ACIM Text Reading for June 9
Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream
VII. I Need Do Nothing
You still have too much faith in the body as a source of strength. What plans do you make that do not involve its comfort or protection or enjoyment in some way? This makes the body an end and not a means in your interpretation, and this always means you still find sin attractive. No one accepts Atonement for himself who still accepts sin as his goal. You have thus not met your one responsibility. Atonement is not welcomed by those who prefer pain and destruction.
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 it gives you a different view of it when you return.
At no single instant does the body exist at all. It is always remembered or anticipated, but never experienced just now. Only its past and future make it seem real. Time controls it entirely, for sin is never wholly in the present. In any single instant the attraction of guilt would be experienced as pain and nothing else, and would be avoided. It has no attraction now. Its whole attraction is imaginary, and therefore must be thought of in the past or in the 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. you cannot prepare for it without placing it in the future. Release is given you the instant you desire it. Many have spent a lifetime in preparation, and have indeed achieved their instants of success. This course does not attempt to teach more than they learned in time, but it does aim at saving time. You may be attempting to follow a very long road to the goal you have accepted. It is extremely difficult to reach Atonement by fighting against sin. Enormous effort is expended in the attempt to make holy what is hated and despised. Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary. All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose. Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of present unworthiness and inadequacy.
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. You are prepared. Now you need but to remember you need do nothing. It would be far more profitable now merely to concentrate on this than to consider what you should do. When peace comes at last to those who wrestle with temptation and fight against the giving in to sin; when the light comes at last into the mind given to contemplation; or when the goal is finally achieved by anyone, it always comes with just one happy realisation; ‘I need do nothing’.
Here is the ultimate release which everyone will one day find in his own way, at his own time. You do not need this time. Time has been saved for you because you and your brother are together. This is the special means this course is using to save you time. You are not making use of the course if you insist on using means which have served others well, neglecting what was made for you. Save time for me by only this one preparation, and practise doing nothing else. ‘I need do nothing’ is a statement of allegiance, a truly undivided loyalty. Believe it for just one instant, and you will accomplish more than is given to a century of contemplation, or of struggle against temptation.
To do anything involves the body. And if you recognise 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. Who needs do nothing has no need for time. 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. He will remain when you forget, and the body’s activities return to occupy your conscious mind.
Yet there will always be this place of rest to which you can return. And you will be more aware of this quiet centre of the storm than all its raging activity. This quiet centre, 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 centre will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this centre, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it.
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ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 9
I am at home. Fear is the stranger here.
Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself. And thus you are unknown to you. What is your Self remains an alien to the part of you which thinks that it is real, but different from yourself. Who could be sane in such a circumstance? Who but a madman could believe he is what he is not, and judge against himself?
There is a stranger in our midst, who comes from an idea so foreign to the truth he speaks a different language, looks upon a world truth does not know, and understands what truth regards as senseless. Stranger yet, he does not recognize to whom he comes, and yet maintains his home belongs to him, while he is alien now who is at home. And yet, how easy it would be to say, “This is my home. Here I belong, and will not leave because a madman says I must.”
What reason is there for not saying this? What could the reason be except that you had asked this stranger in to take your place, and let you be a stranger to yourself? No one would let himself be dispossessed so needlessly, unless he thought there were another home more suited to his tastes.
Who is the stranger? Is it fear or you who are unsuited to the home which God provided for His Son? Is fear His Own, created in His likeness? Is it fear that love completes, and is completed by? There is no home can shelter love and fear. They cannot coexist. If you are real, then fear must be illusion. And if fear is real, then you do not exist at all.
How simply, then, the question is resolved. Who fears has but denied himself and said, “I am the stranger here. And so I leave my home to one more like me than myself, and give him all I thought belonged to me.” Now is he exiled of necessity, not knowing who he is, uncertain of all things but this; that he is not himself, and that his home has been denied to him.
What does he search for now? What can he find? A stranger to himself can find no home wherever he may look, for he has made return impossible. His way is lost, except a miracle will search him out and show him that he is no stranger now. The miracle will come. For in his home his Self remains. It asked no stranger in, and took no alien thought to be Itself. And It will call Its Own unto Itself in recognition of what is Its Own.
Who is the stranger? Is he not the one your Self calls not? You are unable now to recognize this stranger in your midst, for you have given him your rightful place. Yet is your Self as certain of Its Own as God is of His Son. He cannot be confused about creation. He is sure of what belongs to Him. No stranger can be interposed between His knowledge and His Son’s reality. He does not know of strangers. He is certain of His Son.
God’s certainty suffices. Who He knows to be His Son belongs where He has set His Son forever. He has answered you who ask, “Who is the stranger?” Hear His Voice assure you, quietly and sure, that you are not a stranger to your Father, nor is your Creator stranger made to you. Whom God has joined remain forever one, at home in Him, no stranger to Himself.
Today we offer thanks that Christ has come to search the world for what belongs to Him. His vision sees no strangers, but beholds His Own and joyously unites with them. They see Him as a stranger, for they do not recognize themselves. Yet as they give Him welcome, they remember. And He leads them gently home again, where they belong.
Not one does Christ forget. Not one He fails to give you to remember, that your home may be complete and perfect as it was established. He has not forgotten you. But you will not remember Him until you look on all as He does. Who denies his brother is denying Him, and thus refusing to accept the gift of sight by which his Self is clearly recognized, his home remembered and salvation come.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #90: My questions refers to the section in the text entitled “I Need Do Nothing.” It says that a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body isn’t necessary. I’ve studied the course for many years and have had moments of great peace doing the lessons or reading the text with an open mind and willingness to listen. I’ve also studied Buddhist meditation which is aimed not at detachment from the body but at being fully present. You can focus on the breath or on a feeling, and watch your thoughts. If you’re doing this with awareness, the thoughts pass and you may get a feeling of spaciousness or at least peace — calm from becoming still. I’m confused because many paragraphs in A Course in Miracles ask us to “be still,” “sit silently,” sit in silence and be still, and lay all thoughts aside. Is this not at least in part the same thing? Could you explain exactly how the Course wants you to be still? And is there any difference between the two?
A: The stillness or peace is the same — that experience when we let go of all our thoughts of separation and judgment and the constant chatter of the ego subsides. Where the difference between paths lies is not in the experience itself but in the Course’s focus on our resistance to that experience, and therefore the process through which that peace or stillness is attained.
The question really is, why do we not experience stillness all of the time? In the workbook lesson, “I want the peace of God,” Jesus observes, “To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything” (W.pI.185.1:1,2). And he goes on to say, “To mean you want the peace of God is to renounce all dreams….The mind which means that all it wants is peace must join with other minds, for that is how peace is obtained” (W.pI.185.5:1;6:1).
And that is the reason for our resistance to the stillness. In that peace, the illusory dream self we believe we really are no longer exists — we have renounced the dream of separation. Our dreams of judgment and attack are what maintain our illusory sense of a separate self, with others outside of that self with whom we seem to be in conflict — the antithesis of peace. And when we “join with other minds” by releasing all judgments, our separate self simply vanishes, at least for an instant until our fear of the limitless becomes too great.
And so the Course, while speaking of the peace and inviting us in some of the workbook lessons to experience it through quieting our minds and becoming still, really emphasizes the problem of our resistance and asks us to look at that. And the resistance is to be found in all of our projections of guilt and blame for our lack of peace onto others, so that we never see the guilt we are harboring within our own mind that is the real obstacle to peace. As the section you refer to, “I Need Do Nothing” points out, “Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means. A holy relationship is a means of saving time” (T.18.VII.5:1,2). In other words, the Course process is one of forgiving our special relationships, all the external projections of our internal guilt that keep us in conflict and not at peace.
If we really wanted to be still and at peace, we would be. Peace, after all, is our natural inheritance (T.3.VI.10:1,2). But we allow ourselves only brief glimpses of the real peace, as you observe from your own experiences. We don’t want to maintain that stillness because of our fear of it. And so the Course leads us on an indirect path to the stillness, focusing on the removal of the barriers we have placed between ourselves and the peace, rather than on a direct approach, such as meditation, which tends to overlook our resistance and its origins.
Q #114: There are two questions I have relating to true empathy and false empathy. I think I understand how A Course in Miracles is defining the difference between the two, but what I don’t understand is how can you be loving, compassionate and kind to your brother without falling into the trap of the ego? The second question is, when your brother is sick or has lost his job or a loved one, as I am understanding, is Jesus telling us to “Do Nothing”? This is difficult for me. If I say or do anything I am joining with the ego. How do I look at this differently?
A. True empathy comes from your right mind, which means you have joined with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. In that instant, you are beyond your ego, and therefore everything you do will be loving. You cannot fall into the trap of the ego when you are one with the love of Jesus in a holy instant, because that joining is a decision against the ego — the two states are mutually exclusive. Of course most of the time we jump right back into our wrong minds and into the ego trap of making the error real.
When Jesus tells us we need do nothing, he means that we should do nothing on our own. He is not advocating passivity. He is teaching us that if we do not ask his help, or the help of the Holy Spirit, we almost certainly will fall into the ego trap. Then, in our wrong minds, our perception will be that the other person truly is an unfortunate victim, and that the kind and caring thing to do is to extend a helping hand to fix the problem and make him feel better. In that perception we have totally lost sight of the truth about our brother and about ourselves as well. We have fallen into the ego trap of making our brother mindless, which means we no longer see him or ourselves as minds that have chosen to reject our true Identity as Christ, and then project responsibility for that choice. Wrong-minded perception always sees victims and victimizers, not minds with the power of choice to reverse mistaken decisions and accept back into awareness the love that had been pushed away. If I am perceiving you that way, I cannot be truly helpful, even if I do fix the external situation and make you feel better. I have actually attacked you and myself, because the message I am giving is that I have something you do not have, and you are helpless. I have seen us as separate and have empathized with your weakness, thus confirming the ego’s view of you, not Jesus’ view of you.
The correction of this faulty perception comes through asking for help to see through Jesus’ eyes, or to share perception with the Holy Spirit. We bring our perception of victimization to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, because if I see you as a victim, then I am the one in need of healing. My perception needs to be corrected before I can be of help. Now we are not talking about what my physical eyes see. Objectively it may be the case that you have lost your job or a loved one; but to then conclude that you are a victim is an interpretation. That is where I make my mistake. Once I perceive you as a victim, I am implying that there is a victimizer, and that you are not responsible for your condition. That is the ego trap I have fallen into. When I first became aware that I was seeing you as a victim, I should have stopped right there and asked for help to look at the situation differently, to ask for help to empathize with the strength of Christ in you, rather than the weakness of the ego in you. If I make that shift from my wrong mind to my right mind, then I would automatically be guided to do whatever is most loving in the circumstances. That may be to do something or to do nothing, to say something or to say nothing. Whatever is most helpful would happen automatically, with no deliberation, and with no investment in the outcome.
Q #1348: Chapter 1 of A Course in Miracles says: “This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it…. Some of the later steps in this course, however, involve a more direct approach to God Himself. It would be unwise to start on these steps without careful preparation, or awe will be confused with fear, and the experience will be more traumatic than beatific” (T.1.VII.4:1,2,3; 5:7,6,7,8).
The above quote implies that doing the Course could in certain ways turn out to be more traumatic than helpful. How seriously should we take the above “warning” from the Course’s author to properly prepare before we start the later parts of the Course, and how would we know that we are indeed “properly prepared” in order not to fall into the trap of confusing “fear with awe”? For instance, if we study the first few chapters of the Course, when would we know that we should move on in the text and/or move perhaps on to the workbook? Aren’t the first few chapters so abstract that it is indeed difficult to understand them before the rest of the Course? What am I missing here?
A: The two paragraphs you are referring to did not originally come at the end of Chapter 1. They were part of a longer message to Helen and Bill in which Jesus stressed the importance of studying the material he was giving them (see Absence from Felicity , pp. 251,52). In one sense, this would be true of any teacher-student relationship — the teacher would urge the students to study what is being taught. Since the curriculum of A Course in Miracles involves mind training, it would be important to apply oneself diligently to the study of the material in order to be prepared for later stages in the mind training that build on the earlier ones.
Jesus essentially is talking about approaching God and experiencing His Love. We have many layers of defenses “protecting” us from the experience of God, lest we lose our cherished sense of independent existence. Therefore, the early phases of study and training establish a foundation for this process, and begin it in ways that we can tolerate without falling into a disabling panic. This prepares us for subsequent phases that bring us closer to the experience that we originally rejected and still reject in our choice to be separate and autonomous individuals. We need to become acquainted with the thought system we will be undoing and have some idea of the obstacles we have placed in our way, otherwise we will not be able to properly process what happens after the phase of undoing. That is why Jesus wants us to study the material carefully. By “carefully” he would mean that we realize that he is speaking directly to us as we experience ourselves now. He is not simply presenting a series ideas and concepts that we can approach in an impersonal way. He wants us to get used to thinking about ourselves as he describes us in his course.
Thus, it is more of an attitude toward your study, not so much comprehension of everything he is saying in these first few chapters. As you have observed, there are parts of these chapters (and all of the remaining chapters for that matter) that are difficult to understand, but he does not expect us to grasp every word and all of the implications of the ideas. That is why he comes back to the basic principles over and over and restates them in different ways throughout the three books. Thus, the aim is not intellectual mastery of the text, but rather, combined with a serious attempt to understand the thought system he is unfolding, that we recognize that we are embarking on a journey with him that will eventually penetrate deeply into areas of our lives and minds that we have sought to keep concealed. This is best done slowly and with a growing awareness that there is a loving, comforting presence within us inviting us to hold his hand every step of the way so that the journey will lead to a beatific experience.
Finally, it is helpful to remember that “the curriculum is highly individualized” (M.29.2:6). Therefore, with regard to when to begin the workbook lessons, trust what you feel and don’t force anything. There is no right or wrong in such matters.