Friday, August 21, 2009

Getting Beyond Deception and Betrayal

We can focus a whole-hearted and unconditional effort into cultivating and perpetuating a friendship, or relationship only to, one day, meet up with a devastating surprise. The devastation occurs when someone compromises the mutual camaraderie by being treasonous. It can happen at work, home, and with romantic partners.

If a co-worker, friend, or lover has ever encroached upon your trustfulness with deceptive words or actions, then you have pretty good recognition of the feeling that goes along with being the victim of unexpected deceit. You know what it is like to be with a person in one way, and in hours or days discover that he or she was disloyal to the relationship.

Deceit occurs to various degrees and measures. Members of some professions are prone to the practice of deceptive and manipulative tactics. Society in general, on an on going basis, is exposed to deceitfulness and disloyalty. In almost every newscast, a story is articled where the actions of a politician or civil leader is held in questionable judgment. We see deceit and deception all around us. It has become an indelible visible stain on the human condition.

But when one of us is personally betrayed by the deceitful actions of another who is close to us, then we experience a lasting and numbing betrayal hangover. The mental effects are heavy and lasting, and the emotional rushes are harsh and persistent. If you have been betrayed by a lover, friend, neighbor or co-worker then you can relate to the intense blasting sting of pain that is caused by this deception.

The first thought many people experience when being deceived is: “I can’t believe that this person would do this to me.” They become stuck in thoughts that rehash the betrayal. They think of the trust that they put into the relationship and wonder how someone could rape that trust with deliberate deception. The fact is it does happen, and will continue to happen. There is little we can do to stop it, but there is a lot that we can accomplish in modifying our response to it.

I think of betray as a Hurricane Katrina like event. Ahead of the event itself, we are often either told or intuitively detect warnings that something is amiss. Tell-tale signs say that something out of the usual, and subtly detectable is occurring. Then with a wrenching and sudden impact the breach shows up. The hurricane hits. The betrayal is exposed. In response, those affected by the disaster must do what they can to survive. The betrayed victim will scamper for ways to deal with the shock. Then comes the “I can’t believe it” stage. After a hurricane the devastation is viewed, and after a betrayal the incident and surrounding circumstances are replayed in the mind.

Next comes the clean-up and mending. After a betrayal comes the healing. Often extreme emotions overtake the betrayed one. He or she experiences extreme anxiety along with blame, disbelief and anger.

How do we get beyond this lingering stage of bitterness, humiliation, and distrust? My suggestion is to get involved with the Zen practice of mindful meditation. This type of meditative practice that allows the mind to bring to the forefront all thoughts and feelings, then just as each thought and feeling enters the mind, it is correspondingly let go. This mindful meditation practice gives way to loosening the victim’s attachment to the disdainful feelings. Letting go of hurt can be otherwise arduous. Mindful meditation however allows the mind to become detached from the pain.

Everything that the betrayed one experiences is in the mind. We cannot heal a past situation, or redirect what has already happened. We can only heal the mind, our own mind. And once the mind is set properly on course, then we can create future situations with a new perspective and therefore experience different outcomes. This story of two monks may better make the point. It goes like this: A flag was flapping in the wind when one monk expressed to the other that the flag was moving.

The second monk immediately corrected the other by exclaiming that it was the wind that was moving. A passing monk stopped and interjected: it is neither the wind or flag, but your mind that is moving. All things are first perceived and thusly gain perspective in the mind. Once a person is betrayed then the mind perceives the betrayal as one’s individual habitual thought pattern informs it to do so. Next, the betrayal is framed permanently according to the mind’s pre-trained point of view.

How does mindful meditation help? It does so by allowing the betrayal to be placed in a balanced perspective. Meditation allows us to place our mind on a peaceful, free, and open course. In meditation we don’t strive to be dismissive. We do however become entrenched in the practice of allowing the mind to become cleared of old patterns and ways of thinking.

We learn to view our thoughts much as a person sitting at a bus stop would view passing vehicles and pedestrians. We see our thoughts through an objective perspective. As each one arises, it is let go, then replaced with focused concentration on the rise and fall of our breath.

This change in concentration, over time, allows the mind to settle down and clear the way to open and honest thinking. An open mind is absent of bias and prejudice. It is not entangled in stressed-out thinking nor caught up in vengefulness, accusation or self-blame. An open and empty mind is predisposed to the guidance of Super Consciousness. It is open to the voice of God. In this state of unblemished and un-slanted consciousness, we gain insightfulness to our true nature, our real identity, and to how we fit into the world.

Through this insight we learn how to lovingly handle the betrayals that are directed at both our self and others. We learn how to bring love into the situations and encounters that arise in our lives. By participating in guided mindful meditation practice on a continual basis we realize how we bring into our lives the incidents and influences that initiate and perpetuate both mental and emotional distress.

Through our contact with Super Consciousness we also learn, not only how to forgive but also the value of forgiveness. We see those that betray us with a Divine vision, an enlightened mind. In short we see without judgment or the desire for a specific outcome. We learn to view the world without wanting to indulge a specific motive or need. And when we do so we are free. We learn to love and appreciate who we are. We recognize the divine qualities that thrive within us. We learn to release anger, condemnation and blame. db

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