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printer friendly Relationships as Illusion go back

As any sincere student of The Work already realizes, relationships are the medium in which our mechanical/egotistical psychology reacts. Any student of The Work should also realize that relationships occur along a continuum of veritable psycho/spiritual possibilities.

© Sojourner Pass Press 2000

Students of The Work utilize their various relationships as mediums for self-observations as well as mediums for present/future work upon themselves. The Work, as a spiritual discipline, has as one of It’s primary aims, to awaken a student to the infinite levels of possibilities that lie latent within. Once the process of awakening begins, the student first learns how to self-observe and then how to ‘digest’ various incoming impressions. After the student is able to both self-observe as well as consciously process incoming impressions, sacrifice and the role sacrifice plays within all spiritual development begins.

One of the most fundamental forms of sacrifice relates to the fact that one must consciously sacrifice ‘the lower’ to engender the ‘higher’. The ensuing ability to create the requisite vacuum, within, is frequently attained by consciously developing/adapting to the old spiritual adage "sacrifice, sacrifice until you get what you want".

In the beginning, the only thing that an incoming student can sacrifice is their imagination, illusions, delusions as well as their own corporate levels of naiveté. Nowhere is the role of imagination, illusions, delusions and ignorance more apparent than in our everyday relationships.

We ‘appear’ to be in a variety of mutually satisfying relationships. Both men and women assume that they know themselves as well as they ‘know’ their partners. Parents and children appear to ‘love and respect’ each other. Schools ‘appear’ to be educating; medical facilities ‘appear’ to be healing and serving the majority of their patients, etc. Life itself appears to be much like an advent calendar wherein the outer appearance hides many inner realities. Much of what ‘appears’ to be healthy mutually beneficial relationship is in fact nothing but mutual illusions about the nature of Real Objective World.

For example, let us investigate a little further into the role illusion plays within mutual relationships. Let us take an average couple who has ‘been together’ for, let’s say, a dozen years. After a dozen years, most people would assume that they know the truth about each other: therefore, if this couple were asked if they could trust each other, they would most probably respond by saying yes.

The Work would state that these sad souls confuse knowing in part versus knowing the whole. From a Fourth Way point of view, these average souls are sound asleep confusing proximity with relatedness. The Work would further state that these hapless souls do not have a clue as to the role ignorance coupled with vain imagination plays within their so-called lives. We can all imagine ourselves believing that our partner loves and respects us as they say they do. This is especially true for those couples who have enjoyed a long period of mutual fidelity.

But imagine, if you will, what would happen if either one of the pair found themselves exposed to a new infinitely better possibility? How many people have been offered a better opportunity yet turned it down to remain where they are? In other words, are we faithful because we have incorporated the principle of fidelity or are we faithful because nothing better has come along?

Human nature is programmed to seek out the best bang for the least buck. It is only when individuals have found another place to stand and have turned, that new found option down that anyone could assume that their partner would chose them over someone else. Therefore, much of what appears to be mutual, interpersonal loyalty is related more to lack of opportunity than towards anything else.

Let’s consider the role of mutual dependence in what appears to be a healthy love-filled life. When a youngster obeys his/her parents, within the animal kingdom, we call it learning how to relate to adults of its own kind. We can see that Mother Nature instills in all ‘wee’ ones obedience towards its parents; yet in human beings, we call that selfsame behavior…love.

Very few people are able leave the known for the unknown. More often than not; in order for one person to leave a relationship that they are already in, they will have to secure another place to stand first. Take college-bound students. Up until they leave for college, they have identified with their family of origin; but once these college-bound students form their own friendships and create their own goals, what role do to the parents’ play? Under that circumstance, parents become little more than launching pads. Once the child leaves the nest and is able to find another place to stand, they usually leave home for good.

Is there any form of job security? Not unless you are at the top and even then you could still be exposed to a hostile takeover. Therefore, as employees, we can be sure that if our employer does well, and, if we do our jobs well, and, if no one else can do our jobs better than we can, especially for less money, we can keep our jobs. Maintaining employment is under the same laws as interpersonal relationships. Everything is, as it appears unless/until something better comes along.

If all of the above were not depressing enough, humans tend to forget the role ego plays within their everyday lives. Our egos live along a continuum of how do I look? And where do I stand among these others? Again we look down at animals when they feign and posture as they return to their group.

But the Real Objective Truth is that deep within our own psycho/spiritual nature, we also retain pack consciousness. All of our interpersonal relationships are based upon competition as well as a constant jockeying for position. These ‘pack’ qualities go on internally by law.

Just as nature utilizes survival of the fittest within the physical realm, survival of the fittest shows up in our interpersonal, internal, psycho/spiritual realms as well. For instance, abusers always project blame onto their victims. All abusers blame their victims for their own abuse. It is only when the abuser can accept responsibility towards their own behavior that the abuser has any chance to start over.

Concomitantly, the abused must become responsible for their own passivity as well as for finding another place for themselves to stand. Unless and until the abused victim can sacrifice where they are standing now, they will remain unable to find any other place to stand. If all of the above were not totally depressing enough, there remains another even more subtle form of psycho/spiritual laws as they relate to being in relationships.


Gurdjieff once stated

Blessed is the man with no soul

Blessed is the man with a soul

Woe to the man who has a soul in the making.


From a Work point of view, all human beings are in a psycho/spiritual state of waking sleep. What humanity calls full consciousness, The Work calls being asleep or on automatic (habits in all centers). When both partners in a relationship are psycho/spiritually asleep; neither partner sees, feels or accurately processes the events that surround them. Therefore, each individual remains both blind towards himself as well as remaining psycho/spiritually invisible to their partner. When you are asleep, you are not able to see the truths staring you in the face. To be asleep means to be on automatic. To be asleep means you are only able to see the mote in your partner’s eye while, concomitantly, you remain blind toward the beam in your own. Two sleeping people inevitably rationalize their own behavior. Sleeping people project what they do not recognize in themselves outward onto other people. When both partners are asleep, neither one knows what they are doing nor what is going on between them.

But God help the individuals who begin to awaken from their blindness and former deafness. Once an individual begins to wake up all of the former illusions, delusions, imaginations coupled with endless forms of ignorance begin to fade away. As you begin to wake up, you find yourself absolutely alone within a sea of sleeping people. Problem is these sleeping individuals are dreaming that they, too, are awake. You can imagine the frustration to be had, unless and until, you can see these various aspects of sleep within your own private life.

As a result, the individual who is in the process of waking up does not live within the same psycho/spiritual realities as other individuals within their own lives. Since there is nothing that can be done to wake up ‘other people’, the only option for The Work student is to do the aims and practices of The Work Itself. Only two people, who are already awake, individually, can combine to form a healthy relationship. If you are not awake, you are living a dream, albeit a most pleasant one.

The true horror of living, in imagination, is that imagination satisfies every center. Imagination feeds/fuels all the endless forms of illusion and delusion that we pass off as rational thought. The sad fact remains that as long as people are happy as they are, they will not seek another solution.

Unfortunately even being awake can have its drawbacks. Since 99.99% of all relationships are mechanical, very few people have ever developed any expertise with dealing with other people who are also awake. It is hard to drop one’s defenses and just stand grounded within your own ignorance and nothingness. You would think that we humans would long for intimacy. Perhaps we do, in imagination. True intimacy requires a tremendous development in everyone’s level of being.

What would the point be in realizing that what passes for faithful relationships is usually just a result of lack of a better option?

What is the point of realizing for yourself that you remain under the laws of Great Nature and that what you have called love is merely enlightened self-interest? One answer would be that if you know the psycho/spiritual laws that govern your inner nature, you could, in time, use these laws towards your own advantage.

Most people do not have what it takes to wake up. Living in the Real World can be terrifying. Only those sincere Work students who remain committed to separating the course from the fine, even as it applies to being in relationships, ever develop the possibility of handling the truth about the Real World.

The ability to sacrifice the lower in order to engender the higher is only for Work students who have already learned how to use life as their teacher. Once The Work student learns how to self-observe as well as to digest the principles that are contained in being in relationship, they become able to see these ancient processes at work deep within themselves.