After I wrote the recent post “Real relationship with Jesus, real relationship with others,” I made one of those connections that, to me, affords us a little window into the mind of the author of the Course, whom I believe is Jesus.
The post was about a passage at the end of “Shadows of the Past” (T-17.III.10), in which Jesus says, “My holy brother, I would enter into all your relationships, and step between you and your fantasies.” The gist of the passage is that if we let him into the relationship, and let him step between us and the fantasies we’ve projected onto the other person, two things will happen. First, his presence will burst the bubble of our fantasies. Second, his reality will allow us to relate to the real person on the other end of this relationship.
It seemed to me that there was some principle behind all this, some idea that is not mentioned yet that explains why Jesus being in the relationship would both dispel the fantasies and bring in reality. Here is what I finally settled on:
The principle here, I think, is very simple. If Jesus is in the middle of the relationship, he, you could say, sets the tone for it. What is incompatible with him is dispelled; what is compatible with him is invited in. His reality, then, chases away our fantasies of the other person. And that same reality invites us into relationship with the reality of the other person.
With that principle (“if Jesus is in the middle of the relationship, he sets the tone for it”) in hand, another passage came to mind, one that contains a very similar principle:
The ego is the self-appointed mediator of all relationships, making whatever adjustments it deems necessary and interposing them between those who would meet, to keep them separate and prevent their union. (T-20.III.2:4)
Here, it’s the ego, rather than Jesus, that is in the middle of the relationship. It’s the “mediator.” To “mediate” means to “occupy a middle position.” And being in the middle, the ego sets the tone. Only here that tone is the opposite of what it was with Jesus. Where Jesus was there to join the two people in a real relationship, the ego is there “to keep them separate and prevent their union.” (If you want to read more about this passage, see my article, “The Depth and Intricacy of a Single Paragraph,” which is an extended exposition of the paragraph in which this sentence is found.)
So we can invite Jesus into the relationship, in which case he steps between us and our fantasies of the other person, separating us from those fantasies and allowing us to join with the actual person. Or we can allow the ego into the relationship, in which case it steps between us and the other person, separating us from that person.
What this showed me is that this principle I arrived at—“If Jesus is in the middle of the relationship, he sets the tone for it”—is a real principle. Only the principle is actually broader: “Whatever authority is in the middle of the relationship determines its direction.”
Through this, I feel I’ve learned a little bit about the mind of Jesus. When he thinks about relationships, part of what he’s thinking is “Which authority are you inviting into the middle of that relationship? Who is your chosen mediator? The one that will join the two, or the one that will separate them?”
He never states this principle, but clearly it’s in his mind. And that is what excites me. By looking closely at a particular passage and asking questions about it, we suddenly see its close relationship with another passage, and by looking at both together, we are given a window onto Jesus’ mind. We suddenly catch a larger glimpse of how he thinks about relationships. We see something he never directly says, but which is a source of things he does say.
And as always, what he thinks is both logically sound and practically effective. It makes sense that the mediator we choose will determine how the relationship goes. If you’ve been in an actual mediation, you know this to be true. And it places a very practical choice in our hands. Will we ask Jesus to enter into our relationships, and step between us and our fantasies? Or will we listen to the whispered advice of our ego, as it tells us how to “fix” the relationship in ways that will only separate the two of us?