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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Betrayal?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Betrayal

Doubt as a Response to Pain and Betrayal

All of us have doubt about all kinds of things, depending on our ignorance or our history: how many times we were hurt or deceived, how often we were betrayed, disappointed, or abandoned, and so on. From these experiences comes ambivalence—a combination of hope for what we want and fear that it won’t happen. From this ambivalence, doubt arises, and the doubt has a destructive, hateful quality in reaction to our history of pain and betrayal. As a result, the doubt tries to discount the insights or the messages of the Guidance. Openness to the Guidance can easily be destroyed by doubt. Normally, when truth first arises, it is very subtle, very delicate; if we doubt it right away, we kill it before it develops.

Our Choiceless Choice

The development of and identification with the self-representations is, of course, not simply a result of the student turning away from her essential self. Many other factors determine this development. However she has participated, wittingly or unwittingly, in the process of going to sleep, of turning away from the aspects of her soul that her environment could not or would not recognize. She did it to survive, because the loneliness and hurt were intolerable; nevertheless she did participate. Understanding her choiceless choice, her extreme dependence on her early caregivers, helps her now to acknowledge her part in the betrayal and feel compassion about the untenable position she found herself in early childhood.

The Great Betrayal

Stop striving after all kinds of things; stop dreaming, scheming, planning, working, achieving, attempting, moving, manipulating, trying to be something, trying to get somewhere. You forget the simplest, most obvious thing, which is to be here. If you are not in your body, you miss the source of all significance, meaning, and satisfaction. How can you feel the satisfaction, if you are not here? We miss who we are, which is fundamentally beingness, existence. If we are not here, we exist only on the fringes of reality. We don't sufficiently value simply being. Instead, we value what we want to accomplish, or what we want to possess. It is our biggest mistake. It is called the "great betrayal."

The Question of Maternal Care

We have arrived at this understanding of the emptiness within the hungry self through a sustained inquiry into the nature and origins of the above object relations and a host of others. This inquiry takes the student back to his earliest experiences, especially with his mother. He finds himself dealing with his early life experiences, with the question of maternal care, with his real hunger and its frustrations, with his oral need for love, warmth, holding, and safety. He confronts the effects of early deprivation, physical and emotional abandonment, inattunement to his needs, and intrusiveness into his field of experience. He experiences the wounding, the betrayal, the rage, the hunger, and finally, the emptiness. It is a specific narcissistic emptiness, a gnawing and dry emptiness. Sometimes the student feels that his mouth is dry, his stomach empty, and his body stiff and lifeless. When he perseveres with this condition, he will begin feeling the specific empty shell of oral narcissism.This empty shell does not reveal itself until he goes deeper into understanding the hungry and empty self. Then he will experience himself as an empty bag, a flaccid, empty stomach sack. This empty bag, which is the self devoid of its living core, becomes a hungry, angry, and empty self when he reacts to the emptiness with orally-determined feelings. The state of the empty stomach is most clearly revealed when he can accept the emptiness and learns not to react to it with anger, frustration or hunger.

The Unconscious Sense of Betrayal

Because the child experiences the parents’ expectations as different from who he actually is, he feels betrayed by the parents. Even the general narcissistic condition of the parents is perceived as a betrayal. Because the child is completely dependent on the parents, this situation leads to his betraying himself to avoid aloneness and the loss of love of the parents. This, the greatest of all betrayals, is an important part of the development of narcissism, and constitutes an emotional issue central to the resolution of narcissism. In general, this sense of betrayal is completely unconscious until later developments take place, for instance when a person is in the process of individuation and separation from the parents’ expectations, he may feel then the cost of his accommodation to the parents’ defining of him. Another level of development is the process of spiritual realization, in which glimpses of essential nature tend to reveal the emotional pain involved with the parents’ failure to support and mirror this true nature. Seeing one’s essential nature gives one a painful awareness of what was betrayed by the parents and by the self’s accommodation of the parents’ world.

We Have Betrayed Ourselves

When we are genuinely interested in the truth, the whole truth, we realize with a greater sorrow that this betrayal from the outside is less terrible than another betrayal: we come to understand that we have betrayed ourselves. We realize that when our environment betrayed us and abandoned us, with varying degrees of insensitivity, we felt alone and abandoned, with no one relating to us. To be real meant being isolated from the environment, living in another universe, a universe not seen by our parents, not acknowledged by them, even not known by them... so we learned to pretend, to be like them, to join them in their world, the world of lies, the world of the shell, the conventional world. We became what they wanted us to be, what they paid attention to in us, what they preferred in us, what made them relate to us. Through this process of accommodation, we abandoned and rejected what they could not see, the parts of us they did not relate to. Since our Essence was the element they recognized or understood least, our Essence was the central element we disowned. We ended up abandoning and hiding our most precious nature. We hid it finally even from ourselves; most of us eventually forgot it altogether.

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