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by David Truman

One of the most influential television networks just spent millions on a love-negative Happy Valentine's message. Why? Popular views of relationship may be dim, but witness THESE scenes from M. T. V.'s special Valentines Day message.
Opening scene:
a romantic interlude
Marriage proposal
The bride-to-be spits her half chewed chocolates on her suitor's face. And that completes M. T. V.'s Happy Valentines spot.
God is love. We, God's children, are social creatures. The crux of spirituality is to be about our Father's business: LOVE. It's time to reaffirm the eternal relationship between the social and the spiritual -- and fix the broken link between them.
Is relationship an "endangered species"?
Consider, if you will, the present "state of the art" of human relationship. These days, though relationship is far from extinct, social alienation is increasing steadily, while social functioning is declining. It's as if relationship is something to be enjoyed in limited ways, but also controlled and defended against, because of certain dangers of it. In unprecedented numbers, people are trying to make do without viable emotional intimacy in their lives. Some people, as a result of the failures they have experienced, have practically given up on committed coupledom. Others have stayed in relationship, but within those bonds, have given up on heartfelt SHARING, excluding authentic spiritual honesty from their "intimacy" altogether. Consequently, even existing relationships are becoming superficial, and profoundly unsatisfying. And finally, as a result of discouraging social attitudes and role models, many young people have abandoned any expectation of emotional fulfillment even BEFORE attempting a long term relationship. Where on earth is humanity headed?
We are sounding the alarm -- the world is in "socio-spiritual" crisis! The de-spiritualizing of human relationship -- and even, in the extreme, the total loss of human relationship -- represent not just a SOCIAL crisis, but a SPRITUAL crisis as well. It's time to wake up and realize that there's a close link between the social difficulties we are experiencing, and the spiritual problems and obstacles we face.
The two-way relationship between social and spiritual
Let's start by considering the spiritual-social dichotomy as many people conceive it. Modern society seems to think that relationship is one thing, and spirituality another. Many people view human relationship as dangerous, if not downright unspiritual. In that same mindset, spirituality is often embraced not as an EXPRESSION of relationship, but as an ALTERNATIVE to it. Yet, as this article will explain, spirituality and relationship are NOT two different things; they are, for all intents and purposes, one!
If you don’t do well SOCIALLY, you can’t do good SPIRITUALLY.
Social fragility obstructs spiritual ability. If you cannot operate socially, you cannot cooperate effectively in your own spiritual upliftment, or in the spiritual upliftment of others. It all comes down to your fluency in giving and receiving. Consider these links between the social and the spiritual:
If we cannot receive SOCIALLY, we can receive less SPIRITUALLY. We cannot be maximally open to the Divine if we are closed to our brothers and sisters, the Divine's messengers on earth.
If we cannot give SOCIALLY, we can receive less SPIRITUALLY. "With the same measure as ye mete out, so shall it be meted out unto ye."
If we cannot give SOCIALLY what we receive SPIRITUALLY, how can we heal other people? Good social skills are REQUIRED for healing.
One fundamental fallacy -- that relationship and spirituality are different, even opposed -- has created today's socio-spiritual crisis. With that one fallacy, relationship has been separated from spirituality, humanity has been separated from God, and humanity has been separated from its own Spirit, the reality of Selfhood. Let us explain:
The heart of relationship today is broken
Sure, people have REASON to think that relationship excludes spirituality: in most cases, it does! And, in common experience, it has. So many people have been victimized -- or at least disappointed -- by unspiritual relationship. Even functional alliances are often unsatisfying. In our hearts, we want more than . . .
Relationships reduced to fulfilling mundane functions, in which people become strangers wearing impenetrable -- or nearly impenetrable -- masks.
Relationships between two people who are only out to have a good time.
Relationships which exist to further the selfish ambitions of strategically-aligned business partners.
Carefully choreographed relationships between friends who know what to say and what not to say.
Marriages which are held together primarily for the sake of producing and raising children.
The root of the problem: subservience to EGO
The root of this social problem is not God, not relationship, not other human beings, certainly not the Self-same Self of other human beings. The sorry state of relationship today has come about because EGO has been allowed to dominate relationships. When people are willing to follow the dictates of the ego, problems multiply.
Ego subservience creates what we call subSWERVience: swerving AWAY from the spiritual realities. Ego sees only ego in others. This imposes severe limitations upon relationship -- limitations that prevent people from relating as they should, and otherwise could. The glue of strong relationship evaporates when people are viewed as little more than egos. The humanity of humans fades when the Self-same Self goes unrecognized.
Needless to say, it is the mishandling of human relationships that has given relationship itself a bad name. To believe that relationships are INHERENTLY unspiritual or harmful is like believing a car is a lethal weapon. Sure, a car in the wrong hands, and poorly directed, can hurt people -- but that is not an inherent purpose of cars. The car's only reason for being is to move people from place to place. Cars are lethal weapons ONLY when humans drive dangerously.

When ego is boss, relationship doesn’t work as God intended.

Similarly, when relationship is misused, people get hurt. But that is certainly not God's Will for relationship. Relationship's essential purpose is to support, to heal, and to uplift. It's only because of the exclusion of true and Godly Selfhood that relationship has become, for many people, traumatic, unworkable, and anti-spiritual. If we consented to using relationship in the way God intended, it would be a different story. Spirituality EVOKES right relationship, REQUIRES right relationship, and DIRECTS right relationship. In fact, spirituality PERFECTS relationship. True spirituality and true relationship go together.
Relationship -- true relationship -- is a great joy. We have no reason to fear relationship, but plenty of reason to fear the LACK of it.
Time out for healing
When we are in the grip of ego-identification, and we act from ego or in reaction to ego, we tend to act poorly, ungenerously, unspiritually in relationships -- to the detriment. Everyone is wounded by ego-driven exchanges, and people may need to take a break from what has become an overwhelming strain, an unworkable state of relationship, to heal and restore their well-being.
We all need a chance to re-expand after having been depressed and compressed by our experiences of being mistreated and under-valued by other egos.
We need relief from uncontrolled reactive patterns that make deep relating traumatic.
We need an opportunity to recover from the chilling effects of our own egoic treatment of others. We need time to get some space, to reflect, to digest, to mentally tune up our approach a little bit, in the agape spirit.
To the extent that our own shameful participation in relationship has led us to feel poorly about ourselves, we need time away from social challenges to redeem our self esteem.

Solitude may be a good place to VISIT, but you shouldn’t plan to LIVE there.

So we admit, there is a time for solitude. Even so, we caution people against considering a reclusive lifestyle as a LONG-TERM solution. That's the big pitfall today. If any solitary spiritual path leads away from relationship and STAYS away, social dysfunctionality is almost certain to increase. Further alienation, not social healing, will result.
Enlightenment is a team sport
Spirituality is so much MORE than a head trip -- it is a way of living and loving. It takes real spiritual strength to live rightly and love beautifully in this world. Developing that strength requires lots of social exercise. So many people read good spiritual books and practice spiritual techniques, but then neglect put their spirituality to the test in the social context. They're depriving themselves of the iron they need to pump to build their spiritual muscles! Without healthy exercise, how are we going to grow spiritually strong?

Spirituality grows best when well-rooted in human relationships.

Maybe you do give up a bit on your higher aspirations for relating when you are in a relationship that excludes them. And maybe you have to withdraw a while when ego is running amok and creating excessive injury in relationship. But after everyone has "escaped" relationship, what do we end up with? We end up with socially alienated spiritual seekers trying to make spiritual headway WITHOUT the myriad benefits of relationship. Which is to say, trying to make spiritual headway
WITHOUT the healthy challenges of social relationship that are -- in essence, at least -- spiritual challenges.
WITHOUT the comfort and aid of peer relationships, which supply the essential support, camaraderie, and reflection required for spiritual growth.
WITHOUT the huge and indispensable advantage received in relationship with a spiritual elder, or mentor, in the form of unconditional love and wisdom guidance.
WITHOUT the spiritual testing provided by the social challenge.
Spiritually honest FEEDBACK
Honesty furthers. We should carefully consider what it means to exclude from our relationships the authentic spiritual honesty that is so often absent, even in relationships that include egoic honesty. Egoic honesty might be, "I don't like your tie," from one ego to the other. Spiritual honesty is, "This would be the right thing to do, and doing that other thing would be wrong." Or, "That orientation is problematical," from one Self-same Self to the other.

Spiritual honesty delivers guidance from God, THROUGH one human being TO another.

When people are spiritually honest with each other, spiritual food and instructions for change are delivered, by God, THROUGH one human being TO another. From the mouth of one friend to another, God says, in effect: "The number has been changed, the new number is _________. Please make a note of it." That is relationship at its best, at its most furthering, most helpful, most revealing, most feeling, most healing. In the eyes of those who are willing to see and adjust accordingly, what is most revealing IS most healing.
Now you can appreciate why the insufficiency of authentic social life, and of spiritually authentic exchange between human beings, is one of the greatest obstacles to spiritual growth. It is virtually impossible to find spiritual direction without the consciousness, the spoken and unspoken feedback, and the honest reflection of other Self-same Selves. Even a person who is who is strong on spiritual aspirations has a devil of a time making spiritual headway if he or she is weak on authentic social relations. Enlightenment is a team sport. And so is the achievement of happiness.
Social dysfunction is spiritual dysfunction
Without social ability, spirituality also loses its most important meaning, purpose, and expression: to give. All you need to do to prove this point to yourself is to go "up on the mountain." Take an extended retreat, and do what works for you, in solitude, to raise your consciousness to spiritual heights. Commune with God. If you do a good job of it, it will dawn on you after a spell that it's time to go "back in the valley." Why? Because it's time to serve, to deliver the goods.

Just like clockwork: your highness naturally wants to give when your highness is full.

It never fails to happen that way. In fact, it never fails to happen that a person who gets happy wants to deliver, to share that joy with others. How beautiful! It goes to show that human beings are so attuned to the social implications of highness that, just like clockwork, your highness naturally wants to give at when your highness is full. That's the way it works. It's in-built. But you cannot actually move on the impulse to give unless you have the social ability and the orientation towards others that could allow you to love them.
Once we understand that the expression of our spirituality depends on our competence at social living, we can finally fully grasp what social and spiritual REALLY have in common: the spiritual and the social are both the extension of God's Will and God's desire to heal on this planet.
Providence loves a lover
God helps those who help themselves IN THE FORM OF OTHERS. Providence most heartily serves those who help the many people that God loves. That being so, is it credible that the pursuit of enlightenment, regardless of others, in conflict with others, and with walls up against others, could be truly spiritual? Any form or practice of spirituality that is merely self-serving and primarily alienated needs to be re-purposed to a higher intention. It should be re-directed in the spirit of love rather than self-service.

If you want to get enlightened, get ready to GIVE.

So we're saying to people, "Look, you want to get enlightened? Then get ready." "Get ready for what?" "Get ready to give." Get ready to give according to ethical standards that could be approved by God.
You might as well get ready for the inevitability of your giving should you chance to succeed at enlightenment -- because nothing else could possibly come of it. That's when it gets down to the real crunch: the real clarification of whose team are you actually on? The name of the game on God's team is to help. How do you help? Love. The moment you get uplifted and enlightened, God's going to put you on a mission to give to people He loves more than you do. When you get down from the mountain and you start to mix it up with the riff raff, you're going to come up short unless you already love them -- and you can show it in a way they can FEEL.
Prepare to get about our Father's business
To summarize, here is why it's crucial for people who wish to be spiritual to get a grip on social functionality. First, social functionality can help you become enlightened, because enlightenment is a team project. Second, social functionality is necessary for the outworking of enlightenment, for the deliverance of your spiritual fruits to the Family of Humanity. So, social functionality is important, both as a means to achieve spiritual goals, and as a way to share spiritual wealth.

Love is our debt to society.

To be really good on spiritual, you've got to be good on social. Many individuals want to believe that they are being spiritual in the loner mode, but it is unlikely that prolonged spiritual isolation is true to God's Will. So the whole idea of spirituality needs to be reviewed, refreshed, and redirected. Spirituality needs to become more socially attuned and socially responsible.
Therefore, for true spirituality to blossom, there must be an embrace of humanity. There must be an effective re-integration into the social sphere by all those individuals who have withdrawn from it.
No matter how difficult, no matter how awkward, no matter how time consuming that re-integration may be, it is nonetheless essential, both to God-realization and to the deliverance of godly wisdom and blessings and energy. So that is what you will eventually have to do, as your appropriate spiritual practice. And that is what you, in your Self-same heart, WANT to do.

When can we "get about our Father’s business?" As soon as we socialize.

We are all destined, in the course of evolution, to unify our social and spiritual inclinations in LOVE. It's not a question of IF, it's a question of WHEN. So, WHEN can we "get about our Father's Love business?" The answer is simple: as soon as we SOCIALIZE.

by David Truman

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