A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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Chapter 18: The Passing of the Dream

Section VII: I Need Do Nothing

Read ACIM Chapter 18, Section VII (pages 388-90)

What does Jesus mean when he talks about ‘doing nothing’?

In paragraph seven, Jesus describes what he means by ‘doing nothing.’ He says, “To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. Into this place the Holy Spirit comes, and there abides.” (7:7-8) Through this brief definition of ‘doing nothing’ we see that ‘doing nothing’ means stopping bodily activity, which gives an opening for the Holy Spirit to come.

He also clarifies his definition of ‘doing nothing’ as something we stop doing with our minds. We stop making time real by ceasing to give credence to thoughts about the past or future. “It is impossible to accept the holy instant without reservation unless, just for an instant, you are willing to see no past or future.” (4:1) This means we stop thinking within the framework of time. When we really “do nothing,” everything stops — all physical activity, all mental activity. “To do anything involves the body. And if you recognize you need do nothing, you have withdrawn the body’s value from your mind. Here is the quick and open door through which you slip past centuries of effort, and escape from time. This is the way in which sin loses all attraction right now. For here is time denied, and past and future gone.” (7:1-5)

Giving the Holy Spirit an opportunity to heal our minds means giving our busy minds a rest. This takes a willingness to still the ego’s constant chatter. The title of this section is, “I need do nothing.” This is teaching us that we need to stop. And that includes stopping our mental activity. If our minds are still racing with a continuous flow of thoughts within the ego’s world of time and space, we are not leaving room for God. we are still not making room for the gift the Holy Spirit brings — the holy instant. If we continue to entertain ego thoughts, we are not doing ‘nothing.’ We are still busy joining with the ego by focusing on ego thoughts, which is still doing something.

Are we responsible for stopping our ‘activity’ of believing in separate bodies?

In paragraph one Jesus tells us, “No one accepts Atonement for himself who still accepts sin [belief in separation] as his goal. You have thus not met your one responsibility. Atonement is not welcomed by those who prefer pain and destruction.” (1:4-6) Here we see that our ‘activity’ of believing in separation and the dreams that come from this belief is what we need to stop. Jesus is showing us that we do not need to do this anymore. We can safely stop this activity of believing in the appearance of separate bodies. In fact, he tells us that this is our one responsibility. As long as we continue with this ‘activity,’ we are not welcoming the Atonement, which comes naturally as we cease this activity of accepting separation as our goal.

Jesus knows that we are very attached to this belief in separation. That is why he says, “There is one thing that you have never done; you have not utterly forgotten the body. It has perhaps faded at times from your sight, but it has not yet completely disappeared. You are not asked to let this happen for more than an instant, yet it is in this instant that the miracle of Atonement happens. Afterwards you will see the body again, but never quite the same. And every instant that you spend without awareness of [the body] gives you a different view of it when you return.” (2:1-5)

So here we are seeing that “I need do nothing” means that we are to stop doing what we are doing — which is making the body real through continuing to believe in its reality. Throughout the Course Jesus tells us that we expend great effort in our goal of trying to make separation from God real. He helps us see that all this efforting is tiring and depressing.

Does this mean we are to stop making judgments about what is real?

He reminds us that we are so busy making judgments that are not true that we have forgotten what is true. Many times throughout the Course he gently suggests that we give up this futile effort to build barriers to our awareness of Love’s oneness. He asks us to give up the battle with God’s Will for us. He asks us to laugh at these illusions and to not take them seriously. “[Forgiveness] does not countenance illusions, but collects them lightly, with a little laugh, and gently lays them at the feet of truth. And there they disappear entirely.” (W-pI.134.6:2-3)

This is what happens when we are willing to give up our constant mental doing, our constant giving belief to the opposite of the truth. Illusions simply disappear. “In any single instant the attraction of guilt would be experienced as pain and nothing else, and would be avoided.” (3:5) Once we become willing to forgive, or give up the efforting, the battle with God, we simply stop. Once we we become willing to stop, the holy instant — what is real — has the opportunity to return to our awareness.

Another important point that Jesus makes in this section is that we need not fight or battle against illusions. We only battle with or struggle against something that we still think is real. That is why having a quiet mind (doing nothing), which leaves an opening for the Holy Spirit to enter, is the key to our freedom. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to release us from illusions. It was our making them (illusions) real that got us into this mess.

When our mind is quiet, what does the Holy Spirit show us?

In this place of quiet, it is the Holy Spirit Who shows us our brother’s holiness when we forget. It is the Holy Spirit Who shows us the difference between what is real and what is unreal, what matters and what does not matter. It is the Holy Spirit Who undoes the ego belief that we are unworthy and inadequate. It is the Holy Spirit Who brings us peace and true comfort when we frighten ourselves with our false stories of conflict and differences. Jesus tells us in this section: “Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means. A holy relationship is a means of saving time. One instant spent together with your brother restores the universe to both of you.” (5:1-3)

In the holy instant, which comes when we leave a quiet space for it, we are shown that God’s holiness (wholeness) belongs to everyone and is everywhere. “This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it.” (8:3-5)

In Lesson 135 of the Workbook Jesus reinforces again this idea of going to this quiet center where we are directed in how to play our part in God’s plan of releasing us from dreams of separation. “A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to Wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone.” (W-pI.135.11:1-5)

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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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