Volume 22 Number 2 June 2011
Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.
The Holy Relationship (Mind) as Metaphor
There was another paragraph to our Italian friend's previously quoted letter about the chamber music concert she attended. It provides a wonderful metaphor for our holy relationship with Jesus (our lead violinist), the subject of this section:
Yet I saw also that the second violin, the viola and the cello were always waiting for a very subtle gesture, a nod, at times just a wink, of the first violin. They would wait for this small gesture before starting again their playing, after each and every pause. And immediately after this tiny gesture, the four of them would play together again, perfectly in time. Once again no one was ahead. No one was behind. Yet they all would start only after the tiny nod of the first violin.
The mind's holy relationship, the source of all holy relationships in the world, is between our decision maker and Jesus. And so we walk with him, taking his hand as we make our way on the journey through the ego's world of special relationships, corrected by forgiveness, and leading us beyond all relationships:
When you unite with me you are uniting without the ego, because I have renounced the ego in myself and therefore cannot unite with yours. Our union is therefore the way to renounce the ego in you.… My strength will never be wanting, and if you choose to share it you will do so. I give it willingly and gladly, because I need you as much as you need me (T-8.V.4:1-2, 6:9-10).
Jesus needs us in the sense that he cannot help us if we do not first choose to avail ourselves of his love. It is the same need he speaks of in his inspiring words to us from the workbook:
For this alone I need; that you will hear the words I speak, and give them to the world. You are my voice, my eyes, my feet, my hands through which I save the world. The Self from which I call to you is but your own. To Him we go together. Take your brother's hand, for this is not a way we walk alone. In him I walk with you, and you with me (W-pI.rV.in.9:2-7).
Everything in A Course in Miracles that is positive is really a right-minded correction for the thought system of the ego, which always speaks first (T-5.VI.3:5). We have loved the ego from before time was, cherishing its gifts of individuality and specialness. Now we have to be taught that we have another love, and one that offers us the untarnished gifts that will lead us to everlasting life. Loving the Beloved is part of the rich tradition of Western spirituality (as well as in the East; e.g., bhakti yoga), beginning with The Song of Songs from the Old Testament and extending throughout the mysticism of both Judaism and Christianity. Some of its famous examples are the writings of Sts. Bernard of Clairvaux and John of the Cross, filled with ardor for their Beloved. These great mystics used the symbols of love in invoking their attraction to the love that transcends sensuality and bodies, and reflects the attraction of love for love spoken of in the Course (T-12.VIII). Some of Helen's poems are directed at her beloved Jesus and reflect the emotion of this love, albeit non-sensually, for the one who symbolizes a love that is not of this world (M-23.4). In these excerpts from "Love Song," we read:
My Lord, my Love, my Life, I live in you.
There is no life apart from what you are.
I breathe your words, I rest upon your arms.
My sight is hallowed by your single star.…
The world I see is enemy to me
When I forget my lovely Love is you.…
My Lord, my Love, my Life, let me forget
All things except the loveliness you know.
(The Gifts of God, p. 53)
To be sure, all such expressions and experiences are symbolic, but they are the necessary corrections for our having first made the ego the beloved. As long as we believe we are individuals with special love relationships, we need a symbol of an individual with whom we have a non-special love relationship. This is Jesus, or any other figure that represents a non-ego presence in our minds.
Indeed, without such right-minded symbols, our relationships would be vacuous and sterile, leaving room only for the deceitful special love in which fester guilt and hate. Let us recall our young lover Lorenzo who, still beneath the moonlit sky, says to Jessica (I have quoted this in prose):
The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus2: Let no such man be trusted.
The seeming sweetness of the ego's lies are not "the concord of sweet sounds" that come from the decision-making mind joining with the light-filled presence of its true love. That is why I frequently say in my classes that we should never believe anyone who tells us 2 + 2 = 4. Do not trust such persons, despite their good intentions, for they will simply reinforce the ego's "treasons and stratagems" of having us believe that the separated world is reality. If they do not have the music of right-minded reason in their hearts, their thoughts, words, and actions will be dark, and they will inevitably confuse mind and body, dreamer and dream. This would merely confound our search for the only love that will lead us beyond the world to the Love that is our home.
It is for this right-minded love we yearn, a yearning that gives our world the only meaning it has. The journey on which Jesus leads us begins with the special loves we experience as bodies, the projection into form of the ego's nightmarish thought system of separation, suffering, and sin. Embracing him and his loving teaching, we learn that the outside dreams merely mirror the mind's secret dreams (T-27.VII.11:4-8). From these we are quietly led to the happy dreams of forgiveness in which we increasingly experience the love born of our mind's decision for our Beloved, the teacher of truth whose love softly dissolves the ego's false love. From these dreams we awaken to the oneness of knowledge that is beyond all separation and specialness, the Love that moves the sun and the other stars, to evoke Dante's inspiring conclusion to his Commedia (The Divine Comedy). This, then, is the true holy relationship, our unity with God.
Beyond Metaphor: The True Holy Relationship
To recap, it is essential as we make our way back from the world—to the wrong mind, the right mind, and at last to the One Mind—that we not fall prey to the ego's ace in the hole: confusing symbol and source. We never want to lose sight of the content (source) behind our experiences of form (symbol). This means that we understand more specifically the nature of the symphonic journey we take with Jesus: from the discords of the ego's special relationship to the touches of sweet harmony that are our holy relationships in the world, coming to the recognition that these are reflections of the mind's holy relationship with our beloved. And finally, we learn that even this song of songs is not the end, but reflects our true holy relationship with the Beloved Who is beyond all symbols: "For God created the only relationship that has meaning, and that is His relationship with you" (T-15.VIII.6:6).
We all know how wonderful it feels when our special partners return our adoration and love, yet we also have come to learn how these pale into insignificance when placed next to the glorious love we feel in our right minds, which we so frequently identify as Jesus. But even this love, the holiest we can aspire to in the illusion, dissolves into nothingness when we remember our Source, and the love beyond all loves that is the oneness with our Creator. Regardless of the sheer beauty of the sweet harmonies of our relationships here, reflecting the sweet harmony of our mind's relationship with Jesus, they are still part of the dualistic world of perception. It is only when we "hear" the non-dualistic song of creation that unites Creator and created, that we are home. The pamphlet calls it the song of prayer:
… the single voice Creator and creation share; the song the Son sings to the Father, Who returns the thanks it offers Him unto the Son. Endless the harmony, and endless, too, the joyous concord of the Love They give forever to Each Other (S-1.in.1:2-3).
Words fail in the presence of this song for we are at the journey's end. This is the state beyond all symbols—beyond forgiveness, sweet harmony, and even our teacher, for there is nothing left to forgive, harmonize with, or learn. The complex nothingness of the ego has dissolved into the simple Everything of God:
As nothingness cannot be pictured, so there is no symbol for totality. Reality is ultimately known without a form, unpictured and unseen.… Forgiveness vanishes and symbols fade, and nothing that the eyes have ever seen or ears have heard remains to be perceived (T-27.III.5:1-2; 7:1).
We have reached the End that is pure being, and Jesus would have us wonder why we ever would have preferred the cacophonous dissonance of the ego to the sweet soundless song of the Love of Loves, the oneness of our Self and of our God:
Now are we one in thought, for fear has gone. And here, before the altar to one God, one Father, one Creator and one Thought, we stand together as one Son of God. Not separate from Him Who is our Source; not distant from one brother who is part of our one Self Whose innocence has joined us all as one, we stand in blessedness, and give as we receive. The Name of God is on our lips. And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father's Love (W-pI.187.10).
And we are "glad and thankful it is so" (W-pI.200:11:9).
1. Over the years I have discussed this issue at length, particularly in Few Choose to Listen, Vol II of The Message of A Course in Miracles, and "Duality as Metaphor in A Course in Miracles," a 1993 workshop that is available on CD and downloadable MP3.
2. An ancient Greek symbol of darkness belonging to the dark underworld of Hades, the classical world's version of the afterlife.