A Site for the Expansion of Consciousness

A few months ago, while working with one of my hypnotherapy clients who had been betrayed by his mother, I thought about Charlie*.   Nearly twenty-five years ago, Charlie had been my best friend.  He was also my betrayer.

We had met at a gathering of men interested in Robert Bly’s mythopoetic men’s work, which was designed to promote, among other things, renewed trust in male camaraderie.  Connecting quickly through humor and a sense of “familiarity” that had no basis in this lifetime, Charlie and I shared interests beyond those of the Gathering, like boating and fishing.  Soon we were planning outings on head-boats cruising for rockfish in Chesapeake Bay.  For my first birthday during the time we hung out together, he even gifted me, despite his meager income, a beautiful rod and reel designed for use on a boat, equipment that I still have.  Such gear and the fishing skills my father had taught me should have made me a fishing ace.  However, Charlie’s wide grin, framed by his curly blond hair, flashed repeatedly as he bested me time after time on our trips, hauling over the boat’s gunwale larger rockfish as well as bigger bluefish.  His success and his “ribbing” of me for my comparable ineptitude never bothered me, for I had not had as close and loving a male friend since my college years over 20 years before.

The only area in which I excelled compared to him was in having relationships.  I was living with Marcie*, a woman who would be my significant other for eight years before our intractable issues separated us.  I also remained connected in a fairly deep way with several previous girlfriends, one of whom, Francine*, was the individual I had seriously dated prior to meeting Marcie.  In a context I do not recall, Marcie and Francine had met in my presence; as a result, Marcie concluded with some distress that Francine was still a rival for my affections.  It was Charlie who became my confidant about this matter, though he had little useful advice for me.  Perhaps that was so because, for reasons I could never fathom, Charlie did not score well with women despite his apparently caring nature, intelligence and reasonably good looks.

Still, over time, he seemed to get closer to Marcie.  Coming to the house for one reason or another, he started spending more time with Marcie than he did with me, making her laugh in a way I could not.  Though I was beginning to get a bit uneasy over this behavior, it was not really disturbing to me until Marcie took me aside one day to express her concern that Charlie was flirting beyond friendly teasing.  I do not remember if I spoke to him about the matter, but I do know that Marcie, with my encouragement, spoke directly to Charlie; he was a bit embarrassed but backed off.  I viewed his behavior as simply the result of awkward and inept efforts to connect with a woman.

On my next birthday, Charlie arranged a head-boat trip with me and two of my other male friends.  Picking up all of us at my home before dawn so we could travel to the embarkation point in the same car, he was more late than usual with no convincing excuse. When he summarily and a bit condescendingly dismissed my concerns about missing the boat’s departure from a dock fifty or so miles away, I thought something was bothering him.  But he soon clammed up.  An hour and a half later, after scrambling aboard two minutes before the boat’s mates pulled in the dock lines, I soon forgot about the matter as the boat glided through mirror-like water and as the rising sun painted the sky in brilliant gold and red.

Around 5:00 p.m., we drove home, tired and a bit scruffy, but glowing with sun-braised skin and the triumph of hauling in an abundance of now freshly filleted rockfish.  As we approached my home, I noticed an unusual number of cars parked along the street but dismissed the perception as unimportant.  As we made our way to the back entrance, I sensed something strange was going on.  Sure enough, when I opened the six-foot high door in the surrounding fence, a chorus of friends yelled, “Happy Birthday!” Marcie had planned and now executed the first of many surprise birthday parties she would stage for me during the following years.  Soon it became apparent that Charlie was her accomplice; she had assigned him the task of getting me out of the way so she could set up the festivities secretly.

And, of course, Francine was not there and had not been told about the party.  About a month later, when I was visiting her, she suddenly became quiet and looked intently at me, obviously struggling about whether she should say something.  In the next moment, she told me that she had known about the birthday party.  Startled and horrified, I asked her how she had found out; she told me that Charlie had told her before the party occurred, for he knew from Marcie that Francine would not be invited.  When I asked her why she had not told me before now, Francine said that she had not wanted to short-circuit the surprise of the party for me; she added that, although she was hurt, she had said nothing before now because she was afraid that the disclosure would cause a rift between me and Charlie.  Now, however, because the secret had made her somewhat distant from me, she needed to tell me.

After acknowledging her understandable hurt mixed with her awareness that her exclusion was also appropriate given how Marcie felt about my relationship with Francine, I went home and told Marcie about Charlie’s betrayal.  Despite her dislike of Francine, Marcie felt compassion for Francine’s pain, as well as anger at Charlie for his cruel disclosure.  I noted to Marcie that Charlie also took the risk that Francine could have shared with me her awareness of the party before it took place; if she had done so, and I had then told Marcie, Charlie would have indirectly injured Marcie as well.  Suddenly, I realized that Charlie had also passively aggressively flirted with the idea of failing to take me out of the way by his being late for our fishing venture; had we missed the boat, there was nothing to keep us from coming home and thereby upsetting the preparations for the surprise party and consequently hurting Marcie.  In the end, for no apparent reason, Charlie had hurt not only me, but also two women I loved.

I was beyond shocked and outraged.  What devil had possessed him?

When I confronted him a couple of days later, I was shaking with anger.  I outlined the list of cruel actions he had taken and demanded to know what in hell made him be so malicious.  In response, he got really angry, mumbling that this was my fault, too; yet his reasoning was at best incoherent.  In turn, with tears streaming out of her fierce eyes, Marcie let him know how much he had wounded her.  We then asked this obvious miscreant to leave our home immediately.

A couple of days later, Charlie called to ask that I accompany him to see his therapist.  I already had wanted to dismiss him altogether, but I agreed reluctantly, not willing to let go of an erstwhile good friend if there existed some mitigating reason for his behavior that he had not been able so far to articulate.  After we had arrived at the therapist’s office and I had recounted what had transpired, the therapist focused on Charlie, asking him what was going on for him.  It took over an hour to do so, but the therapist finally concluded that Charlie’s motivation was sheer jealousy of my having loving relationships with women, of my having a career instead of the kind of mundane job he had, of my having more money than he had, and of my living in a beautiful house (owned by Marcie) in an upscale neighborhood so different from the shabby apartment he shared in a lower middle-class area that was becoming prone to crime.  In rebuttal, he implied that I, too, was at fault for having what he did not have.  His words made no more sense to the therapist than they had to me.

After meeting with the therapist, who I felt validated my view that Charlie was a nasty and spiteful individual, I summarily ended my relationship with my former friend.  Over the next year, he made overtures of reconnecting that I abruptly ignored. I considered him untrustworthy, abusive, toxic and, I must admit, a bit crazed.  And I had done absolutely nothing to deserve his disrespect and even hatred.  “I did nothing wrong” soon became my protective mantra.  It was an open-and-shut case of his guilt.  After a year, I happily never had any contact with him again and soon pretty much forgot about our connection and disconnection.


That is, until a few months ago while I was figuring out what hypnotherapeutic modality to use with my client who had been betrayed by his mother.  Charlie’s grinning face suddenly floated into my awareness, and I knew immediately but without any clarity that what I was saying to the client was relevant to what had happened between Charlie and me.  That night, feeling perplexed and a bit apprehensive, I decided to investigate the reason for Charlie’s appearance.

Soon it was clear that his emergence in my awareness had to do with my rethinking the concept of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is usually viewed as releasing the alleged victimizer from blame and guilt and the alleged victim from anger, resentment and vengefulness.  However, as I meditated on Charlie’s actions and purpose in my life, I developed a more complex understanding of Forgiveness, one that involves four stages, each of which represents a different level of consciousness, the last being the most comprehensive.

Stage 1 Forgiveness

Not long after I had cut off Charlie, I went into Stage 1 Forgiveness.  This is the stage in which the aggrieved individual tries to harbor no ill thoughts about or intentions toward the betrayer, as long as the latter is completely gone from the environments frequented by the aggrieved, including his or her inner environment.  The reason the aggrieved person gives for being forgiving in this way is that it is not “Christian,” “humane,” or “civilized” to refrain from forgiving.  However, very often, despite often herculean efforts to suppress recollection, something may trigger remembrance of the betrayer along with one’s shock, outrage, and bitterness at his or her transgressions. Or those feelings may arise later in similar encounters with other individuals.  In my own case, while Charlie, after awhile, did not really make an appearance in my inner world in any substantive way (until a few months ago), what he represented had appeared before he came on the scene, in instances of betrayal regarding loans I generously and naively made to two other very close, supposedly accountable friends in the fifteen years before I met Charlie.

Stage 1 Forgiveness is then mostly an intellectual, politically correct attempt to do the “right thing.”  From another perspective, it is a veneer of charity barely covering unprocessed feelings that may pop up unexpectedly in diverse ways.  This is especially so when the aggrieved feels absolutely justified in his or her anger that borders on self-righteousness.  Often, friends or other individuals (like Charlie’s therapist) readily acknowledge the unremitting toxicity of the betrayer and thereby enable the black-and-white thinking of the aggrieved.

Sometimes, the aggrieved–either plagued by the popping up of irrepressible feelings about the betrayer, upset by the lip service of Stage 1 Forgiveness, or persuaded that being morosely unforgiving is really more harmful to the aggrieved than any betrayal could be–seeks help and deeper resolution from a mental health practitioner.  One of the more popular therapeutic modalities today is often called “Cutting Cords.”  The core of this process, however it may initially be presented, is the notion that psychic cords/connections, like umbilical cords, keep the aggrieved tied to the betrayer.  To remedy this situation, the aggrieved, with therapeutic help, first learns to empower himself or herself—to become not only a survivor, but also a thriver,  and thus to overcome the feelings of victimization by owning his or her self-worth no matter what the betrayer has done.  At this point, it is time to cut those cords (and in one variation, burn off the cut ends).  Through visualization, the now supposedly empowered individual gets to use some often impressive cutting device to sever those bindings forever and move on, free, finally, from the betrayer and his or her noxious actions.

Still another modality used today involves having the aggrieved individual really empty out those hostile, otherwise suppressed feelings; he or she does so by screaming profanities while pounding a pillow with fists or using a batoka (foam-covered plastic bat) to whale on a punching bag until the individual is spent.  It was the latter modality that I exercised one afternoon, nearly breaking the unbreakable batoka—How dare he do that to me and to two of my other friends!  Afterwards, I felt wiped out, but less tense and, paradoxically, more energized to move on from Charlie.

Unfortunately, the positive effects of these processes very often do not last.  The negative feelings return or persist to one degree or another, and therefore out goes any sense of a deeper forgiveness of the transgressor.  When some of the aggrieved realize that these modalities do not have lasting positive effects, they go on what feels like a pilgrimage to find the Holy Land of Forgiveness, trying along the way this process and that without much success.  Such processes might include writing a letter to the betrayer clearly and confidently indicting him or her for his or her misdeeds and then sending it, or, better still, to avoid starting a useless interchange, burning it ritualistically.  Another possibility is to visualize confronting the betrayer with his or her transgression and then envision some kind of punishment taking place.

Two other processes are notable here: Soul Retrieval, a shamanic process popularized by Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman, and Calling Your Energy Back, which appears in several variations in New Age/Spiritual Circles.  Both processes focus on taking back the power the individual lost to the other person when the betrayal occurred.  In soul retrieval the shaman enters the spirit world on behalf of the client and retrieves the lost part of the soul; this aspect of the soul is often imaged in the form of a child who is often reluctant to return to what it conceives to be an uncertain fate with the shaman’s client, who had abandoned it many times before in the face of trauma brought by others.  Today, many individuals take their own journey of retrieval guided by a shaman in person or on CD.

In Calling Your Energy Back, the individual must be ready to retrieve, own, embody, and ground the energy/power he or she had lost to the betrayer who used it to affect the individual adversely.  In some cases, the individual acknowledges that he or she may for various reasons have even given up his or her power or not fought very hard to keep it.  In any case, the betrayed person first sees the betrayer in imaginal space, then senses the power he or she lost or gave up and sets the definite intention, invigorated by strong emotion, to take that power back.  In continuing this ritual, the betrayed person begins to overcome the sense of betrayal, realizing that the betrayer’s actions now have no power to harm him or her.

In the latter two modalities the aggrieved appears to take a small degree of responsibility for what has happened to him or her; for in each process the individual may acknowledge that he or she has given up some of his or her power to the betrayer.  Nevertheless, the focus is still primarily on getting away totally from the nefarious betrayer.

Stage 2 Forgiveness

Many of those who start out with Stage 1 Forgiveness do go beyond giving lip service to forgiveness, for they believe that forgiveness is possible and in order only after going through one of the modalities listed above.  They reason that only if they get emotionally far enough away from the betrayer can they forgive.  Unfortunately, forgiveness developed from these exercises often falls apart, disintegrating because it depends almost exclusively on protecting one’s power and building walls against the demonized betrayer.  While boundaries are very important, relying solely on them to free oneself from the other person in order to forgive often breeds more fear as one wonders from time to time if the boundaries will hold.  And, in fact, often they do not, because all of them derive from a level of consciousness where the concept of victim-and-victimizer prevails.

But, to paraphrase Einstein, the same level of consciousness that created a problem cannot resolve it.  When the aggrieved is literally at his or her wits’ end after using one or more of the modalities above—which provide mostly temporary relief—the individual may experience a shift in consciousness that pushes her or him into a more compassionate stance, that is, Stage 2 Forgiveness; now the more open individual goes to visit in imagination the world of the betrayer, seeking understanding of how he or she could become such an abusive figure.

When I entered Stage 2 Forgiveness after first demonizing Charlie, I started wracking my brain to understand, from his perspective, the mess he had created; it wasn’t hard to see at least some of the conditioning he had endured from his verbally and physically abusive father and smothering mother.  A couple of months before the betrayal, I got a hint of what was churning in Charlie, for I accompanied him as moral support when he went to trial for pulling a knife during an altercation with a co-worker. Because Charlie had no priors and had simply brandished the knife, his lawyer was able to convince the judge only to fine him and put him on probation with no jail time.   I was uneasy when I heard about Charlie’s potential for violence, which should have forewarned me about what he was capable of doing; yet, I did not give it much thought until after I had entered Stage 2.  When I did, I felt some compassion for his pain and had a dim awareness of what it was like for him to grow up deprived and thus become jealous of my good fortune.  In looking back, however, I now realize that my momentarily legitimate compassion soon tuned into pity and condescension instead of forgiveness.  For a part of me was, consciously or not, still in Stage 1 with my not-fully-processed anger and self-righteousness, as is ultimately the case for many of those professing Stage 2 Forgiveness.

Another way Stage 2 Forgiveness can go awry occurs when the aggrieved individual not merely rushes to “forgive” while repressing hostile feelings, but also and immediately focuses exclusively on the frailty, deprivation, lucklessness, and cluelessness of the “poor” man or woman who could not really help being a betrayer.  This will happen most often when the alleged victim lacks self-love, fears confrontation, worries about being abandoned, or fears that some transgression of his or her own will be found out.  When any of these conditions prevails in the aggrieved, the compassion/forgiveness is as hollow as that in Stage 1 Lip Service Forgiveness.

A variation of the Stage 2 false forgiveness is playing the martyr; the aggrieved engages in a perversion of “turn the other cheek” with the poor, misguided, unfortunate betrayer who cannot help his negative reactions.  However, such martyrdom is often really a self-righteous power trip designed to keep oneself innocent and the betrayer guilty.

Stage 3 Forgiveness

In its best form, which at least allows the aggrieved to move in a momentarily compassionate posture beyond his or her own world to visit that of the betrayer, Stage 2 Forgiveness is a step up from the coldness and emptiness of Stage 1 Lip Service Forgiveness.  Yet, even when it does not devolve into outright pity, false compassion, or martyrdom, Stage 2 Forgiveness is still divisive, still productive of a “me vs. him or her” mentality:  “I am still innocent, and he or she is still decidedly guilty, but now I understand where he or she was coming from.”

Several years ago, when I was training to be a practitioner of a type of hypnosis called NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), I discovered in one of its modalities, “Releasing Enmeshment” (RE), what I would now call Stage 3 Forgiveness.  Enmeshment in the view of NLPers is being stuck in an unforgiving posture.  Releasing Enmeshment (RE) and therefore allowing forgiveness may seem at first glance to be similar to the Cord Cutting I described above, but RE’s presuppositions are very different, as I shall explain later.  In this process, I induce in the client a closed-eyes, light trance that deepens on its own as the work progresses.  Next, I ask her to imagine the betrayer in imaginal (sometimes called etheric) space, noticing the person’s overall condition and appearance.  Then I ask the client to ask her subconscious to help her conscious mind to sense, see, feel or imagine lines of connection between her and the betrayer.  These may appear as cords, ropes, or other modes of connection of varying material, color, thickness, etc.  Some of these cords may be connected to the same portion of the body in each person, e.g., eyes to eyes, right thigh to right thigh; the ends of other cords may connect to a different part of each person’s body, e.g., right elbow of the client to the solar plexus of the betrayer.  All of this symbolic detail helps the client to understand, at a level much deeper than the conscious mind can fathom by itself, exactly how the client is connected, even bound, to the betrayer.

Then I ask the client to imagine feeling each cord in turn with her actual hands and thereby gain more information about the nature of the each connection, i.e., how strong and old it is; what its exact nature is; and, most important, who “plugged” it into whom.  After that usually long part of the process is completed, I ask the client to ask the subconscious part that made or accepted a particular connection to disclose its positive intention in doing so. This disclosure is often very revelatory for the client, who thereby deepens her awareness of what has been going on from both sides.  Next, I direct the client to ask the subconscious if it is willing to give up continuing what has become a destructive connection if it can be shown how

to get what it needs in a different, constructive way.  When the subconscious assents, I ask the client to imagine her Higher Self (which appears humanoid) standing beside her and to view the betrayer’s Higher Self forming to stand beside him.  Before the process of disconnection occurs, I ask if there is any part of the client unwilling to go along with the disconnection; if there is one or more, I help each part to find a palatable way to assent to the upcoming change.

Then, I invite the client to do one of two actions: one is to unplug from a part of her body the cord put into her by the betrayer and put the now unplugged end into the same part of the body of the betrayer’s Higher Self, e.g, from the client’s right hand to the right hand of the betrayer’s Higher Self.  The other action is to unplug a cord the client had connected, for instance, to the heart of the betrayer and then attach the now unplugged end to heart of the client’s Higher Self.  The idea is that, either way, the client and the betrayer will each get from her/his own Higher Self what she/he was inappropriately getting from the other person.

After all the connections are redirected to the Higher Selves, the next step is to ask the client to declare that each individual is now free from the other to pursue her/his own direction.  The other person may respond, positively or negatively, and then they separate.  While this process is done in imaginal space, it may have a significant impact on both parties in the waking world.  For instance, the client may find that the energy between her and the other person has changed so that they may reconcile with apologies on both sides for the misguided connections that had been made.  Or the client may feel powerfully at ease with the awareness and ending of her part in the former enmeshment and thus be able to let go of the other person with true compassion if the other person has a need to continue in his old posture.

The ways in which this modality and level of Forgiveness is different from the previous two levels may already be obvious.   First, there is no divisive, holier-than-thou attitude on the part of the so-called victim; in fact, no real victim is acknowledged since the problem between the parties is co-created—each choosing to make or accept all of the troublesome connections.  (This is so even if the one casting himself or herself as victim cannot see or acknowledge the fact of the co-creation.)  The discovery and owning of the co-creation of what were or became toxic connections and the acknowledgment of making some of them oneself is often deeply transformative for the formerly aggrieved individual.  Second, the acknowledgment of an original positive intention behind the accepting or making of a connection, even if it was or turned into a negative one, keeps the parties away from blame and self-blame, the latter usually militating against acknowledgment of co-creation and thus affirming the victim-vs.-victimizer level of consciousness.

Third, the manner of the disconnection is changed from the rather violent one of aggressively cutting cords to a more caring one of redirecting the flow of energy to and from the Higher Self for each individual.  Unlike in the cord-cutting scenario of Stage 1 Forgiveness, the originally aggrieved person does not summarily cast the erstwhile betrayer away to a fate totally unknown and uncared about.  The formerly aggrieved individual cares enough about the other that he helps the other find in the other’s Higher Self what the other can no longer get from the formerly aggrieved person.  This action is truly compassion, truly forgiveness, going beyond the mere stepping into the other’s world found in Stage 2 Forgiveness.

Finally, the metaphor of redirecting energy involves the taking of significant self-responsibility, much more than does the notion of cutting cords.  Picture the snipped cords still waving around, ready to attach in the same way to another person and thus attracting once again negative enmeshment.  In this metaphor, should the individual with a waving, severed cord make an entanglement with another person, the entangler usually does so subconsciously without taking any responsibility for doing so.  After all, the first person, in cutting cords, has already gotten rid of any possibility of further entanglement, hasn’t he?

I did not undergo a Releasing Enmeshment process with Charlie’s image, partly because for very many years I did not know about this modality and its presuppositions, partly because I had forgotten about Charlie, and partly because, when Charlie’s face did float into my awareness a few months ago, I was already equipped to go into Stage 4.  Yet it would be worthwhile to do the process of Stage 3 Forgiveness, for I am sure I would learn more about how we were connected subconsciously.  Still, by entering into Stage 4, some of what would have been revealed in Stage 3, would also emerge in this final stage, though with an added layer of awareness, as you shall see below.

Stage 4 “Forgiveness”

Stage 3 Forgiveness may seem like the ultimate forgiveness because it absolves the other person’s actions from being wholly responsible for the mess; because it shows mercy and compassion; and because it overcomes the coldness, pity, blame and self-blame that variously mar Stages 1 & 2.  Nevertheless, there is, as I alluded to above, a fourth stage, one that goes beyond all that has been said so far because it undermines the very notion of conventional forgiveness with a more embracive concept.

In Stage 3 forgiveness, the formerly aggrieved person ultimately sees that there is enough accountability to go around; but what she does not see is that she actually asked on the soul level for the alleged betrayer to do what he did.  In other words, the betrayal did not occur by chance; instead, the parties chose and planned the situation–just about every aspect of it (while always leaving room for in-the-moment, even significant changes). Achieving this awareness is Stage 4 Forgiveness. Here I present once again in one of my posts the Sethian notion that we create our own reality—no exceptions.  Moreover, what happens to us when with others is always a co-creation, no matter if our lower level consciousness is appalled by and totally disbelieving of that fact.

These co-creations are the result of soul contracts made by the individuals during the Pre-Birth Planning phase of their Inter-Life experience.  Each agrees to play a role for the other that will bring the other the experience the other needs to deepen his or her understanding of how to use energy.  Often this involves one person’s being the “bad guy” for the other, though this role can also serve the Bad Guy’s development.

I am reminded here of two of the characters in Neale Donald Walsch’s The Little Soul and the Sun.  While in Heaven during his Interlife experience, the Little Soul is imaged as a little boy who wants not so much to know about Forgiveness as to thoroughly experience it; but God tells him that in Heaven there is no need for Forgiveness; in fact, He says, the only way to do that is to incarnate and experience in it the three-dimensional world where someone does something to him that he can then forgive.  Up steps the Friendly Soul imaged as a little girl; she offers to contract with the Little Soul to help him experience what forgiveness is.  When the Little Soul asks why she would help him, she replies that he has forgotten that they have helped each other countless times to experience fully what they may at first only know intellectually.  But then she grows quieter and says that there is one thing they must remember: she may have to make her energy so dense and dark to do the horrible thing to him—which he would then have a chance to forgive—that both of them may forget who they really are: light beings lovingly helping each other understand the ins and outs of energy manifestation.

When I entered Stage 4 Forgiveness regarding Charlie’s betrayal, I pushed myself counter-intuitively to ask, “Why did I ask him to betray me?”  When I broached that question to my Inner Self, I encountered simultaneously two opposing feelings.  The first was incredulity that I could even ask such an apparently stupid question, since, while in a less expansive consciousness, I knew that I was a totally innocent victim.  The second feeling was one of relief and relaxation, for a wall dropped away so I could see my part of the contract we had made.

I began to see that in several ways, Charlie’s presence and actions in my life provided a mirror to me of some of my own questionable actions at the time, actions that I was willfully blind to.  So, I reflected, if I summoned him to be a mirror, then that means I am a betrayer, too.  Wow, that was hard to acknowledge, but the awareness gradually became clearer, if at first not more palatable.  I realized that I had not fully ended my romantic relationship with Francine, something I denied to myself, but which Marcie picked up and grieved over.  For a few months, I would insist on visiting Francine on Friday nights, as Marcie cried with fear that I would not return. I told myself that if I did not get physical with Francine, I was doing nothing wrong despite the romantic feelings I still had for her, which she tried to draw out of me without a lot of resistance from me.

However, the possibility of my becoming aware that I was, indeed, betraying Marcie was dimmed by the downright exhilaration of having two lovely women wanting me at the same time.  As I look now at that fact, I am aware that until just before I met Francine, I was almost as unsuccessful with women as was Charlie.  In not wanting to remind myself of that fact, I likely distanced Charlie in some unclear way, contributing to his sense of being isolated and “different” from me, and thus provoking him to some degree to retaliate.  And I may well have had a bit of condescension in my voice when I tried to give him relationship advice.  While my present acknowledgment of my contribution to his perspective and actions does not absolve him of understanding why he summoned me to cut him off, nevertheless, as I contemplated what Charlie was mirroring back to me, I gradually understood that he had been right in his inarticulate, but spot-on declaration that I, too, was “at fault.”

Had I not been able now to discover what I have outlined in the last paragraphs and had I still felt uneasy about what had happened between me and Charlie, I might have sought out a hypnotherapy colleague to help me go back to the contracting period in the Other World.  In doing so, I would have been privy not only to the contract’s details, but also to what we took from a past life (lives) together to develop further our awareness of the dos and don’ts of energy manipulation.  And, depending on whether my Higher Self believed that I had discovered, through knowing the details, the core wisdom generated by the contract or, in contrast, believed that there was more for me to learn from going on with it, I would have either ended the agreement on my side or re-contracted in imaginal space with Charlie to make some changes, an action that would have positively affected us both on the earth plane.

Even though I did not then have the awareness that I have now, in a couple of months I did, indeed, bring much more closure to the relationship with Francine.  (And, of course, Francine and Marcie were also co-creators, for their own reasons, of their experiences with me and Charlie and with each other.)  But if I had accepted then that I had co-created Charlie’s betrayal of me, I would have owned more easily my own darker side and its effects on Charlie and the women and possibly have mitigated those effects.  Moreover, Charlie and I might possibly have deepened our friendship; or, at the very least, had he not been able to step out of his own limiting beliefs, I would have wished him well and been very grateful to him as I pursued my own journey.

Still, beyond all the mirroring he provided of my own darkness, the greatest gift Charlie gave me through his betrayal was the chance to experience forgiveness fully and concretely.  He did for me what the Friendly Soul had done for the Little Soul, giving me the opportunity to experience and then truly let go of blaming, victimization, black-and-white thinking, self-righteousness, resentment, anger and vengefulness; for I now see that these feelings were always beside the point, even though I had first to experience them until their uselessness to heal me brought me to a place where a shift of consciousness was possible.  And, perhaps, given that Charlie probably felt that I, in turn, had betrayed him by cutting him off so self-righteously, he, too, will discover or has already discovered that in the three-dimensional world, the true meaning of forgiveness most often arises from first experiencing, often very painfully, what it is not.

What is left for me to do, clearly and sincerely, is to thank him: “Charlie, thank you for agreeing to be the ‘bad guy’ in my life at the time; thank you for being willing to sacrifice our friendship to provide an opportunity for both of us to grow in consciousness.”  Given my belief that we are all always linked intimately at the soul level, I have no doubt that Charlie is somehow aware of my change of heart, of my moving beyond any conventional notion of forgiveness, given that he had done only what on the level of Spirit I had asked him to do.


So, Dear Reader, what has my post invoked in you?  What memories of being betrayed arise, asking for resolution through a more expansive consciousness?  What have you learned on your own about the essence of forgiveness?

*Everyone referenced in this post has a fictitious name to preserve his or her privacy.

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Comments on: "The Gift of Betrayal: A Meditation on Forgiveness" (3)

  1. I have many memories in my life of being betrayed, and being the betrayer, which involve/d various degrees of hurtful feelings. As a result of your clear explanation of the stages of forgiveness, I can identify the types of ‘forgivenesses’ that I have experienced with several of these past hurts. I suspect that it would take an awareness raising situation, such as you had when Charlie reappeared in your thoughts after so many years, to pursue Stage 4 in some of my most painful past experiences. Now, Joe, that you have raised not only my consciousness regarding forgiveness, but provided in depth and useful examples and information, I’d best be on the look out for what’s coming!!!!
    Question? Are all feelings beside the point other than as a path to greater insights?
    Lastly, thank you for this; “The true meaning of forgiveness most often arises from first experiencing, often very painfully, what it is not.”

    • Marian,

      Thanks so much for your gracious and heart-warming reply. I, too, have to continue to search for the consciousness involved in Stage 4 Forgiveness with some current situations with other individuals!

      If I understand your question, I would say, yes, “all feelings are [ultimately] beside the point other than as a path to greater insight.” Yet, especially when you are dealing with very unpleasant feelings, those feelings can become a spiritual path only if they are throughly felt, often to their greatest depth; then, two things happen: 1) taking the feelings at face value, you discover their limitations to heal; and 2) you see the feelings as the darkness you have come to transfigure, that is, you reveal them as camouflaged Light. In that revelation, you have shifted to a more embracive consciousness.

      Blessings back to you!


      • Betrayal is something that happens in the movies and books, so I thought when I was growing up. I simply did not have a very clear understanding what it really meant to be betrayed. That is until, in a fairly short period of time, in my twenties, I twice was betrayed. Once, by whom I at the time I considered a good friend and couple years later by my then wife.

        I too remember agonizing feelings of deep anger, hurt, sadness and the need to understand and to forgive, to do the right thing and of course to prove that I am the “right” one who has been wronged.

        Luckily, not too long after second betrayal, as I was reading a book, name of which I no longer can recollect, I began to understand that everything that happened to me was not simply an accident of faith, instead it happen because I agreed to this long before it transpired. With this “new” understanding I was able instantly forgive both of those people. I knew that the forgiveness was genuine because I felt it in my heart and to this day I do not have ill feelings for those involved. This happened before I read any of Jane Robert’s Seth books, which have deepened my understandings of Nature of Reality to incredible levels. I too feel grateful to my friend and my wife for helping me with these understandings.

        I am not convinced of Einstein’s statement “the same level of consciousness that created a problem cannot resolve it”. Is it not true, that consciousness, on a spiritual level is aware of all probable events and if so, does it not pick probable event so we can experience it in three-dimensional term? If this is true, than the consciousness, by our choice, lets us forget this fact so we can truly experience any given manifestation in its true form.

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