ACIM Text Reading for June 12
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 12
There is no death. The Son of God is free.
Death is a thought that takes on many forms, often unrecognized. It may appear as sadness, fear, anxiety or doubt; as anger, faithlessness and lack of trust; concern for bodies, envy, and all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you. All such thoughts are but reflections of the worshipping of death as savior and as giver of release.
Embodiment of fear, the host of sin, god of the guilty and the lord of all illusions and deceptions, does the thought of death seem mighty. For it seems to hold all living things within its withered hand; all hopes and wishes in its blighting grasp; all goals perceived but in its sightless eyes. The frail, the helpless and the sick bow down before its image, thinking it alone is real, inevitable, worthy of their trust. For it alone will surely come.
All things but death are seen to be unsure, too quickly lost however hard to gain, uncertain in their outcome, apt to fail the hopes they once engendered, and to leave the taste of dust and ashes in their wake, in place of aspirations and of dreams. But death is counted on. For it will come with certain footsteps when the time has come for its arrival. It will never fail to take all life as hostage to itself.
Would you bow down to idols such as this? Here is the strength and might of God Himself perceived within an idol made of dust. Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God’s Will for life, the endlessness of love and Heaven’s perfect, changeless constancy. Here is the Will of Father and of Son defeated finally, and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God.
Unholy in defeat, he has become what death would have him be. His epitaph, which death itself has written, gives no name to him, for he has passed to dust. It says but this: “Here lies a witness God is dead.” And this it writes again and still again, while all the while its worshippers agree, and kneeling down with foreheads to the ground, they whisper fearfully that it is so.
It is impossible to worship death in any form, and still select a few you would not cherish and would yet avoid, while still believing in the rest. For death is total. Either all things die, or else they live and cannot die. No compromise is possible. For here again we see an obvious position, which we must accept if we be sane; what contradicts one thought entirely can not be true, unless its opposite is proven false.
The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty in believing it. For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished; killed, apparently, by those who did not want Him to survive. Their stronger will could triumph over His, and so eternal life gave way to death. And with the Father died the Son as well.
Death’s worshippers may be afraid. And yet, can thoughts like these be fearful? If they saw that it is only this which they believe, they would be instantly released. And you will show them this today. There is no death, and we renounce it now in every form, for their salvation and our own as well. God made not death. Whatever form it takes must therefore be illusion. This the stand we take today. And it is given us to look past death, and see the life beyond.
Our Father, bless our eyes today. We are Your messengers, and we would look upon the glorious reflection of Your Love which shines in everything. We live and move in You alone. We are not separate from Your eternal life. There is no death, for death is not Your Will. And we abide where You have placed us, in the life we share with You and with all living things, to be like You and part of You forever. We accept Your Thoughts as ours, and our will is one with Yours eternally. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #52: Is it wrong to feel guilty about tragic world events, such as starvation in Africa, etc.? Often, when I see situations of people suffering in poorer countries, I feel guilty and think, “Look at the easy life I have. I really have nothing to complain about.” Is my guilt in this situation really just an attempt to retain a sense of specialness and separateness?
A: Guilt and blame are never justified, according to the Course. But the guilt you are feeling more than likely is coming from a deeper source than you mention, and can be undone only on that level. All of us would feel a deep sense of guilt simply because we are here. Our existence in this world is at God’s expense, so the ego has convinced us. We in essence stole God’s creative power and conferred it on ourselves so that we could direct our own lives in a world that could give us the specialness and individuality that was not available in Heaven. The guilt associated with our existence here is enormous as a result, and is deliberately kept out of awareness through denial and projection.
This dynamic of projection requires that there be a world in which terrible things happen, so that we can perceive both victims and victimizers outside us, rather than in the bloody battlefield in our minds, where we are terrified that God will come storming after us and destroy us for our abominable attack on Him. So there is a second tier of guilt in our minds that comes from our wanting there to be suffering in the world to keep our defense of projection working, which in turn maintains this system of existence outside Heaven and God.
Even though the ego assured us that we would be free of guilt by projecting both ourselves and our guilt from the mind, we wind up feeling guilty as bodies in a world of bodies anyway. We feel guilty when we are doing well because deep within our minds we know we got it all illegitimately. And we feel guilty when we see others not doing so well, because on an unconscious level we feel responsible for their suffering and poverty. It reminds us of our complicity in a plan to have a world of affliction and unsolvable problems so that we would never remember that the only problem is that we made the wrong decision in our minds, and that we can simply go back to our minds, guided by Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and now make the right decision.
Finally, we have to be wary of our tendency to interpret events by form only. In other words, the external form cannot tell us what is going on in a person’s Atonement path, the content. Perhaps suffering or poverty is the classroom that that mind is using to learn that the body is not our true reality. We don’t know that, so we should be cautious about judging what appear to be unfortunate situations. We really cannot see the larger picture. We also need to remember that one of the central principles of the Course is that there is no hierarchy of illusions. The bottom line is that kindness and gentleness to all people, regardless of their situation, should be our guiding principle.
Q #53: Does being active in political and social programs inappropriately reinforce the dream from which we are trying to awaken? Should one work solely on the self? Isn’t that the best way to address the world’s ill?
A: First, the Course is exclusively about the healing of our minds, because that is where our one and only problem and its solution reside: our decision to be separate, and our capacity to undo that choice.“Forget not that the healing of God’s Son is all this world is for” (T.24.VI.4:1). On one level, therefore, we can help the world most effectively by undoing the guilt in our minds, because the projection of this guilt is what made the world and all its problems, and what sustains it as well. The world, thus, is but an idea in our minds and has never left its source in our minds. If we could identify with this totally and then undo the guilt, the world would disappear back into the nothingness from which it came, and we would be back home in God. Then “nothing you remember now will you remember” (T.19.VI.6:6).
However, because we have not fully integrated this principle, our experience is that there is a world and we are influenced by it in many ways. It is a highly significant part of our dream and of our script. Therefore, on this level we cannot ignore it or be indifferent or passive about what takes place in the world, just as ignoring or denying bodily conditions is an “unworthy form of denial” (T.2.IV.3:11). Two principles that can guide us on this level are (1) there is no hierarchy of illusions, and (2) purpose is everything. Thus, being politically or socially active is no different than performing surgery, competing in sports, or eating and breathing in order to stay alive. In this sense, we cannot say that one reinforces the dream more than another. They are neutral once we identify with bodily existence. It is only when we consider purpose that we can begin to evaluate the helpfulness of what we do for our Atonement path. Being involved in political or social movements, or just stopping to help a person injured in an accident, can either reinforce the separation or undo it, depending on whether we have chosen the ego or Jesus as our teacher. It is not the behavior, in other words, that helps or hinders our spiritual advancement. The pivotal issue is whether we have chosen in our minds to see our interests as separate or the same as another person’s.
None of this should be taken to mean that one must be involved in political or social programs. It is entirely a matter of how one is guided. It is neither inherently wrong-minded nor right-minded to be active in the world. We just need to be vigilant about using Course principles to justify aloofness or indifference. It is indeed a fine line to walk and requires considerable experience and maturity to both integrate the teachings of the Course and yet do what normal and compassionate people do who are citizens of a country.