My Judas heart.

Do you have fear in your heart at the thought of being betrayed by someone you trust or love, does it conjure up feelings of deep hurt, humiliation or even anger and rage? Consider that how you perceive betrayal will characterise the way that you will one day betray another unless you are willing to face your own Judas heart.

The story of Jesus and his twelve disciples is distinct: Judas sells Jesus out to the High Priests and the Romans effectively sending him to a very painful crucifixion and death. My invitation is to entertain this story as a perspective of our collective human condition. Why would Judas do this if not for his perception that Jesus had somehow sold him or his cause out. He must have believed or felt that he was the one being betrayed and that his actions were righteous. This was a pre-meditated act that he probably played out over and over in his mind particularly each night as he watched Jesus sleeping. You can picture him restlessly lying there consumed by resentful voices in his head drowning out empathy and love in his heart. The details of his justification be they political or personal are not relevant here, only that his planned betrayal must have felt undeniably justified.

Judas cannot be dismissed merely as an evil or greedy man; he was after all one of the twelve chosen men to walk at Jesus’s side as he spread his gospel of love. Yet Judas’s true attributes, his intention, his contribution and his greatness will always be over shadowed by this one regretful act that effectively scattered this tribe and movement into the winds. The name Judas is forever vilified and associated with betrayal, it is the name that conjures images of the snake in the grass or of a werewolf allowed into the sheep’s pen.

But who is this Judas? Is he some lone figure in biblical history who hanged himself in deep regret for what he did or is he actually an aspect within each of us? It is that part of each of us that harbours a deep wound of unresolved betrayal feeding our insecurity, doubt and jealousy. It is that aspect that will one day will compel us to sabotage and destroy our very own relationships, family or community and create someone we love as our enemy.

With a modern psychological understanding of how and why people do what they do we understand that it is most likely that Judas had an unresolved ‘father wound’ from childhood that he then had projected on to Jesus. He had an expectation of what he wanted from Jesus; possibly his version of love, acknowledgement or agreement and similarly he also had an unconscious fear of feeling betrayed again. This aspect or ‘wound’ had him turn on the man he most claimed to love and who he committed his life to following.

How else do we attempt to understand how Judas would be willing to betray a human being who in our understanding is the very embodiment of love, compassion and kindness. Judas is you, Judas is me, Judas is the part of each of us that kills off and sabotages our own love because our deepest fear and insecurity of betrayal and rejection. This is the same aspect that killed Gandhi, John Lennon and Martin Luther King Junior.

All you have to do is look at marriages and the resulting divorces to see this very dynamic unfold. We walk into our marriages with the Judas wound already hidden in our hearts, it lurks behind the mask of our seemingly unconditional love and veneer of romance waiting for it’s cue and then it erupts in the sheer destructive ugliness that we often see in divorce and separation. It is always experienced as justified at the time but the damage done in those moments resonates for years if not decades.

And for Jesus the man, what was it like to have someone in his family, in his tribe knowing that this person will betray him, be the cause of a very painful and humiliating death and ultimately end their entire movement? With Jesus’s wisdom and insight he would surely have known what Judas’s heart carried from the moment he met him. And yet even at their last supper together he does not reject or withdraw his love from Judas even after acknowledging what will happen. Jesus perceived Judas’s impending betrayal with utter compassion for this is what it is to have a sacred heart.

What do we take away from such a story? Do we simply vilify and deny Judas or are we willing to recognise him in our own hearts and minds?

Consider again that how you perceive betrayal and it’s threat will characterise the way that you will one day betray. This is how you will hurt the ones you once claimed to loved if you have not done so already.

Would you be willing to examine your thoughts and your actions to look at the narrative of betrayal that you hold on to? Would you be willing to embrace the Judas within you with the same compassion, kindness and understanding as Christ? Would you be willing to keep doing the work of forgiving your own past wounds so that the perception of your current reality no longer occurs as fearful or threatening in any way. Would you be willing to humble yourself to walk this path or will you continue to deny your Judas heart and pretend it is not there? This is a life time of work not a weekend workshop or a few Vision Quests.

You do not have to be a Christian or even a believer in any way to appreciate the depth of this teaching. And it does not mean you need to knowingly put yourself in any position of potential harm; by all means take mindful actions to secure your safety and wellbeing. It means that sometimes people close to you will invariably seem to ‘betray’ or hurt you because of their own movie of reality and with empathy you can forgive them. Understand that they are not present to the distortion of their own perception nor the impact of their actions and as the book says: ‘Forgive them for they do not know what they do’… and love them anyway. This is how we dissolve this Judas aspect in our hearts. It is then that we shall know what Love truly is, to feel it’s miraculous power in our lives and how it transforms the world. The greatest lesson we will ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

Easy to talk about, harder to do. There is pain for me as I share this as I am facing my own Judas heart but I believe with all I know and feel that this is how we create the world we say we really want.


Heinrich Reisenhofer

Heinrich is a life and spiritual coach, shamanic facilitator and theatre-maker



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One Circle, Four Shamanic Directions, Twelve Sacred Agreements

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