If you have ever experienced a betrayal then you know it cannot be described lightly. It is a painful experience which often leaves one changed, for better or worse. Whether or not you follow Christianity we are all aware of the profound story of the Crucifixion/Resurrection of Jesus Christ that is observed over Easter. Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus to his enemies is perhaps the most well-known act of disloyalty & violation of trust in history.
Not many know or consciously acknowledge that Easter has deeply rooted origins in the pre-Christian pagan goddess known as Eostere/Ostara – a Saxon /Teutonic deity of ancient times. She always signified the renewal and rebirthing of Spring, where the hare and the egg are both symbols of this goddess. Around this same time sacrifices were made to give thanks for the end of winter and pray for a bountiful new season. It seems so much of history has been omitted, manipulated and steered into the narratives of the governments and leaders of the day.
But back to betrayal. It presents in many forms – someone lies to you, cheats on you, leaves you with no explanation, slanders your name, abuses you, violates you and in extreme cases causes physical harm and death. Often it is someone close to you or who is in your immediate circle of relations.
American Bishop and author TD Jakes says “Your enemy is never on the outside. Your enemy is always on the inside” – we often know the person & they have intimate knowledge of us.
You see a stranger cannot betray you in the same way a family member, friend or lover can. A stranger can be deceitful, duplicitous, manipulative and a host of other unsavoury things, but they would not affect your life in the same way as there is probably not the investment of friendship, time, trust and familiarity that those closer to you have developed.
After a betrayal, things don’t just ‘return to normal’, how could they? There is a definite and defining shift in your being. First you most probably will feel utter shock that someone could behave this way towards you, it will feel like your eyes have been glued together your whole life and all of a sudden someone has ripped them open. Your will feel the shattering of your heart splintered into pieces and your mind will explode, crack and crumble in revolt.
At this point you may feel confused and hopeless. You will try justifying all sorts of things to yourself and possibly even make yourself the ‘baddie’ in the story. You will need to take time to start to piece the puzzle together and make peace with the missing pieces. Above all compassion and a step-by-step approach will be needed to heal the raw gushing wounds of this experience.
Often, we will want to strike back, lash out and hurt them back, however this will never heal our hearts and minds. We will only cause ourselves and others more damage. And from any perspective, spiritual or not, this is not the way forward. The friendship is irrevocably changed, the spouse is never quite trusted again, the reputation & career possibly ruined.
What we need is to detach and step away and see that the betrayer is usually acting out of self centered interests – whether consciously or unconsciously. We see this when Judas seems to sell Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. *(The recent discovery of the Gospel of Judas has different implications; I mention only because we do not always have all the evidence and facts.)
If not solely self-centered, then perhaps misguided or misinformed, they are not able to see at the time the devastation they will cause. They have not the maturity or developed intellect to play out what will happen, there is no concern for cause and effect, and of actually a modus operandi of looking at the benefit and gain for themselves only. The betrayer usually has selfish motives – don’t be too hasty to dismiss this statement.
They probably want to look good or impress others by siding with them. They want to win, to feel powerful. There is always a payoff and benefit and it probably is buried deep in the subconscious. It is not for you to figure out their psyches, but with this understanding you can start to depersonalize the act of the betrayal and see that is actually could have more to do with their own stuff than yours.
What hurts most is the consequence of the act of betrayal – the loss. The loss of not only the person or relationship, but the loss of faith, trust and confidence, in yourself and others. The shattering disappointment, fear, rejection and pain which sends shockwaves through your life that results in many hours /days or weeks, sometimes years of pondering what went wrong, what did you do to deserve this, and how to glue together the pieces of your heart & restore your faith again.
The wisest advice would be to follow a Masters example here and work on forgiving straight away. One does not need to be religious to learn from the sages of our world. Ultimately Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed and Abraham all carry the same fundamental message. I use the word work, because forgives and acceptance do not happen instantly. It is process which takes time and understanding. The prime example of the Ascended Master Jesus’ words “forgive them for they know not what they do” sums up the spiritual lesson of betrayal.
Sometimes we will never get the answers and apologies we need. We also do not always know – consciously – what kind of karmic drama we have played our roles in. We will be left to make sense of a senseless act. We need to process, question, cry, get angry and even experience the 5 stages of grief.
And then there comes a day when we will eventually come back to the holy work of forgiving. Of understanding, of accepting, of moving on without forgetting the lessons we learned.
For at the end of the day we know not the Divine plan, purpose or role of those who betray us.
And we all deserve the mercy and experience of unconditional love, non-judgemental acceptance and complete forgiveness. We have to learn to take the high road and along the way drop the baggage that weighs us down and was never our doing in the first place.
Read last week’s article about the Passover and revolutionary freedom here
Read about Easter here