Lecture 180 – The Spiritual Significance of Human Relationships | Abbreviated Version

P1             On the human level of manifestation individual units of consciousness do exist, which sometimes harmonize, but very often conflict with one another, creating friction and crisis. Yet beyond this level of manifestation there are no other fragmented units of consciousness. Above the human level there is only one consciousness, through which every single created entity is expressed differently. Some aspects of your personality are in truth; others, in error and distortion.

What you usually do is push one side out of the way and identify with the other. Yet this denial of a part of you cannot bring unification. Unification and peace emerge to the degree you recognize, accept, and understand the nature of the inner conflict. Exactly the same law applies to the unity or dissension between outwardly separate and different entities. They, too, are one, beyond the level of appearance.

The dissension is caused not by actual differences among units of consciousness, but, just as in the individual, by differences in the development of the manifesting universal consciousness. Even though the principle of unification is exactly the same within and among individuals, it cannot be applied to another human being unless it has first been applied to one’s inner self.

P2             For it is only in relationship to others that unresolved problems still existing within the individual psyche are affected and activated. The illusion can sometimes be maintained that the problems arise from the other person when one feels disturbance only in his or her presence, and not when by oneself. It requires mental aberration to claim for too long that problems in relationship are caused only by others and not by oneself. The illusion of inner peace and unity that comes from avoidance of relating has even led to concepts that spiritual growth is being furthered by isolation. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This statement must not be confused with the notion that intervals of seclusion are necessary for inner concentration and self-confrontation, however. There are many degrees of contact between the crass extremes of total outer and inner isolation, at one end, and the deepest, most intimate relatedness at the other, such as capacity to love and accept others, to deal with the mutually arising problems, to find balance between self-assertion and giving in, to give and receive and to be acutely aware of the interacting levels.

There are those who have obtained a certain superficial ability to relate but who still withdraw from a more meaningful, open, unmasked mutual revealing. Frustration indicates an absence of contact, which, in turn, is a precise indicator that the self withdraws from the challenge of relationship, thereby sacrificing personal fulfillment, pleasure, love, and joy. Conversely, only by thorough self-honesty and self-facing can relationships be sustained, can feelings expand and contact blossom in long-term relationships.

P3             Fear of pleasure is, to a large degree, connected with the problem of dealing with others and of facing up to one’s own stubborn blindness about the self. It is also important to remember that withdrawal can be very subtle and may be outwardly unnoticeable, manifesting only in a certain guardedness and distorted self-protection. Outer good fellowship does not necessarily imply a capacity and willingness for inner closeness. When people whose spiritual development is on different levels are involved with one another, it is always the more highly developed person who is responsible for the relationship.

Specifically, that person is responsible for searching the depths of the interaction which creates any friction and disharmony between the parties. The less developed person is not as capable of such a search, being still in a state of blaming the other and depending on the other’s doing “right” in order to avoid unpleasantness or frustration. Also, the less developed person is always caught up in the fundamental error of duality. From this perspective any friction is seen in terms of “only one of us is right.” That person may see that either one of you may have a deep problem, but that does not eliminate the importance of the possibly much lesser problem of the other one.

P4             If the more highly developed person refuses to undertake the appropriate spiritual duty to assume responsibility for the relationship and look for the core of dissension within, he or she will never really understand the mutual interaction, how one problem affects the other. The relationship must then deteriorate, leaving both parties confused and less able to cope with the self and others. On the other hand, if the spiritually developed person accepts this responsibility, he or she will also help the other in a subtle way. If he or she can resist from the temptation to constantly belabor the obvious sour points of the other and look within, he or she will raise his or her own development considerably and spread peace and joy.

When two equals relate, both carry the full responsibility for the relationship. This is indeed a beautiful venture, a deeply satisfying state of mutuality. The slightest flaw in a mood will be recognized for its inner meaning and thus the growth process is kept up. Both will recognize their co-creation of this momentary flaw. A relationship between individuals in which the destructiveness of the less developed one makes growth, harmony, and good feelings impossible, or in which the contact is overwhelmingly negative, should be severed. As a rule, the more highly developed person should assume the initiative. If he or she does not, this indicates some unrecognized weakness and fear that needs to be faced.

If a relationship is dissolved on this ground; namely, that it is more destructive and pain producing than constructive and harmonious, it should be done when the inner problems and mutual interactions are fully recognized by the one who takes the initiative to dissolve an old tie. This will prevent him or her from forming a new relationship with similar underlying currents and interactions. Difficulties and fears arise to the exact degree that you still project on others your own problems in relating and still render others responsible for anything that goes against your liking.

This can take many subtle forms. You may constantly concentrate on the faults of others, because at first glance such concentration appears justified to you. You may subtly overemphasize one side of an interaction, or exclude another. Such distortions indicate projection and denial of self-responsibility for the difficulties in relating.

P5             My dear friends, no matter what wrong the other person does, if you are disturbed, there must be something in you that you overlook. A favorite tendency among people is to say, “You are doing it to me.” Begin to question yourself and cease placing the guilt on others, which is always a hidden form of hostility that whitewashes the self. One derives pleasure from doing this, although the pain that ensues and the insoluble conflicts that follow are infinitely disproportionate to the puny, momentary pleasure.

But how about the “victim”? How is that person to cope? As a victim, your first problem is that you are not even aware of what is happening. Most of the time, the victimization happens in a subtle, emotional, and unarticulated fashion. Now, obviously, the first necessity is concise, articulate awareness, for otherwise you will unconsciously respond in equally destructive, falsely self-defensive ways. Only then will you be able to refuse a burden that is being placed on you.

P6             The only way you can avoid becoming a victim of blame and guilt projection is to avoid doing it yourself. Only to the degree that you undefensively explore and accept your own problematic reactions and distortions, negativities and destructiveness, can you defuse someone else’s guilt projection. The most challenging, beautiful, spiritually important and growth-producing kind of relationship is the one between man and woman.

However, when a man and a woman stay together in a more enduring and committed relationship, maintaining and even increasing bliss depends entirely on how the two relate to one another. When you look at the world around you, you will undoubtedly see that very few human beings grow and reveal themselves in such an open way. It is therefore not surprising that long-lasting relationships are almost invariably more or less dead in feelings.

P7             The perfectly mature and spiritually valid relationship must always be deeply connected with personal growth. Conversely, fear of intimacy implies rigidity and the denial of one’s own share in the relationship’s difficulties. This state also brings about fear of one’s feelings.

—The Pathwork® Guide