Somewhere in your mind, before all the consequences and side-effects that cascade, spiraling down into hell, there is a FIRST STEP. There's an initial "something" that you do, which leads to all the rest. It's the CAUSE of every aspect of your life, of all the ways you suffer, all the ways you relate to others and the world. It is even the cause of the world itself.
We need to dig deep and find out where this whole mess is STARTING, if we want to truly be free of the problem. Things which happen later are not actually the problem. Consequences and effects, projections and blame, perceptions and false identities, these are all things that arise later. They are not where the problem starts.
The course has a ton of material discussing many aspects of things that happen AFTER the initial problem begins. And this can be distracting. The world is a projection, so it's not the starting point. Your special relationships stem from your mental attitude, so they are not the cause. Even your holy relationships are just ways of relating FROM a certain state of mind, and arise from that state. Even miracles are really EXPRESSIONS from a certain mental state, so are not the starting point.
What is it that comes FIRST? Where does it START? What is the fist step on the staircase leading to hell? What is it that we keep doing, that is so fundamental and so primary, so deep within us and so causal, that it LEADS TO all this other stuff - our body issues, our life dramas, our relationships, our world, our perceptions, all stemming from it. What is the very core tiny little thing that we FIRST do that has a side-effect of producing the illusion of spacetime? We do know this:
"Separation from God is the only lack he really needs to correct. But his Separation would never have occurred if he had not distorted his perception of truth, and thus perceived himself as lacking."
Here Jesus suggests that a sense of separation is the only problem to correct. As it says elsewhere, we seem to have ONE PROBLEM, requiring ONE SOLUTION. But he also goes on to say that your mind went into a distorted sense of "what is true", and by doing this, PRODUCED "the fall of man" (THE separation). So even the sense of being separate from God is in a way further down the line from the initial act that causes it.
We know at least the problem we have IS NOT other people. Our relationships with them, issues with them, the things they seem to do to us, the things we do to them, that is all just an arena of effects and consequences, further removed from the actual issue. We're also told that the real problem is IN OUR OWN MIND, not out there in the world.
"Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell. It does not matter. What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His."
"Guilt is ALWAYS in yourOWN mind, WHICH HAS CONDEMNED ITSELF."
"I am the means by which God's Son is saved, because salvation's purpose is to find the sinlessness which God has placed in me."
What this is now telling us it that at some point, we condemned ourselves. Individually. I at some point attacked myself. And this is backed up with:
"It can be but myself I crucify."
"You cannot be hurt unless you hurt yourself."
"It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain." "Nothing in the world can bring oppression."
"I can be attacked by nothing but my thoughts."
"The secret of salvation is but this: That YOU are doing this UNTO YOURSELF."
"My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability."
"Only the self-accused condemn."
"You cannot die unless you choose to do so." "No one dies without their own consent"
"What has been FORGOTTEN then appears to be fearful, but ONLY because the dissociation was an ATTACK ON TRUTH."
"Because you had attacked yourself, and BELIEVED THAT THE ATTACK WAS EFFECTIVE, you behold yourself as weakened."
"Although you have attacked yourself, and very brutally"
"You HAVE attacked him, and you MUST have attacked yourself first."
"Your Father created you Wholly without sin, wholly without pain, and wholly without suffering of any kind. If you deny Him, you bring sin, pain, and suffering into your OWN mind, because of the power He gave it. Your mind is capable of creating worlds, but it can also DENY what it creates, because it is free."
So now Jesus is saying essentially that our INITIAL PROBLEM involved the denial of creation, which was an attack and a dissociation from the truth - a disowning of yourself. That includes the denial of God (the ego's religion), and the denial of your real self - your soul. The rejection of your truth and your identity. That was in fact a SELF ATTACK.
And as evidenced by the rest of the quotes, if you were not to "do it to yourself", if you were not attack yourself with YOUR OWN THOUGHTS, you would not have any problem or suffering of any kind. And here is the final clarification:
"Attack in ANY form has placed your foot upon the twisted stairway that leads FROM Heaven."
We also know that "sin is attack". We also know "sin is insanity". We also know we have an authority problem of trying to deny God's authority and authorship. We also know we tried to sin against his will by trying to attack him. We also know we made a world as an attack on God. So you attacking is where this all BEGINS.
"Listening to the ego's voice MEANS that you believe it is possible to attack God. You believe that a part of Him has been torn away by YOU."
"We have repeatedly emphasized that the ego DOES believe it can attack God, and tries to persuade you that YOU have done this."
Now, is it that other people attack you? No. Is it that the world attacks you? No. Is it your relationships attacking you? No. Is it your perceptions? No. "Perception is a result not a cause". "Projection makes perception" What you PROJECT comes before what you PERCEIVE, because perception is the RESULT of what you want to see. You look first WITHIN and then project it out and then perceive it. It's more to do with how YOU are attacking.
"What is projected OUT, and seems to be EXTERNAL to the mind, is NOT outside at all, but an effect of what is in, and has NOT left its source."
"It is the witness to your state of mind, the OUTSIDE picture of an INWARD condition. As a manthinketh, so does he perceive."
So not only is perception not the issue, but also even projection is not the issue. You projecting is not the problem. Where you project FROM, or WHAT IS IN YOU TO PROJECT is the problem. The content in your mind is the problem. And even if you DIDN'T ever project anything, you'd STILL have the same problem. Because the problem comes BEFORE PROJECTION. Projection is just the mental mechanism by which you GIVE what you HAVE.
So nothing that you project, or project onto, any blame of sin where you are projecting YOUR OWN SIN onto others, anything to do with making the world or interpreting it or having perceptions about it, NONE of that is the real issue. That's all side-effects further down the line of cause and effect, stuff that happens as you keep mis-stepping on the descent into hell. We want to know what is the PRIMARY CAUSE OF ALL HELL.
This is why Jesus talks about how you have to realize AT LEAST that the problem is in your own mind, not outside of you. That your ideas didn't leave their source. That your projections are deceiving you, and what you perceive is just a manifestation of your inner wishes. That the problem is really IN YOUR MIND, and it's there that you have to look for the solution that God put there - the Holy Spirit in you.
"That is because I do not yet realize that God has placed the answer together with the problem, so that they cannot be separated by time."
"But bring the problem to the only place which holds the answer lovingly FOR you."
"Problem and answer lie together here, and having met at last the choice is clear."
"The miracle forgives; the ego damns."
What it boils down to is that YOU HAVE CONDEMNED YOURSELF TO HELL. Other people didn't do this to you. The world didn't do this to you. Your body isn't doing it to you. Even God didn't do this to you. YOU are the one responsible for having chosen to suffer. YOU are the one who is pretending the Son of God can die. YOU are the one with the death wish. YOU are the one attacking yourself. YOU are the one who is taking a step onto the stairway to hell. And YOU are the one who has to CHANGE YOUR MIND in order to stop doing this.
"But until you change your mind about those your ego has hurt, the Atonement cannot release you."
"And then change your minds to THINK WITH GOD's."
"will to change your mind ABOUT the world"
"Now the source of thought has shifted, for to change your mind means you have changed the source of all ideas you think or ever thought or yet will think."
"It is not pride that tells you that you made the world you see, and that it changes as you change your mind."
"To free the world from every kind of pain is but to change your mind about yourself."
"But you can NOT remove the Power to change your mind"
"For you must change your mind about the purpose of the world, if you would find escape."
"And it will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want."
"You must change your MIND, not your behavior, and this IS a matter of will."
"The emphasis this course has placed on that idea is due to its centrality in our attempts to change your mind about yourself."
"you must learn to change your mind ABOUT your mind. Only by this can you learn that it IS changeless."
"you MUST change your mind and help others change theirs"
As you can see, Jesus is quite clear that the ONLY problem is IN our own individual mind, the only problem is that we have CHANGED our mind ABOUT OUR MIND, in a wrong direction. And the only solution is to CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT YOURSELF in the direction of God. That is where is all STARTS. It starts with YOU. With your relationship with YOURSELF.
That's because ultimately the separation is about ONE THING. Your attack upon YOURSELF. Your effort to LACK LOVE about yourself. Your attempt to DESTROY yourself. Your self attack, your self destruction, your suicidal thought system of egotism that leads to self-induced death, and your effort to NOT BE IMMORTAL.
So for all its words and all its topics, all the things we might spend time dealing with, trying to clean up the mess and consequences, it really boils down to the CORE issue WITHIN you.... which has nothing to do with other people AT ALL, and nothing to do with the world AT ALL.
One thing which, if you change, if it's corrected, LEADS TO everything else AUTOMATICALLY correcting itself as an EFFECT and consequence. And since heaven is in you, seeking FIRST the kingdom of God (seeing yourself as holy and sinless) DOES make your way straight. Because all other CONSEQUENCES follow on from that, from your inner content. If you are the Kingdom, then ONLY GOOD can come from you and to you.
"What if you looked within, and saw NO sin?"
"And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father's Love."
You need to learn to love yourself again, to accept you are still as God created you. And that is all. Your one responsibility of accepting the atonement for yourself, which ONLY YOU CAN DO. because ONLY YOU are your only enemy.
And that means embracing your lovability. And that is only possible if you think you DESERVE love. And you can only deserve love if you are not GUILTY. And to be not guilty you have to recognize you HAVE NEVER SINNED. And therefore you remain as God created you, INNOCENT AND SINLESS FOREVER. You must embrace your TOTAL SINLESSNESS if you are to stop attacking yourself. Attack of ANY kind has to be purged from your whole mind. This is the process of PURIFICATION.
"The state of sinlessness is merely this: The WHOLE desire to attack is gone, and so there is no reason to perceive the Son of God as other than he is."
"My sinlessness ensures me perfect peace, eternal safety, everlasting love, freedom forever from all thought of loss; complete deliverance from suffering."
"Let us not, then, attack our sinlessness. For it contains the Word of God to us, and in its kind reflection we are saved."
"Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God. Over and over this must be repeated until it is accepted."
"Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God. You are and will forever be exactly as you were created."
"In this one fact is sinlessness proclaimed to be forever part of everything; the central core of its existence and its guarantee of immortality."
This is all an inside job. The secret of salvation simply states it - you are doing it to yourself. No-one else, nor the world, is doing anything to you. You simply need to stop doing it to yourself, and you will be free!