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Betrayal, Forgiveness and Jesse James

July 10th, 2010 8:18 AM by Lehel S.

Betrayal, Forgiveness and Jesse James - By Karen Bentley ***
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Sandra Bullock recently moved out of the house she shared with bad boy husband, Jesse James, after allegations surfaced that James carried on an 11-month affair with a tattoo model. 

An upset James responded with a public statement. "There is only one person to blame for this whole situation," he said, "and that is me. It's because of my poor judgment that I deserve everything bad that is coming my way." Should our beloved Sandra forgive the dastardly Jesse? And if yes, then what are the steps towards forgiveness that need to be taken? 

As we explore the concept of forgiveness, the most important thing to keep in mind is that there's a radical difference between the popular social version of forgiveness we all know and practice and the uncompromisingly spiritual version of forgiveness, which is still a mystery to most Earthlings. One type of forgiveness makes you feel bad about self or another. The other one makes you feel good. A quick and easy way to tell the difference is to do an experiment in your own life. Try both methods and see which one makes you happier. 

First, let's take a look at the social forgiveness conventions around infidelity. Typically, forgiveness is only extended and accomplished when a set of certain mandatory conditions are met, and which may involve a rather extended period of time. The person to be forgiven must admit his or her wrongness and express genuine remorse and apologize. This apology might need to be repeated several times -- perhaps the remainder of life. And lastly, he or she must vow to never be unfaithful again. Adulterers get bonus forgiveness points if they come up with a plan of action to prevent future problems from cropping up, such as marital counseling, sex rehab, or other prescriptive activities. 

Even after the unfaithful spouse does all this jumping through hoops, the spouse doing the forgiving is still not socially obligated to forgive. Ultimately, forgiveness can be denied. Forgiveness can be delayed. Additional acts of contrition can be demanded to make up for the pain and humiliation of betrayal. The adulterer's infidelity can be brought up as frequently as desired and as long as desired, even if the requisite "I forgive you" words have been expressed. This is the treachery that routinely passes for forgiveness of infidelity in our culture and in many others. 

Ultimately the social version of forgiveness is a waste of time because it doesn't undo the hate in the mind of either spouse. Instead, it keeps hate alive and ever-present. Judgment of an adulterer as a bad person is a lethal but unrecognized form of hate. 

We think we can secretly hold hate in our mind for another, but unfortunately the hateful thought sooner or later gets used against self. Maybe it makes you sick. Maybe it makes you afraid. Only love can make you happy, and love is experienced whenever hateful thoughts are neutralized and undone. 

Spiritual forgiveness is different from social forgiveness because it neutralizes and undoes the hateful thoughts in your mind. It requires a tiny willingness to change the desired outcome. The goal of social forgiveness is to get something like retribution, justice, and maybe a dose of emotional pain and punishment for good measure.

The goal of spiritual forgiveness is to be something, and that something is the experience of Self as Love. In fact, the whole dramatic betrayal scene has the potential to be exploited, deliberately and strategically, to override or transcend the automatic impulse to hate. Transcendence is accomplished by replacing the hateful thought with a harmless one. When you notice a hateful thought in your mind, you simply change your mind and have a different thought. Since the mind can only hold one thought at a time, a neutral thought is chosen to replace the harmful one.

There's nothing so uplifting and so fulfilling as the intentional experience of Self as Love when the impulse to hate is banging on your door. You need the pressure and leverage of a challenging relationship to bring the love that is your Truth into your life experience. This is how you come to know yourself as a loving being, and it only happens under fire. 

Transcending the judgment of badness is not to be confused with overlooking the problem. Let's say your teenager accidentally forgets to turn off your stove after cooking something, and your house catches on fire and burns down. The correct, most functional and loving action is to solve the problem at hand, but without assigning blame or judgment. 

First you make sure everyone is safe and you salvage whatever you can. Next you figure out where to temporarily live. Next you submit your insurance claim. Next you talk to your teenager, find out how it happened, and put preventive safety measures in place so it doesn't happen again. These are all active, non-passive steps you take to solve the problem at hand. What's different is that you're not making your teenager bad or wrong while you're at it.

Now let's get back to Sandra and Jesse. Sandra has four basic choices. 1) She can complain about what she doesn't want, which includes obsessing about Jesse's bad behavior and whether or not she can ever trust him again, and stay married, but unhappily. 2) She can complain about Jesse's bad behavior, leave him, and be unhappy about the wretchedness of the situation ever after. 

3) She can ask Jesse for what she wants, overlook his mistake, and stay married, happily. 4) Or, she can realize she wants something Jesse can't deliver and leave with no bad feelings. The last two options are the loving, functional and practical choices because they solve the problem, but without judging Jesse or making him bad or wrong.  

Disappointment with unfaithful spouses is born from the grown-up fairy tale that love is special and exclusive. Every girl and boy believes there's a special someone out there, "just for me." Our marriage vows add to this by reminding us we are to "forsake all others."

Awakening to the realization that love is not special does not have to be a terrible, unwanted experience of pain, suffering and humiliation, but is usually perceived that way. Consequently, no one willingly wants to wake up. This is why public transgressors like Jesse James and others are so vigorously condemned and forced to conform. It keeps the dream going a little longer. I'm not suggesting we throw out our social and religious conventions and indulge the urge to have extra marital affairs whenever an opportunity presents itself. What I am suggesting is that we should reconsider the harsh and extreme judgment of badness that's assigned to people who make marriage mistakes. 

Forgive yourself. Forgive your spouse. We all make mistakes. Forgiveness, which is the transcendence of hate in the mind, is always appropriate. Forget everything you think you know about forgiveness and replenish your empty heart with an uncompromisingly spiritual way of thinking that will leave you renewed.

Put your faith in the miracle of Love. Every problem is solved through Love. Listen to your heart, not to me. Love is the only thing that really matters -- especially love of self.

** To comment on this article or to read comments about this article, go here.


About the Author:

Karen Bentley specializes in writing about the power of Love and the mind-body-spirit connection. She's the author of The Book of Love, America's Spiritual Reviewer, the My Thin Lifestyle Reviewer, and the creator ofThe Sugar-Free Miracle™ Diet System.

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Posted by Lehel S. on July 10th, 2010 8:18 AM

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