(Excerpt from Conversations with God, Book 3; written by Neale Donald Walsch, with God ;-) )
Are there such things as “soul partners” ?
Yes, but not the way you think of them.
You have romanticized “soul partner” to mean the “other half of you.” In truth, the human soul -
the part of Me that “individuates” – is much larger than you have imagined.
In other words, what I call the soul is bigger than I think.
Much bigger. It is not the air in one room. It is the air in one entire house. And that house has many rooms. The “soul” is not limited to one identity. It is not the “air” in the dining room. Nor does the soul “split” into two individuals who are called soul partners. It is not the “air” in the living room-dining room combination. It is the “air” in the whole mansion. And in My kingdom there are many mansions. And while it is the same air flowing around, in, and through every mansion, the air of the rooms in one mansion may feel “closer”.
You might walk into those rooms and say, “It feels ‘close’ in there.”
So that you understand, then – there is only One Soul. Yet what you call the individuated soul is huge, hovering over, in, and through hundreds of physical forms.
At the same time?
There is no such thing as time. I can only answer this by saying, “Yes, and no.” Some of the physical forms enveloped by your soul are “living now”, in your understanding. Others individuated in forms that are now what you would call “dead”. And some have enveloped forms that live in what you call the “future”. It’s all happening right now, of course, and yet, your contrivance called time serves as a tool, allowing you a greater sense of the realized experience.
So, these hundreds of physical bodies my soul has “enveloped” – that’s an interesting word You’ve used- are all my “soul partners”?
That’s closer to being accurate than the way you have been using the term, yes.
And some of my soul partners have lived before?
Yes. As you would describe it, yes.
Whoa. Hold it! I think I just got something here! Are these parts of me that have lived “before” what I would now describe as my “former lives”?
Good thinking! You are getting it! Yes! Some of these are the “other lives” you've lived “before”. And some are not. And other parts of your soul are enveloping bodies that will be alive in what you call your future. And still others are embodied in different forms living on your planet right now.
When you run into one of these, you may feel an immediate sense of affinity. Sometimes you may even say, “We must have spent a ‘past life’ together.” And you will be right. You have spent a “past life” together. Either as the same physical form, or as two forms in the same Space-Time Continuum.
This is fabulous! This explains everything!
Yes, it does.
Except one thing.
How about when I just know that I’ve spent a “past life” with someone- I just know it; I feel it in my bones- and yet, when I mention this to them, they feel none of this at all? What’s that about?
It’s about your confusing the “past” with the “future”.
You have spent another life with them- it’s just not a past life.
It’s a “future life”?
Precisely. It’s all happening in the Eternal Moment of Now, and you have an awareness of what, in a sense, has not yet happened.
Then why don’t they “remember” the future, too?
These are very subtle vibrations, and some of you are more sensitive to them than others. Also, from person to person it is different. You may be more “sensitive” to your “past” or “future” experience with one person than another. This usually means you’ve spent that other time as the part of your very huge soul enveloping the same body, whereas when there is still that sensation of “having met before”, but just not as strong of one, it may mean that you shared the same “time” together, but not the same body.
Perhaps you were (or will be) husband and wife, brother and sister, parent and child, lover and beloved.
These are strong bonds, and it is natural that you would feel them when you “meet again”
for the “first time” in “this” life.
If what You are saying is true, it would account for a phenomenon for which I have never before been able to account- the phenomenon of more than one person in this “lifetime” claiming to have memories of being Joan of Arc. Or Mozart. Or some other famous person from the “past”. I have always thought this was proof for those who say that reincarnation is a false doctrine, for how could more than one person claim to have been the same person before? But now I see how this is possible! All that has happened is that several of the sentient beings now being enveloped by one soul are “remembering” (becoming members once again with) the part of their single soul which was (is now) Joan of Arc.
Good heavens, this blows the lid off all limitations, and makes all things possible. The minute I catch myself, in the future, saying “that’s impossible”, I’ll know that all I’m doing is demonstrating that there’s a great deal I don’t know.
That is a good thing to remember. A very good thing to remember.
And, if we can have more than one “soul partner”, that would explain how it is possible for us to experience those intense “soul partner feelings” with more than one person a lifetime- and even more than one person at a time!
Then it is possible to love more than one person at a time.
No, no. I mean, with the kind of intense, personal love that we usually reserve for one person- or, at least, one person at a time!
Why would you ever want to “reserve” love? Why would you want to hold it “in reserve”?
Because it’s not right to love more than one person “that way”. It’s a betrayal.
Who told you that?
Everybody. Everybody tells me that. My parents told me that. My religion told me that. My society tells me that. Everybody tells me that!
These are some of those “sins of the father” being passed onto the son.
Your own experience teaches you one thing- that loving everyone full out is the most joyful thing you can do. Yet your parents, teachers, ministers tell you something else- that you may only love one person at a time “that way”. And we’re not just talking about sex here. If you consider one person as special as another in any way, you are often made to feel that you have betrayed that other.
Right! Exactly! That’s how we’ve got it set up!
Then you are not expressing true love, but some counterfeit variety.
To what extent will true love be allowed to express itself within the framework of the human experience? What limits shall we- indeed, some would say must we- place on that expression? If all social and sexual energies were to be unleashed without restriction, what would be the result? Is complete social and sexual freedom the abdication of all responsibility, or the absolute height of it?
Any attempt to restrict the natural expressions of love is a denial of the soul itself. For the soul is freedom personified. God is freedom, by definition- for God is limitless and without restriction of any kind. The soul is God, miniaturized. Therefore, the soul rebels at any imposition of limitation, and dies a new death each time it accepts boundaries from without. In this sense, birth itself is a death, and death a birth. For in birth, the soul finds itself constricted within the awful limitations of a body, and at death escapes those constrictions again.
It does the same thing during sleep.
Back to freedom the soul flies- and rejoices once again with the expression and experience of its true nature.
Yet can its true nature be expressed and experienced while with the body?
That is the question you ask- and it drives to the very reason and purpose of life itself. For if life with the body is nothing more than a prison or a limitation, then what good can come of it,
and what can be its function, much less its justification?
Yes, I suppose that is what I am asking. And I ask it on behalf of all beings everywhere who have felt the awful constrictions of the human experience. And I am not speaking now of physical limitations-
-I know you are not-
-but emotional and psychological ones.
Yes, I know. I understand. Yet your concerns all relate to the same larger question.
Yes, all right. Still, let me finish. All my life I have been deeply frustrated by the world’s inability to let me love everyone in exactly the way I’ve wanted to.
When I was young, it was about not talking to strangers, not saying things inappropriately. I remember once, walking down a street with my father, we came across a poor man, begging for coins. I immediately felt sorry for the man and wanted to give him some of the pennies in my pocket. My father stopped me, and brushed me past. “Trash”, he said. “That’s just trash”. That was my father’s label for all those who did not live up to his definitions of what it meant to be humans of worth.
Later, I remember an experience of my older brother, who was no longer living with us, not being allowed into the house on Christmas Eve because of some argument he’d had with my father. I loved my brother and wanted him to be with us that night, but my father stopped him on the front porch and barred him from entering the home. My mother was devastated (it was her son from a previous marriage), and I was simply mystified. How could we not love or want my brother on Christmas Eve simply because of an argument?
What kind of disagreement could be so bad that it would be allowed to ruin Christmas, when even wars were suspended for a 24-hour truce? This, my little seven-year-old heart begged to know.
As I grew older, I learned that it was not just anger that stopped the love from flowing, but also fear. This was why we oughtn’t talk to strangers- but not just when we were defenseless children. Also when we were adults. I learned that it was just not okay to openly and eagerly meet and greet strangers, and that there was a certain etiquette to be followed with people to whom you’ve just been introduced- none of which made sense to me. I wanted to know everything about that new person and I wanted them to know everything about me! But no. The rules said we had to wait.
And now, in my adult life, when sexuality enters into it, I’ve learned that the rules are even more rigid and limiting. And I still don’t get it.
I find that I just want to love and be loved- that I just want to love everyone in whatever way feels natural to me, in whatever way feels good. Yet society has its rules and regulations about all this- and so rigid are they that even if the other person who is involved agrees to an experience, if society doesn’t agree, those two lovers are called “wrong”, and are thus doomed.
What is that? What is that all about?
Well, you’ve said it yourself. Fear.
It’s all about fear.
Yes, but are these fears justified? Aren’t these restrictions and constrictions only appropriate, given the behaviours of our race? A man meets a younger woman, falls in love (or “in lust”) with her, and leaves his wife, for instance. I use only one example. So there she is, left with the kids and no employment skills at thirty-nine or forty-three- or, worse yet, left high and dry at sixty-four by a sixty-eight-year-old man who’s become enamored of a woman younger than his daughter.
Is it your supposing that the man you describe has ceased to love his sixty-four-year-old wife?
Well, he sure acts like it.
No. It is not his wife he does not love, and seeks to escape. It is the limitations he feels placed on him.
Oh, nonsense. It’s lust, pure and simple. It’s an old geezer simply trying to recapture his youth, wanting to be with a younger woman, unable to curb his childish appetites and keep his promise to the partner who has remained with him through all the tough and lean years.
Of course. You’ve described it perfectly. Yet nothing you have said has changed a thing that I have said. In virtually every case, this man has not stopped loving his wife. It is the limitations his wife places on him, or those placed on him by the younger woman who will have nothing to do with him if he stays with his wife, that creates the rebellion. The point I am trying to make is that the soul will always rebel at limitation. Of any kind. That is what has sparked every revolution in the history of humankind, not just the revolution which causes a man to leave his wife- or a wife to suddenly leave her husband. (Which, by the way, also happens.)
Surely You are not arguing for the complete abolition of behavioral limitations of any kind! That would be behavioral anarchy. Social chaos. Surely You are not advocating people having “affairs”- or, take my breath away, open marriage!
I do not advocate, or fail to advocate, anything. I am not “for” or “against” anything. The human race keeps trying to make me a “for” or “against” kind of God, and I am not that. I merely observe what is so. I simply watch you create your own systems of right and wrong, for and against, and I look to see whether your current ideas about that serve you, given what you say you choose and desire as a species, and as individuals.
Now, to the question of “open marriage”.
I am not for or against “open marriage”. Whether you are or not depends upon what you decide you want in, and out of, your marriage. And your decision about that creates Who You Are with regard to the experience you call “marriage”. For it is as I have told you: Every act is an act of self-definition. When making any decision, it is important to make sure the right question is being answered. The question with regard to so-called “open marriage”, for instance, is not “shall we have an open marriage where sexual contact by both parties with persons outside the marriage is allowed?”
The question is “Who am I- and Who Are We- with regard to the experience called marriage?”
The answer to that question will be found in the answer to life’s largest question: Who Am I- period-with regard to anything, in relationship to anything; Who Am I, and Who Do I Choose to Be?
As I have said repeatedly throughout this dialogue, the answer to that question is the answer to every question.
God, that frustrates me. Because the answer to that question is so broad and so general that it answers no other question at all.
Oh, really? Then what is your answer to that question?
According to these books- according to what You seem to be saying in this dialogue- I am “love”. That is Who I Really Am.
Excellent! You have learned! That is correct. You are love. Love is all there is. So you are love, I am love, and there is nothing which is not love.
What about fear?
Fear is that which you are not. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear is the opposite of love, which you have created in your reality so that you may know experientially That Which You Are.
This is what is true in the relative world of your existence: In the absence of that which you are not, that which you are . . . is not.
Yes, yes, we’ve been through this a number of times now in our dialogue. But it feels as though You have evaded my complaint. I said that the answer to the question of Who We Are (which is love) is so broad as to render it a nonanswer- it is no answer at all- to almost any other question. You say it is the answer to every question, and I say it is not the answer to any- much less to one as specific as “Should our marriage be an open marriage?”
If that is true for you, it is because you do not know what love is.
Does anybody? The human race has been trying to figure that one out since the beginning of time.
Which does not exist.
Which does not exist, yes, yes, I know. It’s a figure of speech.
Let me see if I can find, using your “figures of speech”, some words and some ways to explain what love is.
Super. That’d be great.
The first word that comes to mind is unlimited. That which is love is unlimited.
Well, we’re right where we were when we opened this subject. We’re going around in circles.
Circles are good. Don’t berate them. Keep circling; keep circling around the question. Circling is okay. Repeating is okay. Revisiting, restarting is okay.
I sometimes get impatient.
Sometimes? That’s pretty funny.
Okay, okay, go on with what You were saying.
Love is that which is unlimited. There is no beginning and no end to it. No before and no after. Love always was, always is, and always will be.
So love is also always. It’s the always reality.
Now we get back to another word we used before- freedom. For if love is unlimited, and always, then love is. . .free. Love is that which is perfectly free.
Now in the human reality, you will find that you always seek to love, and to be loved. You will find that you will always yearn for that love to be unlimited. And you will find that you will always wish you could be free to express it.
You will seek freedom, unlimitedness, and eternality in every expression of love. You may not always get it, but that is what you will seek. You will seek this because this is what love is, and at some deep place you know that, because you are love, and through the expression of love you are seeking to know and to experience Who and What You Are. You are life expressing life, love expressing love, God expressing God. All these words are therefore synonymous. Think of them as the same thing:
Anything which is not one of these things is not any of these things. You are all of those things, and you will seek to experience yourself as all of these things sooner or later.
What does this mean, “sooner or later”?
It depends on when you get over your fear. As I’ve said, fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. It is that which you are not. You will seek to experience That Which You Are when you are through experiencing that which you are not.
Who wants to experience fear?
Nobody wants to; you are taught to. A child experiences no fear. He thinks he can do anything. Nor does a child experience lack of freedom. She thinks she can love anyone. Nor does a child experience lack of life. Children believe they will live forever- and people who act like children think nothing can hurt them. Nor does a child know any ungodly things- until that child is taught ungodly things by grownups. And so, children run around naked and hug everyone, thinking nothing of it. If adults could only do the same thing.
Well, children do so with the beauty of innocence. Adults cannot get back to that innocence, because when adults “get naked” there is always that sex thing.
Yes. And, of course, God forbid that “that sex thing” be innocent and freely experienced.
Actually, God did forbid it. Adam and Eve were perfectly happy running around naked in the Garden of Eden until Eve ate of the fruit of the tree- the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then You condemned us to our present state, for we are all guilty of that original sin.
I did no such thing.
I know. But I had to give organized religion a shot here.
Try to avoid that if you can.
Yes, I should. Organized religionists have very little sense of humor.
There you go again.
I was saying…you will strive as a species to experience a love that is unlimited, eternal, and free. The institution of marriage has been your attempt at creating eternality. With it, you agreed to become partners for life. But this did little to produce a love which was “unlimited” and “free”.
Why not? If the marriage is freely chosen, isn’t it an expression of freedom? And to say that you are going to demonstrate your love sexually with no one else but your spouse is not a limitation, it’s a choice. And a choice is not a limitation, it is the exercise of freedom.
So long as that continues to be the choice, yes.
Well, it has to be. That was the promise.
Yes- and that’s where the trouble begins.
Help me here.
Look, there may come a time when you want to experience a high degree of specialness in a relationship. Not that one person is more special to you than another, but that the way you choose to demonstrate with one person the depth of love you have for all people- and for life itself- is unique to that person alone. Indeed, the way you now demonstrate love to each person you do love is unique. You demonstrate your love to no two people in exactly the same way. Because you are a creature and a creator of originality, everything you create is original. It is not possible for any thought, word, or action to be duplicative. You cannot duplicate, you can only originate.
Do you know why no two snowflakes are alike? Because it is impossible for them to be. “Creation” is not “duplication”, and the Creator can only create. That is why no two snowflakes are alike, no two people are alike, no two thoughts are alike, no two relationships are alike, and no two of anything are alike. The universe- and everything in it- exists in singular form, and there truly is nothing else like it.
This is the Divine Dichotomy again. Everything is singular, yet everything is One.
Exactly. Each finger on your hand is different, yet it is all the same hand. The air in your house is the air that is everywhere, yet the air from room to room is not the same, but feels markedly different. It is the same with people. All people are One, yet no two people are alike.
You could not, therefore, love two people in the same way even if you tried- and you would never want to, because love is a unique response to that which is unique.
So when you demonstrate your love for one person, you are doing so in a way in which you cannot do so with another. Your thoughts, words, and actions- your responses- are literally impossible to duplicate- one of a kind. . . just as is the person for whom you have these feelings.
If the time has come when you have desired this special demonstration with one person alone, then choose it, as you say. Announce it, and declare it. Yet make your declaration an announcement moment-to-moment of your freedom, not your ongoing obligation. For true love is always free, and obligation cannot exist in the space of love.
If you see your decision to express your love in a particular way with only one particular other as a sacred promise, never to be broken, the day may come when you will experience that promise as an obligation- and you will resent it. Yet if you see this decision not as a promise, made only once, but as a free choice, made over and over, that day of resentment will never come.
Remember this: There is only one sacred promise- and that is to tell and live your truth. All other promises are forfeitures of freedom, and that can never be sacred. For freedom is Who You Are. If you forfeit freedom, you forfeit your Self. And that is not a sacrament that is a blasphemy.
Whew! Those are tough words. Are You saying we should never make promises-that we should never promise anything to anyone?
As most of you are now living your life, there is a lie built into every promise. The lie is that you can know now how you will feel about a thing, and what you will want to do about that thing, on any given tomorrow. You cannot know this if you are living your life as a reactive being- which most of you are. Only if you are living life as a creative being can your promises not contain a lie.
Creative beings can know how they are going to feel about a thing at any time in the future, because creative beings create their feelings, rather than experiencing them.
Until you can create your future, you cannot predict your future. Until you can predict your future, you cannot promise anything truthfully about it.
Yet even one who both creates and predicts her future has the authority and the right to change. Change is a fundamental right of all creatures. Indeed, it is more than a “right”, for a “right” is that which is given. “Change” is that which is.
Change is. That which is change, you are. You cannot be given this. You are this.
Now, since you are “change”- and since change is the only thing constant about you- you cannot truthfully promise to always be the same.
Do you mean there are no constants in the universe? Are You saying that there is nothing which remains constant in all of creativity?
The process you call life is a process of re-creation. All of life is constantly re-creating itself anew in each moment of now. In this process indenticality is impossible, similarity is not. Similarity is the result of the process of change producing a remarkably similar version of what went before.
When creativity reaches a high level of similarity, you call that identicality. And from the gross perspective of your limited viewpoint, it is.
Therefore, in human terms, there appears to be great constancy in the universe. That is, things seem to look alike, and act alike, and react alike. You see consistency here. This is good, for it provides a framework within which you may consider, and experience, your existence in the physical. Yet I tell you this. Viewed from the perspective of all life-that which is physical and that which is nonphysical-the appearance of constancy disappears. Things are experienced as they really are: constantly changing.
You are saying that sometimes the changes are so delicate, so subtle, that from our less discerning viewpoint they appear the same-sometimes exactly the same-when, in fact, they are not.
There are “no such things as identical twins.”
Exactly. You have captured it perfectly.
Yet we can re-create ourselves anew in a form sufficiently similar to produce the effect of constancy.
And we can do this in human relationships, in terms of Who We Are, and how we behave.
Yes-although most of you find this very difficult. Because true consistency (as opposed to the appearance of constancy) violates the natural law, as we have just learned, and it takes a great master to even create the appearance of identicality.
A master overcomes every natural tendency (remember, the natural tendency is toward change) to show up as identicality. In truth, he cannot show up identically from moment to moment. But she can show up as sufficiently similar to create the appearance of being identical.
Yet people who are not “masters” show up “identically” all the time. I know people whose behaviours and appearances are so predictable you can stake your life on them.
Yet it takes great effort to do this intentionally. The master is one who creates a high level of similarity (what you call “consistency”) intentionally. A student is one who creates consistency without necessarily intending to. A person who always reacts the same way to certain circumstances, for instance, will often say, “I couldn’t help it”. A master would never say that. Even if a person’s reaction produces an admirable behavior-something for which they receive praise- their response will often be “Well, it was nothing. It was automatic, really. Anybody would do it.” A master would never do that, either. A master, therefore, is a person who- quite literally-knows what he is doing. She also knows why. People not operating at levels of mastery often know neither.
This is why it is so difficult to keep promises?
It is one reason. As I said, until you can predict your future, you cannot promise anything truthfully. A second reason people find it difficult to keep promises is that they come into conflict with authenticity.
What do You mean?
I mean that their evolving truth about a thing differs from what they said their truth would always be. And so, they are deeply conflicted. What to obey- my truth, or my promise?
I have given you this advice before:
Betrayal of yourself in order not to betray another is betrayal nonetheless. It is the highest betrayal.
But this would lead to promises being broken all over the place! Nobody’s word on anything would matter. Nobody could be counted on for anything!
Oh, so you’ve been counting on others to keep their word, have you? No wonder you’ve been so miserable.
Who says I’ve been miserable?
You mean this is the way you look and act when you’ve been happy?
All right. Okay. So I’ve been miserable. Sometimes.
Oh, a great deal of the time. Even when you’ve had every reason to be happy, you’ve allowed yourself to be miserable- worrying about whether you’ll be able to hold onto your happiness! And the reason you’ve even had to worry about this is that “holding onto your happiness” has depended to a large degree on other people keeping their word.
You mean I don’t have a right to expect- or at least hope- that other people will keep their word?
Why would you want such a right? The only reason that another person would not keep their word to you would be because they didn’t want to- or they felt they couldn’t, which is the same thing. And if a person did not want to keep his word to you, or for some reason felt he just couldn’t, why on Earth would you want him to? Do you really want someone to keep an agreement she does not want to keep? Do you really feel people should be forced to do things they don’t feel they can do? Why would you want to force anyone to do anything against his will?
Well, try this for a reason: because to let them get away with not doing what they said they were going to do would hurt me- or my family.
So in order to avoid injury, you’re willing to inflict injury.
I don’t see how it injures another simply to ask him to keep his word.
Yet he must see it as injurious, or he would keep it willingly.
So I should suffer the injury, or watch my children and family suffer the injury, rather than “injure” the one who made a promise by simply asking that it be kept?
Do you really think that if you force another to keep a promise that you will have escaped injury?
I tell you this: More damage has been done to others by persons leading lives of quiet desperation (that is, doing what they felt they “had” to do) than ever was done by persons freely doing what they wanted to do.
When you give a person freedom, you remove danger, you don’t increase it.
Yes, letting someone “off the hook” on a promise or commitment made to you may look like it will hurt you in the short run, but it will never damage you in the long run, because when you give the other person their freedom, you give yourself freedom as well. And so now you are free of the agonies and the sorrows, the attacks on your dignity and your self-worth that inevitably follow when you force another person to keep a promise to you that he or she does not want to keep. The longer damage will far outweigh the shorter- as nearly everyone who has tried to hold another person to their word has discovered.
Does this same idea hold true in business as well? How could the world do business that way?
Actually it is the only way to do business.
The problem right now in your whole society is that it is based on force. Legal force (which you call the “force of law”) and, too often, physical force (which you call the world’s “armed forces”).
You have not yet learned to use the art of persuasion.
If not by legal force- the “force of law” through the courts- how would we “persuade” businesses to meet the terms of their contract and keep their agreements?
Given your current cultural ethic, there may not be another way. Yet with a change of cultural ethic, the way you are now seeking to keep businesses- and individuals, for that matter- from breaking their agreements will appear very primitive.
Can You explain?
You are now using force to make sure agreements are kept. When your cultural ethic is changed to include an understanding that you are all One, you would never use force, because that would only damage your Self. You would not slap your left hand with your right.
Even if the left hand was strangling you?
That is another thing which would not happen. You would stop strangling your Self. You would stop biting your nose to spite your face. You would stop breaking your agreements. And, of course, your agreements themselves would be much different. You would not agree to give something of value which you have to another only if they had something of value to give you in exchange. You would never hold back on giving or sharing something until you got what you call a just return. You would give and share automatically, and so, there would be far fewer contracts to break, because a contract is about the exchange of goods and services, whereas your life would be about the giving of goods and services, regardless of what exchange may or may not take place. Yet in this kind of one-way giving would your salvation be found, for you would have discovered what God has experienced: that what you give to another, you give to yourself.
What goes around, comes around.
All things proceed from you, return to you.
Sevenfold. So there is no need to worry about what you are going to “get back”. There is only a need to worry about what you are going to “give out”. Life is about creating the highest quality giving, not the highest quality getting. You keep forgetting. But life is not “for getting”. Life is “for giving”, and in order to do that, you need to be forgiving to others- especially those who did not give you what you thought you were going to get! This switch will entail a complete shift of your cultural story. Today, what you call “success” in your culture is measured largely by how much you “get”, by how much honour and money and power and possessions you amass. In the New Culture “success” will be measured by how much you cause others to amass. The irony will be that the more you cause others to amass, the more you will amass, effortlessly. With no “contracts”, no “agreements”, no “bargaining” or “negotiating” or lawsuits or courts which force you to give to each other what was “promised”. In the future economy, you will not do things for personal profit, but for personal growth, which will be your profit. Yet “profit” in material terms will come to you as you become a bigger and grander version of Who You Really Are.
In those days and times, using force to coerce someone to give you something because they “said” that they would will seem very primitive to you. If another person does not keep an agreement, you will simply allow them to walk their path, make their choices, and create their own experience of themselves. And whatever they have not given you, you will not miss, for you will know that there is “more where that came from”- and that they are not your source of that, but you are.
Whoa. I got it. But it feels like we have really gotten off the mark. This whole discussion began with my asking You about love- and if human beings would ever allow themselves to express it without limitation. And that led to a question about open marriage. And suddenly we’ve gotten way off the mark here.
Not really. Everything we’ve talked about is pertinent. And this is a perfect lead-in to your questions about so-called enlightened, or more highly evolved, societies. Because in highly evolved societies there is neither “marriages” nor “business”-nor, for that matter, any of the artificial social constructions you have created to hold your society together.
Yes, well, we’ll get into that soon. Right now I just want to close down this subject. You’ve said some intriguing things here. What all of it breaks down to, as I get it, is that most human beings can’t keep promises and so, shouldn’t make them. That pretty much scuttles the institution of marriage.
I like your use of the word “institution” here. Most people experience that when they are in a marriage, they are in an “institution”.
Yeah, it’s either a mental health institution or a penal institution- or at the very least an institution of higher learning!
Exactly. Precisely. That’s how most people experience it.
Well, I was kidding along with You here, but I wouldn’t say “most people”, There are still millions of people who love the institution of marriage, and want to protect it.
I’ll stand by the statement. Most people have a very difficult time with marriage, and do not like what it does to them. Your worldwide divorce statistics prove this.
So are You saying that marriage should go?
I have no preference in the matter, only-
-I know, I know. Observations.
Bravo! You keep wanting to make me a God of preferences, which I am not. Thank you for trying to stop that.
Well, we’ve not only just scuttled marriage; we’ve also just scuttled religion!
It is true that religions could not exist if the whole human race understood that God doesn’t have preferences, because a religion purports to be a statement of God’s preferences.
And if You have no preferences, then religion must be a lie.
Well, that’s a harsh word. I would call it a fiction. It’s just something you made up.
Like we made up the fiction that God prefers us to be married?
Yes. I don’t prefer anything of the sort. But I notice you do.
Why? Why do we prefer marriage if we know that it is so difficult?
Because marriage was the only way you could figure out to bring “foreverness”, or eternality, into your experience of love. It was the only way a female could guarantee her support and survival, and the only way a male could guarantee the constant availability of sex, and companionship. So a social convention was created. A bargain was struck. You give me this and I’ll give you that. In this it was very much like a business. A contract was made. And since both parties needed to enforce the contract, it was said to be a “sacred pact” with God- who would punish those who broke it. Later, when that didn’t work, you created manmade laws to enforce it.
But even that hasn’t worked.
Neither the so-called laws of God nor the laws of man have been able to keep people from breaking their marriage vows.
Because those vows as you have them normally constructed run counter to the only law that matters.
But it is the nature of things for life to express unity. Oneness. Isn’t that what I’m getting from all of this? And marriage is our most beautiful expression of that. You know, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” and all that.
Marriage, as most of you have practiced it, is not particularly beautiful. For it violates two of the three aspects of what is true about each human being by nature.
Will You go over it again? I think I’m just starting to pull this together.
Okay. Once more form the top.
Who You Are is love. What love is, is unlimited, eternal and free. Therefore, that is what you are. That is the nature of Who You Are. You are unlimited, eternal and free, by nature. Now, any artificial social, moral, religious, philosophical, economic, or political construction which violates or subordinates your nature is an impingement upon your very Self-and you will rail against it. What do you suppose gave birth to your own country? Was it not “Give me liberty, or give me death?” Well, you’ve given up that liberty in your country, and you’ve given it up in your lives. And all for the same thing. Security.
You are so afraid to live-so afraid of life itself-that you’ve given up the very nature of your being in trade for security. The institution you call marriage is your attempt to create security, as is the institution called government. Actually, they are both forms of the same thing- artificial social constructions designed to govern each other’s behavior.
Good grief, I never looked at it like that. I always thought that marriage was the ultimate announcement of love.
As you have imagined it, yes, but not as you have constructed it. As you have constructed it, it is the ultimate announcement of fear. If marriage allowed you to be unlimited, eternal, and free in your love, then it would be the ultimate announcement of love. As things are now, you become married in an effort to lower your love to the level of a promise or a guarantee. Marriage is an effort to guarantee that “what is so” now will always be so. If you didn't need this guarantee, you would not need marriage. And how do you use this guarantee? First, as a means of creating security (instead of creating security from that which is inside of you), and second, if that security is not forever forthcoming, as a means of punishing each other, for the marriage promise which has been broken can now form the basis of the lawsuit which has been opened. You have thus found marriage very useful- even if it is for all the wrong reasons.
Marriage is also your attempt to guarantee that the feelings you have for each other, you will never have for another. Or, at least, that you will never express them with another in the same way.
Finally, marriage as you have constructed it is a way of saying: “This relationship is special. I hold this relationship above all others.”
What’s wrong with that?
Nothing. It’s not a question of “right” or “wrong”. Right and wrong do not exist. It’s a question of what serves you. Of what re-creates you in the next grandest image of Who You Really Are.
If Who You Really Are is a being who says, “This one relationship- this single one, right over here- is more special than any other”, then your construction of marriage allows you to do that perfectly. Yet you might find it interesting to notice that almost no one who is, or has been, recognized as a spiritual master is married.
Yeah, because masters are celibate. They don’t have sex.
No. It’s because masters cannot truthfully make the statement that your present construction of marriage seeks to make: that one person is more special to them than another.
This is not a statement that a master makes, and it is not a statement that God makes.
The fact is that your marriage vows, as you presently construct them, have you making a very un-Godly statement. It is the height of irony that you feel this is the holiest of holy promises, for it is a promise that God would never make. Yet, in order to justify your human fears, you have imagined a God who acts just like you. Therefore, you speak of God’s “promise” to his “Chosen People”, and of covenants between God and those God loves, in a special way. You cannot stand the thought of a God who loves no one in a way which is more special than any other, and so you create fictions about a God who only loves certain people for certain reasons. And you call these fictions Religions. I call them blasphemies. For any thought that God loves one more than another is false-and any ritual which asks you to make the same statement is not a sacrament, but a sacrilege.
Oh, my God, stop it. Stop it! You’re killing every good thought I ever had about marriage! This can’t be God writing this. God would never say such things about religion and marriage!
Religion and marriage the way you have constructed them is what we are talking about here. You think that this talk is tough? I tell you this: You have bastardized the Word of God in order to justify your fears and rationalize your insane treatment of each other. You will make God say whatever you need God to say in order to continue limiting each other, hurting each other, and killing each other in My name. Yea, you have invoked My name, and waved My flag, and carried crosses on your battlefields for centuries, all as proof that I love one people more than another, and would ask you to kill to prove it. Yet, I tell you this: My love is unlimited and unconditional. That is the one thing you cannot hear, the one truth you cannot abide, the one statement you cannot accept, for its all-inclusiveness destroys not only the institution of marriage (as you have constructed it), but every one of your religions and governmental institutions as well. For you have created a culture based on exclusion, and supported it with a cultural myth of a God who excludes. Yet the culture of God is based on inclusion. In God’s love, everyone is included. Into God’s kingdom everyone is invited.
And this truth is what you call a blasphemy.
And you must. Because if it is true, then everything you have created in your life is false. All human conventions and all human constructions are faulty to the degree that they are not unlimited, eternal and free.
How can anything be “faulty” if there’s no such thing as “right” and “wrong”?
A thing is only faulty to the degree that it does not function to suit its purpose. If a door does not open and close, you would not call the door “wrong”. You would merely say its installation or operation is faulty- because it does not serve its purpose. Whatever you construct in your life, in your human society, which does not serve your purpose in becoming human is faulty. It is a faulty construction.
And-just for review-my purpose in becoming human is?
To decide and to declare, to create and to express, to experience and to fulfill, Who You Really Are. To re-create yourself anew in every moment in the grandest version of the greatest vision ever you had about Who You Really Are. That is your purpose in becoming human, and that is the purpose of all of life.
So- where does that leave us? We’ve destroyed religion, we’ve dissed marriage, we’ve denounced governments. Where are we, then?
First of all, we’ve destroyed, dissed and denounced nothing. If a construction you have created is not working and not producing what you wanted it to produce, to describe that condition is not to destroy, diss, or denounce the construction.
Try to remember the difference between judgement and observation.
Well, I’m not going to argue with You here, but a lot of what has just been said has sounded pretty judgemental to me.
We are constricted here by the awful limitation of words. There are really so few of them, and so we have to use the same ones over and over again, even when they don’t always convey the same meaning, or the same kind of thoughts. You say that you “love” banana splits, but you surely don’t mean the same thing as when you say you love each other. So you see, you have very few words, really, to describe how you’re feeling. In communicating with you in this way- in the way of words- I’ve allowed Myself to experience those limitations. And I will concede that, because some of this language has also been used by you when you are being judgemental, it would be easy to conclude that I’m being judgemental when I use them. Let Me assure you here that I am not. Throughout this whole dialogue I have simply been trying to tell you how to get where you say you want to go, and to describe as impactfully as possible what is blocking your way; what is stopping you from going there.
Now, with regard to religion, you say where you want to go is to a place where you can truly know God and love God. I am simply observing that your religions do no take you there. Your religions have made God the great Mystery, and caused you not to love God, but to fear God. Religion has done little, as well, to cause you to change your behaviours. You are still killing each other, condemning each other, making each other “wrong”. And, in fact, it is your religions which have been encouraging you to do so. So with regard to religion, I merely observe that you say you want it to take you to one place, and it is taking you to another.
Now you say you want marriage to take you to the land of eternal bliss, or at least to some reasonable level of peace, security and happiness. As with religion, your invention called marriage does well with this in the early going, when you are first experiencing it. Yet, as with religion, the longer you reside in the experience, the more it takes you where you say you don’t want to go. Nearly half of the people who become married dissolve their marriage through divorce, and of those who stay married, many are desperately unhappy. Your “unions of bliss” lead you to bitterness, anger, and regret. Some- and not a small number- take you to a place of outright tragedy.
You say you want your governments to ensure peace, freedom, and domestic tranquility, and I observe that, as you have devised them, they do none of this. Rather, your governments lead you to war, increasing lack of freedom, and domestic violence and upheaval. You haven’t been able to solve the basic problems of simply feeding and keeping people healthy and alive, much less meet the challenge of providing them equal opportunity. Hundreds of you die every day of starvation on a planet where thousands of you throw away each day enough food to feed nations. You can’t handle the simplest task of getting the leftovers from the “Have’s” to the “Have Not’s”- much less resolve the issue of whether you even want to share your resources more equitably.
Now these are not judgements. These are things which are observably true about your society.
Why? Why is it like this? Why have we made so little progress in conducting our own affairs these past many years?
Years? Try centuries.
It has to do with the First human Cultural Myth, and with all the other myths which necessarily follow. Until they change, nothing else will change. For your cultural myths inform your ethics, and your ethics create your behaviours. Yet the problem is that your cultural myth is at variance with your basic instinct.
What do You mean?
Your First Cultural Myth is that human beings are inherently evil. This is the myth of original sin. The myth holds that not only is your basic nature evil, you were born that way.
The Second Cultural Myth, arising necessarily out of the first, is that it is the “fittest” who survive. This second myth holds that some of you are strong and some of you are weak, and that to survive, you have to be one of the strong. You will do all that you can to help your fellow man, but if and when it comes down to your own survival, you will take care of yourself first. You will even let others die. Indeed, you will go further than that. If you think you have to, in order for you and yours to survive, you will actually kill others- presumably, the “weak”- thereby defining you as the “fittest”. Some of you say that this is your basic instinct. It is called the “survival instinct”, and it is this cultural myth that has formed much of your societal ethic, creating many of your group behaviors. Yet your “basic instinct” is not survival, but rather, fairness, oneness, and love. This is the basic instinct of all sentient beings everywhere. It is your cellular memory. It is your inherent nature. Thus is exploded your first cultural myth. You are not basically evil, you were not born in “original sin”.
If your “basic instinct” was “survival”, and if your basic nature was “evil”, you would never move instinctively to save a child from falling, a man from drowning, or anyone from anything. And yet, when you act on your basic instincts and display your basic nature, and don’t think about what you are doing, this is exactly how you behave, even at your own peril. Thus, your “basic” instinct cannot be “survival”, and your basic nature is clearly not “evil”. Your instinct and your nature is to reflect the essence of Who You Are, which is fairness, oneness, and love. Looking at the social implications of this, it is important to understand the difference between “fairness” and “equality”. It is not a basic instinct of all sentient beings to seek equality, or to be equal. Indeed, exactly the opposite is true.
The basic instinct of all living things is to express uniqueness, not sameness. Creating a society in which two beings are truly equal is not only impossible, but undesirable. Societal mechanisms seeking to produce true equality- in other words, economic, political, and social “sameness”- work against, not for, the grandest idea and the highest purpose- which is that each being will have the opportunity to produce the outcome of its grandest desire, and thus truly re-create itself anew.
Equality of opportunity is what is required for this, not equality in fact. This is called fairness. Equality in fact, produced by exterior forces and laws, would eliminate, not produce, fairness. It would eliminate the opportunity for true self-re-creation, which is the highest goal of enlightened beings everywhere. And what would create freedom of opportunity? Systems that would allow society to meet the basic survival needs of every individual, freeing all beings to pursue self-development and self-creation, rather than self-survival. In other words, systems that imitate the true system, called life, in which survival is guaranteed.
Now, because self-survival is not an issue in enlightened societies, these societies would never allow one of its members to suffer if there were enough for all. In these societies self-interest and mutual best interest are identical. No society created around a myth of “inherent evilness” or “survival of the fittest” could possibly achieve such understanding.
Yes, I see this. And this “cultural myth” question is something I want to explore, along with the behaviors and ethics of more advanced civilizations, later in greater detail. But I’d like to double back one last time and resolve the questions I started out with here.
One of the challenges of talking with You is that Your answers lead us in such interesting directions that I sometimes forget where I began. But in this case I have not. We were discussing marriage. We were discussing love, and its requirements.
Love has no requirements. That’s what makes it love.
If your love for another carries requirements, then it is not love at all, but some counterfeit version. That is what I have been trying to tell you here. It is what I have been saying, in a dozen different ways, with every question you’ve asked here. Within the context of marriage, for example, there is an exchange of vows that love does not require. Yet you require them, because you do not know what love is. And so you make each other promise what love would never ask.
Then You are against marriage!
I am “against” nothing. I am simply describing what I see. Now you can change what I see. You can redesign your social construction called “marriage” so that it does not ask what Love would never ask, but rather, declares what only love could declare.
In other words, change the marriage vows.
More than that. Change the expectations on which the vows are based. These expectations are going to be difficult to change, because they are your cultural heritage. They arise, in turn, from your cultural myths.
Here we go again with the cultural myths routine: What’s up with You about this?
I am hoping to point you in the right direction here. I see where you say you want to go with your society, and I am hoping to find human words and human terms that can direct you there.
May I give you an example?
One of your cultural myths about love is that it’s about giving rather than receiving. This has become a cultural imperative. And yet it is driving you crazy, and causing more damage than you could ever imagine. It gets, and keeps, people in bad marriages, it causes relationships of all kinds to be dysfunctional, yet no one- not your parents, to whom you look for guidance; not your clergy, to whom you look for inspiration; not your psychologists and psychiatrists, to whom you look for clarity; not even your writers and artists, to whom you look for intellectual leadership, will dare to challenge the prevailing cultural myth.
And so, songs are written, stories are told, movies are made, guidance is given, prayers are offered, and parenting is done which perpetuates The Myth. Then you are all left to live up to it. And you can’t.
Yet it is not you that is the problem, it is The Myth.
Love is not about giving rather than receiving?
No. It has never been.
But You said Yourself just a moment ago that “Love has no requirements.” You said, that’s what makes it love.
And so it is.
Well, that sure sounds like “giving rather than receiving” to me!
Then you need to reread Chapter Eight of Book 1. Everything I’m alluding to here I’ve explained to you there. This dialogue was meant to be read in sequence, and to be considered as a whole.
I know. But for those who nevertheless came to these words now without having read Book 1; could You explain, please, what You’re getting at here? Because, frankly, even I could use the review, and I think I now understand this stuff!
Okay. Here goes.
Everything you do, you do for yourself.
This is true because you and all others are One. What you do for another, you therefore do for you. What you fail to do another, you fail to do for you. What is good for another is good for you, and what is bad for another is bad for you. This is the most basic truth. Yet it is the truth you most frequently ignore.
Now when you are in a relationship with another, that relationship has only one purpose. It exists as a vehicle for you to decide and to declare, to create and to express, to experience and to fulfill your highest notion of Who You Really Are.
Now if Who You Really Are is a person who is kind and considerate, caring and sharing, compassionate and loving- then, when you are being these things with others, you are giving your Self the grandest experience for which you came into the body. This is why you took a body. Because only in the physical realm of the relative could you know yourself as these things. In the realm of the absolute from which you have come, this experience of knowing is impossible. All these things I’ve explained to you in far greater detail in Book 1.
Now if Who You Really Are is a being who does not love the Self, and who allows the Self to be abused, damaged, and destroyed by others, then you will continue behaviours which will allow you to experience that. Yet if you really are a person who is kind and considerate, caring and sharing, compassionate and loving, you will include your Self among the people with whom you are being these things. Indeed, you will start with yourself. You will put yourself first in these matters.
Everything in life depends on what you are seeking to be. If, for instance, you are seeking to be One with all others (that is, if you are seeking to experience a conceptualization you already know to be true), you will find yourself behaving in a very specific way- a way which allows you to experience and demonstrate your Oneness. And when you do certain things as a result of this, you will not experience that your are doing something for someone else, but rather, that you are doing it for you Self.
The same will be true no matter what you are seeking to be. If you are seeking to be love, you will do loving things with others. Not for others, but with others.
Notice the difference. Catch the nuance. You will be doing loving things with others, for your Self- so that you can actualize and experience your grandest idea about your Self and Who You Really Are. In this sense, it is impossible to do anything for another, for every act of your own volition is literally just that: an “act”. You are acting. That is, creating and playing a role. Except, you are not pretending. You are actually being it. You are a human being. And what you are being is decided and chosen by you.
Your Shakespeare said it: All the world’s a stage, and the people, the players.
He also said, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
And he also said: “To thine own Self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
When you are true to your Self, when you do not betray your Self, then when it “looks like” you are “giving”, you will know you are actually “receiving”. You are literally giving yourself back to your Self. You cannot truly “give” to another, for the simple reason that there is no “other”. If We are all One, then there is only You.
This sometimes seems like a semantic “trick”, a way to change the words around to alter their meaning.
It is not a trick, but it is magic! And it is not about changing words to alter meaning, but changing perceptions to alter experience. Your experience of everything is based on your perceptions, and your perception is based on your understanding. And your understanding is based on your myths. That is, on what you have been told. Now I tell you this: Your present cultural myths have not served you. They have not taken you where you say you want to go.
Either you are lying to yourself about where you say you want to go, or you are blind to the fact that you are not getting there. Not as an individual, not as a country, not as a species or a race.
Are there other species which are?
Oh yes, decidedly.
Okay, I’ve waited long enough. Tell me about them.
Soon. Very soon. But first I want to tell you about how you can alter your invention called “marriage”, so that it takes you closer to where you say you want to go.
Do not destroy it, do not do away with it- alter it.
Yes, well, I do want to know about that. I do want to know whether there is any way that human beings will ever be allowed to express true love. So I end this section of our dialogue where I began it. What limits shall we- indeed, some would say must we- place on that expression?
None. No limits at all. And that is what your marriage vows should state.
That’s amazing, because that’s exactly what my marriage vows with Nancy did state!
When Nancy and I decided to get married, I suddenly felt inspired to write a whole new set of marriage vows.
And Nancy joined me. She agreed that we couldn’t possibly exchange the vows that had become “traditional” at weddings.
We sat down and created new marriage vows that, well, that “defied the cultural imperative”, as You might put it.
Yes, you did. I was very proud.
And as we were writing them, as we put the vows down on paper for the minister to read, I truly believe we were both inspired.
Of course you were!
Do you mean-?
What do you think, I only come to you when you’re writing books?
So why don’t you put those marriage vows here?
Go ahead. You've got a copy of them. Put them right here.
Well, we didn't create them to share with the world.
When this dialogue began, you didn't think any of it would be shared with the world. Go ahead. Put them in.
It’s just that I don’t want people to think that I’m saying, “We've written the Perfect Marriage Vows!”
All of a sudden you’re worried about what people will think?
C’mon. You know what I mean.
Look, no one says these are the “Perfect Marriage Vows.”
They’re just the best anyone on your planet’s come up with so far.
Just kidding. Let’s lighten up here.
Go ahead. Put the vows in. I’ll take responsibility for them. And people will love them. It’ll give them an idea of what we’re talking about here. Why, you may even want to invite others to take these vows- which are not really “vows” at all, but Marriage Statements.
Well, okay. Here’s what Nancy and I said to each other when we got married . . . thanks to the “inspiration” we received:
Neale and Nancy have not come here tonight to make a solemn promise or to exchange a sacred vow.
Nancy and Neale have come here to make public their love for each other; to give noticement to their truth; to declare their choice to live and partner and grow together- out loud and in your presence, out of their desire that we will all come to feel a very real and intimate part of their decision, and thus make it even more powerful.
They’ve also come here tonight in the further hope that their ritual of bonding will help us all closer together. If you are here tonight with a spouse or a partner, let this ceremony be a reminder- a rededication of your own loving bond.
We’ll begin by asking the question: Why get married? Neale and Nancy have answered this question for themselves, and they’ve told me their answer. Now I want to ask them one more time, so they can be sure of their answer, certain of their understanding, and firm in their commitment to the truth they share.
(Minister gets two red roses from table . . .)
This is the Ceremony of Roses, in which Nancy and Neale share their understandings, and commemorate their sharing.
Now Nancy and Neale, you have told me it is your firm understanding that you are not entering into this marriage for reasons of security . . .
. . . that the only real security is not in owning or possessing, nor in being owned or possessed . . .
. . . not in demanding or expecting, and not even in hoping, that what you think you need in life will be supplied by the other . . .
. . . but rather, in knowing that everything you need in life . . . all the love, all the wisdom, all the insight, all the power, all the knowledge, all the understanding, all the nurturing, all the compassion, and all the strength . . . resides within you . . .
. . . and that you are not each marrying the other in hopes of getting these things, but in hopes of giving these gifts, that the other might have them in even greater abundance.
Is that your firm understanding tonight?
(They say, “It is.”)
And Neale and Nancy, you have told me it is your firm understanding you are not entering into this marriage as a means of in any way limiting, controlling, hindering, or restricting each other from any true expression and honest celebration of that which is the highest and best within you- including your love of God, your love of life, your love of people, your love of creativity, your love of work, or any aspect of your being which genuinely represents you, and brings you joy. Is that still your firm understanding tonight?
(They say, “It is.”)
Finally, Nancy and Neale, you have said to me that you do not see marriage as producing obligations, but rather as providing opportunities . . .
. . . opportunities for growth, for full Self-expression, for lifting your lives to their highest potential, for healing every false thought or small idea you ever had about yourself, and for ultimate reunion with God through the communion of your two souls . . .
. . . that this is truly a Holy Communion . . . a journey through life with one you love as an equal partner, sharing equally both the authority and the responsibilities inherent in any partnership, bearing equally what burdens there be, basking equally in the glories.
Is that the vision you wish to enter into now?
(They say, “It is.”)
I now give you these red roses, symbolizing your individual understandings of these Earthly things; that you both know and agree how life will be with you in bodily form, and within the physical structure called marriage. Give these roses now to each other as a symbol of your sharing of these agreements and understandings with love.
Now, please each of you take this white rose. It is a symbol of your larger understandings, of your spiritual nature and your spiritual truth. It stands for the purity of your Real and Highest Self, and of the purity of God’s love, which shines upon you now, and always.
(She gives Nancy the rose with Neale’s ring on the stem, and Neale the rose with Nancy’s ring on it.)
What symbols do you bring as a reminder of the promises given and received today?
(They each remove the rings from the stems, giving them to the minister, who holds them in her hand as she says . . .)
A circle is the symbol of the Sun, and the Earth, and the universe. It is a symbol of holiness, and of perfection and peace. It is also the symbol of the eternality of spiritual truth, love and life . . . that which has no beginning and no end. And in this moment, Neale and Nancy choose for it to also be a symbol of unity, but not of possession; of joining, but not of restricting; of encirclement, but not of entrapment. For love cannot be possessed, nor can it be restricted. And the soul can never be entrapped.
Now Neale and Nancy, please take these rings you wish to give, one to the other.
(They take each other’s rings.)
Neale, please repeat after me.
I , Neale . . . ask you, Nancy . . . to be my partner, my lover, my friend, and my wife . . . I announce and declare my intention to give you my deepest friendship and love . . . not only when your moments are high . . . but when they are low . . . not only when you remember clearly Who You Are . . . but when you forget . . . not only when you are acting with love . . . but when you are not . . . I further announce . . . before God and those here present . . . that I will seek always to see the Light of Divinity within you . . . and seek always to share . . . the Light of Divinity within me . . . even, and especially . . . in whatever moments of darkness may come.
It is my intention to be with you forever . . . in a Holy Partnership of the Soul . . . that we may do together God’s work . . . sharing all that is good within us . . . with all those whose lives we touch.
(The minister turns to Nancy.)
Nancy, do you choose to grant Neale’s request that you be his wife?
(She answers, “I do.”)
Now Nancy, please repeat after me.
I, Nancy . . . ask you, Neale . . . (She makes the same vow).
(Minister turns to Neale.)
Neale, do you choose to grant Nancy’s request that you be her husband?
(He answers, “I do.”)
Please then, both of you, take hold of the rings you would give each other, and repeat after me: With this ring . . . I thee wed . . . I take now the ring you give to me . . . (they exchange rings) . . . and give it place upon my hand . . . (they place the rings on their hands) . . . that all may see and know . . . of my love for you.
(The Minister closes . . .)
We recognize with full awareness that only a couple can administer the sacrament of marriage to each other, and only a couple can sanctify it. Neither my church, nor any power vested in me by the State, can grant me the authority to declare what only two hearts can declare, and what only two souls can make real.
And so now, inasmuch as you, Nancy, and you, Neale, have announced the truths that are already written in your hearts, and have witnessed the same in the presence of these, your friends, and the One Living Spirit- we observe joyfully that you have declared yourself to be. . . husband and wife.
Let us now join in prayer.
Spirit of Love and Life: out of this whole world, two souls have found each other. Their destinies shall now be woven into one design, and their perils and their joys shall not be known apart.
Neale and Nancy, may your home be a place of happiness for all who enter it; a place where the old and the young are renewed in each other’s company, a place for growing and a place for sharing, a place for music and a place for laughter, a place for prayer and a place for love.
May those who are nearest to you be constantly enriched by the beauty and the bounty of your love for one another, may your work be a joy of your life that serves the world, and may your days be good and long upon the Earth.
Amen, and amen
I am so touched by that. I am so honoured, so blessed, to have found someone in my life who could say those words with me, and mean them. Dear God, thank You for sending me Nancy.
You are a gift to her, too, you know.
I hope so.
Do you know what I wish?
I wish that all people could make those Marriage Statements. I wish people would cut them out, or copy them, and use them for their wedding. I bet we’d see the divorce rate plummet.
Some people would have a very hard time saying those things-and many would have a hard time staying true to them.
I just hope we can stay true to them! I mean, the problem with putting those words in here is that now we have to live up to them.
You were not planning to live up to them?
Of course we were. But we’re human, just like everybody else. Yet now if we fail, if we falter, if anything should happen to our relationship, or, good grief, we should ever choose to end it in its present form, all kinds of people are going to be disillusioned.
Nonsense. They’ll know that you are being true to yourself; they’ll know that you have made a later choice, a new choice. Remember what I told you in Book 1. Do not confuse the length of your relationship with its quality. You are not an icon, and neither is Nancy, and no one should put you there- and you should not put yourself there. Just be human. Just be fully human. If at some later point you and Nancy feel you wish to reform your relationship in a different way, you have a perfect right to do that.
That is the point of this whole dialogue.
And it was the point of the statements we made!
Exactly. I’m glad that you see that.
Yes, I like those Marriage Statements, and I’m glad that we put them in! It’s a wonderful new way to begin a life together. No more asking the woman to promise “to love, honor, and obey.” It was self-righteous, self-inflated, self-serving men who demanded that.
You’re right, of course.
And it was even more self-righteous and self-serving for men to claim that such male preeminence was God-ordained.
Again, you are right. I never ordained any such thing.
At last, marriage words which really are inspired by God. Words which make a chattel, personal property, out of no one. Words which speak the truth about love. Words which place no limitations, but promise only freedom! Words to which all hearts can remain true.
There are those who will say, “Of course anyone can keep vows which ask nothing of you!” What will you say to that?
I will say: “It is much difficult to free someone than to control them. When you control someone, you get what you want. When you free someone, they get what they want.”
You will have spoken wisely.
I have a wonderful idea! I think we should make a little booklet of those Marriage Statements, kind of a little prayer book for people to use on their wedding day.
It could be a small little book, and it would contain not only those words, but a whole ceremony, and key observations about love and relationship from all three books on this dialogue, as well as some special prayers and meditations on marriage- which, it turns out, You’re not against!
I’m so happy, because it started to sound for a minute as if You were “anti-marriage”.
How could I be against marriage? We are all married. We are married to each other- now, and forever-more. We are united. We are One. Ours is the biggest marriage ceremony ever held. My vow to you is the grandest vow ever made. I will love you forever, and free you for everything. My love will never bind you in any way, and because of this you are “bound” to eventually love Me- for freedom to Be Who You Are is your greatest desire, and My greatest gift.
Do you take Me now to be your lawfully wedded partner and co-creator, according to the highest laws of the universe?
And do You take me now as Your partner, co-creator?
I do, and I always have. Now and through all eternity we are One. Amen.