ACIM Text Reading for June 11
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 recognise you identify with externals, something outside itself. You cannot even think of God without a body, or in some form you think you recognise.
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 desertâ€”dry and unproductive, scorched and joylessâ€”that makes up your little kingdom. And realise 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 recognise 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 recognise that love has come, because you have not yet let go of all the barriers you hold against your brother. And you and he 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 recognise itself in you.
You have reached the end of an ancient journey, not realising 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 and your brother. 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 11
Into His Presence would I enter now.
1. This is a day of silence and of trust. It is a special time of promise in your calendar of days. It is a time Heaven has set apart to shine upon, and cast a timeless light upon this day, when echoes of eternity are heard. This day is holy, for it ushers in a new experience; a different kind of feeling and awareness. You have spent long days and nights in celebrating death. Today you learn to feel the joy of life.
2. This is another crucial turning point in the curriculum. We add a new dimension now; a fresh experience that sheds a light on all that we have learned already, and prepares us for what we have yet to learn. It brings us to the door where learning ceases, and we catch a glimpse of what lies past the highest reaches it can possibly attain. It leaves us here an instant, and we go beyond it, sure of our direction and our only goal.
3. Today it will be given you to feel a touch of Heaven, though you will return to paths of learning. Yet you have come far enough along the way to alter time sufficiently to rise above its laws, and walk into eternity a while. This you will learn to do increasingly, as every lesson, faithfully rehearsed, brings you more swiftly to this holy place and leaves you, for a moment, to your Self.
4. He will direct your practicing today, for what you ask for now is what He wills. And having joined your will with His this day, what you are asking must be given you. Nothing is needed but today’s idea to light your mind, and let it rest in still anticipation and in quiet joy, wherein you quickly leave the world behind.
5. From this day forth, your ministry takes on a genuine devotion, and a glow that travels from your fingertips to those you touch, and blesses those you look upon. A vision reaches everyone you meet, and everyone you think of, or who thinks of you. For your experience today will so transform your mind that it becomes the touchstone for the holy Thoughts of God.
6. Your body will be sanctified today, its only purpose being now to bring the vision of what you experience this day to light the world. We cannot give experience like this directly. Yet it leaves a vision in our eyes which we can offer everyone, that he may come the sooner to the same experience in which the world is quietly forgot, and Heaven is remembered for a while.
7. As this experience increases and all goals but this become of little worth, the world to which you will return becomes a little closer to the end of time; a little more like Heaven in its ways; a little nearer its deliverance. And you who bring it light will come to see the light more sure; the vision more distinct. The time will come when you will not return in the same form in which you now appear, for you will have no need of it. Yet now it has a purpose, and will serve it well.
8. Today we will embark upon a course you have not dreamed of. But the Holy One, the Giver of the happy dreams of life, Translator of perception into truth, the holy Guide to Heaven given you, has dreamed for you this journey which you make and start today, with the experience this day holds out to you to be your own.
9. Into Christ’s Presence will we enter now, serenely unaware of everything except His shining face and perfect Love. The vision of His face will stay with you, but there will be an instant which transcends all vision, even this, the holiest. This you will never teach, for you attained it not through learning. Yet the vision speaks of your rememberance of what you knew that instant, and will surely know again.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Is A Course in Miracles best practiced in seclusion, without worldly
A) Upon serious consideration of this question, one would recognize that it makes no sense. Within our individual dreams we are always alone, because there is no world outside our minds. To attempt to separate ourselves from the world, to move apart from it, is simply to fall into the ego’s trap of “making the error real” that we have already discussed. We would have again seen the problem as being outside the mind — in this case the busy and distracting world of separation and multiplicity — and would have therefore made it real, ensuring that it will never be undone. In truth, however, the problem is the busy and distracting thoughts of separation and multiplicity that are in our minds. Attempting to change the outer world to solve the problem of our inner world is a good working definition of what the Course means by magic. And so, by students believing that they can only study and learn A Course in Miracles by leaving the classroom of their lives, they are almost certainly following the guidance of their egos which would see to it that they would never learn their lessons of forgiveness; they had unknowingly separated themselves from them.
While there are always exceptions, we think it is a fair statement to make that almost all students of A Course in Miracles should practice its principles right where they are. That is why Jesus included the following question in the manual for teachers: “Are Changes Required in the Life Situation of God’s Teachers?” His answer explains that for the majority of students, “it is most unlikely that changes in attitudes would not be the first step in the newly made teacher of God’s training” (M-9.1:4). And those who are guided to change their situations “almost immediately,” are “generally special cases” (M-9.1:6). Naturally, many students of A Course in Miracles think they fall into that special category. Most people’s lives are painful ones, filled with circumstances, relationships, and bodily conditions that are quite traumatic. It is difficult therefore for them to avoid the temptation to reinterpret the Course, or to “hear” the Holy Spirit “tell” them to leave their jobs and/or families, and simply be with Him to learn and teach the Course to others. It is always helpful to remember that there can be no “worldly distractions” unless you first wanted to be distracted, and therefore had a need that this be so. As Jesus states in the text in the context of evil:
Forget not that the witness to the world of evil cannot speak except for what has seen a need for evil in the world (T-27.VII.6:2).
The world, like the body, in and of itself is neutral. It simply does for us what we ask it to do for us.
We frequently like to remind students about the origins of A Course in Miracles. It did not begin in a desert, or a holy mountain top, nor was Helen a cloistered nun, “buried alive for God.” Jesus dictated his Course to Helen in the midst of a very stormy professional relationship with Bill, where both of them were quite busy in their hectic jobs at one of the world’s largest, most prestigious, and most ego-based medical centers, in the heart of what is among the world’s most important and busiest cities. One’s “training is always highly individualized” (M-9.1:5), yet we believe that A Course in Miracles‘ very history provides a solid witness and example for how its students should apply their little willingness to learn it in the midst of their normal, everyday lives.