As a young child, I remember times when my Mom or Grandma would come up to me and give me a big hug, and say, “You’re really special.” It felt great being special. Later in elementary school, I received some awards for ‘special achievement’. These were for doing something above and beyond what was expected. I was very proud of those awards as were my parents.
Then I learned about kids with ‘special needs’, about ‘special education’, and the Special Olympics. I realized other kids were special for different reasons. And then there were special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries, special moments when times were shared with others. A special could even mean a sale price at a supermarket.
As time went on, I began to wonder - given all these different ways of being special, what does special really mean? With some additional reflection, I decided it denotes uniqueness, individuality, and ultimately how one person or thing is different from another. That uniqueness might be considered exceptional or limited, but it’s still unique. In this context, everyone may be considered special in some way. By the time I was an adult, I was comfortable with all these meanings of special.
Along Comes the Course
Then I discovered A Course in Miracles, and suddenly all my ideas of the word special were turned upside down. Now what had seemed to have been of utmost importance to me and to the others I interacted with – our uniqueness, our individuality, our differences – was being shown to be the fundamental problem in our perception of the world.
Uniqueness means separation, individuality means separation, being special means separation. And in the Course, separation is what keeps us locked into the ego’s view of the world. We see differences in others instead of realizing we are all the same, all fundamentally One Self, One Creation of God. It’s the differences we must learn to forgive, and through that forgiveness, we can begin to see something other than specialness in the world.
In the Course there are several long discussions about the concept of special relationships. These are divided into special hate and special love relationships. Most people understand the idea of special hate relationships, since almost everyone has experienced extreme dislike of someone or anger toward someone, and these relationships all fall in the special hate category. It seems obvious that such relationships need some kind of healing.
Special love relationships are harder for people to understand initially. Isn’t the goal of the Course to have more love in one’s life? Why would loving people be a problem? It all comes down to the idea of conditional versus unconditional love. For most of the love relationships we have in this world, the ego sets conditions. The other person in the relationship should act a certain way in order for us to maintain our ‘love’ toward them.
But according to the Course, this ‘love’ is not real love at all, but a projection of one’s needs onto another. If for some reason these needs aren’t met, this ‘love’ can be fleeting, waning and waxing with the particular circumstances of the relationship within our world of space and time. Often what seemed to be true love relationships will turn into hate relationships as the parties realize the conditions they set were not being met.
Forgiveness and Being Special
As with everything in the Course, the way to stop seeing specialness in the world or to stop maintaining special relationships, is to forgive. We need to identify those instances in our lives where we are seeing others as special, as different, and ultimately as separate. We need to realize that this difference is a fundamental illusion that prevents us from seeing the Wholeness that is truly there.
One of the steps in the practice of forgiveness is to connect with the Holy Spirit. We bundle up all our non-loving thoughts about a person or event and pass them to the Holy Spirit to be released. The reason the Holy Spirit sees all this as an illusion is clear in the following statement from the Course.
The Holy Spirit knows no one is special. (T-15.V.5)
It doesn’t get any clearer than that, ‘no one is special.’ Now all the efforts we make throughout life to be unique and special and wonderful are only manifestations of the ego. All of the differences we see in others, the things that make them special, are seen to be illusions. The ego has told us that being special is important, and the more special we are, the better.
The Course says the exact opposite. What matters is what is the same about everyone, and the only absolute that is the same with everyone is that we are all Children of God. We are fundamentally God’s Creation, and this illusionary world we think we live in is built upon the illusion that we are separate from that God. It is built on the simple idea that we are somehow special and different from that God.
So now the realization sets in – it’s not really nice to feel special. It’s not good to be different. It’s definitely not Loving to see separation in the world. We have a role to play here and that role is simply to forgive these separation illusions wherever we see them. When we do, we will see God in everyone and Love will permeate our lives.