Marshall Vian Summers
on January 1, 1989
in Albany, New York
Relationship with others is the environment in which true learning occurs. Your relationship with others is where you learn how to separate what you know from what you want or believe. It is the environment and the context in which true self-discovery becomes discerned and known. This is true for reasons that are both obvious and not so obvious.
Perhaps you have discovered thus far that it is very hard to see yourself objectively. In fact, only to a certain degree can you see yourself at all. You need the eyes of another to point out aspects of yourself that you are either unaware of or cannot see clearly. You need the perspective of others to realize the meaning of your behavior and what it communicates to others. You also need to learn from the behavior of others, for people in the world around you are demonstrating all manner of error and all forms of self-deception and self-denial. Yet they are also demonstrating honesty and true communication in many forms. When you look at others and the world without condemnation and without attempting to justify your own ideas, you will be able to discern both truth and error. You will be able to benefit from the observation of both, for both are meant to serve you.
God wants you to heal your relationship with others, for in doing this, you will naturally be able to reclaim God unto yourself. God wants you to heal your relationship with others, for here you will finally learn to become objective with yourself. In the process, you will learn how to recognize your errors and obstacles. You will learn how to recognize that which oppresses you. And you will also learn to recognize the presence of Knowledge in your life. All that is false and all that is genuine can be discovered within the context of your relationships with others.
A great deal has been written about relationships, and much of it is very useful at certain levels of understanding. However, you need a broader perspective to enable you to learn to become loving, discerning and honest. Here, instead of condemning the world for its errors, you recognize it is a perfect learning ground for the reclamation of Knowledge.
People are teaching you all manner of error, self-deception and self-avoidance and are demonstrating the results of this in their personal relationships and in their activities in the world. People are also demonstrating the results of this in how they use and relate to their bodies and their minds. This is being demonstrated in so many ways that if you are looking carefully with the desire to learn, you cannot help but see the evidence that relationships which are used to fulfill fantasy and idealism must always go astray and end in anger and disappointment.
In all your relationships, you can only serve either Knowledge or the substitutes for Knowledge. The substitutes for Knowledge are reflected in your own ideas. If you are serving your ideas, you will attempt to use other people to fortify and justify your own ideas, primarily your ideas about yourself. Here you are attempting to make life fit into your definitions. You have expectations, both conscious and unconscious, within which you are trying to fit your experience, beliefs and evaluations of others. If this is done unconsciously, you will produce unhappy results over and over again in your interactions with other people. This will only tend to fortify your distrust and condemnation of them and of yourself.
From an objective point of view, others are teaching you everything you need to learn. You will find, as you learn to observe the behavior of others without judgment and condemnation, that error follows very simple patterns. Though the manifestations of these patterns can be quite varied, you will find that in all cases people are attempting to protect an idea of themselves. They are attempting to protect the survival of their bodies and their ideas by conducting themselves in a certain prescribed way, which in most cases is barely known to them. Yet they will follow this pattern faithfully until they learn to see it objectively, which will give them an opportunity to choose another way.
You who are learning to reclaim Knowledge, which contains your spiritual identity and power, must then be grateful to those who teach you error, for they are saving you time. They are saving you time by teaching you what you must learn now. Their demonstration will show you that there are no alternatives to Knowledge for finding fulfillment and happiness in life. There are no real alternatives. Through folly and discouragement, deception and disappointment, others will teach you to value Knowledge above all things by showing you that there is no benefit to be gained by trying to live out your ideas and fantasies. They will show you all the ways that Knowledge can be avoided and they will show you the results. How can you be anything but grateful to those who show you how and why you must value your own Knowledge? This does not always determine how you are to participate with people. But it does determine the best way to perceive them.
Everyone is always teaching you about the truth as well. Within their distorted thinking and behavior is the seed of truth. For every act and every communication holds within it a seed of truth. Though their acts and communication may, in their final expression, be distorted or destructive and produce conflict and unhappiness, within them people are trying to express something real. All human failure is the unsuccessful attempt at communication. As you learn to become strong with Knowledge, you will be able to begin to discern the seeds of truth in people’s communications. Then even those who openly support error can teach you that they are trying to express something real.
Understanding this will enable you to learn the law of forgiveness. For you cannot overlook error in order to forgive it, you cannot deny error in order to forgive it and you cannot call error by another name. You must see that error is a mistake. Yet it can be a form of service, both through its demonstration of the need for Knowledge and through the seeds of truth which it contains. This is not something you have to figure out, for this will be known, and it will come to you naturally as your mind becomes open to the Knowledge that God has given you. Then you will be in a position to see that all the demonstrations of error in the world, no matter how thoughtless, cruel or destructive, demonstrate that all substitutes for Knowledge must fail and will provide suffering and misery for all involved. They are failed attempts at genuine communication.
People demonstrate error, yet they also demonstrate truth, not only from the seed of truth within their failed communications but in their genuine communications as well. For given the right circumstances and given the right encouragement, most people can be heroic, devoted, selfless, genuine and giving. This, in fact, is demonstrated in each person’s life, though perhaps only momentarily and very rarely. Certain rare individuals are able to demonstrate this more consistently. You can see this in people, if you wish to.
Here it is necessary to be able to see both truth and error objectively. Do not think that you can see truth by denying error. And do not think you can comprehend human behavior and evolution by their positive aspects alone, for you must see all of it. Your Knowledge will take from all of it what is real and genuine, and from this, it will teach you how to see, how to act and, therefore, how to live.
Forgiveness enables you to see another, to hear another and to experience another. However, until forgiveness has been achieved, you will only experience your ideas about another, and you will not truly be with the other person at all. Here your relationship is more with your ideas about another and not with another. It is possible for people to be together for years and years and never experience one another. It is possible for people to spend great periods of time interacting while only fortifying their ideas and judgments about one another. As a result, there is little or no genuine experience of relationship and love, which is an experience of affinity and shared identity. This lack of recognition is happening all the time and is being demonstrated all around you. You are encouraged to see this. Yet you will only be able to see this if you look without criticism. For why should you be critical of people when they are giving you exactly what you need in order to motivate you to follow Knowledge within yourself?
Genuine learning can only come through contrast. You must see the effects of living according to your ideas in contrast to the results of living according to real experience. This is vital and necessary. This shows you the difference between living with life and living apart from life, cut off by your own ideas.
As your mind begins to serve a Greater Power and as a result of your own development, you will learn to see how your imagination and your thoughts can be blessed, harmonized and given true purpose so that they too can serve you in all ways. For you will continue to have an imagination, and you will continue to have thoughts. It is the purpose they serve that demonstrates their value to you.
It is emphasized in some spiritual teachings that everyone is equal and one with each other. This is true, but not on the level at which you experience life within this world. You experience life in this world in order to achieve certain goals through taking action with certain people. This creates a necessary division of labor because the world is a place to work and to learn. Here people function in different capacities, in different roles, with different ranges of ability and different specialization. Even in a very perfect sense, in the world this would still be true.
Therefore, there is an inequality of role and function. Yet this does not belittle or condemn anyone because, in truth, all are learning to serve the reclamation of Knowledge. Everyone is a student, everyone is learning and everyone is contributing truth and error to some degree. This is seeing in a very perfect way. Yet here you must accept that you cannot experience a harmonious relationship with everyone you meet because you were designed to do something specific with certain individuals. Because you were so designed, you need to find those people who have a similar designation. With them, you will have the opportunity to match your design perfectly with their design in order to achieve the desired result. Knowledge both within you and within them will help you find one another.
Here, however, you must be very careful because your own personal passions, beliefs and affections can cloud your vision and masquerade as Knowledge itself. It takes great discernment to recognize another person whose design is meant to complement yours. Even here you must be certain that you are prepared for such an encounter, for the success of this relationship is not only based on potential but on readiness and manifest ability. This requires restraint and discernment. Knowledge will show you everything you need to know within yourself, if you will but follow Knowledge. But following Knowledge requires refinement and preparation. It requires both learning and unlearning. It requires that you learn to recognize the purpose and value of your relationships.
Your Inner Teachers, who watch over you, place great value on your interactions with others, for this is what will either reinforce or deny the truth within you. These interactions will provide the environment where you will either reclaim your true Self or deepen the darkness of your separation and self-doubt. Your Inner Teachers do not offer you escape from this, but instead offer meaningful engagement with others.
It is not appropriate, then, to seek escape in spiritual study from the difficulties of being in relationships with others. Though you may achieve a certain proficiency in spiritual practice, you will gain no true advancement without becoming discerning, genuine and effective in your relationships. God is the sum of all relationships. For you to experience God, your desire and capacity for relationship must grow and be cultivated. This occurs within the sphere of your personal relationships. That is not the only arena for your development, but it is a primary one. If you wish to find God, then you must experience God in your relationship with others. This will end any hidden ambition to use spirituality to escape your responsibilities.
Spirituality can look very attractive in contrast to the world, and many seek refuge there. However, you will find that your true spiritual development will require you to re-enter the world and to face your real dilemmas here. You can achieve success in this because you carry Knowledge within you.
Building genuine personal relationships is a challenge and one that will call upon both your spiritual awareness and your worldly skills. It will require that you be alert, discerning and objective and refrain from condemnation and fantasy so that you may see others clearly and take effective action as a result.
True spiritual advancement is the result of a growing desire and capacity to experience Knowledge within yourself and compassion, affinity and purpose in your relationships. This is a practical definition of spiritual advancement. Great truths, potent spiritual practices, awareness of angels and the existence of spiritual forces may be quite intriguing and engaging, but they cannot rest upon a foundation that is not built upon advancement in the way of Knowledge. These things can merely give you new things in which to engage your imagination and thinking. Yet true development will always end up in the arena of relationship with yourself and with others.
Your Inner Teachers are qualified to teach this because of their advancement in relationship. They are able to speak both individually and as one. They are able to join beyond physical obstructions. They are able to communicate through different dimensions. They have learned to transcend the barriers which seem to circumscribe you now. They wish to impart what they have achieved to you so that your life may be purposeful, meaningful and happy.
You have a specific design as an individual, and you have a specific purpose, which is your calling in life. Therefore, it is very important who you associate with. Though many are available to teach you the paths of error, it is rare that you are asked to associate with them closely unless your Knowledge calls for you to do so. Yet that is an exception. What is important is that you find those individuals with whom you are meant to be engaged and distinguish this recognition from your own personal attractions and obsessions. You will find there will be many people in life whom you could love and for whom you would feel great attraction. Yet few of them will offer you the gift of Knowledge. For the purpose of genuine relationship is not merely the unlearning of illusions through disappointment, but the realization of your spiritual reality through fulfilling a greater purpose together. Even here, the form of your relationship must be carefully discerned, for two people may be meant to serve a higher purpose together, yet it may not be appropriate for them to be married or to assume another form of preferred relationship.
You have both the essence and the form. They should not be confused. If you were with Knowledge completely, there would be no problem here. However, because you live according to your ideas and prescriptions in a world of separation, you must learn to distinguish between the essence and the form of things. You may love another, but it may not be appropriate for you to assume an intimate form of relationship together. Here it is usually necessary to wait in order to truly discern what form is most appropriate for your relationship. This is wisdom. Wisdom is learning how to do things to produce a true result.
Think of it like this: You are like a piece of a larger puzzle. You fit perfectly with other pieces, but only with certain pieces. With many pieces of the puzzle it will be a partial fit. You almost fit, and, like trying to fit two pieces of a puzzle together that don’t really match, you may try to force a relationship with another because the fit appears to be so close. Yet if you could stand back and see what your picture demonstrates, you would see that though there may be great attraction, you do not belong together.
You are living in the world, so you cannot see the world from a greater vantage point, at least not yet. But you can learn how to fit with others and how to allow for others not to fit with you. This would be obvious if you could see this clearly without preference or denial. Yet most people try and build their entire lives on preference and denial. You can learn how to naturally fit with others, but you must learn this patiently through direct experience with people. Here it is necessary to accelerate your learning process so that it may save you years of difficult learning and disappointment. This will save you time.
If you could stand back and view the fabric of human relationships, you would see that it creates a picture. All the pieces together create a picture. For you, the pieces all seem to be scrambled, and there is no apparent relationship between them. Yet your Inner Teachers, who stand beyond the world, can see the picture that your puzzle creates. They also see that, from your standpoint, the puzzle is in complete disarray. Learning wisdom and discernment in relationships will enable you to find those pieces with which you fit perfectly. However, this will require patience and restraint on your part. It will be necessary to cultivate these two abilities.
You will find many situations where you almost fit with another person, but not completely. And you will be tempted perhaps to force yourself together and to deny or overlook the obvious reasons why you cannot join. Here you may justify your efforts in the name of personal growth, especially if there is a spiritual resonance between you and the other person. You may justify your efforts in the name of love, thinking that if you love the other person enough, you will be able to join with them. But in order to find those individuals with whom you are meant to be joined, you must become free from these other attempts at relationship. You must step away from them. Do this with courage even though it may be painful.
Here you open and prepare yourself for true engagement. If you have developed the necessary patience and discernment, you will be able to recognize this engagement without a great deal of speculation or evaluation. For when you meet those individuals with whom you are meant to carry forth a greater purpose in life, they will simply be recognized. There will not be a frenzy of emotion in being around them. You will not be passionately swept away and deliriously captivated with their presentation of themselves. No. It will be quiet. It will be simple. It will be deep. They will be known. You will fit together easily because two pieces that fit together do fit together easily. And though there will be personal problems along the way, and though there will be some disagreements and discord, your essential natures will complement each other perfectly, and you will realize that relationships are the means and not the end for experiencing a greater purpose in life.
Therefore, do not think that if you are enlightened, you can join with any person to whom you are attracted. Do not think that if your mind were clear and your heart were pure that you could be in intimate relationship with anyone you desire. Do not assume that if your spiritual natures were both activated, that you could heal all wounds in a relationship and overcome all obstacles, for this is surely not the case. Only in fantasy can this be seriously entertained. Life will demonstrate to you over and over, in many situations, that this is not the case.
You are like a piece of a puzzle. You cannot yet see your own shape clearly because you are inside of your shape. But if you could see your shape objectively from a distance, if you could see yourself in true relationship with others, you would learn a great deal more about your nature and design.
People are often too afraid of self-condemnation to look at themselves objectively because they think that all that they will see is their own error. They are afraid that if they uncover the real truth about themselves, they will be permanently and completely discouraged. Yet what they will begin to see is their specific design.
You were indeed designed for something that you have not yet discovered. And until you do discover it, you will tend to misconstrue your design or to deny it altogether. Recognizing your design leads to self-acceptance and self-trust. This makes self-appreciation possible because there is no deception here. But your design cannot be discerned alone for it is only meaningful in relationship with others. Your unique shape only has relevance in relationship with those with whom you fit in the puzzle itself. That is why alone you cannot fully know yourself. That is why your relationship with others is the arena for growth.
Be very careful here. In the context of beginning a relationship, move slowly and cautiously, for here it is very easy to make a mistake. If you are truly engaged with another, being cautious will not infringe upon your destiny together. It is better to move slowly than quickly. Knowledge will indicate if something drastic needs to be done. Yet be very careful because relationships cast a great influence upon you as you cast your influence upon them.
Your ability to succeed in life will be very dependent upon finding the right people. Without preference or denial, these essential relationships can be found and recognized though you will have to wait for them to arrive. Why will you have to wait? Because your development must coincide with their development. If they are set back, you must wait. If they go astray, you must wait. Therefore, your success in life is not dependent upon you alone. If you think about this objectively, it will make perfect sense to you.
Use caution and discernment in getting to know someone. It is very tempting to justify an inappropriate engagement by thinking you can wait for the development of another, believing that they will be able to join with you in time. Yet this is not appropriate. Participation in real relationships must be dependent upon readiness and not upon potential.
Your Inner Teachers recognize your potential, but they are not deceived by what you think you can do at this moment. As a result, they give you what you can actually accomplish so that each step in your advancement may be sound and built upon success. Without this, you will attempt to live either far below or far beyond your capacity. You will attempt to justify activities and engagements with others which cannot be justified. You will attempt to maintain relationships without promise, all to justify your beliefs and ideas.
Here you must examine your situation very carefully and be very honest with yourself as you do so. There is no value in defending something that is not going to work. If you will look at the demonstration of relationships around you, you will see the enormous cost of doing so. If you look very carefully, you will see there is no hope in protecting something that is not going to work. It will only prolong the time it takes for you to find the truth. Time here can be equated with suffering. God’s will is to relieve you of your suffering and to enable you to eliminate it completely. This requires that you find the most expedient means to learn through experience how to apply Knowledge. Your relationship with others is your learning arena, and here you will find that there is more to unlearn than to learn. For your mind must be cleared and freed of its restraints, its assumptions and its oppressive demands in order for it to follow its natural course, which it will do if guided by Knowledge.
Preparation is necessary. You can prepare for real relationship without travail and without having to undergo one terribly disappointing engagement after another. However, to do this, you must learn to look, to see, to feel and to know. You must learn to become objective about your motives and assumptions and learn from both the demonstrations of truth and of error from people around you. If you are open and if you are learning to trust Knowledge, to whatever extent that you experience it, you will be able to move forward and learn that which is essential for your empowerment and for your happiness.
However, there are many pitfalls in this journey and many of them will be illustrated in this book. There are many opportunities for error, and there are many situations where you cannot know what you have to learn. Yet if you look at others and if you observe yourself as you participate with others objectively without condemnation, you will be able to learn with a minimum of difficulty and disappointment. Yes, it is true that many ideas that you have about yourself will have to be relinquished, but what are ideas about yourself compared to the glory of your spiritual nature and the power of your genuine relationships in life? How little you sacrifice for something so great. Your sacrifice is so little, it is non-existent. It is merely giving up that which shackles and burdens you, that which oppresses you and makes you a slave to little things. This you give up for the freedom of finding true relationship and true accomplishment in the world.
Therefore, do not think of your spiritual advancement in terms of sacrifice. Think of it in terms of being free from a prison of your own making. Think of it as the full utilization of your inherent skills and abilities. Think of it as a true engagement with others in community and in genuine marriage so that you may proceed forward with certainty.
You have good cause to love others because they are teaching you everything you need to learn. You have no cause to condemn them, no matter how grievous their errors. Even the most grievous error will show you your own need for Knowledge and your own need to allow your spiritual nature to speak through you. Here you can celebrate the achievements of humanity, and you can learn accurately from its errors and difficulties. This is the basis for love in the world. This is the basis for true objectivity.
To achieve this, however, you must have the commitment to reclaim your Knowledge and to follow the way to Knowledge. This is the commitment to discover your spiritual nature. Building this commitment over time gives you the ability, the perspective and the opportunity to view relationships in an entirely new way. There is really no other alternative that is in any way beneficial. Without this commitment, you will become isolated again in your own condemnation and misery. You will live according to your ideas alone, and they will be harsh rulers and you will be a slave unto them.
It is important here to remember that separation itself is a competition for power. It is attempting to live without God in the universe. Or, in other words, it is attempting to be in life without the Source of your life. In the context of a relationship, it is attempting to be in relationship with another without really being with another. It is attempting to have love without giving love.
If you have made an accurate assessment of your relationships in the past, you will see that they have taught you to value your own inner guidance and your own intuition and to trust your deeper discernment. For in many cases, you may see that you recognized the outcome of the relationship at the very outset. In many cases, you knew that it would not work but you chose to have the immediate gratification of being together at the expense of your future happiness and well-being. If this has been your experience, learn from this and do not condemn yourself because this realization is necessary to enable you to value Knowledge and to give your Knowledge priority over the immediate gratification of your wishes and preferences. This is part of the maturity which is necessary for true advancement.
For you to find your higher purpose in life, you must not fall prey to the many attractions along the way. These attractive engagements with others will rob you of your Knowledge and will prevent your genuine relationships from coming into being. As it has been said, others will teach you through demonstration all the manifestations of error. Yet it is important to realize that many of these manifestations of error will be attractive and seductive. That is why you may learn from another who is demonstrating error, but you are rarely advised to be in close proximity to them. Choose your engagements carefully, enter into them slowly and allow your Knowledge, as opposed to your ambition, to guide your actions. You lose nothing by moving slowly; you risk everything by moving quickly. If you cannot allow yourself to move slowly, you have good cause to distrust your motives already.
Knowledge within you will indicate where you need to be, how you need to participate with others and to what extent you are to give yourself to any relationship. Your ability, then, to discern your Knowledge, to accept your Knowledge and to follow your Knowledge is the key to your success. This is the very essence of spiritual development. Knowledge must be demonstrated in your relationships, for these are the most difficult areas in which to be impartial. These are the most difficult areas in which to act without fear, guilt or preference. And these are the most difficult areas to release that which does not serve you.