As ministers of any denomination, it is incumbent upon us to remain “open at the top,” as Ernest Holmes, the founder of Religious Science used to say. Recently, I had the opportunity to explore the parables, and of course, the first and, I believe, the most important is the parable of the two debtors.
If we understand this parable, we will understand all subsequent parables. And the Teacher said, “There were two debtors: one owed him five hundred denari and the other owed him fifty. Neither had anything to repay him so he forgave both of them freely. Which of the debtors will then love him more? And answering, Simon said, “I suppose the one who was freely forgiven the most. And he said, “You have rightly judged.”
This parable is clearly about the law of forgiveness, and it provides a very narrow avenue through which all who seek to understand the mysteries of spirituality and personal power must pass. We might make it through, and we might not. If we do, we will find ourselves undergoing one of the most universal rites of passage known. It is a cleansing initiation of monks, mystics, and masters required for a highly evolved state of consciousness. One of my mentors, Rev. Helen Street, used to say that the basis of all healing is forgiveness, and in my practice as a spiritual counselor, I see the evidence of that phenomenon time and time again.
Forgiveness is part of the seeker’s true path to God, and if we find a path that does not require forgiveness as the basis of Truth, then this path probably won’t take us to the personal reality most of us are longing to feel.
Dr. Maria Nemeth, who wrote Mastering Life’s Energies, said that in order for us to have a new and more evolved experience of life, we must dismantle our current structure of knowing. For most of us, that would mean letting go of the perceived hurts of the past and moving out of the victim consciousness or survival mode. But, in order to dismantle our structure of knowing, we first have to acknowledge that we have one, and this may be the most difficult part on our pathway to enlightenment.
I had a structure of knowing about my mother as a punitive and difficult personality. She and I were like oil and water, and I felt she didn’t love me, so for most of my young adult life, everything that was wrong in my life, I made her the cause of all my failures. When I started to study to become a practitioner, there were many opportunities to dismantle my structure of knowing that my mother was directly responsible for most, if not all, of my challenges in life.
When my mother died, I was the executrix of the estate. My dad had passed away five months earlier, so the whole thing was a mess of paperwork. As I began to investigate my mother’s medical records, I discovered something about her that changed everything. She was a prescription drug addict, and I later learned that my grandfather was an alcoholic, so she was an adult child of an alcoholic as well. All those behaviors she exhibited toward me and my other siblings were the direct result of a mind altered state and learned behaviors from her father. It was the beginning of my being able to dismantle my structure of knowing about her behavior and a more compassionate approach to her inability to parent properly.
It is in no way an exaggeration to say that for us to make ourselves sufficiently spiritually fit to negotiate the narrow path of forgiveness, we will have to dismantle the most wounded parts of our souls and nothing could be trickier and more necessary. Years and years of condemning my mother and her actions toward me had to be set aside in favor of a compassionate and more tolerant approach.
It is my belief that this parable of the two debtors has been placed directly in the forefront of the parable sequence specifically to separate those who are not yet ready to actually do the work needed to receive the remaining parables. Those who cannot find it in themselves to forgive are not yet ready to commit to the profound responsibility of spiritual awakening in its entirety.
Have I done all my forgiveness work, yet? Probably not, but like everyone else, I am a work in progress, and I can applaud those situations and issues I have dealt with. What is apparent to me is that there are no past issues that I haven’t dealt with, and I am current with most of those issues that come up on a day to day basis, and I am humbled by the profound changes that have occurred in my life because of my willingness to deal with forgiveness.
The whole Course in Miracles is based on this premise. As it turns out, it is not impressive intelligence that is the doorway to the realm of a greater understanding of God. As Pema Chodron says, it is the awakened heart. The fact is that the more I think I know, the less I do know; the more of God I feel, the more of God is felt.
As it says in the Course in Miracles, the ego is an incredibly cunning and resilient opponent. The good news is that we aren’t up against an external opponent as traditional Christianity had us believe. There is no devil out there orchestrating the bad parts of our lives. The impediment to our having a changed life experience is our own thinking and our ego-run-riot desires. Ego, denial, pride, and selfishness are the only things that have the power to stop us from moving through this rite of passage.
An interesting byproduct of this parable is in Matthew 5:23-24, where it is written that there isn’t any point in tithing to the church if you have not forgiven your brother.
In other words, there is no point in even bothering to try using the laws of giving and receiving, or the laws delineated in the mystery teachings if we have not taken the most basic and preliminary step of clearing our own soul of negative, energy sapping baggage by forgiving those we hold resentments against. If we attempt to proceed with learning the hidden meanings of life without this critical step, our changed life experience will be short lived at best or non-existent at worst. If my subconscious mind is still filled with malignant thoughts, I will only be giving “lip service” to the spiritual aspect of my life. I often talk about committing thought crimes against other people, and if the soul is not sufficiently cleared of this negative energy, tithing or visualizing or using any other spiritual techniques to correct lack and limitation will certainly fail.
So, before we can begin any shift in our prosperity consciousness, we have to first make peace with our brothers and sisters, our husbands and wives, our children, our employers, our neighbors, our parents, and then and only then will our world bring us peace.
Only when I became clear and in a state of internal harmony toward my mother could all the reciprocal good in my life find its way to me, and I could set the laws of increase into motion successfully in all areas of my life. This is an awareness that comes from being a spiritually mature person, something we might as well master sooner than later.
This parable has been profoundly moving to me on so many levels in my journey of self-discovery. At what point did I forgive my mother? When I realized that she was unskilled as a parent and she did the very best she could with what she had at her disposal, a light went on in me. In order to perceive the deeper level, the level through which I access the limitless ocean of grace and abundance, I have to begin by remembering that the parables are all about me.
The only thing I can change is myself.
Knowing that the characters and elements in the stories are interpreted as being part of the soul, parts of the self, the meaning becomes much clearer and deeper.
The real message of this parable is about me forgiving others, and as I am directed to particularly forgive those I perceive who have committed offenses against me, I have cleared the pathway for change to take place. For many of us, a lack of effective forgiveness is the single most significant snag that’s holding up our entire spiritual progress, our success, our prosperity, our happiness, and is the stumbling block between us and our dreams being realized. Deal with the forgiveness sooner than later; throw yourself into this step and you cannot fail to be lifted to a new quantum level of energy and happiness, knowing with God, all things are possible.