Relationships & their Spiritual Significance
“When we find another soul, we are finding another particle of God. When we reveal our soul, we reveal a particle of God. We give something divine to each other.”
Relationships are the most beautiful, challenging and growth-producing venture there is. When we lean into them, they can become the doorway through which we come to know ourselves and another soul—and ultimately God—a little better. Yet even though we all feel that pull to connect, we shy away.
Now, supported by these wise teachings, we can learn to follow our heart and get the most out of our relationships, stepping more fully into life. The Pull addresses age-old tensions between men and women, between pleasure and frustration, and between sexuality and spirituality.
Once we liberate ourselves by learning to understand ourselves better, we’ll intuitively find the right people to share ourselves with in the right way.
The Gateway Prayer
Through the gateway of feeling your weakness lies your strength;
Through the gateway of feeling your pain lies your pleasure and joy;
Through the gateway of feeling your fear lies your security and safety;
Through the gateway of feeling your loneliness lies your capacity to have
fulfillment, love and companionship;
Through the gateway of feeling your hate lies your capacity to love;
Through the gateway of feeling your hopelessness lies true and justified hope;
Through the gateway of accepting the lacks of your childhood
lies your fulfillment now.
– Pathwork® Lecture #190
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Listen to Podcasts for The Pull
PART I: CONNECTING
There is a great pull in this world that is connected with creativity and creation. And since all humans are made from the same substance that fuels the creative process, one end of this pull is attached to each one of us. The aim of this pull is to move us toward union…So this pull works by being powerful enough to pull us into relationship with each other—which takes a tremendous force—while at the same time making separateness feel painful and empty.
There is a feature in the human personality related to the pull that we tend to trot out on Opposite Day: it’s called frustration…So neither of the frustrating alternatives of denouncing happiness or intensely making rigid demands is going to ring the winning bell. In fact, our wrong attitude about frustration lures us down a dark, harmful alley that impairs relationships, self-respect and inner peace. Wah, wah, wah.
Union: it’s such a worthy goal. In fact, it’s the highest, most desirable state in all of creation. We don’t, however, reach union, have union, or get union. Union just is…
So instead of focusing on union, let’s talk about something we can work with. These are the two preliminary stages that lead up to union: cooperation and communication…Even on the level of our material needs, things like food, drink and shelter—all the stuff we need to physically survive—depend on our ability to cooperate and communicate.
Each one of us is made up of mismatched parts. On the innermost levels of our being, we have some bits governing our thinking, feeling, willing and acting that are quite nicely developed, thank you very much. Then again, there are other parts still in a lower state of development—and they like to have their say in things, too.
We are all, each and every one of us, living in a house divided, which always creates tension, anxiety and pain. In short, that’s why we’ve got problems.
PART II: ATTRACTING
Here’s the bottom line: when we block pleasure, we block our connection to our deep spiritual self. So spiritual self-realization and the capacity for pleasure are linked at the hip. Buy one, we get the other for free. Like salt-and-pepper shakers, they always come as a matching set.
People may be confused about a lot of different things, but most of us are somewhat confused about love. And sex. And then there’s that erotic spark. What gives? These are actually three distinct forces, or principles. And they show up, or don’t, differently on all the various levels. Let’s see if we can sort them out.
Call it what you will, the main goal for all of us split-off beings is to reunite our separated aspects of the One Great Big Consciousness and become whole again. And there is a jumbo force motivating each and every one of us to move in that all-is-one direction. The pull of this force—well, it is downright irresistible.
PART III: MATCHING
Nothing can be created unless there is mutuality. This is a spiritual law. It means that two apparently different entities come together to form one whole. They open toward each other, cooperating and affecting each other in such a way that something new is created. It is mutuality that bridges the gap between duality and unity. It’s the movement that eliminates separation.
When we first strike out on a path of personal development, we only know our conscious wishes. We place every lack squarely on the shoulders of bum luck, or on someone else. We don’t yet know that the only one thwarting any fulfillment is us. Even when we start to get a glimpse at our inner agenda, we can’t fathom that an actual inner No exists inside. And that it’s only pretending to be on our side.
It stands to reason that we affect others in a particular way when we operate from our destructive levels. And of course, we are likewise affected by others who operate from their destructiveness. This topic is extremely important. It’s also a tad complicated. It will help if we have already made some headway in getting to know the irrational, primitive part of ourselves—the unconscious aspect that uses the limited logic of a child.
Then, when we reach the point where we no longer need to deny, project and defend against the evil twin inside us, we can deal with the complications that arise from ignorant and destructive interactions with others.
PART IV: UNITING
The goal of spiritual development is to make our way back to the original unity—the Oneness. So the pairing up of the sexes—the union of men and women—has much deeper meaning than mere baby-making…
And yet isn’t it true that relationships between men and women offer more hurdles and more friction that just about anything else? This is because our personal emotions are more involved. As a result, we lack objectivity and detachment. This is why marriage is, at once, the most difficult of all relationships and the most fruitful, the most important, and the most bliss-filled.
We’ve all been fundamentally endowed with a handful of general human potentials. We need to bring these up to snuff. On top of this, we need to find and develop our individual assets. We do so by building up and integrating the already-obstruction-free parts of ourselves into the rest of our personalities; and we have to clean up the bits that aren’t as-yet so shiny. Then we do the hokey-pokey and turn ourselves around. Because that’s basically what it’s all about.
But wait, there’s more. The idea of self-fulfillment means something even more specific. It’s about that age-old boy-girl thing…And none of us can reach self-fulfillment if we don’t fulfill our manhood or our womanhood.
In early times for humanity, mutual distrust along with man’s physical domination were overtly acted out. As the millennia have rolled forward, these traits and attitudes have become stuck, albeit to a lessening degree, and remain lodged in our consciousness. Today, they are overshadowed by a smidge more maturity and are not acted out in the same way. But in a dark corner of our minds, there remains more that needs exposure to the light. Change is in the air.
Spiritual forces are so strong, if we haven’t done the work of purifying ourselves—clearing our blocks and transforming our negativity—we cannot bear them. These powerful currents will instead create crisis, pain and danger. Well, drat.
Enter: the institution of marriage.
PART V: LOVING
Love is the key to everything. It is the medicine we can use to heal all our sicknesses and all our sorrows. Love permeates all that is and is always available, although we often lose sight of this due to our boneheaded thinking. We could literally discuss the topic of love for an entire lifetime—every hour of every day—and it would not be possible to cover it all. Love is that big. For now, we’ll focus on a few key aspects of love—the ones we need most at this juncture.
Life may be many things, but more than anything else, it is relationship. If we don’t relate, we don’t live…The minute we relate, we live. When we are in destructive relationships, we are heading for a climax that is ultimately going to do away with the destructiveness. Kaboom…And absolutely no one relates not at all—for then they wouldn’t be alive.
With depression, we’re making up a story in our heads about why we’re unhappy. Then we label our false reason “legitimate” so we can justify our running away and wallowing in self-pity. This is how we subtly exert a forcing current on everyone around us. We’re controlling and manipulating through wrong use of our will…So whenever we’re faced with depression, we need to check our inner corners for signs of frustration and hopelessness. And don’t forget to look for self-pity…Only by finding the gnawing undercurrents that cause depression will we be able to free ourselves of the real cause.
When we sit and calmly observe how we react to others, we’re bound to notice something like an inner cramp, a tension. It’s not hard to imagine how that’s going to make it tough to open up and meet others without restrictions. Instead, we tend to become grabby and demanding. Which is always so inviting.
Our urgent demands stop us from giving without fear. And yet, it is only when we’re willing to meet others with love that our lives can become fulfilling—no matter how worthy our outer activities may otherwise be.
So what is this fear about?
As all psychologies and philosophies agree, love is the key to feeling fulfilled; it brings security and fuels our growth. Where there is no love, we will find disharmony, a result of not living in reality.
Love, however, cannot be a commandment. It’s a free, spontaneous soul-movement, not a duty…Let’s look more closely at love and how we can obtain this greatest key to life—not by taking marching orders from our intellect telling us to follow artificial, superimposed commands, but by following our heart.
* The order for reading these teachings is flexible. Follow your intuition and go where you feel called. If you get stuck on a teaching, move on. Sticking points may indicate something important to explore more deeply, but don’t let a speed bump derail you.