VIII. The Little Garden
1. 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.
2. For the body cannot know. And while you limit your awareness to its tiny sense, 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 cannot enter.
3. 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. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 the rest, and keeping it apart from its Creator. This little aspect is not 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.
7. Do not accept this little, fenced-off aspect of 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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 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 recognize itself in you.
13. 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 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.
Today in our devotional text, Jesus tells us that as we practice the holy instant, as we come to the inner altar without our body and the body of others, as we learn to commune in Holy Spirit with those we love, those we interact with, those we work with and share our lives with on this realm, we become a garden of peace and welcome. When we practice the holy instant with everyone we know, all the issues of the past that still seem to dwell in our mind and obscure the love and light from our relationships, fall away like dust. All the mean things we remember about this one and that one, all the ways in which we fear that they may take advantage, throw us under the bus, or blame us and forget their own part – are all dissolved between us in the moments we take from time to commune together in Spirit.
This whole section is a beautiful guide to what it means to go beyond the body, to realize how silly it is to think that we can ever be apart from our Heavenly Father, how egotistical and vain it is to imagine that we can find meaning and purpose in anything outside of the mutuality and oneness of God’s Kingdom. As we practice the holy instant, as we begin to experience our Self as holy and as spirit, as we see the results of the healed relationships that meeting in Spirit brings – removing our fear, bringing us peace, love, and joy – we recognize how tender and caring our Heavenly Father is, and how tender and caring we are as His Son. We recognize holiness as the bliss of true communion; we recognize holiness as the happiness of me with you and you with me; we recognize holiness as the peace and calm of being free of our flesh and being one in God.
Our separate little kingdoms melt away; the fleshy boundaries and markers that would keep you away from me and me away from you blow away like dust. That which demarcates your garden, and my garden goes away, and we enter the one garden that our love has prepared for us. This garden is at the core of our Being. It is not within our bodies; it is within our Spirits, joined with the Mind of Christ, the Sonship of God. As we practice going to the holy instant we learn to trust in our spiritual encounters. Going beyond the flesh and communing with Holy Spirit brings healing and health to our relationships and interactions in the flesh, inducing us to put down all that would oppose love, laughter, and goodwill.
Let us continue to practice the holy instant, asking Holy Spirit to shed the light of God’s Love upon us and each one of our brothers. Let us call them forth one by one to stand with us in Being, putting down all that would cloud our eyes and make us sightless to the Love that created us and calls us His Son.
A Course in Miracles. Chapter 18 The passing of the dream VIII The little garden. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992)
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