A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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Chapter 18: The Passing of the Dream

Section VIII: The Little Garden

Read ACIM Chapter 18, Section VIII (pages 390-93)

What makes love seem limited?

There is an important idea in paragraph one that we will look at more closely in our process of mind healing or reversing our false perceptions. Jesus tells us, “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 [the body’s] origin, and [the body] was made to limit the unlimited. ...[the body] was made to limit you. (1:1-4)

In order to help us through this liberating thought reversal process, Jesus gives us a clear explanation of how accepting the belief in limited love has adversely effected us and has limited our awareness of Heaven. He wants us to see how debilitating this belief in limited love is so that we will be willing to forgive, or let it go.

We have already learned that the world we see is the effect of our thoughts or our beliefs. Here Jesus is helping us understand that we see a world of bodies because we are still believing in limited love. In other sections Jesus tells us to ask of everything, “What is this for?” Here he clearly shows us that the purpose of bodies is to limit the unlimited or make Love appear to be limited. Because God is Love, we are attempting to limit God.

How does belief in limited love show up in our ‘life’ experience?

Looking closely at how this belief shows up in our experience will give us plenty of motivation to let go of this core false idea of ‘limited love,’ not out of sacrifice, but because we see how painful it is to keep holding on to this false concept. We want to free our minds from the bondage of the ego’s treacherous thought system. To this end it is helpful to ask ourselves, “Has love appeared to be limited in my ‘life’ experience? Is the love I give and receive constant, or does it come and go, like the wind?” Seeing how this belief in limited love shows up in our thoughts is very helpful to us as we want to awaken to the truth. Once we see that we have been experiencing the painful effects of an idea that is false, we will be more willing to hand over these false concepts to the Holy Spirit to be replaced by true perception.

The next time you find yourself believing in the reality of any body, tell yourself, “I now let go of the idea of limited love. I release the idea that bodies are real because I am done with trying to limit the unlimited. I let the Holy Spirit bring me the awareness of Love’s limitless Reality.”

How does belief in limited love shut God out of our awareness?

In paragraph two Jesus tells us, “And while you limit your awareness to [the body’s] 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.” (2:2-4) Jesus cannot be more straightforward about explaining to us how we are limiting ourselves. This limitation is not being done to us. It is being done by us as we continue to believe in the reality of limited love, which is the same as believing in the reality of what the body’s tiny senses are showing us. We are only fooling ourselves and this “April fool’s joke” on ourselves does not bring us true and lasting happiness. What we really want is to still the ego mind in order to make an open space for the awareness of unlimited Love to return. To do this we need to stop reinforcing the idea that unique bodies could be real. This is the same as the ripple thinking it is separate from the ocean. We need to see that this is just a barrier that holds truth away. As we invite the truth in, we see that behind the appearance of every body lies only God’s ocean of unlimited Love.

How does Jesus describe the arrogance insanity of this belief in littleness?

Living our ‘life’ in the world as though everything in it were real is what is bringing us fear. The ‘reality’ of uniqueness and differences is literally a fearful idea. Jesus wants us to see what is really going on with all of our so called ‘lives’ in this world: “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.” (3:1-6)

This is very helpful to show us how small and insignificant our little illusion of separate bodies really is. To us who have joined with the arrogance of the little ripple, it seems like there is a vast world ‘out there’ that is real. When we insist that this world of bodies is real, our awareness of God — the Source of our real Life — disappears. Jesus is very specific in his direction to help us awaken. “Do not accept this little, fenced-off aspect as yourself.” (7:1)

How does our desert of littleness turn into God’s garden of Love?

As we are willing to accept God’s Thought of Love as What we are, the barrier of separation we have built up in our minds will fall away. “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 [Love] springs up everywhere! The desert becomes a garden [of Love], green and deep and quiet, offering rest to those who lost their way and wander in the dust. (9:1-3) Here, in a nutshell is our real job while we still dream this dream of individual bodies. Our job is to offer rest to those who have forgotten about the Thought of Love that surrounds them and is in them.

As we open to God’s garden of Love, what is our job description?

Jesus goes on with our job description: “Give them [those who have forgotten their true Identity] 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 [Love], but has grown too weary to go on alone.” (9:4-8) Here we see that everyone who comes into our ‘life’ is part of our job description. We are to love them as God loves them. This is how we live the happy dream — we allow Love to heal the parched desert dream of belief in differences and separate bodies.

And the benefit to us is that we receive the Love that we extend to everyone in our garden of Love. “Go out and find them, for they bring your Self with them. ...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.” (10:1,4) The way we do this is to accept the holy instant, which brings us the awareness of the truth about every brother equally. In the truth we know that no one is the form that is found in the ‘ripple.’ Everyone is one with the one ‘ocean’ that is God’s Love. As we let in the holy instant (instant of wholeness), we find a sense of deep inner happiness, inner contentment and comfort. Here is where our lasting joy abides. It is not out in the world. It is right in our minds where the Holy Spirit resides, waiting to include everyone.

If we are having trouble accepting the holy instant, Jesus gives us advice for how to move past this barrier: “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.” (11:4-8) In our little garden of Love, we know that Love is all inclusive. It does not compare or see differences. It sees everywhere the same Love that everyone is, equally.

Jesus closes this section with a message of hope and confidence that we will succeed with our new job description. “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.” (13:3-8)

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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