Facing the Topic of Holy Relationships

I want to add my own voice to Greg’s “The Holy Relationship: The Source of Your Salvation” article because I believe it brings up an important issue for us as students of A Course in Miracles. Holy relationships is a central topic in the Course, yet one that I believe has largely dropped off the map. So far as I can see, it is talked about even less today than it used to be many years ago.

As Greg says, the topic is granted enormous importance in the Course itself. Much more space is given to it than to the subject of special relationships (which is far more talked about among Course students). Not only are six chapters of the Text devoted to it, but it also shows up in the Manual and in the two supplements, Psychotherapy and The Song of Prayer.

In these places, the Course invests the greatest importance in the holy relationship. In addition to calling it “the source of your salvation” (T-20.VIII.4:5) and the one “requirement salvation asks of everyone” (P-2.II.8:3), as Greg points out, it also calls it “a phenomenal teaching accomplishment” (T-17.V.2:1) and “the home prepared for [God and Christ] as earth is turned to Heaven” (T-22.II.12:9).

Furthermore, as Greg also mentions, the story of the Course is really the story of a holy relationship. As we all know, Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford joined in a common purpose, and this invited a spiritual presence into their relationship, which then took them on a journey. This journey involved the two of them collaborating on a function which would bless the world. That is Helen and Bill’s story as told by those who knew them, but it is also the story of the holy relationship as told by the Course. The implication is worth noting: The Course itself was born out of a holy relationship. We only have this priceless document because of a holy relationship.

Yet, in contrast, we Course students don’t seem to talk much about the holy relationship, at least as far as I can tell. When we do, we often redefine it as something that exists in my mind alone. Or we water it down to the point where it becomes true of a wide range of relationships, as if what’s important is being able to claim its title, rather than undergo its transformation. About ten years ago, I heard from a Course author who was polling a number of Course teachers on the question, Does the holy relationship take two or one? After he was done, he told me that Allen Watson and I were the only teachers he had polled who believed it took two. He concluded it must take only one. As a result of this gap between commonly held views and what I see in the Course, I confess that I have more or less fallen silent on the topic. It has stirred up such turbulence when I have talked about it that it doesn’t seem to be a very useful thing to bring it up. And so I have chosen to focus on other, more productive topics.

In the Course itself, however, as Greg says, the concept is abundantly clear: Two people join in a common goal, one that transcends separate interests. This joining invites holiness to enter their relationship at a deep level. From there it seeks to rise to the surface and become the relationship’s dominant theme. It becomes an invisible driving force, as it takes them on a journey to the realization of itself. Along the way, they are given a joint special function, in which the holiness planted in their relationship actively reaches out through them to bless others. In the end, the two of them are profoundly changed by the relationship. It takes them to places within themselves that would be virtually impossible to reach otherwise. Actual union with another person teaches them the unreality of separateness in a way that nothing else could. The holy relationship indeed turns out to be the source of their salvation.

And this really happens. The early stages of it happened in the lives of Helen and Bill. I’ve seen these same early stages happen in my own life in several relationships, as well as in the lives of people I know. There really is this phenomenon whereby two people join in an ego-transcending purpose, after which a third presence noticeably enters their relationship and takes them on a new journey, to places they never expected—initially into chaos and confusion, but ultimately toward the embodiment of pure goodness. This is not some abstract, wishy-washy thing. It happens, and when it happens, it changes everything.

My hope, then, is that as Course students we can face this topic more fully. It’s so vitally important in the Course’s pages. It holds out such promise for us. Shall we not investigate it openly, take what steps toward it that we can, and see what happens?