The Uncomfortable Talks by Bill Skiles Talk Number 30 – As We Forgive
From The Thunder of Silence, the chapter “As We Forgive”.
For nearly two thousand years the world has prayed, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” unaware perhaps that this teaching represents the very core, the very heart and soul, of the good life. Over and over again Jesus extols the virtues of forgiveness.
Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. …
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Does this not plainly state that as long as any malice, envy, jealousy, revenge, or hatred is entertained in consciousness, just so long as there are blocks in our consciousness which prevents our prayers from being answered.
I think we can look at that now without even going into the rest of the chapter and know almost instantaneously the reason is because we are entertaining a sense of separation from God. We are entertaining a sense of a separate entity. We are entertaining God and someone else. And so if there is any envy, malice, jealousy, revenge or hatred, anger or fear for someone, then there is God and someone. And so, you are back in duality, we’re back in duality and in our meditation, we are attempting to commune with a sense of oneness. So naturally entertaining that other in consciousness would block our experience of communion. It has nothing to do with being good or bad.
Only in true prayer is it possible to lose all sense of separateness from one another and from one another’s interest. Intellectually, it is practically impossible to convince ourselves that another person’s interest is our interest, and that, our interest is his interest or to believe that we are all equally children of God, because material sense testifies to the opposite.
Now material sense is that which you see, hear, taste, touch or smell. That is always, always going to show you two when in fact the reality of this universe is a spiritual universe – One. Therefore, we must shut down, or shut off the senses in our meditation.
It is only in inner communion with God that we find ourselves in inner communion with man. Then we learn that man does not mean white or black, oriental or occidental, Jew or Gentile: Man means man, that which we are, one infinite equal son of God, but that can never be known through the mind: It can only be known when through communion with God it is revealed to us that we are all one.
Do you see, or do we see why the only way we can know God aright is by having an experience, an inner experience of God? We can’t know God aright in the mind. Anything that you can know with the mind is not God. Any image you can have in your mind is not God. Even if you have an image that God is Love, well you still have an image and that’s not God. And so, it is necessary to transcend the mind. Become so still that even if the mind is still thinking you’re not one with the mind you are up just a little higher where you can commune with this Presence, with the Spirit. And in the communion then God reveals to you that we are all ONE. And so, it’s an experience, it’s an inner experience, it’s not sitting and thinking about, well in reality we’re all One, and isn’t that an interesting concept. No, it’s an actual inner glimpse of that Oneness. And that is communion. And that is answered prayer.
Anything that enslaves one enslaves the world; anything that sets one man free tends to free the entire world; anything that impoverishes one man, one race, or one sect impoverishes the world; anything that brings one grain more of supply into the life of an individual, race, or nation tends to set the entire world free from lack. But that, no one can ever accept with his mind, nor could any materialist ever be convinced of its truth. It takes an inner communion with God to reveal why even in the midst of war we should pray for our enemies.
The first thought that comes forth from the materialist when he hears about this radical teaching of praying for our enemies is, “Do you mean that I should pray for my enemy to be successful over me—that he succeed in his deceit, trickery, and conniving?” No, those of spiritual vision would not pray for that at all, but that the enemy’s mind be opened and made receptive and responsive to the will of God.
How few people remember that praying for their enemies opens the very doors of heaven, showering its blessings upon them. It matters not whether a nation is an enemy or an ally, the same prayer must prevail, “Open their eyes that they may see with spiritual vision.” Whether the offender be personal, national, or international matters not one whit. There must be the desire that all men be awakened to their true identity and to the Source of all being. Even to those who would crucify him, the Master said, “Father,’ forgive them; for they know not what they do.” To his brethren after they had thrown him into the pit and sold him into slavery, Joseph said, “It was not you that sent me hither, but God.” He did not hold them in bondage to their act, but gave them food to carry home, returning good for evil. One of the most important lessons for all of us to learn is that there is no room in the spiritual life for the return of evil for evil—there is no room for anything but a life of forgiveness.
From the moment of waking in the morning until going to sleep at night, there must be periods in the day in which we consciously remember:
I forgive. If I have aught against any man, woman, or child, here and now I forgive— completely, perfectly, entirely. If anyone’s misdeeds persist in coming back to my memory, over and over again I will forgive. I seek no punishment for anyone; I seek no revenge; I seek no justice—I lose everyone and let him go.
Father forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me. Father open the eyes of the blind. Father open the eyes of the enemy, whether they are of my household or another’s.
An unfoldment on this very subject came to me the night before I was to give two lectures in a midwestern city. I did not have a single thought or idea in my head about what the subject for the next day’s lecture was to be, and although I am quite accustomed to that kind of an experience, it is one which I never particularly enjoy. That night, however, as I was meditating, all of a sudden, the word forgiveness flashed into my mind.
The first thought that came to me was, “Am I completely purged? Am I entertaining anything in my thought regarding anyone or any group or any nation that might indicate that I have not completely forgiven them?” As I searched within, I could find no one I was holding in bondage.
Then my thought turned the other way, “Am I really forgiven?” There is not any one of us who has not committed offenses. We may not have considered a particular offense of much significance in our human life, but in the spiritual life things that heretofore have seemed of minor importance take on major significance. And so, I wondered if I had been completely forgiven and purged of any offenses of which I might have been guilty.
There is a secret about forgiveness: There is not anything or anybody that can forgive us. Therefore, there is not any possibility of our ever being forgiven except under one condition, and that is when there is no possibility of the offense being repeated. In other words, no matter what the offense may have been, as long as there is the potentiality within us of its being repeated, we are not wholly forgiven.
Just let us suppose for a moment that we could carry on a conversation with God about our faults. We confess our fault and we seek forgiveness, and to all this God says, “What? Forgiveness to do it all over again?”
“Oh, no, God, it will never happen again. It couldn’t happen again. I’ve realized the wrongness of it.”
At the moment, we actually believe that, but let us not forget that God, being God, sees right through to the center of our heart and knows that the same thing that made us guilty of this act once could make us do it again if similar circumstances arose. And so in His omniscience, God says, “Ah, it’s still there. There is still a block within you, and you will continue to be under the penalty of it until you are completely purged of it.”
And so, we go our way and ponder this response from God. We meditate and look at the situation upside down and from every angle, until all of a sudden we do catch a clear picture not only of the wrongness of what has been done but of the truth that only the state of consciousness that made us commit this offense in the first place could make us do it a second time, and if we find that that state of consciousness does not exist anymore, we have then “died” and have been reborn of the Spirit. Then we can go back again and ask for forgiveness.
This time, God says, “I don’t even know who you are any more. I don’t see anything wrong in you to forgive.”
That is the true idea of forgiveness. There really is no God to forgive. When the state of consciousness that could be guilty of resentment, anger, jealousy, malice, or whatever it may have been “dies,” there not only is nothing to forgive, and nobody to forgive, there is not even a remembrance or a memory—not even a “smell of smoke.”
It is pure fiction to believe in some God in heaven who is going to look down and forgive us while we are out marauding. True, we can confess our sins and be forgiven instantly, but what about an hour from now when the sin begins all over again? The Master had a sharp answer for that —”lest a worse thing come unto thee.” He did not preach a God who permits us to go on our way sinning with impunity and then reassures us with a gentle “I forgive you.”
Every time we come to a place in our consciousness where we actually give up our errors of thought and deed, and confess—not necessarily outwardly, but inwardly—to our errors of omission or commission and feel that deep sense of contrition in which we know it cannot happen again, [then] we are washed white as snow. We are never held in bondage to anything once we have recognized it as error and have forsaken it. Every time that we come to a place of inner grief over our errors, we are forgiven. That ends the episode, but it carries with it the command, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”
There is really no such thing as one person forgiving another, or God forgiving us : There is only a “dying daily” to the state of consciousness that accepted good and evil and acted from that premise, and when that old consciousness has been purged or is thoroughly “dead” we come to a place of Self-completeness in God, where we know, “I and the Father are one, and all that the Father has is mine. I am a child of God, an heir of God, and joint-heir with Christ in God.”
And remember, we know this as an experience. And so this is not oh well we were thinking about that on Tuesday, this is we come to an inner experience that lifts us up into our Soul-senses our Spiritual faculties and we glimpse, we sense, we have a vision of I and the Father are One and all that the Father has is mine.
Then we can look out on this whole world, and with our new vision behold a world in which there is not a thing anyone has that we want. There is not a sin anyone could commit for which we would hold him in condemnation, criticism, or judgment, knowing full well that the state of consciousness that did it was not really his, but an imposed one, and by imposed I mean a consciousness under the sway of world beliefs and subject to the universal ignorance which characterizes human beings.
When we are fully and completely aware that “I and my Father are one” and when we no longer have any desire for person, place, thing, circumstance, or condition, we are reborn of the Spirit;
We can actually reverse that in order to see when we are reborn, we could say, well am I reborn of the Spirit? Well, if I am reborn of the Spirit then I no longer have any desire for person, place, thing, circumstance, or condition.
We are purged because into that state of consciousness we carry with us none of the desires that could result in sin. It did not take a God to forgive us: It took a dying and a rebirthing, and in this new state of consciousness we need no forgiving, because there is no sin.
Can we see here, can we grasp that the human being has made God in his image, in his likeness, and so we see a parent that needs to forgive us when we are trying to stop being bad and trying to be good? Can we see how that dates way back to the early Hebrews and the law and how we have carried that belief? Well God is punishing me because I did thus and so, or God is rewarding me because I was a good person on Tuesday. No, all that are concepts that have to be dropped. God does not need to forgive you; God does not need to forgive anybody when we have died to the belief in good and evil the consciousness that could commit those acts is not there. And so, who is there? Well, the Son of God, the Spirit of God, Christ liveth within me, and that does not need any forgiveness. You see, it’s an inner shift in consciousness, takes care of everything. So, the work is within.
When we come to the state of consciousness that realizes our Self-completeness in God so that we truthfully can live in the full and complete realization of fulfillment, without a trace of desire or need, then there is no block between us and the inner Source of our being, and consequently no block of condemnation, criticism, or judgment, no unfulfilled desire, no greed, lust, or anger. There is only the realization that we are at peace with the Father and with all mankind.
And so, as I continued in meditation another question came to my mind, “Have I died to all that is human? If I have, forgiveness is complete; and if I have not, there must be a continual dying until I have realized my Self-completeness in God. I may not be able to praise myself and declare that I am pure, but this much I can do: I can turn and with an open heart forgive every offense that has ever been aimed at me or mine—at me personally, at my family, community, nation, and the world—and entertain a complete and full sense of forgiveness.”
With that realization, I settled down into peace and quiet, and a few moments later had to jump out of bed to make a note, and within the next couple of hours I was up four different times, making the notes that became two lectures, lectures that came out of a heart and mind at peace. There was no barrier—no unforgiveness, no sin, no judgment of anyone—nothing but a purity of vision, and in that purity of vision, there was peace.
And so, it is that I know now that the subject of forgiveness is an important one in our lives. Over and over again, we must forgive, forgive, forgive, and hold no man in judgment, criticism, or condemnation. A heart that is entertaining any judgment of his fellow man is not a heart at peace. It is futile to seek for peace of mind or soul or peace of anything else until we have fulfilled that Christly message of forgiving seventy times seven all those who offend us, of forgiving our debtors as we would have our debts forgiven.
We store up within ourselves the barriers that prevent the kingdom of God from being established in us by our judgments of people and conditions, and by the desires that still remain in us—not merely the sensual desires but even the desires that are considered good. All of those things operate in our minds to separate us from the realization that that which we are seeking we already are.
Yes, you can hear the desire for something good. I would like to be a little less criticizing; I would like to be a little more uplifting and positive. Ok, I’ve just declared that I am incomplete. I can’t have that desire and also be realizing that I and the Father are One. And so bad desires, good desires, any desires – they are all human-humanhood, which has to die if we are going to find our real life as spirit.
In other words, God’s grace is not something we are going to attain; God’s grace is not something we can earn or deserve; God’s grace was planted in us from the beginning, since before Abraham was; and it is only waiting to function in us, but it cannot function while we are entertaining a sense of separation from our good. There never is going to be a chance for us to know harmony until we have completely forgiven and been forgiven, and so purged ourselves that we go to the altar purified.
Some period every single day should be set aside for consciously remembering that we are holding no man in bondage to his sins, that we want no man to suffer or even be punished for them. To forgive means much more than to be content with such cant as, “Oh, yes, I don’t want any harm to come to anybody.” It is not that simple. It is the ability to sit down and face whatever the enemy may appear to be and realize, “Father, forgive him his offenses and open his eyes that he may see.”
And if you are in this class, you should have no qualms whatsoever about being able to sit down and realize this about all the insurgents, about all the dictators, about all the men that are involved in what have been termed “the axis of evil”. You should have no problem whatsoever praying this prayer, “Father, forgive him his offenses and open his eyes that he may see.”
No one need be reluctant to forgive the offender his transgressions in the fear that this will set him free to offend again. True, it will set him free, but that freedom will include freedom from the desire to offend. It is not possible for anyone to receive real forgiveness and then to continue in the offense.
And so we are really praying that they die to their humanhood, aren’t we? Now that’s a prayer that has power. And if nothing else, it sets you free. If you do not have harmony in your lives, if you are not experiencing this peace that passeth understanding, then you need to pray this prayer.
Father, I come to You with clean hands, holding no one in bondage to a duty, nor anyone in bondage as a penalty for his sins. As far as I am concerned, Father, I am willing for You to forgive him. Whatever the sin, it is past, and let it be done and forgotten; and if he does it seventy times over again, forgive him seventy times over.
I want no revenge and no vengeance. I seek only to keep myself a pure instrument for Your love and Your grace so as to be worthy in Your sight.
I forgive everyone who has ever trespassed against me, consciously or unconsciously, and that forgiveness extends to all those who have trespassed against my religious or political convictions, or my national allegiance. I pray that You, Father, forgive them.
Humanly, there are those who owe me debts of duty and of love. I forgive them also. Henceforth, no one owes me anything, not even the obligation of relationship. What they give out of love, I cheerfully receive, but as a matter of duty I expect nothing, and I expect it of no one. I release my friends and my relatives, and everyone: They owe me nothing. It is my privilege and joy to serve them in whatever way You direct.
I offer myself an empty instrument: Father, use me.
Now in one of the talks that Joel gave I remember that he said that he had a problem with corruption in high places and there were some institutions with which he was having a hard time forgiving them. And I understand that. I’ve been through something similar with some of the institutions that they call mental health. And he said that in his mediation he was forced to say, “I can’t forgive them, Father, you forgive them.” And that that set him free. And so, he found a way to pray for even these corrupt organizations and institutions. Forgiveness is not for the other person, it’s not really for the corrupt institution. Forgiveness is for us, in forgiving we release the situation, we’re not bound to it anymore. Forgiveness sets us free from any kind of karma. And in that freedom, when we are unbound, when we lose them and let them go, then we are receptive. It’s no longer a block to grace and grace can function in and through us. And so, forgiveness if for us. Forgiving others, we set ourselves free. You see, when you set someone free, you’re really setting yourself free. Because there is only One Self. And so, it is vital that we understand this principle of forgiveness.
And now I will tell you a little story. A true story about forgiveness, and how I have found these principles that we have just read to be true.
When I was a child, I lived in a very abusive home. Both of my parents were alcoholics and they fought all the time. And there was physical violence and just craziness. And while I lived under that umbrella, I suffered a lot of things myself. I had asthma, I was sickly all the time, tonsillitis, I had a speech defect, I had a lot of things while I was under their umbrella, their consciousness. And my Dad left home and ran away really – he ran away from home and I can’t say that I blame him. It was pretty crazy around there. He had a couple of other marriages and finally settled down with someone he is still with and he seems to be doing well.
My mother, on the other hand, got worse. And looking around for someone to blame, she found me. I look something like my Dad, and to the best of my ability, I am just assuming that for some reason she directed it at me. And so, I received the abuse. My brother didn’t and my sister didn’t, it was centered on me. I was smacked so often, I was beat so often, that I would go to school with purple strap marks across my face and have to explain them to my friends. And I would usually lie and say I bumped into something. I would have nervous attacks at school and have hives and asthma and be sent home. I would be so nervous about getting hit because it would happen so often that when I would be sitting at the dinner table and she would walk by, I would flinch, or duck, or blink, because they would just come out of no where and she would smack me upside the face.
And then there was the emotional abuse. My sister would be in bed, my brother would be in bed and I would have to stand in front of her while she was on the couch having a cup of coffee and a cigarette and she would lecture me about how I was no good, I guess. I don’t know, the words would just go on and on. And I used to have to stand there, and I would stand there and listen to her go on and on about how I was no good like my Father, like my Dad, and I remember looking at her until purple dots would come in front of my eyes and finally she would say, “Go to bed” and I would go in and go to bed.
And so that was my early years, going through that torture and there was some other sick things too, which I am not going to bring into this talk, but suffice it to say that by the time I was a teenager, I was hating my Mom. Well, I had one desire – to get the heck out of that house. And so eventually I ran away and never went back. I think I was fifteen.
And so, I have never understood, well, I’ve understood it – but I’ve never had the experience of having a close relationship with my Mother. I do not understood what that feels like, because I’ve never had one. And, I don’t understand what it feels like to have a close relationship with my Dad because I’ve never had one of those either. He wasn’t around. And so I do not understand anything that has to do with close relationships with your parents because I didn’t experience it.
Now of course it has been several years and through my meeting other people and seeing their relationships and having met my wife’s parents who have accepted me pretty well, I understand it somewhat. The point that I am making is that I hated her.
Try to imagine hating your own Mom. And that is where I was as a teenager. Eventually I started a spiritual walk because somebody gave me the Art of Meditation and I read it and what was in there resonated with me. And so I came upon this part on forgiveness and I realized that I was going to have to do something about it. And the way that I knew that is that I had had a couple of spiritual experiences and yet I wasn’t going any farther. And every time that the phone would ring, and I would pick it up and my Mother was on the other end I would get that twist down in my belly. Something was there and I knew it – I didn’t want to really deal with it, but I knew it. And it took nine years before I became willing to do what Joel is talking about here and forgive this person. And finally, what drove me to it was a marriage that wasn’t working, and how could it work? – I had a resentment against all, well, half of the human race. Anybody that was female I didn’t trust.
Oh, I’m so glad that is gone now, but let me tell you how that happened.
I went to a counselor. She was practicing spiritual principles too, but her job was as a therapist. And I talked it over with her. She said I should go home, and I should write my Mom a letter, but not to give it to her. And so I did that. I went home, I took a day off of work and I started writing. And eventually I got underneath all of the anger down to what I was really feeling was that I wrote down, “Mom, all I ever really wanted was for you to put your arms around me and tell me that you loved me.” And then I took this over to the therapist and read it to her and she said, “There you go, now you understand and you have to look at it though an adults eyes and see that perhaps she is a sick person.”
Well, I went home, and the phone rang, and my Mom was on the other end and it was still there. Something was missing, something was not solving this problem. That is when I discovered in Joel’s writings a part that talked about giving of our first fruits. And I thought, yes, okay, we give of our first fruits, we tithe, we give money to organizations that are helping humanity, but what about if we give of our first prayers? And so I thought about that and I made the decision that if I sit down and mediate I am going to give my first prayers to my Mother because that is the person I am having this resentment against.
And so I practiced that and every day if I mediated three times before I began my first prayers were for my Mother. And it was simple, “God please let her find peace, open her eyes to her true Identity, let your Presence be there.” Something simple like that. And of course, in the beginning it felt rather awkward because I was still resenting her while praying for her and I had both things going on at the same time. And so, I felt kind of hypocritical, but I persisted. I had to find a freedom from this. And so, as I persisted, the next day and the next day and the next, pretty soon a month passed and I don’t know when it happened but – I sat down to meditate and I gave my first prayers to her and I realized that I meant it. I really did with love want her to find peace within herself and every good thing be hers. I meant it, finally.
A friend of mine said, “Why don’t you go see her.” And I decided he’s right or she’s right. And so, I tracked down where she was and by this time she was still drinking quite heavily, and she was in an old hotel and I got her out of that hotel, and she was yellow. I’m pretty sure that she had jaundice by then from too much drinking.
And I put her in my truck and I took her to the park and we sat down on the grass and I just said simply, “Mom, I love you.” And do you know I felt it. For the first time in my life I did not have that anger and resentment inside. For the first time ever in my life that I could remember. I did not need to change her; I did not need to make her over. At one point she said, “Would you get my bottle out of my purse?” And I walked to my truck and I got her bottle of vodka and I handed it to her, and I felt perfectly at ease.
You have no idea what a freedom that was. Totally at ease – I was free, and I realized the reality of her was the Presence of God not this thing I was looking at, and that the reality of me was the Presence of God and that that love was one. And as I sat on the grass, I played a few songs for her on the guitar. I let her know I loved her – that was all, that was my whole mission. Just to let my Mother know I loved her, and it was okay no matter what she was. We finished up and I took her back to the hotel, I went back home, and I was free, and I had now established a relationship with the other half of humanity. From then on, I could love men and women and I could trust them both too.
Thirty days after this experience of taking her to the park, I received the news from my sister my Mother had passed away in that old hotel room. She had drunk herself to death. But I was free, for the first time in my life I was free. And I would have missed that day if I had not done the work that we’re talking about. And maybe it would still be bothering me but it isn’t. My mother was always big on education and when I got my four-year degree I walked across the stage and I kind of closed my eyes briefly and I said, “Mom, this is for you.” She always loved pink carnations and now when I have a mediation and she pops into my mind I think of pink carnations because I love her.
And so you see the point of this story is not what I did. The point of this story is that forgiveness is not for the other person. Forgiveness sets us free so that we might have that relationship of love with God and with his children. We cannot be the instrument for love when we are carrying that.
And so I highly recommend if there is anybody you have not forgiven, please for God’s sake, take this message of this chapter and practice it. Practice it and practice it and if necessary, say what Joel said, “Father, I can’t forgive him, or her, or them, please you forgive them.” And then be still and keep at it until you mean it. I tell you; you will be set free. And you will know a deeper loving relationship with your heavenly Father than you have ever known before. And if you have not had results in practicing these principles, you will begin to have results. If you have not been able to settle down within yourself, you will find that peace has come to you. My peace, the peace that passes understanding.
Now, as we forgive, we are forgiven. We now understand that that does not mean there is some God sitting around keeping score. How ridiculous huh, how childish that concept is. There is no God sitting around keeping score – thank God. No, the reason why we are forgiven when we forgive is because we set ourselves free. Probably one of the finest examples of an expose on this principle is, or on these principles is A Course in Miracles. They really go into the forgiveness part. But all that we need is the experience and to have the experience you must forgive. When you forgive, you are forgiven. It’s the same as saying, well okay I am bound to that person over there because I’m angry at them but I’m going to let that go. Well, when you let that go, you are no longer bound. You see? You see how you have the key to your own freedom? Of course, who else would have it? God has made you complete and so you have the key to your own freedom. You have the ability to set yourself free from any bondage, from any karma, from the entire law.
Practice these principles – set your brother free, set your Mother free, set your Dad free, set your sister free, set that employer free, set the employee free, set that nation free, set that man free, set that organization, that institution free, set that law free, set the disease free, set everything free and you free yourself to be the child of God. In this, when you complete this freedom, you will know it. You will have a sense of peace like you have never had before. Your meditations will deepen and broaden. You will have a love that you have never had before. And you will find that God really does give you the power to become the children of God. And that is what we are going to go into next, chapter sixteen, “That you may be the children of your Father.”
Bless you all for taking up this study. We are down to our last three chapters and I just feel a love for all of you.