A Course in Miracles makes relationships highly important in its message to us. Indeed, we might go so far as to say that the Course is a course in how to have real relationships. The Course itself was the answer to the search initiated by Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford for “a better way” to carry on relationships. The Course aims to bring us out of the illusion of separation and into the reality of oneness. With that emphasis, the arena of relationships, in which two or more people are learning to function together (and not in isolation) is a perfectly natural place for the Course to choose as its primary classroom.
In this article we will take a look at the importance of relationships in the Course’s scheme of things, and at why it makes them so important. We’ll look first at some things that the Course has to say about relationships in general, and then we will look at the significance of a certain kind of relationship that the Course calls a holy relationship.
When I speak of relationships in general, I mean any situation in our life that involves more than simply one person, ourselves. The phrase refers not just to romantic relationships, but to our relationships with our parents, children, and siblings, relationships between bosses and employees, teachers and pupils (regardless of the subject matter), or between us and anyone we interact with, from doctors to policemen to someone we meet on the street—anyone with whom we are thrown together by the circumstances of our lives. They include not only relationships with people for whom we have a particular love or liking, but also ones with people we especially dislike, judge, or even hate.
The Importance of Relationships: I Find Myself in Others
Why, generally, are relationships so important to the Course? The Course says that we will either find ourselves or lose ourselves in anyone we meet:
When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself (T-8.III.4:1-5).
“In him [your brother] you will find yourself or lose yourself.” This basic principle applies to all relationships, casual or intense, short-term or long-term, although our normal focus, and that of the Course, is on our primary relationships, because it is in these more intense relationships that the principle can be most clearly seen and applied.
What does it mean that in our brother, or sister, we will find ourselves or lose ourselves?
Our relationships can be the most productive classroom for spiritual growth. What the Course is saying, quite plainly in this section (Chapter 8, Section III) is that everyone is looking for themselves—or more accurately, each of us is looking, ultimately, for our Self.
The goal of the curriculum, regardless of the teacher you choose, is “Know thyself.” There is nothing else to seek. Everyone is looking for himself and for the power and glory he thinks he has lost. Whenever you are with anyone, you have another opportunity to find them. Your power and glory are in him because they are yours. The ego tries to find them in yourself alone, because it does not know where to look. The Holy Spirit teaches you that if you look only at yourself you cannot find yourself, because that is not what you are. Whenever you are with a brother, you are learning what you are because you are teaching what you are.…Give him his place in the Kingdom and you will have yours. The Kingdom cannot be found alone, and you who are the Kingdom cannot find yourself alone (T-8.III.5:1-6:1).
“There is nothing else to seek.” But, it is a mistake to think that we can find our Self by looking only at ourselves. “If you look only at yourself you cannot find yourself.” “…you…cannot find yourself alone.” If you want to find your Self, the Course says, you have to look at your brothers and sisters. You have to look at your relationships.
If you want to find your Self, you will find It only by including your brother in It.
Your Brother is Part of You
Why is it that we cannot find our Self in ourselves alone? “…because that is not what you are” (T-8.III.5:7). Your true Self is not “yourself alone.” Your true Self is not a small, isolated self, set apart from billions of other selves and in competition with the universe. Your true Self is a shared Self. It is something you share with everyone and everything. You cannot see that if you are looking only at yourself. You cannot see the ocean by examining a drop of water with a microscope.
Every person you meet gives you another opportunity to look beyond the appearance of two separate beings, and to find the common Self you both share.
That, in one sense, is the difference between an unholy relationship and a holy one. In the unholy relationship, you have two separate beings competing with or bargaining with one another for separate personal advantage—hopefully advantage for both, but still the separate advantages of two people. In a holy relationship, you have two individuals who are seeking to look beyond their separation to uncover their fundamental unity. Each of us is a tiny fragment of the Whole that thinks it is a separate whole. We have blinded ourselves to the larger picture.
We have hidden our magnificence from ourselves, and we think we have lost our power and glory, so that is what we go looking for. But in looking at ourselves alone, in examining that little drop of water with a microscope, we will never find it. Each brother and sister we meet serves as a mirror to us. The ego uses the mechanism of projection to cast what we do not want to see about ourselves—both the positive things as well as the negative things—outside us. What we see in our brothers and sisters shows us beliefs about ourselves we have cast out of our minds, in order to block our awareness of them.
The Holy Spirit wants to use every relationship to reveal these hidden things to us. What I see in my brother is something I have hidden from myself, a thought about me that I have thrown away and projected out onto the world. By looking at my brother and understanding that what I see in him, what I perceive, is only the projection of a thought about myself, I can learn about myself. If I look only at myself, I won’t see that, because a part of my mind (the part the Course calls ego) has deliberately excluded that part of the picture from my image of myself.
My “self alone” is just a husk; the vast bulk of my thoughts about myself can only be seen outside, in my brothers and sisters. These may be negative thoughts about myself-self-hatred, guilt and so on; or they may be the beautiful Truth about my true Self. If I wish to find myself, I must begin my search by looking at my brothers and sisters, and recognizing in what I see in them the thoughts about myself of which I have made myself unaware.
So, I begin by looking at my relationships. How do I see my brother or sister? How do I treat them? How do I think about them? I need to look very honestly at this; it is often a painful process, especially when I began to recognize how vengeful my mind can be, how vicious, how judgmental. And then, I need to ask myself, “Is this how I want to see myself? Is this how I want to treat myself?” Is this how I want to think about myself?”
Because that is what I am doing! For instance, if I am thinking of another person and refusing to let go of a grievance against them, or if I am refusing to see them as capable of love, capable of change, and worthy of my respect and love, then I am thinking about myself in the same way. What I perceive as being out there, in another person, is just a projection of my own thoughts about myself.
You may say that you are unaware of any such vicious thoughts about yourself. Of course not! That is the whole point. Such self-destructive thoughts are extremely painful, and that is precisely why your mind has denied them and projected them out onto the world. The Holy Spirit wants to use your relationships to make you once again aware of these thoughts of self-hatred in your mind. The ego is nothing but this mechanism of self-hatred and self-destruction.
To achieve the goal of the curriculum, then, you cannot listen to the ego, whose purpose is to defeat its own goal (T-8.III.6.2). The ego is out to teach us what we are as much as is the Holy Spirit (T-8.III.5:1), but it is trying to teach us that we are separate, which we are not. Therefore, its true purpose is to prevent us from knowing what we really are. The goal of its teaching (self knowledge) and its fundamental purpose (autonomy) are at cross-purposes, although it does not know that and is not conscious of it.
The ego does not know this, because it does not know anything. But, you can know it, and you will know it if you are willing to look at what the ego would make of you. This is your responsibility… (T-8.III.6.3-5).
How do you “look at what the ego would make of you”? You look at what you are making of your brother and sister, because that is the reflection of your thoughts about yourself. You look at how you see them, how you treat them, how you think about them, and you ask yourself, “Is this how I want to treat myself?”
If you really look at it honestly, the answer will have to be, “No! I don’t want to see myself as a guilty, miserable person who is not worthy of love and respect.” This is your responsibility because once you have really looked at it you will accept the Atonement for yourself. What other choice could you make? (T-8.III.6.5-6). Once you really understand that your attitude and actions towards your brothers-that is, the way you behave in relationship to others-are just a reflection of how you are already treating yourself, you will choose to do otherwise! Faced with the clear evidence of your own self-destructive thoughts, you will inevitably choose to be gentle with yourself instead. You will say to yourself, “It is insane to think of myself this way.” And when that shift begins to occur, the way you treat your brothers will shift as well. That is the process which the Course calls forgiveness.
“You can encounter only part of yourself because you are part of God, Who is everything” (T-8.III.7.1). When you find yourself beginning to judge a brother or sister, you will remember that all you are perceiving is a part of yourself that you have projected outward and are now attacking, as if it were separate from you. It isn’t separate; it is still a part of you, and you are attacking yourself. When you recognize that, you stop, because it is insane to continue. Self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others occur in the same instant, because they are the same thing.
This is the underlying principle that governs everything the Course says about special relationships. Those whom you perceive as special objects of hatred or of love are the people from whom you can learn the most, by observing your relationship with them and understanding that what you are perceiving is a part of yourself. Your reactions to these people are your reactions to yourself, projected outward. Considered in this light, relationships are the greatest classroom in which you can find your true Self.
Your Function Is Giving of Yourself
A second reason why we find or lose our Self in our brothers is that our Self, or what we are, is really identical with our function, or what we are for. We often describe what something is by telling what it is intended to do. A hammer, for instance, has the function of driving nails, and so a definition of the word hammer might read, “A tool for driving nails into wood or another hard substance.” What is a human being, in that sense? What is our function? The Course says:
Giving of yourself is the function He gave you. Fulfilling it perfectly will let you remember also what you have of Him, and by this you will remember also what you are in Him. (T-8.III.8.4-5)
Our true power and glory derive from our creation in God’s image. Like God, we are pure Love. Love’s function is to give of itself. It is in giving of Itself that Love realizes its full potential. Like God, we are created to give of ourselves. It is in giving of ourselves to our brothers that we remember our true power and glory, our nature, and in remembering that, we will remember what we are, which is Love, God’s own Son, God’s own extension of Himself.
In relationship with other people, we can give of ourselves. We have the ability to extend love to other people, to look beyond what they have made of themselves (the ego’s miscreations) and see the glory and power of God in those other people. In seeing this in others, we are in fact remembering our Self. In seeing the glory of God in others, we are being the Self He created us to be.
You cannot fulfill your function as Love, your function of giving of yourself, if you consider yourself as yourself alone. You must be in relationship to another person to fulfill your function. (I am emphatically not saying you need a certain kind of special relationship to be Love; this applies to all and every relationship we have. You can fulfill your function of love just in smiling at the mailman, or remembering a deceased relative with love.) Love must go beyond the boundaries of my individual self, as I perceive it, and extend to others.
What you are, your true Self, is Love. Love is a kind of relationship. Therefore, what you are is a relationship. You cannot find your true Self apart from relationships, because Love is what you are. So here again, it is in relationship to other people that I find my Self, because my Self is Love. If I withhold love from others, I am losing my Self. If I extend love to others, I am finding my Self.
In summary, then, there are two basic principles which govern all our relationships presented in this section (T-8.III). These two principles are the reasons why the Course places such emphasis on relationships:
- My brother is really part of myself. The way I see, treat, and think about my brother shows me how I am seeing, treating, and thinking about myself. By looking at this, I can correct any mistakes I am making about myself.
- My function is to give of myself; therefore, it is in relationships that I can learn to practice my true function as Love.
Another way to state the importance of relationships in these two principles is:
- In relationships I can see the mistaken views I have of myself and let them go.
- In relationships I can extend the true view that the Holy Spirit has of myself, and can know my Self by being my Self.
In relationships I can let go of the negative and experience the positive. That is why the Course says that relationships are such a productive classroom. When used by the ego our relationships can become its greatest weapons to keep us from Heaven; used by the Holy Spirit, they can become the most powerful means of bringing us home.
The Significance of the Holy Relationship
As important as relationships in general are, the significance of what the Course terms a holy relationship is far greater. Holy relationships are a central theme of the Course. It devotes six entire chapters (17 to 22) in the Text (six out of thirty-one, or nearly 20% of the volume) to the topic of holy relationships. The Course tells us, “In this world, God’s Son comes closest to himself in a holy relationship” (T-20.V.1:1). It tells us that a holy relationship offers us “the most holy function this world contains” (T-18.I.13:1-3). It says that the holy relationship is “the source of your salvation” (T-20.VIII.6:9).
What is a holy relationship, and why is it so important?
Students of the Course disagree about whether a relationship becomes holy when one of its members gives the relationship to the care of the Holy Spirit, or whether it takes the choice of both partners in the relationship. This article is not intended to encourage a controversy about the definition of a holy relationship; my purpose is to show the importance that the Course attaches to relationships in general and to a certain kind of relationship in particular. However, since I am making certain assumptions about what “holy relationship” means, let briefly outline my thoughts on this issue and my reasons for them.
I think everyone would agree that there are some relationships in which only one person is giving the relationship to the Holy Spirit for His purposes (call these mixed relationships), and other relationships in which both parties are doing so (call these mutual relationships). I think, also, that everyone would agree that mutual relationships are holy relationships. The disagreement arises concerning whether the term “holy relationships” includes both mutual and mixed relationships.
Now let me briefly outline my own views, which you are free to disagree with. My own understanding is that a holy relationship requires two persons who mutually agree on a common purpose. Robert and I both believe that the holy relationship as mentioned in the Course always refers to at least two people whose minds have joined, and that is the definition of the term I will be using in this article. Indeed, I feel that the “twoness” of a holy relationship is what makes the relationship holy. The holiness lies in the joining of two minds, reaching beyond their separation towards oneness. Robert Perry, in his book A Course Glossary defines “holy relationship” as follows:
A relationship in which two or more people have truly joined in a common goal, at least for an instant. In this instant the Holy Spirit enters the relationship and heals it at a deep, unconscious level. This deep-level healing then slowly works its way to the surface, overturning the ego patterns that still may dominate much of the conscious interaction. As the holy relationship matures, the people involved will experience an increasing sense of oneness, which will prove to them more effectively than anything else that they are not separate egos. And they will exercise their joint special function of together giving healing to the world.
I have expressed my opinion that a holy relationship involves at least two people but let me hasten to remind us that the Course quite definitely recognizes a type of relationship in which only one of the parties has invited the Holy Spirit into the relationship. I have termed this a mixed relationship. If we are serious followers of a spiritual path, most of our relationships are of that kind. We have invited the Holy Spirit in, but the other party has not consciously done so and might even resist the idea.
There is abundant material in the Course advising us how to proceed in such relationships: accepting the Atonement for ourselves and extending ourselves in healing, seeing the other’s ego behavior as a call for love, and so on. What I am asserting in the remainder of this article is that a mutual relationship has an even greater significance than a mixed relationship.
It seems self-evident, to me at least that a relationship in which two people have together given their relationship to the Holy Spirit for His purposes has much greater potential for teaching and extension of God’s Love to the world than a relationship in which only one person has done so. And, in my understanding, the term “holy relationship” is synonymous with what I have been calling a “mutual” relationship. Therefore, I believe the various glowing descriptions and promises given of the holy relationship in the Text apply only to mutual relationships, and not to mixed ones.
That is how I understand it, and how I will be presenting it. If you choose to believe that the term holy relationship includes mixed relationships, and that the promises also apply to that kind of one-sided relationship, you are free to do so. Furthermore, I would add that, according to the Course, “…it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy” (M-3.4:6). Every relationship is a potential holy relationship, but it is not holy in the sense I am talking about here (which I believe is the Course’s use of the term) until the two separate minds join in sharing a single idea and a single purpose: “When two minds join as one and share one idea equally, the first link in the awareness of the Sonship as one has been made” (T-16.II.4:3).
If we are in a relationship with someone who is relating wholly from an ego level, the only thing we can do is to continue to accept the Atonement for ourselves and to practice forgiveness. Because minds are joined (whether or not that joining is recognized), what I do in my mind will affect the other person. Perhaps they will join me in a holy relationship; perhaps not. In either case, my responsibility for my own thoughts remains the same.
The Shift from Separateness to Oneness
What makes the holy relationship so significant is that in the context of a holy relationship we begin to emerge from separateness into oneness. In the line just quoted in the previous paragraph, the joining together of two minds to share one idea is called “the first link in the awareness of the Sonship as one.” This moment of joining, when two minds first begin to recognize their oneness, is an incredibly important event within time.
If separation, as the Course says, is the only problem (W-pI.79.1:4), then the answer must be the end of that separation, or joining. In a holy relationship, we first join with one other person. It is that joining—that emergence from separation into oneness—that gives the holy relationship its great significance:
What must the teacher do to ensure learning? What must the therapist do to bring healing about? Only one thing; the same requirement salvation asks of everyone. Each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests. Only by doing this is it possible to transcend the narrow boundaries the ego would impose upon the self. Only by doing this can teacher and pupil, therapist and patient, you and I, accept Atonement and learn to give it as it was received (P-2.II.8:1-6, my emphasis).
What is the one thing we all must do to bring about healing, or to ensure learning? What is the single thing that salvation asks of us all? Notice this isn’t talking about, “One really important thing” or even “The most important thing we have to do,” it is talking about the “only thing” we have to do. It isn’t just that the holy relationship is the most important step we will take towards salvation; it is the only step we need to take to ensure salvation! And what is that step? “Each one must share one goal with someone else, and in so doing, lose all sense of separate interests.”
Why do I say this refers to the holy relationship? The phrase isn’t mentioned in this paragraph, but the clues are evident. This section of the Psychotherapy pamphlet is talking about relationships that are called the temple of the Holy Spirit, a phrase that is connected to the holy relationship in the Text, Chapter 20, Section VI. It speaks of a relationship in which God has entered, which is another thing that identifies it as a holy relationship. In the Manual for Teachers, the teacher-pupil relationship is a specific example of a holy relationship. There, this kind of joining together in common purpose is said to be the thing which defines a relationship as holy:
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-2.5:3-4, my emphasis).
So sharing a goal with someone else is what makes that relationship holy. And this is the only thing that we need to do to bring about healing and join in God’s plan for salvation. In other words, entering a holy relationship is the one thing God asks of us for our salvation. “In so doing,” the Psychotherapy pamphlet says—that is, in truly sharing one goal with someone else, thus entering a holy relationship with them—we “lose all sense of separate interests.”
And there it is. That is the reason that the holy relationship is so important and so crucial, because in the holy relationship we lose all sense of separate interests. The same criteria are given for what makes a person a teacher of God, in Chapter 1 of the Manual:
A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s. Once he has done that, his road is established and his direction is sure. A light has entered the darkness. It may be a single light, but that is enough. He has entered an agreement with God even if he does not yet believe in Him. He has become a bringer of salvation. He has become a teacher of God (M-1.1:1-8).
As I said earlier, if separation is the only problem, then loss of all sense of separate interests, with one other person, is the onset of the answer. The loss of separate interests is the defining characteristic of a holy relationship. Or, looking at the reverse side of the coin, the joining together in a common goal is what makes a relationship holy; that is its holiness.
We have several examples in the Course material of what this joining together means, or what it looks like. With Helen and Bill, it was accepting the common purpose of finding a better way for relationships. With the teacher and pupil, it is joining together with the purpose of learning A Course in Miracles. With the therapist and patient the common goal is finding healing, or releasing one another from guilt.
Notice that none of these three examples involve a romantic relationship. I think that in our common understanding of the term “holy relationship” we have, falsely identified it with a romantic relationship. It can be a romantic relationship, certainly, but that is only one kind of special relationship, and therefore, only one kind of holy relationship. We can have a holy relationship with our friends, with our family members, with our next-door neighbor, or with our associates at work.
I want to emphasize again that this is a mutual joining. It says “each one” must share a common goal. The goal does not have to be overtly spiritual. Helen and Bill’s goal did not seem spiritual at the start, not to them. A therapist and patient may not even believe in God when they join together in a common purpose. But, that joining is nevertheless an open invitation to the Holy Spirit to enter their relationship. The Course tells us that we may not realize what we are accepting when we embark on our holy relationship (T-18.III.4:11). The key factor is that the two make a deliberate choice, together, in which they do not see their interests as separate.
The point I want to emphasize here is really in the fifth sentence of that quotation from the Psychotherapy pamphlet. It says, “Only by doing this is it possible to transcend the narrow boundaries the ego would impose upon the self” (P-2.II.8:5). That is, the only way we can transcend the boundaries of our individual egos is through joining with another person in a holy relationship. That is exactly why the holy relationship is so important in the Course’s thought system. You cannot transcend your ego by yourself. Being “by yourself” is your whole problem!
How can you learn that your self is not limited to the narrow confines of your own ego if you do not join with another person, to find with them that you share the same Self? You must see someone else as yourself. Only by sharing a goal with another person, and losing your sense of separate interests, can you begin to emerge from your separateness into oneness.
If we think about this with simple logic, obviously there is no other way to transcend our egos and end our separateness.
A Herald of Eternity
The holy relationship is a foretaste of Heaven. Heaven, the Course tells us, is the awareness of absolute oneness. In a holy relationship, two people experience and manifest that oneness here, in the dream.
In this world, God’s Son comes closest to himself in a holy relationship. There, he begins to find the certainty his Father has in him. And there he finds his function of restoring his Father’s laws to what was held outside them, and finding what was lost. Only in time can anything be lost, and never lost forever. So do the parts of God’s Son gradually join in time, and with each joining is the end of time brought nearer. Each miracle of joining is a mighty herald of eternity (T-20.V.1:1-6).
It is in the holy relationship that we find our Self. In the holy relationship we rediscover the certainty that God has in us. In the holy relationship we find our function. Each “joining,” or each holy relationship, brings the end of time nearer.
Each time we join with a brother in holy purpose, it is a “mighty herald of eternity.” A “herald” is a forerunner, like John the Baptist who went ahead of Jesus, announcing his coming. The holy relationship is a herald also; it announces or foreshadows what eternity and Heaven will be like. We might say that holy relationships are the heralds announcing the Second Coming of Christ.
In the Workbook section that discusses the Second Coming, it points out that the Second Coming is the final recognition of oneness:
Forgiveness lights the Second Coming’s way, because it shines on everything as one. And thus is oneness recognized at last (W-pII.9.2:3-4).
In this equality is Christ restored as one Identity, in which the Sons of God acknowledge that they all are one. And God the Father smiles upon His Son, His one creation and His only joy (W-pII.9.4:3-4).
In the holy relationship, and in the joining that such a relationship represents, there is an expression of oneness, a forerunner or foretaste or herald of oneness, announcing what that oneness is and what it looks like. It is “the first link in the awareness of the Sonship as one” (T-16.II.4:3). The holy relationship is announcing the Second Coming of Christ, just as John the Baptist announced the first coming of Jesus to the world.
Each herald of eternity sings of the end of sin and fear. Each speaks in time of what is far beyond it. Two voices raised together call to the hearts of everyone, to let them beat as one. And in that single heartbeat is the unity of love proclaimed and given welcome (T-20.V.2:1-4).
So the holy relationship is significant because it proclaims the advent of the final unity of all living things in Christ. This is where we begin to find our Identity. We come closest to our Self in a holy relationship. And our two voices raised together call to everyone around us to let their hearts beat as one, as our hearts do.
The holy relationship is a single heartbeat that proclaims the unity of love. It is the very unity of the two hearts beating as one that constitutes its holiness; this is what makes it a herald of things to come, speaking within time of things that lie far beyond time.
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 (T-22.In.4:1-4).
Finding a Holy Relationship
We’ve seen how significant the holy relationship is, and that it is a central theme of the entire Course. Our relationships are our salvation, and we cannot find God alone. So the question seems to naturally arise in our minds: How do I find someone who wants a holy relationship with me?
The Course appears to teach that we go through a period of preparation, getting ready for holy relationships, and that when we are ready, we will meet those holy relationship partners inevitably. So we don’t really have to do anything about finding the right partner, we just have to get ourselves ready. Robert, in his article about teacher and pupil, clearly presents the fact that the pupils begin to seek their teacher when the teacher is ready to learn. The same principles that apply to this particular form of holy relationship apply to all holy relationships: We will inevitably meet the right partners for our holy relationship as soon as we are ready to learn from the holy relationship. Prior to that time we probably would not even recognize them if we met them!
Should we be looking for our holy relationship partner? Well, the Manual says that when the teacher is ready the pupils start looking for him, so apparently looking is part of the process. I think that “looking” is not the kind of looking we usually think of, however. We make it a specialness thing; we are looking for that special one. I think we should be looking continually for holy relationship partners; with everyone we meet! If every relationship is destined to become holy, we should look on everyone as a potential partner for a holy relationship. A holy relationship may last a few seconds or a lifetime; so everyone we meet is a candidate.
In Chapter 3 of the Manual, we read:
There is no one from whom a teacher of God cannot learn, so there is no one whom he cannot teach. However, from a practical point of view he cannot meet everyone nor can everyone find him. Therefore, the plan includes very specific contacts to be made for each teacher of God. There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship. They are ready for each other (M-3.1:4-8).
In this world, within time, we can’t meet everyone, so “very specific contacts” are set up for each of us. There is a plan. There are certain ones with whom we can develop holy relationships; and there are no accidents. The key line, which I think can reassure us if we are worrying about how we will meet the right partner for a holy relationship, is this: “Those who are to meet will meet.” There is no need to worry about it; it’s a done deal.
Again, notice, those who meet, meet because they are ready for each other. This does not mean they are mature, complete individuals. They have the potential for a holy relationship. Although a lot happens when that initial choice—that joining of minds—is first made, there is also a great deal to be worked out, often over a lifetime (or several lifetimes). What is potential must reach maturity for the relationship to thoroughly fulfill its function.
In conclusion, I think it is important for us to realize that A Course in Miracles is not a solitary path. Indeed, it is the very antithesis of a solitary path. We cannot complete the curriculum of the Course by ourselves. We can learn, and are meant to learn, from all our relationships. We can learn and serve, most completely in the context of a holy relationship, which becomes a light to the world. That is the potential of every relationship. And therefore, I return to the lines that opened this article:
When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself (T-8.III.4:1-5).
[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]