Be still (4 of 4) The Tree of Life

The Journey Back into the Garden



My intention with this last entry, in this series, is to provide the final guiding principles into our journey away from the ego, and into the promise.

Forsaking the Promise

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground- the LORD God formed the man.

God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. God made trees grow out of the ground that were good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watered the garden of Eden. God took Adam and put him in the Garden to work it and take care of it.

God had formed all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air and then he created a woman for Adam. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?"

The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."

To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it, cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

- Genesis

Do This in Remembrance of Me

In order to understand the implications throughout our conversation we must first see ourselves in Adam, collectively and individually. Born into the promise, through the rendering of mind he became enslaved by his guilt. His self-condemnation opened the door to a tainted perception of himself, his brethren, and God. Shame caused him to hide from God; judging himself as unworthy he consequently forsook the promise to partake of the Tree of Life and to live eternally with his creator.

Our journey to the cross embraces similar principles, except in the reverse. [We are conceived into] The world of perception...[a]world of time, of change, of beginnings and endings. It is based on interpretation, not on facts. It is the world of birth and death, founded on the belief in scarcity, loss, separation, and death. It is learned rather than given, selective in its perceptual emphases, unstable in its functioning, and inaccurate in its interpretations [ACIM]. This is the world that Adam was driven into; our world.

We abide in this tragedy until we hear the call of God: "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool". This is the moment we enter the provision of God or symbolically enter back into the Garden of Eden. However, we are still at the mercy of our projections and guilt; we enter the same way Adam left: with shame and self-condemnation. It is at this point that we must learn to forgive.

If we are using perception to justify our own mistakes—our anger, our impulses to attack, our lack of love in whatever form it may take—we will see a world of evil, destruction, malice, envy and despair. All this we must learn to forgive, not because we are being "good" and "charitable," but because what we are seeing is not true. We have distorted the world by our twisted defenses, and are therefore seeing what is not there. As we learn to recognize our perceptual errors, we also learn to look past them or "forgive." At the same time we are forgiving ourselves, looking past our distorted self-concepts to the Self That God created in us and as us [ACIM].

Our goal is to end where Adam started; in a state of perfect love, peace, congruence, and innocence and at last God will once again open the way to the Tree of Life. This will only happen as a result of drawing closer to him, withholding our judgment and '...being still'.

The Power of Certainty

To live a life without vacillation or double mindedness needs to be the progression of our spiritual journey. 'Certainty' can be translated into what most of us know as 'faith' or 'knowing'. Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Jesus spoke these words:

"...your faith has healed you."

"According to your faith will it be done to you";

"I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these..."

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

"Everything is possible for him who believes."

"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."

This is the certainty that Adam was conceived into. We need to end where he began; now is our opportunity to begin again.

Beginning again:

Now that we understand a holistic picture of the nature and the journey of our spirituality we should go into the details of these magnificent concepts.

Symbols of Symbols

The Garden of Eden is symbolic of our state of innocence, and the Tree of Life is symbolic of the will or mind of God (also known as Christ mind, Christ consciousness, one mindedness and the perfect will of our father). 'Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.' Although, it is through Christ we find salvation or right-mindedness it is through the self-revelation of the Holy Spirit that we can find the mind or will of God.

Salvation is nothing more than "right-mindedness," which is not the one-mindedness of the Holy Spirit, but which must be achieved before one-mindedness is restored. Right-mindedness leads to the next step automatically, because right perception is uniformly without attack, and therefore wrong-mindedness is obliterated. The ego cannot survive without judgment, and is laid aside accordingly. The mind then has only one direction in which it can move. Its direction is always automatic, because it cannot but be dictated by the thought system to which it adheres.

-ACIM

Our Collective Unconscious

The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

- Genesis

Our Progression

The bible speaks of a type of spiritual anthropology. From the moment of Adam’s departure God has continued to reveal himself to mankind in such a way as to figuratively bridge the gap between the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life. Our creator redirected his purpose toward humanity and moved into the realm of intention.

It is through our intention and habit of mind that God allows us into the certainty of his will; this is why we are asked to ‘…continue to work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [us] to will and to act according to his good purpose.’ It is through our purpose of mind that God has chosen to continue the progression of his revelation to mankind.

He has moved from a polytheistic revelation with our patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) to a monotheistic revelation (Yahwehism, Judaism, Christianity, and ACIM). The progression will continue until we have laid our projections of the truth aside, and have embraced the knowledge of God.

All your difficulties stem from the fact that you do not recognise yourself, your brother or God. To recognise means to 'know again', implying that you knew before. You can see in many ways because perception involves interpretation, and this means that it is not whole or consistent. The miracle, being a way of perceiving, is not knowledge. It is the right answer to a question, but you do not question when you know. Questioning illusions is the first step in undoing them. The miracle, or the right answer, corrects them. Since perceptions change, their dependence on time is obvious. How you perceive at any given time determines what you do, and actions must occur in time. Knowledge is timeless, because certainty is not questionable. You know when you have ceased to ask questions.

-ACIM

From Faith to Faith

Our silent witness entertains moments of perfect freedom; the manifestations of love in it's many forms. We are the silent witnesses to our gift of trust. Our faith, as with our breath, begins outside of ourselves and then flows through us like an exhale. It becons to see God in us, through us, and in our presence; feeding a deep hunger of significance and of purpose.

This eternal energy or force is expressed as we fall in love, conceive a child or a concept that empowers the lives of those around us. We experience our greatness as it is expressed in our presence. We are comforted and secure; confident and loved.

All of us have touched these fleeting shadows of truth. We are witnesses to this truth and reality; only to return to the other side of our projections once again. It's after these moments of complete congruence and inspiration, that we are met with uncertainty, projections or the lack of love toward ourselves, our brethren, and our God.

Enmity

Our affinity toward the destructive is base on a decision, and nothing other than the rendering of mind. It would seem that the opposing ideals would be the easiest to choose; no prudence or forethought necessary. We have literally taught ourselves madness by leaning on our own understanding.

I ask you not to surrender your mind to this insanity, choose to simply hear the voice of God. Allow the holy spirit to lead you into the peace that is you. It's at this moment when the temptation arises to project that you are to pause in your judgments and to "...be still and know That he is God."

'Let us be still an instant, and forget all things we ever learned, all thoughts we had, and every preconception that we hold of what things mean and what their purpose is. Let us remember not our own ideas of what the world is for. We do not know. Let every image held of everyone be loosened from our minds and swept away.

Be innocent of judgment, unaware of any thoughts of evil or of good that ever crossed your mind of anyone. Now do you know him not. But you are free to learn of him, and learn of him anew. Now is he born again to you, and you are born again to him, without the past that sentenced him to die, and you with him. Now is he free to live as you are free, because an ancient learning passed away, and left a place for truth to be reborn'.

- ACIM

Entering His Rest

It's only here that we can enter into his promise.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'

We have witnessed in the tribulation of Adam and Eve a journey into unrest. This began in a state of grace, but quickly moved into ego attachment, and into the shadows of the unconscious. It is only by our intention that we can escape, and we must strive to form the habit of thought.

We must maintain the freedom to individually and collectively to journey back to innocence; back to where Adam begin. From our state of innocence only God can bridge the way toward the tree of life.

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 desert, a dry and unproductive, scorched and joyless‚ 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.

VIII. Choose Once Again

Temptation has one lesson it would teach, in all its forms, wherever it occurs. It would persuade the holy Son of God he is a body, born in what must die, unable to escape its frailty, and bound by what it orders him to feel. It sets the limits on what he can do; its power is the only strength he has; his grasp cannot exceed its tiny reach. Would you be this, if Christ appeared to you in all His glory, asking you but this:

Choose once again if you would take your place among the saviours of the world, or would remain in hell, and hold your brothers there.

For He has come, and He is asking this. How do you make the choice? How easily is this explained! You always choose between your weakness and the strength of Christ in you. And what you choose is what you think is real. Simply by never using weakness to direct your actions, you have given it no power. And the light of Christ in you is given charge of everything you do. For you have brought your weakness unto Him, and He has given you His strength instead.

Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, 'My brother, choose again'. He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. He would remove all misery from you whom God created altar unto joy. He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides His face from you. His holiness is yours because He is the only Power that is real in you. His strength is yours because He is the Self That God created as His only Son.

The images you make cannot prevail against what God Himself would have you be. Be never fearful of temptation, then, but see it as it is; another chance to choose again, and let Christ's strength prevail in every circumstance and every place you raised an image of yourself before. For what appears to hide the face of Christ is powerless before His majesty, and disappears before His holy sight. The saviours of the world, who see like Him, are merely those who choose His strength instead of their own weakness, seen apart from Him. They will redeem the world, for they are joined in all the power of the Will of God. And what they will is only what He wills.

Learn, then, the happy habit of response to all temptation to perceive yourself as weak and miserable with these words, I am as God created me. His Son can suffer nothing. And I am His Son.

Thus is Christ's strength invited to prevail, replacing all your weakness with the strength that comes from God and that can never fail. And thus are miracles as natural as fear and agony appeared to be before the choice for holiness was made. For in that choice are false distinctions gone, illusory alternatives laid by, and nothing left to interfere with truth.

You are as God created you, and so is every living thing you look upon, regardless of the images you see. What you behold as sickness and as pain, as weakness and as suffering and loss, is but temptation to perceive yourself defenceless and in hell. Yield not to this, and you will see all pain, in every form, wherever it occurs, but disappear as mists before the sun. A miracle has come to heal God's Son, and close the door upon his dreams of weakness, opening the way to his salvation and release. Choose once again what you would have him be, remembering that every choice you make establishes your own identity as you will see it and believe it is.

Deny me not the little gift I ask, when in exchange I lay before your feet the peace of God, and power to bring this peace to everyone who wanders in the world uncertain, lonely, and in constant fear. For it is given you to join with him, and through the Christ in you unveil his eyes, and let him look upon the Christ in him.

My brothers in salvation, do not fail to hear my voice and listen to my words. I ask for nothing but your own release. There is no place for hell within a world whose loveliness can yet be so intense and so inclusive it is but a step from there to Heaven. To your tired eyes I bring a vision of a different world, so new and clean and fresh you will forget the pain and sorrow that you saw before. Yet this a vision is which you must share with everyone you see, for otherwise you will behold it not. To give this gift is how to make it yours. And God ordained, in loving kindness, that it be for you.

Let us be glad that we can walk the world, and find so many chances to perceive another situation where God's gift can once again be recognised as ours! And thus will all the vestiges of hell, the secret sins and hidden hates be gone. And all the loveliness which they concealed appear like lawns of Heaven to our sight, to lift us high above the thorny roads we travelled on before the Christ appeared. Hear me, my brothers, hear and join with me. God has ordained I cannot call in vain, and in His certainty I rest content. For you will hear, and you will choose again. And in this choice is everyone made free.

I thank You, Father, for these holy ones who are my brothers as they are Your Sons. My faith in them is Yours. I am as sure that they will come to me as You are sure of what they are, and will forever be. They will accept the gift I offer them, because You gave it me on their behalf. And as I would but do Your holy Will, so will they choose. And I give thanks for them. Salvation's song will echo through the world with every choice they make. For we are one in purpose, and the end of hell is near.

In joyous welcome is my hand outstretched to every brother who would join with me in reaching past temptation, and who looks with fixed determination toward the light that shines beyond in perfect constancy. Give me my own, for they belong to You. And can You fail in what is but Your Will? I give You thanks for what my brothers are. And as each one elects to join with me, the song of thanks from earth to Heaven grows from tiny scattered threads of melody to one inclusive chorus from a world redeemed from hell, and giving thanks to You.

And now we say 'Amen'. For Christ has come to dwell in the abode You set for Him before time was, in calm eternity. The journey closes, ending at the place where it began. No trace of it remains. Not one illusion is accorded faith, and not one spot of darkness still remains to hide the face of Christ from anyone. Thy Will is done, complete and perfectly, and all creation recognises You, and knows You as the only Source it has. Clear in Your likeness does the Light shine forth from everything that lives and moves in You. For we have reached where all of us are one, and we are home, where You would have us be.

- ACIM

The truth is found in certainty and love is personified in faith. Believe your abundance is found in on still moment, and another and than another, just as each second progresses. Choose just for a moment to be in eternity away from the worldliness we now know as home. If you continue in this vain and seek him in the silence of your mind, heart, and breath be certain that he will reward those who diligently seek him.

You have been blinded by your perception and enforced by your senses in a world where grandeur is your own reality.

Beginning Again

Start today, by sitting down in the quietness of your breath and listen for his sure direction and begin again tomorrow and the next day and the next. Let this become a habit of mind and your new intention to seek him, but for a few minutes daily.
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