Chapter 20: THE VISION OF HOLINESS
1 The meaning of the Son of God lies solely in his relationship with his Creator. If it were elsewhere it would rest on contingency, but there is nothing else. And this is wholly loving and forever. Yet has the Son of God invented an unholy relationship between him and his Father. His real relationship is one of perfect union and unbroken continuity. The one he made is partial, self-centered, broken into fragments and full of fear. The one created by his Father is wholly self-encompassing and self-extending. The one he made is wholly self-destructive and self-limiting.
2 Nothing can show the contrast better than the experience of both a holy and an unholy relationship. The first is based on love, and rests on it serene and undisturbed. The body does not intrude upon it. Any relationship in which the body enters is based not on love, but on idolatry. Love wishes to be known, completely understood and shared. It has no secrets; nothing that it would keep apart and hide. It walks in sunlight, open-eyed and calm, in smiling welcome and in sincerity so simple and so obvious it cannot be misunderstood.
3 But idols do not share. Idols accept, but never make return. They can be loved, but cannot love. They do not understand what they are offered, and any relationship in which they enter has lost its meaning. The love of them has made love meaningless. They live in secrecy, hating the sunlight and happy in the body's darkness, where they can hide and keep their secrets hidden along with them. And they have no relationships, for no one else is welcome there. They smile on no one, and those who smile on them they do not see.
4 Love has no darkened temples where mysteries are kept obscure and hidden from the sun. It does not seek for power, but for relationships. The body is the ego's chosen weapon for seeking power through relationships. And its relationships must be unholy, for what they are it does not even see. It wants them solely for the offerings on which its idols thrive. The rest it merely throws away, for all that it could offer is seen as valueless. Homeless, the ego seeks as many bodies as it can collect to place its idols in, and so establish them as temples to itself.
5 The Holy Spirit's temple is not a body, but a relationship. The body is an isolated speck of darkness; a hidden secret room, a tiny spot of senseless mystery, a meaningless enclosure carefully protected, yet hiding nothing. Here the unholy relationship escapes reality, and seeks for crumbs to keep itself alive. Here it would drag its brothers, holding them here in its idolatry. Here it is "safe," for here love cannot enter. The Holy Spirit does not build His temples where love can never be. Would He Who sees the face of Christ choose as His home the only place in all the universe where it can not be seen?
6 You cannot make the body the Holy Spirit's temple, and it will never be the seat of love. It is the home of the idolater, and of love's condemnation. For here is love made fearful and hope abandoned. Even the idols that are worshipped here are shrouded in mystery, and kept apart from those who worship them. This is the temple dedicated to no relationships and no return. Here is the "mystery" of separation perceived in awe and held in reverence. What God would have not be is here kept "safe" from Him. But what you do not realize is what you fear within your brother, and would not see in him, is what makes God seem fearful to you, and kept unknown.
7 Idolaters will always be afraid of love, for nothing so severely threatens them as love's approach. Let love draw near them and overlook the body, as it will surely do, and they retreat in fear, feeling the seeming firm foundation of their temple begin to shake and loosen. Brother, you tremble with them. Yet what you fear is but the herald of escape. This place of darkness is not your home. Your temple is not threatened. You are an idolater no longer. The Holy Spirit's purpose lies safe in your relationship, and not your body. You have escaped the body. Where you are the body cannot enter, for the Holy Spirit has set His temple there.
8 There is no order in relationships. They either are or not. An unholy relationship is no relationship. It is a state of isolation, which seems to be what it is not. No more than that. The instant that the mad idea of making your relationship with God unholy seemed to be possible, all your relationships were made meaningless. In that unholy instant time was born, and bodies made to house the mad idea and give it the illusion of reality. And so it seemed to have a home that held together for a little while in time, and vanished. For what could house this mad idea against reality but for an instant?
9 Idols must disappear, and leave no trace behind their going. The unholy instant of their seeming power is frail as is a snowflake, but without its loveliness. Is this the substitute you want for the eternal blessing of the holy instant and its unlimited beneficence? Is the malevolence of the unholy relationship, so seeming powerful and so bitterly misunderstood and so invested in a false attraction your preference to the holy instant, which offers you peace and understanding? Then lay aside the body and quietly transcend it, rising to welcome what you really want. And from His holy temple, look you not back on what you have awakened from. For no illusions can attract the mind that has transcended them, and left them far behind.
10 The holy relationship reflects the true relationship the Son of God has with his Father in reality. The Holy Spirit rests within it in the certainty it will endure forever. Its firm foundation is eternally upheld by truth, and love shines on it with the gentle smile and tender blessing it offers to its own. Here the unholy instant is exchanged in gladness for the holy one of safe return. Here is the way to true relationships held gently open, through which you and your brother walk together, leaving the body thankfully behind and resting in the Everlasting Arms. Love's Arms are open to receive you, and give you peace forever.
11 The body is the ego's idol; the belief in sin made flesh and then projected outward. This produces what seems to be a wall of flesh around the mind, keeping it prisoner in a tiny spot of space and time, beholden unto death, and given but an instant in which to sigh and grieve and die in honour of its master. And this unholy instant seems to be life; an instant of despair, a tiny island of dry sand, bereft of water and set uncertainly upon oblivion. Here does the Son of God stop briefly by, to offer his devotion to death's idols and then pass on. And here he is more dead than living. Yet it is also here he makes his choice again between idolatry and love. Here it is given him to choose to spend this instant paying tribute to the body, or let himself be given freedom from it. Here he can accept the holy instant, offered him to replace the unholy one he chose before. And here can he learn relationships are his salvation, and not his doom.
12 You who are learning this may still be fearful, but you are not immobilised. The holy instant is of greater value now to you than its unholy seeming counterpart, and you have learned you really want but one. This is no time for sadness. Perhaps confusion, but hardly discouragement. You have a real relationship, and it has meaning. It is as like your real relationship with God as equal things are like unto each other. Idolatry is past and meaningless. Perhaps you fear your brother a little yet; perhaps a shadow of the fear of God remains with you. Yet what is that to those who have been given one true relationship beyond the body? Can they be long held back from looking on the face of Christ? And can they long withhold the memory of their relationship with their Father from themselves, and keep remembrance of His Love apart from their awareness?