Friday, April 3, 2015

A singular betrayal

This morning, as I was in prayer and meditation, the question of betrayal came to me as something more than a theory.

I've experienced betrayal — and, I am sure, have betrayed — in many ways and forms over the course of a lifetime. I try not to betray others, as best I can, because it hurts so deeply when it is done to me. Certainly, I fail — but there is an intention.

In any event, I experience betrayal as a singular thing, a series of different individual events, each one discrete and distinct from the other.  So betrayal is a singular thing; I don't see or understand it collectively, it seems incidental. That word can mean pertaining to each incident, or, casual and not of great note: and I mean it both ways here.

The lesson of Christ's crucifixion centers around betrayal. Superficially, one wants to blame Judas; how convenient to have a central villain. Yet everyone is guilty: Pontius Pilate, the crowds, Christ's own disciples. These appear to be singular betrayals, each one of them emanating from the personality of the individual who betrays; yet the betrayal is a collective betrayal of God and His goodness, of His principles. Christ's lesson leads us, I intuit, to understand betrayal in this collective sense; and in doing so, our own sense of betrayal involves from the idiosyncratic, the egoistic, the personal, into a much greater sense of a condition that mankind inhabits.

 Christ's absolute lesson is forgiveness. 100% forgiveness, in the face of collective betrayal. This is a very hard lesson; no matter how good my intuition to forgive is, no matter how good my intuition to not betray is, there is always something I want to hold onto. I forgive 99%; well, let's be honest — often, it's maybe 49%. But the point is that my intentions are not strong enough, not pure enough, not good enough. My intentions always fall short of true forgiveness, collective forgiveness. I want to reserve some blame and keep it in a little vial, close to my heart.

 If I really want to suffer what I am, I need to approach forgiveness from the point of view of collective betrayal, and understand myself from this point of view. That is a tall order; and it can't be approached through my intellect at all, it has to go much deeper into the marrow of my being where it courses through my blood and becomes a feeling that cannot be denied.

This feeling is a feeling that brings suffering; because it is a truth, not the serial lie I have told myself about who I am for my whole life: that somehow, I am good, I am good to others, I am not selfish, and so on. God shows me my lack; and it is a lack of goodness. I betray.

How am I, really, in the face of that question?


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