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ACIM – CHAPTER 21 REASON AND PERCEPTION IV. The Fear to Look Within

1. The Holy Spirit will never teach you that you are sinful. Errors He will correct, but this makes no one fearful. You are indeed afraid to look within and see the sin you think is there. This you would not be fearful to admit. Fear in association with sin the ego deems quite appropriate and smiles approvingly. It has no fear to let you feel ashamed. It doubts not your belief and faith in sin. Its temples do not shake because of this. Your faith that sin is there but witnesses to your desire that it be there to see. This merely seems to be the source of fear.

2. Remember that the ego is not alone. Its role is tempered, and its unknown “enemy,” whom it cannot even see, it fears. Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look. Yet this is not the ego’s hidden fear, nor yours who serve it. Loudly indeed the ego claims it is; too loudly and too often. For underneath this constant shout and frantic proclamation, the ego is not certain it is so. Beneath your fear to look within because of sin is yet another fear, and one which makes the ego tremble.

3. What if you looked within and saw no sin? This “fearful” question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego’s whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend. Those who have joined their brothers have detached themselves from their belief that their identity lies in the ego. A holy relationship is one in which you join with what is part of you in truth. As your belief in sin has been already shaken, nor are you now entirely unwilling to look within and see it not.

4. Your liberation still is only partial; still limited and incomplete yet born within you. Not wholly mad, you have been willing to look on much of your insanity and recognize its madness. Your faith is moving inward, past insanity and on to reason. And what your reason tells you now the ego would not hear. The Holy Spirit’s purpose was accepted by the part of your mind the ego knows not of. No more did you. And yet this part, with which you now identify, is not afraid to look upon itself. It knows no sin.  How, otherwise, could it have been willing to see the Holy Spirit’s purpose as its own?

5. This part has seen your brother and recognized him perfectly since time began. And it desired nothing but to join with him and to be free again, as once it was. It has been waiting for the birth of freedom; the acceptance of release to come to you. And now you recognize that it was not the ego that joined the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and so there must be something else. Think not that this is madness. For this your reason tells you, and it follows perfectly from what you have already learned.

6. There is no inconsistency in what the Holy Spirit teaches. This is the reasoning of the sane. You have perceived the ego’s madness and not been made afraid because you did not choose to share in it. At times it still deceives you. Yet in your saner moments, its ranting strikes no terror in your heart. For you have realized that all the gifts it would withdraw from you, in rage at your “presumptuous” wish to look within, you do not want. A few remaining trinkets still seem to shine and catch your eye. Yet you would not “sell” Heaven to have them.

7. And now the ego is afraid. Yet what it hears in terror, the other part hears as the sweetest music; the song it longed to hear since the first the ego came into your mind. The ego’s weakness is its strength. The song of freedom, which sings the praises of another world, brings to it hope of peace. For it remembers Heaven, and now it sees that Heaven has come to earth at last, from which the ego’s rule has kept it out so long. Heaven has come because it found a home in your relationship on earth. And earth can hold no longer what has been given Heaven as its own.

8. Look gently on your brother and remember the ego’s weakness is revealed in both your sight. What it would keep apart has met and joined, and looks upon the ego unafraid. Little child, innocent of sin, follow in gladness the way to certainty. Be not held back by fear’s insane insistence that sureness lies in doubt. This has no meaning. What matters it to you how loudly it is proclaimed? The senseless is not made meaningful by repetition and by clamor. The quiet way is open. Follow it happily, and question not what must be so.[1]

It is not Holy Spirit which shames us and makes us afraid of God and our Sonship. When we make a mistake, Holy Spirit will correct us but not shame or punish or abandon us – not ever.  Holy Spirit is the Voice for God within each one of us and God does not give us gifts that He would ever snatch away. We have been so schooled to think of ourselves as flesh with all its inconsistencies, its lust and greed, its tendencies toward filth and decay that we fail to see the light of Sonship within us.  We are taught to be afraid of Spirit, as if Spirit would take over and possess us and make us do things against our will while it is the ego that works through flesh to make us think and do the things that hurt and disrespect ourselves and each other. 

I have always been appalled how religious doctrines and texts demean, misrepresent, and purposefully distort the natural, inborn love, wonder, and deep appreciation we have for our Creator.  There is little wonder we are afraid to look within to see all the guilt and shame that the ego’s gods would lay upon our flesh bodies, setting us up for failure from the get-go!

When we go within to our inner altar, we find no sin.  We find no shame.  We find no angry and vengeful God ready to consume us with fire and turn us over to demons and imps who take pleasure in our suffering.  Rather, we find love. We find mercy.  We find gentle and kind correction for every mistake we made, we find laughter, we find peace and joy.  In other words, we find the Kingdom of God which was always there and never left us.     

The ego’s version of God is not our friend nor our salvation.  Those who have joined the Sonship no longer seek their identity through the ego and certainly do not hold the flesh nor the things done in flesh responsible for their salvation.  We enter into holiness and into holy relationships when we join with what is true about us, not the lie about us.  We no longer believe in sin for in our little willingness to look within and go to our inner altar, we found none there.  What had loomed so large in our imagination, that which had made us boast of how big and bad we were, that which would shame us and make us feel small – does not affect our Spirit, our true Self, our Being in the least bit.  We are still and ever will be Sons of God. 

We are at a point that at least now we recognize the madness of the ego’s version of God.  We no longer believe how sinful and shameful and utterly deserving of punishment we are.  We are no longer convinced that our debt to God is one we can never repay unless we humble ourselves, bow down low before Him, and in other words flatter and praise Him for the rest of eternity.  We are at least looking at that version and saying, “Oh, of course that can’t be true.  What kind of maniac would that make of God?  What kind of dum-dum would that make of me for believing such tripe about our loving Father?”

Our faith is moving inward, past the projections of the perceptual world, past rituals and rites and traditions that kept us in fear afraid to question, afraid to stand up and be the one who asserts, “No more madness, no more crazy notions, no more empty promises, false prophets, and tales of doom and dread.”  When we go within, we perceive the beautiful, clean, and sparkling altar of our Higher Mind, the holy mind of Sonship, the Kingdom that holds the truth there for us to come to it when we are willing to accept what never changed.  Here at the inner altar, we are not afraid to look upon ourselves and our brothers with love, with eyes sparkling with the joy of true communion, with minds that are pure with tenderness and kindness one for the other.  We who have accepted the purpose of Holy Spirit for our own would look for and therefore find only love and mercy, appreciation and devotion in each other. Not sin.

When our purpose is one with Holy Spirit, we are only looking for brotherhood, for recognizing our mutuality, for joining with each other to be free of what separates us and would keep us apart.  This is the patience of God for it waits for this to happen inside of all of us.  The ego does not join with Holy Spirit and so what does?  What decides to be only helpful and to heal?  What part of you and part of me decides to practice mercy and refuse to judge and condemn?  What part of us have stepped out of the teachings of sin and shame and sacrifice and into the truth of innocence, glory, and the certainty of God’s love in Sonship?  What part of us has reached past the chaotic, gossipy, mean-spirited flesh to the lovely altar within and found only love and devotion?  It is not the ego, it is our true Self, our Being, the Christ in us if we are thinking of Christ as representing the Sonship.  We are not taking the human Christ inside of us and making an idol of his body or his blood or his suffering; we are accepting the Mind of Christ, which draws us back to the Sonship of God.

In paragraph six we learn there is no inconsistency in the teaching of Holy Spirit.  When we learn of the power of Love, when we are taught of God’s undying devotion to us, we can no longer be deceived by false doctrines of sin and shame.  We no longer fear that a lesser power could snatch us and keep us away from Who we belong to and Where we belong!  While there may be times we forget that the world has nothing we want, we would never exchange what is within us for money, jewels, fame or any such vanity of the temporal world. 

Within us, the sweet song of freedom rings in our hearts and minds.  There we find the other world – the true Creation, the Kingdom of God here and now, with us even on the face of the earth.  When you love me with the love of God and I love you with the love of God, Heaven comes and finds a home in our holy relationship and the earth can no longer hold us or keep us from where we belong. 

In your personal devotional practice today bring the special relationships in your life to the holy instant and look gently upon them.  Do not hold them accountable for the ego’s weakness for that is not who and what they are anymore than your ego is who and what you are.  Let there be no doubt about your love for them and the certainty of their Sonship.  No matter how loudly your ego may clamor; no matter how insistently your ego may argue and fuss – quietly and calmly keep your special relationships in the holy instant, seeing them as Christ sees them, seeing them as Christ sees you. 

This is a quiet practice – and one in which we can practice at any time night or day.  We have no special robes to put on; we have no candles to light; we have nothing in the physical realm that we must do except to quiet our mind and put away from our sight all that would distract us from this healing, helpful purpose.  We draw no attention to ourselves.  We do not leave our posts and rush here and there to hear the word of God from this one or that one.  We have no need to nose into the future and be deceived by false prophecies and doomsday forecasts – we look within – and all doubts and fears fall away in the certainty of the love we have for one another and for God.    


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 21 Reason and perception. IV The Fear to Look Within. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

For daily 2021 Workbook lessons visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM, Teaching and Learning

About the Author

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Coming up on sixty, my love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at eckief@yahoo.com.

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