ACIM Text Reading for June 10
Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream
VIII. The Little Garden
It is only the awareness of the body that makes love seem limited. For the body is a limit on love. The belief in limited love was its origin, and it was made to limit the unlimited. Think not that this is merely allegorical, for it was made to limit you. Can you who see yourself within a body know yourself as an idea? Everything you recognize you identify with externals, something outside itself. You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognize.
The body cannot know. And while you limit your awareness to its tiny senses, you will not see the grandeur that surrounds you. God cannot come into a body, nor can you join him there. Limits on love will always seem to shut him out, and keep you apart from him. The body is a tiny fence around a little part of a glorious and complete idea. It draws a circle, infinitely small, around a very little segment of Heaven, splintered from the whole, proclaiming that within it is your kingdom, where God can enter not.
Within this kingdom the ego rules, and cruelly. And to defend this little speck of dust it bids you fight against the universe. This fragment of your mind is such a tiny part of it that, could you but appreciate the whole, you would see instantly that it is like the smallest sunbeam to the sun, or like the faintest ripple on the surface of the ocean. In its amazing arrogance, this tiny sunbeam has decided it is the sun; this almost imperceptible ripple hails itself as the ocean. Think how alone and frightened is this little thought, this infinitesimal illusion, holding itself apart against the universe. The sun becomes the sunbeam’s “enemy” that would devour it, and the ocean terrifies the little ripple and wants to swallow it.
Yet neither sun nor ocean is even aware of all this strange and meaningless activity. They merely continue, unaware that they are feared and hated by a tiny segment of themselves. Even that segment is not lost to them, for it could not survive apart from them. And what it thinks it is in no way changes its total dependence on them for its being. Its whole existence still remains in them. Without the sun the sunbeam would be gone; the ripple without the ocean is inconceivable.
Such is the strange position in which those in a world inhabited by bodies seem to be. Each body seems to house a separate mind, a disconnected thought, living alone and in no way joined to the Thought by which it was created. Each tiny fragment seems to be self-contained, needing another for some things, but by no means totally dependent on its one Creator for everything; needing the whole to give it any meaning, for by itself it does mean nothing. Nor has it any life apart and by itself.
Like to the sun and ocean your Self continues, unmindful that this tiny part regards itself as you. It is not missing; it could not exist if it were separate, nor would the whole be whole without it. It is not a separate kingdom, ruled by an idea of separation from the rest. Nor does a fence surround it, preventing it from joining with the rest, and keeping it apart from its Creator. This little aspect is no different from the whole, being continuous with it and at one with it. It leads no separate life, because its life is the oneness in which its being was created.
Do not accept this little, fenced-off aspect as yourself. The sun and ocean are as nothing beside what you are. The sunbeam sparkles only in the sunlight, and the ripple dances as it rests upon the ocean. Yet in neither sun nor ocean is the power that rests in you. Would you remain within your tiny kingdom, a sorry king, a bitter ruler of all that he surveys, who looks on nothing yet who would still die to defend it? This little self is not your kingdom. Arched high above it and surrounding it with love is the glorious whole, which offers all its happiness and deep content to every part. The little aspect that you think you set apart is no exception.
Love knows no bodies, and reaches to everything created like itself. Its total lack of limit is its meaning. It is completely impartial in its giving, encompassing only to preserve and keep complete what it would give. In your tiny kingdom you have so little! Should it not, then, be there that you would call on love to enter? Look at the desert — dry and unproductive, scorched and joyless — that makes up your little kingdom. And realize the life and joy that love would bring to it from where it comes, and where it would return with you.
The Thought of God surrounds your little kingdom, waiting at the barrier you built to come inside and shine upon the barren ground. See how life springs up everywhere! The desert becomes a garden, green and deep and quiet, offering rest to those who lost their way and wander in the dust. Give them a place of refuge, prepared by love for them where once a desert was. And everyone you welcome will bring love with him from Heaven for you. They enter one by one into this holy place, but they will not depart as they had come, alone. The love they brought with them will stay with them, as it will stay with you. And under its beneficence your little garden will expand, and reach out to everyone who thirsts for living water, but has grown too weary to go on alone.
Go out and find them, for they bring your Self with them. And lead them gently to your quiet garden, and receive their blessing there. So will it grow and stretch across the desert, leaving no lonely little kingdoms locked away from love, and leaving you inside. And you will recognize yourself, and see your little garden gently transformed into the Kingdom of Heaven, with all the love of its Creator shining upon it.
The holy instant is your invitation to love to enter into your bleak and joyless kingdom, and to transform it into a garden of peace and welcome. Love’s answer is inevitable. It will come because you came without the body, and interposed no barriers to interfere with its glad coming. In the holy instant, you ask of love only what it offers everyone, neither less nor more. Asking for everything, you will receive it. And your shining Self will lift the tiny aspect that you tried to hide from Heaven straight to Heaven. No part of love calls on the whole in vain. No Son of God remains outside His Fatherhood.
Be sure of this; love has entered your special relationship, and entered fully at your weak request. You do not recognize that love has come, because you have not yet let go of all the barriers you hold against your brother. And you will not be able to give love welcome separately. You could no more know God alone than He knows you without your brother. But together you could no more be unaware of love than love could know you not, or fail to recognize itself in you.
You have reached the end of an ancient journey, not realizing yet that it is over. You are still worn and tired, and the desert’s dust still seems to cloud your eyes and keep you sightless. Yet He Whom you welcomed has come to you, and would welcome you. He has waited long to give you this. Receive it now of Him, for He would have you know Him. Only a little wall of dust still stands between you. Blow on it lightly and with happy laughter, and it will fall away. And walk into the garden love has prepared for both of you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 10
I am at home. Fear is the stranger here.
Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself. And thus you are unknown to you. What is your Self remains an alien to the part of you which thinks that it is real, but different from yourself. Who could be sane in such a circumstance? Who but a madman could believe he is what he is not, and judge against himself?
There is a stranger in our midst, who comes from an idea so foreign to the truth he speaks a different language, looks upon a world truth does not know, and understands what truth regards as senseless. Stranger yet, he does not recognize to whom he comes, and yet maintains his home belongs to him, while he is alien now who is at home. And yet, how easy it would be to say, “This is my home. Here I belong, and will not leave because a madman says I must.”
What reason is there for not saying this? What could the reason be except that you had asked this stranger in to take your place, and let you be a stranger to yourself? No one would let himself be dispossessed so needlessly, unless he thought there were another home more suited to his tastes.
Who is the stranger? Is it fear or you who are unsuited to the home which God provided for His Son? Is fear His Own, created in His likeness? Is it fear that love completes, and is completed by? There is no home can shelter love and fear. They cannot coexist. If you are real, then fear must be illusion. And if fear is real, then you do not exist at all.
How simply, then, the question is resolved. Who fears has but denied himself and said, “I am the stranger here. And so I leave my home to one more like me than myself, and give him all I thought belonged to me.” Now is he exiled of necessity, not knowing who he is, uncertain of all things but this; that he is not himself, and that his home has been denied to him.
What does he search for now? What can he find? A stranger to himself can find no home wherever he may look, for he has made return impossible. His way is lost, except a miracle will search him out and show him that he is no stranger now. The miracle will come. For in his home his Self remains. It asked no stranger in, and took no alien thought to be Itself. And It will call Its Own unto Itself in recognition of what is Its Own.
Who is the stranger? Is he not the one your Self calls not? You are unable now to recognize this stranger in your midst, for you have given him your rightful place. Yet is your Self as certain of Its Own as God is of His Son. He cannot be confused about creation. He is sure of what belongs to Him. No stranger can be interposed between His knowledge and His Son’s reality. He does not know of strangers. He is certain of His Son.
God’s certainty suffices. Who He knows to be His Son belongs where He has set His Son forever. He has answered you who ask, “Who is the stranger?” Hear His Voice assure you, quietly and sure, that you are not a stranger to your Father, nor is your Creator stranger made to you. Whom God has joined remain forever one, at home in Him, no stranger to Himself.
Today we offer thanks that Christ has come to search the world for what belongs to Him. His vision sees no strangers, but beholds His Own and joyously unites with them. They see Him as a stranger, for they do not recognize themselves. Yet as they give Him welcome, they remember. And He leads them gently home again, where they belong.
Not one does Christ forget. Not one He fails to give you to remember, that your home may be complete and perfect as it was established. He has not forgotten you. But you will not remember Him until you look on all as He does. Who denies his brother is denying Him, and thus refusing to accept the gift of sight by which his Self is clearly recognized, his home remembered and salvation come.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1153: What is meant by “secret sins”?
A: The “secret sins and hidden hates” are the separation beliefs the mind holds, but covers over with heavy layers of denial and projection. In fact, the mind builds a defensive fortress around its plot to keep separation real in its awareness. The cement that holds the whole thing together is denial. Almost simultaneously with its choice to be separate, the mind judges the choice as sinful, feels tremendous guilt for the “sin,” projects the guilt out to the body, and then denies it ever did anything. It thereby denies its power to choose and, most importantly, its identity as mind. Key to the success of this plot is keeping it hidden from awareness so the mind can convince itself that it is powerless and has no choice but to accept the ego’s dream of separation. Once the mind finds itself embroiled in the illusion of the body, it continues to keep its sin and guilt hidden from awareness by projecting them out and blaming external agents for its predicament. The main target of this scheme is the ego’s made-up God. The ego tells a very convincing tale to get the mind off the hook and ensure that its power and, most importantly its choice, are kept hidden: God made the world and the body, tricked his creatures into sinning, and is now tracking them down to punish them with death. This insanity is the foundation of the ego’s plan for salvation through sacrifice and death, sustained by guilt and fear, and designed to keep the Son of God out of his mind.
Since hiding the mind’s activity through denial is at the core of the ego’s insanity, the Holy Spirit’s curriculum of healing begins with uncovering what was hidden, and restoring to awareness the mind’s power to choose. That is why so much of the teaching of the Course is devoted to describing the ego’s dynamics. The key to unraveling the thick layers of denial is to train the mind to recognize the ego’s antics in operation in one’s life. Recognizing the mind’s projections returns the source of the problem to the mind where it belongs. That is the first step in the forgiveness process. We find many passages in A Course in Miracles where Jesus exhorts us to look: “You must look upon your illusions and not keep them hidden, because they do not rest on their own foundation. In concealment they appear to do so, and thus they seem to be self- sustained. This is the fundamental illusion on which the others rest. For beneath them, and concealed as long as they are hidden, is the loving mind that thought it made them in anger. And the pain in this mind is so apparent, when it is uncovered, that its need of healing cannot be denied. Not all the tricks and games you offer it can heal it, for here is the real crucifixion of God’s Son” (T.13.III.7:1,2,3,4,5,6). Several layers of the mind’s denial network are revealed in this passage: illusions hide behind projections that seem to have a life of their own, hidden behind the illusions is the “loving mind,” as well as the pain that results from the mind’s decision. The intense pain of denying God’s Love is hidden behind all the ego’s frantic attempts (“tricks and games”) to make the illusion of separation real and convince God’s Son that happiness is possible outside of Heaven. No matter how hard the ego tries, it cannot undo the anguish of its error, and by confusing itself with the ego, the mind has crucified God’s Son. This is the ego’s arsenal of “secret sins.”
Hidden beneath all the debris of the guilt-infested secret sins is the mind’s best kept “sinless secret”: the memory of God’s Love. The Holy Spirit’s healing process is aimed at undoing belief in the mind’s secret sins so the Love that lies buried beneath them can be revealed. To that end, we are asked to look with the Holy Spirit at what has been hidden: “Do not leave any spot of pain hidden from His light, and search your mind carefully for any thoughts you may fear to uncover [the “sinful” as well as the sinless] . For He will heal every little thought you have kept to hurt you and cleanse it of its littleness, restoring it to the magnitude of God” (T.13.III.7:5,6, italics ours ).