Everything within the ego thought system, every part of separation, this universe and world, issues with bodies, all forms of sickness, every problem or upsetting situation, all appearances of external causes and even death, can be described by one SIMPLE statement:
The sequence of cause and effect has been reversed.
This BEGAN in Heaven when you attempted to will against God's will. To will something separate from God's will. This "authority problem" was an act of trying to CAUSE GOD.
God is cause. You are God's effect. God did grant you the power to cause and create, but He did NOT grant you the power to cause HIM.
The entire separation and everything that followed from it, was formed on the basis of this belief that you are willing against God's will, and therefore God's will is outside/separate/external to your will and acting against your will.
This is the idea of sin. That you could cause and therefore produce EFFECTS in God, to hurt Him, to change His mind, to make Him not love you anymore, or to destroy Him, and that you have in fact been capable of doing this with "real effects".
This was the beginning point of all dreaming.
It's all entirely because you tried to stop being the effect of God and to instead cause God.
Let's describe that in terms of levels. The higher level is causal (God). The lower level is effect (You/Son of God). You are as God created you, as God intended, as God willed. When you, who are on the lower level, attempt to CAUSE the higher level to change, this is LEVEL CONFUSION. It is the authority problem. It is the belief in magic. It is the belief in an external will. It is the source of ALL SICKNESS. Eventually to will so strongly against your own cause, against God, is to deny God and deny life, and results in DEATH.
This all comes from reversing what the Course calls the "divine order". The proper sequence of creation. Cause produces effects, not the other way around. The world that we are in now, is also a "level", and it is being caused by a higher level. It is a dream-effect or a causal mind "above" this world. Everything in this world is an effect, not a cause. But when anything in this world is given properties of "causing" or "willing" or "making effects happen", that is LEVEL CONFUSION also, another layer of it. And this is the source of all our suffering.
Everything in your life that you "need to forgive", is BASED ON this same dynamic. Every upset you have. Every perception that someone is acting against your will. Every form of victimhood. All states of sickness and death. Every argument. Every conflict or war. All special relationships. Every part of the ego thought system is based on this reversal of causality. "All sickness is the result of confusing the levels". Whenever something "below" or an "effect" is believed to have an ability to CAUSE, that is level confusion, it is mental illness, it is an illusion, it is false, it is ego, and it encapsulates the entire ego thought system.
It causes you to "perceive" that cause is outside of you, causing AGAINST you. This is because instead of God flowing into you from "behind", and you extending it outward and "forward", you have instead turned around and taken a stand "against" God's outflowing will, to try to will in the other direction, to STOP God's will. Like a rock in a river trying to stop the flow. ALL your suffering and problems come from this.
So to CORRECT IT, to "apply forgiveness" as we like to say, you ONLY need to correct this one fundamental error in the dynamic. You need to re-reversed cause and effect so that the levels are in their proper ORDER, and so that you recognize yourself as the effect of God, so that you are not against God's will, and thereby do not perceive that there is a will acting against you.
That also means you no longer perceiving or believing that there is a "separate cause" outside of you, or a cause in the world, or a cause on a lower level, or a cause in the body, or a cause in other people, or a cause in laws of physics in the environment, or any other externalized cause. Cause is IN YOU. God is IN YOUR MIND, so Cause is in your mind, and your mind is the effect of GOD and nothing else.
Every situation in your life which seems like 1000 DIFFERENT problems with different dynamics and issues and reactions and emotions and so on.... all those differences are illusions COVERING UP the simple CORE THREAD which is the SAME in all of them. That is, somehow, you have become mistaken about what is a cause and what is an effect. And so now you see causes as doing stuff to you against your will, when they are not. And you've turned yourself into an effect of the world, instead of the cause of it. This same simple concept runs through EVERY FORGIVENESS LESSON.
Now, before you can undo this problem in real life situations, or even recognize it in your upsetting situations, you need to recognize something.
The ego has invented its own idea of cause and effect. It believes that causes and effects are "horizontal". This has resulted in "horizontal perception". That means, it believes and perceives that something in the world on this same "level", has the ability to "cause" something else on this same level, and produce effects in it. So now it seems possible that an object can produce a reaction in another object, a person can come along and hurt you, someone can be to blame for doing something to you etc. Causes and effects are seen as linear on the horizontal plane, or sideways. This is totally opposite to the truth, which is that the HIGHER level is the only cause and the LOWER level (this world) is ENTIRELY EFFECT.
So part of what you have to realize is, this world does not contain any real causes AT ALL. It is all effect. It is all a dream, all the effect of you dreaming from a higher level. It doesn't matter how it APPEARS, that a cause is outside you on this same level. There are NO CAUSES IN THE WORLD. There are no causes in your body. There are no causes in other people doing stuff. There are no causes in the environment. Cause is on a higher level, and it's in your mind, "above the battlefield."
The recognition that causality is VERTICAL, results in what the course calls "vertical perception." It also says a sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception is required in order to produce a miracle. Miracles are expressions of VERTICAL CAUSALITY in which the levels are in their proper order, there is no level confusion, there is no belief in something in the world causing something else, and therefore the higher level which MADE the word can CHANGE it in total defiance of any illusory laws or horizontal cause-effect relationships. This produces supernatural miracles which are ABOVE (super) the "natural" (nature) of the horizontal illusion and prove through demonstration that cause-effect on this level is ENTIRELY AT THE EFFECT OF YOUR MIND.
So what you're going to need to do in an everyday upsetting situation, something you "need to forgive", is UNDO BELIEF IN horizontal cause and effect, so that you CAN SHIFT to a vertical perception, in which God is cause, you are His effect, and YOU ARE THE CAUSE OF THIS WORLD that you're dreaming.
Recognize therefore that the ego INVENTS the idea of being caused by things outside of you on this same level. It is never true. This forms a kind of fictional "connection", mentally and energetically, between you and other people. You perceive and believe they, or the environment, or you food, or events, or the body, can "cause you". This is FALSE. So what you need to do is COLLAPSE the ego's horizontal cause-effect beliefs and relationships. Cancel them out, separate them out, and that leads to a pretty simple goal:
Recognizing that there is NO CAUSE OR EFFECT between any two things in this world. This whole world is an EFFECT of your mind ON A HIGHER LEVEL. And therefore you are NOT ON THIS LEVEL, you are ABOVE IT.
So what you want to do is effectively "SEPARATE" cause from effect on this level. It's like two boxers in a ring who are fighting, you need to separate them, get them back to their corners, and stop them from affecting each other. Break them up. Put a GAP between the horizontal causes and the horizontal effects so that you can believe and perceive that YOU ARE NOT AT THE EFFECT of anything in this world.
The only way you can believe and perceive that you are not at the effect of anything in this world, is to not believe in CAUSES in this world, of any kind, and therefore to shift into a VERTICAL perception which is miraculous, which recognizes that this ENTIRE WORLD is made up, its a dream, it was all made at once, and every ILLUSION of causality or effects were made TOGETHER simultaneously. There ARE no real causes here.
I like to do this with a simple process of "correcting ideas" something like this:
You did not cause me. I am not at the effect of you. You have not made me upset. You are not the one who attacked me. You did not do anything to me. You have no power over me. I am free of you. You are not the source of my upset. Everything I am experiencing I have chosen. These feelings are my own. This hurt is something I put there myself. I am responsible for everything I am experiencing. It's got nothing to do with you. I must've wanted to experience this. I chose this myself and made a wrong decision and can choose again.
Notice regardless of the words you use, that there is only ONE THING happening here over and over. I am CUTTING TIES between myself and the other person. These are ARTIFICIAL ties of horizontal causes and effects. They are not real or true at all. I am SEPARATING MYSELF from the "fictional causes" so that I am not at their effect. You could express this a 1000 different ways, whatever words or aspects you need to use to break up all of your personal perceptual errors and beliefs in how something is affecting you.
But note that in order to FULLY CANCEL the ego's illusion of horizontal causality, you need to also apply this same set of clarifications to the other person or cause as well. This helps to "balance it out" or to complete the undoing of any other beliefs or perceptions which you might have such as that YOU affected the other person, resulting in guilt etc. This really helps to clean up any possible effects which have come from what you falsely experienced. For example:
I did not cause you. You are not at the effect of me. II have not made you upset. I am not the one who attacked you. I did not do anything to you. I have no power over you. You are free of me. I am not the source of your upset. Everything you are experiencing you have chosen. Your feelings are your own. Your hurt is something you put there yourself. YOU are responsible for everything you are experiencing. It's got nothing to do with me. You must've wanted to experience this. You chose this yourself and made a wrong decision and can choose again.
When you do this, you BREAK the ego's chain of fake causes and effects on the horizontal level. That means you actually will no longer believe or perceive or experience that there are ANY CAUSES on this level affecting you. While this is still a horizontal state of perception, it actually lays the groundwork for you being able to then shift into VERTICAL perception. You may be still in the world not affected by the world, but now you need to position yourself ABOVE the world, above the battlefield.
You got into your right mind, now you need to get into the ONE mind. So if there are no causes in the world that you believe in, this makes it pretty easy to then recognize you are ABOVE, in terms of levels and causality, the divine order is re-established, the levels are in their proper sequence, and you recognize that everything in this world is AN EFFECT and you are a HIGHER CAUSE.
This readies you to be MIRACULOUS. Miracles flow from a higher level to a lower level, like love or creation does. God causes you, you are the miracle of God. You then cause a level below yourself, and these are your miracles. When your higher mind CAUSES effects in the lower level of this world, these produce SUPERNATURAL EFFECTS. This is what miracles really are about. A higher level causing a lower level and proving that the lower level is nothing but an effect of the mind - that mind has total power OVER it.
This more or less is ALL you need to do. If you can really go deep with this, it will undo all your false perceptions, your upset, your stress, your emotional reactions, your fears, your obsessive thinking which can't let go of the situation, and it will bring you back to peace AND empowerment. Then you are in a position to ACCEPT THE ATONEMENT by recognizing that you are the effect of God, you accept that you are STILL as God created you, God has NOT been affected or changed, and therefore is not willing against you.
This process ALWAYS WORKS to undo ego because it addresses THE ENTIRE EGO THOUGHT SYSTEM at its foundation. There is not one part of the ego that escapes this, because the ego is BASED ON the reversal of cause and effect, so the correction of cause and effect cancels out the entire ego. Therefore it can be applied to EVERY situation and will always lead you back to truth.
We can perhaps summarize this way:
God causes me.
I have not caused God.
I am the effect of God.
I am the cause of what I made/projected/created.
What I made/dreamed is not the cause of me.
Therefore I am still as God created me.