Why being vulnerable is being essentially yourself
Nobody likes being vulnerable. Besides our survival instinct to protect ourselves from real dangers, we are also gradually conditioned from infancy to protect ourselves from perceived dangers. At times we can’t help but to contract, panic, freeze, fight, fly in face of no real danger; and this conditioned attitude blocks us from being in intimate contact with the reality of the moment, to be ourselves. There are many books, talks and videos available around the subject of vulnerability, below I have selected excerpts from the book “The Unfolding Now” (by A.H. Almaas) which I would like to share with you.
“As human beings, we have always been vulnerable. Our natural state is to be undefended. In fact, the defensiveness of human beings, the sense of security that ego constructs by building defensive walls to hide or camouflage itself, is arrogant and even delusional. Because when it comes to real danger, we are vulnerable all the time; we can be damaged easily. For example, we are quite vulnerable physically. A little virus that you can’t even see can get you, and the next day you are on your back and you can’t even move.
But our vulnerability is also the quality of our humanness. It is a heart quality of openness, of gentleness, that is needed for us to recognize where we are and to abide there. We cannot truly recognize where we are without that gentleness, that humanness, that humility. But that means we will find ourselves in a vulnerable condition.
Vulnerability in the face of danger feels frightening, but in the absence of danger, vulnerability can simply mean feeling naturally, undefendedly yourself.
So we have a dilemma. We are scared, we want to protect ourselves, but at the same time we want to be real. How are we going to solve this paradox?
You do things to take care of yourself… you take reasonable precautions if you are walking through an unsafe neighborhood, you don’t hang out with gangs, and so on. You use your intelligence to do what is necessary—you defend yourself physically if that is called for—but inside you remain vulnerable, open, supple, gentle.
How do we protect ourselves against danger and still be real? We come back to the peach … You do things to take care of yourself. You get professional health care as you need it, you brush your teeth, you take reasonable precautions if you are walking through an unsafe neighborhood, you don’t hang out with gangs, and so on. You use your intelligence to do what is necessary—you defend yourself physically if that is called for—but inside you remain vulnerable, open, supple, gentle. And you begin to appreciate vulnerability as a human quality that gives us the openness to reality, to perception, to our True Nature in all of its manifestations.
When we perceive a real danger or threat, or when we imagine one, we tend to harden ourselves for self-protection. But by hardening ourselves, we are not only thickening our consciousness, we are also making it stiff and solid, and it becomes impossible to experience that delicacy, that gentleness and intimacy, of being ourselves. That hardening reaction—building a wall of protection and separation—which becomes an impediment against finding where we are, is the ego’s basic mode of defense. Ego is based mainly on defenses—defending itself against dangers—inner and outer, imaginary and real. Ego does not really exist without its defenses.
Vulnerability means openness. If my consciousness is vulnerable, that means I am also vulnerable to the manifestations of my True Nature. If I defend myself, I am’ not open to my True Nature and its manifestation. I am not only protecting myself from other people, I begin to protect myself from True Nature itself, with all its qualities.
The wonderful thing is that vulnerability becomes the door to intimacy, to being ourselves, to being real, to being where we are. But for that to happen, we have to be willing to be vulnerable to what is. Being vulnerable means that our soul is open for things to arise in it. It is not defended.
If it has walls, it is preventing things from arising; it is not allowing the dynamism of our Being to transform our condition. This means that it will only transform in ways that don’t feel threatening—in other words, ways that are familiar to us. But being vulnerable allows our soul to transform into something new and unfamiliar, and that at first is scary—which means we will feel undefended.
We cannot be ourselves if we don’t experience that vulnerability, because vulnerability is just the beginning of experiencing the gentleness and the exquisiteness of being genuine. In time, we learn that we can feel completely undefended without feeling scary, without feeling that we need to defend ourselves, without the need for those inner walls.”