Unity and Relationship

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Course Ideas

A little over a week ago Linda nominated this blog for an award, and being Award Free here I graciously declined but expressed my appreciation for the recognition.  Linda’s intent was clear and heartfelt, however, and revolved around expanding relationships and the threads of connection in this virtual realm.  I felt I wanted to honor the intention in some fashion.  So, I’ve been thinking since then off and on about relationship in general, and the role it plays in releasing the creative power within us.  Having witnessed a number of persons in my limited sphere of awareness facing difficulties that seem intractable, Linda and myself included (though in what seem like very different ways), it seems a worthy topic to explore.

There’s a phrase that appears with increasing frequency as one moves through A Course of Love: unity and relationship.  This jab-jab-hop…POW! is not only the means of accessing and expressing the power native to our being, but the most profound outcome as well.  Like all good paradoxes, this phrase expresses a wholeness that seems to have two incompatibly shaped faces.  One side is square.  The other is round.  And yet it’s a single coin.

The coin is tossed high into the sky.  Call it!  Square or round?

Square.

(Lands.  Square side up.)

Square it is.  Do you kick or receive?

Both.

Perfect.  Off you go then.

Without unity, we are like a disassembled engine.  A lot of parts twirling each other around and trying to figure out how we snap together.  The worlds that stymie us are the ones where the parts have each decided to be an engine all of their own.  Having come from engine, they know the power of engine.  Knowing the power, they think they can bring it forth.  They remember it.  They feel it.  But without reassembly, there is only frustration.  No part can achieve independently, what already and only is.  So yeah…  Unity.

I think it’s important to bear in mind that Unity is the power itself, before it became the engine.  Unity is the power that was always there.  Unity is the power that can never be touched.  As well, unity is meaningless without relationship.  It doesn’t stand on it’s own in Creation.  Without relationship, unity is everything at once, undifferentiated and nonexistent.  And there can be no exchange this way.  No movement.  No expression.  Unity is not relationship but nor is it fully separable from it.

To have an engine, you need parts, and to have parts working in connection, you need differentiation.  You need valves and wires and cylinders and tubing.  You need belts and gears and pulleys and a computer.  But if you have all that, the relationships between them allow power to flow.  (Everything in it’s right place.  See footnote below.)  The relationship too, is not quite what it appears, because it is also invisible.  It is not really separate from unity.  Relationship binds each to each, it doesn’t merely connect one guy to the next guy.  Relationship isn’t about how many beings you rub up against if you swing your arms.  All to all and each to each are contained in the invisible, timeless field of relationship.  Each part of that whole engine emerged from the invisible, pure, audacious power of the formless engine.  Directly.  From unity.  Each part has access to the whole idea and power of the engine, not just to a little piece of it.  And yet each part expresses uniquely in the manifest realm as the power is made manifest.

But the world we experience on a daily basis is one where the parts aren’t quite set up properly, or so it seems.  One idea I find mind-blowing is that our suffering is itself a type of wholeness.  It’s a strange notion, but it makes some sense to me.  We like to resolve our suffering into particular “issues”, and then solve them.  This is how we think when acting and responding as separate beings.  We think everything is separable.  We think everything can be broken into manageable pieces and tackled.  We think there is an isolable cause– one and only one cause– for each difficulty.  I’ve come to view this as far too simplistic.  Our suffering, too, is whole.  It affects us in our entirety.  We’re not just broken in specific facets of our lives, we’re broken everywhere.  Suffering is simply a distortion of wholeness, and I think we can see that when we finally are overwhelmed by it.  Then it’s everywhere-at-once nature becomes more tantamount.

Everything sucks all together.

Then Hafiz walks through the room like a one-man marching band, playing seventeen instruments at once.  A finely polished kazoo.  A belt of tambourines.  And a harmonium.  And the break, if it comes, breaks through everywhere.  We can’t find ourselves at all…  We’re gone…  But we’re alive in relationship with all that is…

I love the sentiments of A Course of Love.  I need the release of the power described therein.  I need to be honest about this.  The cessation of suffering isn’t a nice-to-have.  If your suffering has temporarily reached the ludicrous zone, the breakthrough is probably marching right now around the granite walls you’ve built around your heart.  In seven days time, the walls will come tumbling down.  Things will snap together.

I feel close to the sun, and there’s the sensation: you either dissolve into a gentle, living warmth, or you burn to a crisp.  There’s a phase change to my being that I both desire and sense is proximate, but before it is complete it feels like the wheels may fall off.

That’s okay.  Hafiz is a good band.  Worst case I carry the sheet music for him.

Unity and relationship.  Linda was onto something.  If you’re scrambling to pick up the pieces, you’re in good company.  Remember your part has a unique little widget function thingamajig that no other part quite has, and it’s needed to make the redacto-flux-wave guide-dip tube function properly.

But your part is also everything.

Thank you for that.

Footnote:

40 Comments

  1. I have been off in some darker, unwhole, necessary places as of late. Very beautiful in their own desolate ways, like the dessert that must be trekked across, endured, respected, and learned from, on the way to Oasis. And then, those are just perceptions of the human; the good, the bad, the ease, the difficulty, all of the dance of ascendence hidden in peaks and valleys. I am glad to come out for air, to feel the heaviness lifting, finally having allowed some grieving, to hold a safe place to let myself deeply miss my sister, to feel it viscerally.

    Nothing could feel better, than stretching my arms, blinking, and having this enlightened life-game referee remind me that I will always be squarely circular, perfectly kicking and receiving, in unity and relationship with myself.

    I watched my ‘higher’ self hold my ‘lower’ self as she cried, then saw the bravery of that lower self, as she experienced pain unknowable to the higher. Such a yo-yo. Which is stronger? Which is higher? Neither and both. They have a relationship, a unity. Beautiful chaos. Crazy harmony. Wild horses and a hamster on a wheel. All together now, lets make life happen!

    Liked by 6 people

    • Hi Andrea,

      It is always a cause for pause for gratitude when your heart-tree image appears again, as here after your essential dive into life’s occasionally murky waters. These conversations with the soul, they’re so essential. Hang up all the trajectories and wherefore’s on the shelf for a period of time, and just let the moment be what it needs to be. I think it’s the spa of the heart. It’s muddy for a little while, but we all rinse clean….

      I loved your embodiment of unity and relationship right in the marrow of your own being. Witnessing yourself, knowing both are one, and yet each is each, and it is all you. I can’t think of a better way to capture this feeling of unity and relationship. The tears and the joy are square and round faces of the same coin. Perhaps even death and life. Here and there. All unified in the space of one’s own heart. All moving with invisible power…

      I am warmed by your reflections.

      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Michael, you seem to be on the verge of solving cosmic conundrums. Thanks for an interesting view of the fallacy of working on individual problems and people. Maybe we need more group solutions and group discussions; throwing our parts on the table to solve the mysteries of life together. Or maybe we have nothing to do except remember our wholeness. More conundrums. 🙂 Though, no doubt unity and relationships are at the core.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not sure what I’m on the verge of, Brad! But it’s probably the case we’re in on it together… 🙂

      To your point, A Course of Love describes dialogue much like you write here, similar anyway. Rather than solving problems, the idea is more that in dialogue new life emerges from authentic sharing and communication. Remembering wholeness feels like the beginning to me lately. The switch that turns on, but then Creation continues, straight through us!

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

  3. Thank you for this exceptional essay Michael, and to Linda too for her inspiration. I was reminded of the Ship of Theseus Paradox when you wrote about the disassembled engine, and how the unity or wholeness of the wooden ship remains, together with its continuing place in the world, even though we may, plank by plank, replace every portion of it. The ship is ultimately a relationship, more so than an enduring thing, even though we perceive it as such. The same is true of our bodies, which may have their blood, internal organs, limbs, and so forth, substituted with biological or mechanical parts, yet still the relationship creates an echoing of wholeness and unity. And so on with the oceans becoming vapour clouds and then rain, the oak desk I write at with its relationship to the tree that once stood in a forest a century ago, and time itself which permits the entire world of causation that we exist within. Existence is change [Heraclitus, Buddha] and change is relationship. Ergo, all that exists is in relationship.

    Mitakuye Oyasin:

    Hariod ❤

    Liked by 6 people

    • Hariod, I think it is an interesting connection, to realize the enduring thing is the relationship, and the particles which constitute it come and go. I think there is something further being expressed as well, in the notion of unity and relationship, and while these are only tickles of understanding I entertain from time to time, I think perhaps there is something to them. This something more is the idea that the expressions of unity, through relationship, and of relationship, bound in unity, are not static in their unfolding. While the Ship of Theseus appears to be constant, but is actually continuously in a state of change, there is another level in which the Ship of Theseus over time gives rise to new creations entirely… There is a changing of the change… The flowering of unity, the simulation of stillness through resonant motions, is building upon itself. It is an unfinished work, always complete in each stage of its incompleteness… 🙂

      Mitakuye Oyasin

      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent post Michael.. Loved how you likened Unity to an engine.. Brilliant… Yes we are seemingly all different parts yet once assembled together once we have found our ‘Connecting parts’ we can become a powerful engine..

    When we all realise we were already part of a large engine ‘The World/ And Nature’.. yet so many now wish to disengage and think they can work separately and control other parts… We all know an engine has to work together and if one part breaks the whole engine starts failing..

    Seems once we learn to live in Unity consciousness Michael we will only then get our world working more peacefully together.. But while ever we keep having fractions that set themselves apart..So too our World will keep suffering..

    Great post . 🙂 We are ONE. 🙂 even if some still need to understand what we do to ourselves we do to the whole.. 🙂

    Blessings your way Michael..
    Sue

    Liked by 5 people

    • Hi Sue,

      Thank you for the feedback.

      It is interesting to think about the manner in which our experience of the world might change, and the extent to which our acceptance of unity influences the entirety of our experience. How will this come? How will we create the space for a new reality of peace to unfold? It is another paradox to consider that it may require the acceptance of what already is. An acceptance great enough to hold those who seem otherwise occupied.

      The engine analogy was fun, but I realize it can be troublesome at some level, too. There is a way in which one part can emanate the understanding and power of the whole engine, and transform the whole assembly into a dove. And I didn’t capture that too well!

      Blessings to you also, Sue.
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Michael… you said…….. ” our experience of the world might change, and the extent to which our acceptance of unity influences the entirety of our experience. How will this come?”..

        I don’t think we need worry too much over how this will come about.. If you were to put the question 100 yrs ago into how our present day would come into being to be such a transformation in the last 50 years of such technological advances I am certain those living 100 yrs ago would say they could not envisage a world full of electron gadgetry which communicates with pictures around the world in a millisecond .. The progression is happening all the time.. But we just can not see it..
        Unity Consciousness happens on all levels even if at times it may not seem to be harmonious.. One only has to take a look at the Arab Spring to see how thoughts spread out, unrest, wanting change to a point people who have nothing to lose will join in ‘Unity’ for their causes..
        Sometimes relationships have to break down in order for them to step away and begin again. The world is breaking down systems that no longer are working.. And its a gradual process on going.. WE ARE the Change but we are so caught up within all of it we can not see how we are changing..
        But the engine analogy is a good one Michael, because when the whole engine can no longer function.. what do we do? we either try to patch it up and carry on with parts breaking down, or we scrap it altogether and get a get a brand new engine probably a newer model..
        Maybe that is what the mother earth is ‘thinking’ 🙂 ❤ So I thought you captured it VERY well.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, Sue! I agree with you that there is little utility in worrying about how such things come about. Sometimes I ask questions rhetorically when I write, for the joy in recognizing they are impossible to answer. This was a little bit that, and a little bit of the raw desire. All rolled in together. The human experience… 🙂

          I liked what you wrote and tend to think this particular revolution is largely occurring invisibly, as you noted. The electron gizmo’s and political and geological upheavals… I don’t know what to make of them. I decided at some point I’m just not qualified to read the tea leaves of current events and make narrative sense of them, but I love when I discover someone who has. I’m often left with the impression that those who are able to string together a discussion of events that is meaningful to the whole, it is but one of many threads that could have been extracted. When I think of the Arab Spring, it is just overwhelming to think of how many lives were touched in ways unique to each, and yet there is this whole picture that emerges. What is it? I can’t begin to say, because I can’t make sense of how the event can stand alone apart from all those lives woven into it, and each one of them would perhaps have a unique perspective. What is it?

          I think this fluidity of parsing experience is itself part of the new perhaps. Giving up our interpretations. Working meaningfully with those with whom we share meaning. Letting the big picture, as you say, take care of itself. Thank you for the inspiring reflections, Sue.

          Michael

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes I think the ‘Revolution’ is invisible.. We are all part of it.. :-D…
            I like this quote of George Bernard Shaw
            “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” 🙂
            Maybe we are putting too much reasoning into the equation … And should just let the BIg Plan unfold… for I am sure all is as it’s meant to be.. For I guess there is no right or wrong way of it..
            I liked Neale Donald Walsch quote too… I read all of the conversations with God series and they are very thought provoking.
            “Your ideas about right and wrong are just that—ideas. They are the thoughts which form the shape and create the substance of Who You Are. There would be only one reason to change any of these; only one purpose in making an alteration: if you are not happy with Who You Are.”

            I guess Michael, its all about finding our WHO WE ARE… 🙂 Many thanks for that great response..
            Enjoy your weekend.. Sue

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hi Sue,

              Hope you had a nice remainder of your weekend. I can be contrarian sometimes, so just know I find it helpful to explore many sides of an argument. I really enjoyed the quotes you pulled out here. I’ve been reading a lot lately in various settings about this notion of “thinking too much”, and while I agree we do this quite often, I think it can also be an over-used turn-of-phrase. I don’t know how to explain it, but thinking about things can get you nowhere fast. But somehow, when we’re open and willing, and the heart turns on, thoughts of value also arrive. Realizations. There is a kind of “thinking” that seems to happen without words, but yields insights. The words may come later, but there’s this inception of knowing that can come. And without a mind as a container for these seeds to germinate, I wonder how we would grow in our understanding of ourselves and the world. The mind is not the problem perhaps, but the mind that has usurped this observer role, trotted out on stage, and begun whirling its baton. This thinking I’m trying to describe is not rummaging through the ideas of the mind like you would a shoe closet, but observing the empty space where thought arises. Some good ones come to visit… Beautiful ones… Profound ones…

              Thinking… I think it’s good! Particularly when it is an act of unity– an observance of those winged doves that settle for a time in the window sill of the mind. All manner of things will land there. Maybe thinking too much is actually not thinking at all, in the sense that it’s just imagining what might dawn as insight, rather than actually being willing to receive it… 🙂

              I’m just rambling… thinking… listening… receiving… sharing… exploring…

              Peace
              Michael

              Like

  5. I concur with the commenters that this is indeed a beautiful essay. What a wonderful award-inspired post. You understand my intent and created a nuanced explanation of the whole and the sum of its parts.

    From what I read, it appears that you are also in the throes of struggle. I did not know this Michael and I extend love to you. If you are led to do so, I would like to know about your issues. Because as you said, they are not truly individual but simply suffering.

    You have a wondrous ability to take many ideas that I ponder and display them with fancy, whimsy and heart. I feel like you get me and that brings us all 1 step closer to unity. Thank you 😉

    peaceful love,

    Linda

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Linda. I much appreciate your response here, and the love you send my way. It would be hard to do my issues justice in a paragraph, but I’ll try and offer a glimpse. Suffice it to say that I have been stretched quite thin, and literally unable to keep my poise throughout the day. It is not a good feeling, and yet there it is. There is an intensity to it right now that runs right over me, and there is no choice for extended periods of time but to experience it. Just allow myself to be a mess on the inside. I don’t even quite know how to write about it. It’s both bigger than me on the one hand, and then when space opens up again for me to disengage it shrinks into something far, far smaller. I think it’s okay. Analysis is out of the question at some level. I see Hafiz out of the corner of my eye once in a while, marching through like a cymbal factory test apparatus, and it’s good. The heart can do things words cannot even fathom… I take solace in this… 🙂

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can only share love with each of the above comments , Michael … I hear you in that band of Haviz … You are the brilliant drum beat going “boom” in our hearts …love , megxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Meg. Hope you had a great trip to Amsterdam, if your return here signifies a physical return as well. I’m touched by your comment. I’ll keep these words folded in living leaves, like the lembas from the Lord of the Rings, to nourish me in times of darkness… Thank you for hearing the truth inside of me, and recognizing a sliver of unity…

      Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  7. sweet discourse on our inherent interbeing nature, Michael!
    deep inside our ancient tribal ancestors wanting to feel
    & offer safe embrace of all the others 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, David. I like how you wove the hearts of our ancestors into the tapestry. Were we alive in their silences? Are they alive in ours? I’m convinced the answer is yes… We hold one another in an embrace of unity, and it is far vaster than we typically dare imagine I feel. Mostly when I’m watching sunsets… 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Seth always said connected but not connected, and that each of us lives literally in our own world, our own unique sphere of perception, the entire package arising from nothing, and connected but not connected to every other package 🙂
    Hope this makes sense with regard to what you’ve written. Full disclosure – I only read the first half and the ending – very busy 🙂
    Alison ❤
    xox

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Alison,

      I liked your full disclosure. ha! I hear you on the busy front! I liked the Seth quote too, about each of us living literally in our own world. I think about this from time to time, and observe it to be true even in my own interactions. Particularly in conflict and its resolution we often find we weren’t viewing the same world at all…! And yet, despite being in “our own worlds”, there is a deeply abiding and all-pervasive something that binds us. Since one could not exist without the other… It is troubling and delightful all at once! ha! Hope you get some chill time soon…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

    • Just remembered Seth’s word was ‘separate’, not ‘connected’ – that we’re all separate but not separate, and that if there’s 4 people in a room then there’s quite literally four different worlds happening – interlocking/overlapping/separate but not separate.
      A.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hope you’re right and we will dissolve into warmth and compassion and not burn to a crisp. I concur with comments above– a wonderful essay that could only be written by you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Ellen,

      I’m right. Actually, I’m not right at all. But there are no alternatives… Every road leads to grace and dissolution. Thank you for the kind words. You helped me right them…

      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the engine analogy for illustrating relationship.
    I’ve wondered about this unity and relationship stuff in ACOL.
    Is it an attempt to prepare the reader for the drastic shift? We are consciousness which contains all. That means we are all of it. Which Jeshua states clearly at the end of the Way of Knowing.
    Saying that we exist as relationship in ACOL seems like a careful preparation for this rather drastic shift in identity.
    Peace,
    Karin

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Karin,

      I read the Way of Knowing in between ACIM and ACOL, but haven’t picked it up in a while. I do love the consistency between these texts, as well as the uniqueness of each. Unity and relationship…! I must confess I’m one of those people who watches the movie to be entertained, and I don’t try to figure out the motives behind what is given. I think Jesus’ desire in each of these expressions is precisely what arose as the fullest possible expression of his desire to help at the given time and place, through each particular conduit or vessel. If I try to figure it out, I’ll be even more lost, so I’m just trying to let it all wash me clean… 🙂

      Much Love,
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Yes, an infinite complexity of parts that also includes the parts that have each decided to be an engine all of their own – the vast complexity is as large as that. The reference to Hafiz walking through the room like a one-man marching band, playing seventeen instruments at once, just blew me away. Thanks Michael, this post says it all…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ha! Thank you, Tiramit! The one man marching band provides the freeing smack to the visage of unreality once again! Wishing you some recuperative weekend time.

      Peace!
      Michael

      Like

  12. I am rattling and fearing for the wheels, but the macabre author of the show has replaced the wheels with my very skull. So scary to come apart – but you remind me how closely the breakdown catastrophe orbits the sun – and I forgot about the one-man-band that has been hired as entertainment for the show. How can I giggle when my homemade derby car body safety seems to be headed for the inferno? The relationship here rides with me from muscle spastic terror to singing through the singe.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, M, don’t fear for the wheels or the head. (I know we can’t help these things. That wasn’t meant as an admonition but as a note to self via your self.) We will catch the skull and suture the fruit back onto the tree. You will find yourself in the company of so many amazing ones who’ve had their head lopped off, had it picked up by the Gardener, and grafted back to a perfectly suitable and beautiful limb of the tree…

      I couldn’t help but over-reading at PR’s of certain week-ending events for which a mild trepidation seems to have developed. Through the tesseract, I hope it proceeds smoothly and brings clarity.

      Oooh! Here comes Hafiz now, to flip me over on the grill, mash me into the cast iron ribs, and close the hood again… The chefs in this universe really are something… 🙂

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the vote of presence, Ka. How many of us delightful beings are woven together in shared song…? So lovely…

      Hope you’re enjoying a great Saturday-
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Sometimes the cracks have to get wide enough before light can find its way in, and then almost without much effort on our parts the walls do seem to come tumbling down, until we get busy in the process of building them again. And why we would do that remains a riddle, much like the tumbling mechanism does. The building and tumbling seem to be part of the wholeness you so beautifully attempt to bring to the fore dear Michael. There’s growth in embracing the whole caboodle, including the parts that have decided to be an engine all of their own, I guess 🙂 I send warm wishes and hugs for a peace filled weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi PR, I take your point about the rebuilding. We do indeed begin construction on a new edifice if we’re not alert to the opportunity to proceed as a new type of awareness altogether… But as you say, there is indeed grace in embracing the whole caboodle. Perfectly stated. We think so much about the destination, about being free of suffering, and I think at least for me at present, this involves this releasing of visions and concepts of “what that might be like”… In the tumbling and the building, the creation and the destruction, there is room for abundant peace, connection and well-being. But it’s kind of like a translucent spaciousness in which all these things merrily occur… I think sometimes suffering can be cure by the slightest adjustment of the rabbit ears, and then the signal is clear…

      Hope you’re enjoying a great weekend also,
      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

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