way.

Do you remember the passage where Jesus is giving an example of our role as Teachers. One of them was of a little boy brushing up against us in an elevator.
hannah said…
will, and we dont respond with irritation?
ACIM Mentor said…
Will and Hannah:

"The simplest level of teaching appears to be quite superficial. It consists of what seem to be very casual encounters; a "chance" meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult "by chance," two students "happening" to walk home together. These are not chance encounters. Each of them has the potential for becoming a teaching-learning situation. Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another; perhaps the adult will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment. That moment will be enough. Salvation has come." (M-3.2)
will said…
Good point hannah. A little red head kid running into me is probably going to come up on the short end. It's always something...
will said…
It is getting late but I will try to squeeze this in. There is a question at the end of this Liz.

What happened tonight is a reference to the (M-3.2) quote Liz posted. I had been out shooting sunset pictures and on the spare of the moment decided to drive up to Jerome to get some night pictures of the town. Originally I had been on my way to do a Wal-Mart shop and got side tracked. I was pretty tired by the time I got there. It was the tiredness where you say to yourself "Just keep moving, you'll be done soon enough and can head home." I am the Holy Spirits go to guy for people shopping in Wal-Mart in their pajamas (or anything else). I know these folks very well. I was standing in an isle looking at the Crystal Light so I could make some lemon aide when I got home. On the other side of the isle was the hard liquor. I guy comes up to me in his pajamas, he is a little maniac but not too bad. He says, "The good stuff is right behind you." I smiled and said, "You got that right"! and then said it had been a long time since I had had a drink and he said "You too, I haven't had a drink in four months. Were you alcoholic"? I said yes and he said he was a half a fifth drinker every night but he had to stop because of his meds. I asked him what he was taking and he ran off this list of drugs that I recognized as medicine for Bipolar Disorder and asked him if he was bipolar. He got pretty excited saying, "How did you know that??" I said I used to work mental health. So we walked together up to the cashiers and I wished him good luck.

So the question is, do you have to be spiritually aware at the moment this teaching is taking place? I was tired and pleasant but certainly not thinking of this blog when it was taking place. It didn't dawn on me until I was on the way home. The course says "Each of them has the "potential" for becoming a teaching-learning situation". What does that mean, potential?
will said…
What is the criteria that makes it or doesn't make it a teaching-learning situation? It's late...
ACIM Mentor said…
Will, I could swear somewhere you answered yourself with a passage from ACIM but I can't find it! Anyway, every situation you teach yourself what you believe you are by choosing whether you come from the ego or the HS. This is so whether one recognizes it or not. What ACIM is saying with "potential" is you can be conscious of this and bring the HS consciously into your awareness.

In the example you gave, you did become conscious of this afterward rather than in the midst of the situation.
Unknown said…
True holy relationship is a level three teaching-learning relationship. It is life-long because it is wholistic in form as well as content. "The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time, but not concealed within it." (T-17.V.12) The other teaching-learning situations are only holy encounters because the relationships end and the two people separate. That is what makes them only potential holy relationships. "The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world." (T-17.V.1:1) A true holy relationship is life-long because it must represent eternity in time; it is a living parable of eternity in the world of form. And yes, they are very rare as yet. "The holy instant never fails. The experience of it is always felt. Yet without expression it is not remembered. The holy relationship is a constant reminder of the experience in which the relationship became what it is." (T-17.V.1) A relationship that ends or is one-sided is not holy, because it is not wholistic.

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