Special Relationship

Anger is really only one form that projection takes. It is the most obvious of the two forms of attack that are referred to in the Course as special relationships.

The most difficult concept to understand in the Course, and even more difficult to actually live and put into practice, is the idea of specialness and the turning of our special relationships into Holy ones.

Special relationships come in two forms. The first is the special hate relationship, where we find someone whom we make the object of our hate, which is really ourself.

The second form is what the Course refers to as special love relationships. These are the most powerful and insidious because they are the most subtle. And, again, there is no more difficult concept to understand or to apply to oneself than this one.

Special relationships are not mentioned in the workbook or the manual at all, and do not appear in the text until Chapter 15, and from there on, for the about the next nine Chapters, that is almost all you read about.

The reason that special love is so difficult to recongnize and do something about is that it seems to be something that it is not.

It is very difficult to conceal from yourself the fact that you are angry at someone. You can do it for a while, but it is really hard to maintain that illusion for long. Special love is quite something else. It will always seem to be what it is not.

It really is the most tempting and deceptive phenomenon in this world. It basically follows the same principles as special hate, but it does so in a different form.

The basic principle is that we attempt to get rid of our guilt by seeing it in someone else. Therefore, it is really just a thinly disguised veil over hatred. Hatred again is only an attempt to hate someone else so we do not experience our true hatred of ourselves.

What I would like to do now show basically how this works in three different ways-how in the guise of saving us from our guilt through “love” the ego is really reinforcing its guilt through hatred.

Let me first describe what special love is, and then we will talk about how it operates. We have a belief that there is something missing in us, this is what the Course refers to the “scarcity principle” and it really underlies the whole dynamic of special love.

What the scarcity principle says is that there is something missing inside of us. There is something that is unfulfilled and incomplete. Because of this lack there are certain needs that we have. And this is an important part of the whole experience of guilt.

So once again we turn to the ego and say, “help”. This feeling of my nothingness or my emptiness, or this feeling of something missing, is absolutely intolerable; you have to do something”.

The ego says, “Okay, here is what we will do”. And first, the ego slaps us in the face by saying, “Yes, you are absolutely right; you are just a miserable creature and there is absolutely nothing that can be done to change the fact that you are lacking or missing something vitally important to you.”

Of course the ego does not tell us that what is missing is God, because if the ego told us that, we would choose God and the ego would cease to exist. The ego says that there is something inherently missing in us and there is nothing that can be done to remedy that.

But then it says there is something we can do about the pain of this lack. While it is true that there is nothing that can change this inherent lack in ourselves, we can look outside of ourselves for someone or something that can compensate for what is missing inside of us.

Basically, special love says that I have certain special needs that God cannot meet because, once again, I have unconsciously made God into an enemy, so I do not go the true God for help within the ego system.

But when I find you, a special person with certain special attributes or qualities, I decide you will meet my special needs.

That is where the expression “special relationships” comes from. My special needs will be met by certain qualities in you, and that makes you a special person.

And when you meet my special needs as I have set them up, then I will love you. And then, when you have special needs that I can meet for you, you will love me. From the ego’s point of it is a marriage made in Heaven.

Therefore, what this world calls love is really specialness, a gross distortion of love as the Holy Spirit would see it. Another word which describes the same dynamic is “dependency”. I become dependent on you to meet my needs, and I will make you dependent on me to meet your needs.

As long as we both do that, then everything is fine. Now that basically is what specialness is.

It’s intent is to compensate for a perceived lack in ourselves by using someone else to fill the gap. We do this most clearly and most destructively with people. However, we can do it with substances and things.

Someone, for example, who is an alcoholic, is trying to fill and emptiness in him or herself through a special relationship with a bottle.

People who do drugs do the same thing. People who have some kind of mania to buy lots of clothes, or make a lot of money, acquire a lot of things, or have status in the world- it is all the same thing.

It is an attempt to compensate for how rotten we feel about ourselves by doing something outside that will make us feel good.

When we seek outside ourselves we are always seeking for an idol, which is defined as a substitude for is really only God who can meet this need.

This is what specialness does then; it serves the ego’s purpose of seeming to protect us from our guilt, but all the while it reinforces it. It does this in three basic ways which I will summarize now.

The first is that I have this special need and you come along and meet it for me, then what I have really done is make you a symbol of my guilt. What I have done is associate you with my guilt, because the only purpose that I have given my relationship and love for you is that it serve my needs.

On a conscious level I have made you a symbol of my love, but what I have really done ( in an unconscious level) is make you a symbol of my guilt.

The second way that special love reinforces guilt is the “Jewish mother syndrome”. What happens when this person who has come along to meet all my needs suddenly starts to change, and no longer meets my needs the way as he or she did in the beginning?.

My special needs will no longer be met in the form that I demanded. Human beings have the unfortunate qualities of changing and growing; they do not stay fixed as we would want them to be.

My goal is very simple; to get you to return to how you once were. There is no more powerful way in this world to get someone to do what you want than to make that person feel guilty.

If you want anything done by anyone else, you make that person feel good and guilty, and that person will do what you want.

No one likes to feel guilty. The manipulation through guilt is the Jewish mother’s trademark. Everyone who is not Jewish also knows about this.

You could be Italian, Irish, Polish or whatever; it is the same thing because the syndrome is universal.

What I am going to do is make you feel guilty, and I will say something like this; “What happened to you”? You used to be such a decent, kind, loving, thoughtful, and gentle person.

Now look at you!! Look at how you have changed!! Now you don’t give a dam. You are selfish, self-seeking, insensitive and on and on and on.

What I am really trying to do is to get you to feel so guilty that you will go back to the way you used to be. If you don’t, my love will turn to hate, (which it what it was all the time anyway).

You always hate the person you are dependent on for the reasons I gave in the first example, because the person you are so dependent on is reminding you of your guilt, which you hate. And therefore by association, you will also hate the person you are professing to love.

The third way, in which specialness is a guise for hatred, and for guilt rather than love, holds for both special hate and special love. Whenever we use people as a vehicle to meet our own needs, we are really not seeing them for who they are; which is Christ.

Rather we are only interested in manipulating them so that they will meet our own needs.

And whenever we use or manipulate anyone to meet our own needs, we are really attacking them, because we are attacking their true identity as Christ, seeing them as an ego which reinforces the ego in ourselves.

Attack is always hatred, and so we must feel guilty for having done so.

Thus, these three ways are exactly how the ego will reinforce guilt, even though it tells us it is doing something else.

This is why the Course describes the special relationship as the home of guilt.


The Holy Relationship


The two people involved in a Holy Relationship are the same as in the special relationship.

 But the difference now is they both have a different teacher as guide, and at least one of the two now perceives them Both as differently.

 No longer are seen as victim and victimizer, Now they are seen as sharing the same need, problem, and goal.

 It is this perception of Sameness, that is the principle difference between the special and holy relationships.

 Jesus says… “Each one will be looked within and seen no lack. Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining another, whole as himself.

 He has no needs, he sees no difference between these selves, for differences are only of the body.

 Therefore, he looks on nothing he would take. Only the different can attack. For this relationship has Heaven’s holiness.

 With forgiveness instead of guilt as the goal, the Holy relationship now has a common purpose. In other words, it is the undoing of the ego principle, one or the other.

 I now do not have to attack you in order to be saved as the ego counselled me. I now understand through the Holy Spirit that by simply withdrawing my projections of guilt onto you- which is Step 1 of forgiveness.

 The guilt then can be forgiven in my mind- step 2 of forgiveness. Thus the innocence of both in the Holy Relationship are proclaimed as one.

This joining of Oneness and forgiveness then can be extended to other people in increasingly larger numbers.

 This joining is still an illusion, because in truth all bodies are illusions.

The real joining is with Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our minds, which allows us to release our guilt over the belief in separation.

It was this guilt that lead us to projection in the first place.

 By the undoing of our guilt, with the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. There is nothing to repress and so there is nothing to project. And so correspondingly there is nothing to forgive.

 That is the true meaning of forgiveness.

Relationships In

Form & Content

When we speak about form, we are speaking about behavior, the body and the world, anything that we perceive to be external to the mind.

When we talk about content, we are talking about the mind; the mind has only two contents. The wrong mind of the ego content of sin-guilt-fear, suffering and death, and the right mind of the Holy Spirit content of forgiveness, the miracle, healing and peace.

As the Course states, the only remaining choice we have in this world is the freedom to choose. We can choose the content of the wrong mind of the ego, or we can choose the content of the right mind of the Holy Spirit.

The ego made up the world of form and bodies as a distraction to keep us mindless so we would never return to the content of the mind.

The whole ego thought system depends on the part of our minds (the- decision-maker) to choose the ego’s content over that of the Holy Spirits content.

The ego’s fear is that the decision making part of our minds will recognize our mistake and choose again, that we would choose the content of the atonement instead of the content of separation.

We would do this by realizing that the separation from God has never happened and awaken from the dream, and then the thought system of the ego would simply disappear. To ensure that that would never happen, the ego developed a strategy of form and mindlessness.

Since man has first started to walk on this planet we have being deluded into studying the world of form, thinking that the world itself and the world of bodies was the problem and contained the solution.

The Course itself consistently focuses on relationships, because it is in our relationships with each other that we find guilt mostly manifested through projection and judgments.

This is always most prominent in what the Course calls special relationships, our special love and special hate relationships.

We believe that these relationships are the problem, if you would only love me the way that I want, if you do this for me, I will do that for you.

If you give me specialness, I will give you specialness in return. These relationships are all form; it is not these relationships that the Course is talking about when it mentions special relationships.

Jesus is talking about the special relationship in content, we have only one special relationship and that is our minds decision to choose the ego thought system. It is the special relationship with the ego itself, in content.

Likewise when Jesus talks about the Holy Relationship, he is not talking about form, He is not talking about the joining of two bodies, He is talking about our relationship with the Holy Spirit in content.

The Holy Relationship is never between two people, ever, it is always between you and the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Relationship exists only in the mind, it is the decision making part of our mind that recognizes that it has made a mistake, and now it seeks to correct by choosing the Holy Relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit as our Teacher.

This is the critical difference between form and content. We are told in the Course (text C.16) that the special relationship is the triumph of form over content.

For us to be healed, we have to bring the problem of our special relationships to its source, the minds mistaken choice for the ego, once we are back in the mind and mindful we are free to make another choice and choose the Holy Relationship.

13 Responses to Relationships

  1. James says:

    I just wanted to thank you!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! I’ve read about the special relationship several times and I thought I would get it further ahead in the book, but the Holy Ghost let me to this page!!! I got it!!! You explain it so simple and so easy!!! You have no idea how much you have helped…. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

    • Thomas Norman says:

      ok…WE SEEK OTHERS TO PROJECT OUR GUILT UPON IN THESE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIPS, WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE THAT DO THE OPPOSITE? THEY PURPOSELY AVOID OTHERS, LONERS YOU MAY SAY, ISNT THIS GOOD? I am talking about someone all their life avoiding others, the world would label these people antisocial, isnt it good these individuals staying to themselves? albeit very lonely existence…?

  2. Lisa says:

    I agree with the above post. I get it now. Thanks

  3. K.B. in Seattle says:

    Thank you for this explanation – truly helpful.

  4. ed says:

    Very nice comfort as we move , struggle, and love.

  5. Elia Vaughn says:

    I feel a little resistant, I caught myself really thinking, what Love of God? Where is it? Its very disturbing to see that these feelings are really inside of me. And it’s kind of devastating to give up on the dream of finding “True Love” in the world with someone. I know it must just be a shift in perception, and that in truth, those ideals and hopes are not real, but all the same. Yes they don’t exist, but that’s what keeps people going, so in my opinion this is the hardest lesson, I am trying asking to be taught, but I’ve made it unnecessarily painful because of I guess lack of faith in God. I don’t know. I know there are other people who feel this way probably everyone, everyone does this. Thank you though, this was alot easier to grasp and understand then the forgiveness of illusions itself. I really appreciate this site.

    • Artur says:

      As you got no reply, I’ll try to say some words. I always found myself seeking for my “soul mate”, “true love”, etc. And yes, as it was told in this explanation, I often do it in a mindless way, perceiving the outside picture, looking for someone. And then I found her, the blond pretty girl, overwhelming heart and giving me the “love” I always wanted, until the moment she had to travel to another city and started to focus on her new life and forgetting me. Suddenly I found myself hating her behavior and feeling depressed. Of course, this is a world of shift and change, I’m old enough to know that I can’t rely on such thing. But I also know that the Holy Spirit doesn’t have any interest in taking from me the little I think I have, it’s asking for a very simple thing actually. I’m looking for Love, but this is something I always had, so He asks me to trust him and realize the falsity of what’s happening. Is there really someone doing something to me? How come? This life is such a tsunami, nobody have real control of anything here, how is it that someone is upsetting me? Let’s trust the Holy Spirit way of unfolding our forgiveness lessons, we are the maker of the dream and we know exactly where’s the problem and where to look. Trust.. Mindfulness.. Willingness.. that’s all 🙂

  6. Maureen says:

    Thank you so much. For a long time now I have been struggling with a special relationship. I could not see what was the loving way to treat both this person and myself. Every way I tried seemed to only make everything worse and everything I thought was confused. You have made the principles of ACIM in this area very simple and easy to apply to my life. I believe the Holy Spirit has just spoken to me and shown me the way to proceed.
    Many thanks

  7. Artur says:

    And that’s why ACIM doesn’t need a “church” to have its message being spread. It just talks to us in such a beautiful way that it naturally spreads itself through our seeming bodies until the forgiving process is finished 🙂 Thank you for the clarification

  8. shema says:

    thanks it is so helpful and peaceful to read as i have so longed to have a Holy Relationship thinking it was to be had with the other person. i do get it that it is a relationship with the Holy Spirit but still unsure as how to go about this. I love the Holy Spirit and at times cry out for guidance I hope now this becomes more and more actualised. my special relationship with a person i love has shown up so much like you described the “Special Relationship”and ive been battling it for some time and got quite exhausted. and sad knowing its not real love yet knowing in all truth i love this person and see God in her…. but then the ego comes back so hoping i can see the light and know i am the light. thank you.

  9. Thomas Norman says:

    I appreciated Kenneth Wapnick…we corresponded on occasion…he is a wonderful teacher….what the course teaches is once the student learns, no need for the teaacher…I like that….I have his lectures on a sd card in my radio….I love to listen to him, he spoke well, and seemed devoted to his vocation…fact is I love these type people, all they wish is to provide data, info, no motives, he believed what he taught, he had a sense of humor that had student laughting, like telling this person named Jack he was a course failure….if I attended college I would have wanted someone like Kenneth Wapnick as a teacher….

  10. mahi says:

    the last paragraphs made everything very clear. form and content. will have to read it couple of times to keep remembering. 🙂

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