The joyous nature of the tree and its shadow

As we head into the New Year, we also head into the IV section of ACIM chapter 3, ‘Error and the Ego.’

   This section looks at some initial comments on the ego and our true selves.  The section starts with the sentence ‘The abilities you now possess are only shadows of your real strength.[1] Sit with the relationship of the shadow of a tree and the actual tree.  See that while in itself beautiful, the shadow of a tree is merely a symbol of something much more expansive and relatively complex.  This is the same of the relationship of our ‘small’ ego minds and our higher selves.  And then again, the higher self is merely a shadow of the power of our real strength in truth.

The tree and its shadow’s relationship could be seen as diminutive, depressing and lacking through the eyes of the ego, or it could be something joyous and wondrous as seen through right mindedness and perfected vision. Forget for a moment what you think you know about shadows and their making, and imagine from a different perspective the peace and joy that must be inherent to the shadow of the tree knowing that through the tree it was created and ‘lives.’ And at the end of the day when the tree calls the shadow back home, the shadow joyfully hears and responds to the call.

All of your present functions are divided and open to question and doubt.’[2] This sentence basically sums up the ongoing circular nature of everything we experience including our thoughts, emotion, sensations, etc.  Each one could be defined, made and experienced into something completely opposite and contradictory.  This is because when exploring in perception and consciousness, we cannot be sure of anything, as we cannot perceive truth, the only thing that is absolute.  Although we can certainly believe we absolutely know something and everything!  One of the purposes of ACIM is again to help us realize that we have been operating out of fear, and that we can make a choice to experience our ‘small’ selves and this world through a more neutral and potentially loving perspective.

This section of ACIM further explains the differences between perception and the knowledge of truth.  ‘That is why perception involves an exchange or translation, which knowledge does not need.’[3] This translation always involves interpretation.  And this allows us to interpret what we consider bodily functions, feelings and sensations as our self.  Following this, we can use each of these bodily functions, feelings, and sensations to see the belief that ‘I’ am defined and limited by them.  At that point we then have an opportunity to see that ‘fear’ backs up and helps define each of these beliefs in limitations.

Section IV of Chapter 3 further introduces an explanation of why we are so enamored by the beliefs in the limitations of being a body. ‘The interpretative function of perception, a distorted form of creation, then permits you to interpret the body as yourself in an attempt to escape from the conflict you have induced.[4] Frankly, the use of the word body here isn’t just pointing to an actual ‘human’ body, but to our zealous use of ‘form’ in order to hide out from truth and our true nature.  Driven by the ‘fear’ of spirit and truth, our protective ‘egos’ have convinced us that we are of and have always been of form.  As we have convinced ourselves of this, our ‘fear’ only increases, because what is ‘fear, ‘ but a message from higher self that our beliefs and points of view are misaligned with truth.

The text in paragraph 7, section IV further asks us to ‘bring it (your mind) under my guidance.’[5] This is asking us to look at what is proposed in ACIM and to use the tools suggested to us to look at what we have ‘made.’  ACIM cannot make the choice for us.  That we have to make under our own free will in order to begin to take apart the blocks to communication and remembrance that we have constructed.

Imagine the shadow of the tree believing that it made itself and that the tree and the sun were its enemies trying to impose some alien will upon.  This is our ‘small’ selves fighting ever continuously to prove it is independent, sacred and self-created.  This is our ‘small’ self, so tired and exhausted, that it finally stops for a second and asks if there is another way to see all of this.  And in that second of silence, this shadow knows and experiences the deep connection and communication that all of its exhausting efforts were trying to cover up.

Please read this Section IV ‘Error and the Ego’ in Chapter 3 for our next convergence of our ACIM group, January 13th, 2019!

[1] ACIM text Chapter 3, Section IV, paragraph 1, sentence 1

[2] ACIM text Chapter 3, Section IV, paragraph 1, sentence 2

[3] ACIM text Chapter 3, Section IV, paragraph 6 , sentence 2

[4] ACIM text Chapter 3, Section IV, paragraph 6, sentence 3

[5] ACIM text Chapter 3, Section IV, paragraph 7, sentence 7


Comments by Melanie Gray, PhD:

Well, I may never look at a tree and its shadow in the same way again.  The analogy is so beautiful–each day a shadow begins to stretch out from the tree as the sun shines its loving rays and at the end of each day that shadow “returns home” as the sun sets and the tree and shadow reunite.  The inevitability of the shadow to have this reunion reminds me of some early quote in ACIM; that we’re all on the journey home.  It’s inevitable.  All in our own time.

And this email also reminds me of another outcome that I’ve begun to experience from reading ACIM and from doing self-inquiry.  That is, a deepening of a faith in not knowing.  Since I’m guessing that I’ll never fully know truth while here living as Melanie, I’m practicing having faith in this thing called truth, while knowing little to nothing of it.  At best I collect experiences of what truth is NOT.  That’s my path home.  Letting fear show me what the next barricade is that I’ve erected and then letting love show me that my course adjustment is a “good” one, that is, one that is heading more directly toward truth.  Both feelings are VALUABLE companions.

Thank you, Bart, for these ever deepening writings that you send us.  I find them quite moving.

Much Love,


Melanie Balint Gray, PhD


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