An excerpt from chapter 17 from Avikal’s new book, ‘When the Ocean Dissolves into the Drop: Osho, Love, Truth and me’.
For most of my life, at least until I was about forty, I was defensive about being vulnerable, just as I had been taught to be and how most people are. I had certainly never regarded vulnerability to be a resource. Quite the contrary, with a personality like mine; a fighter, this word was a curse and remained so for a very long time. Perhaps, it was precisely for this reason, that the words written by Lao Tsu on the power of water amazed and intrigued me for so many years, also those on harmony by Ueshiba Sensei, the founder of Aikido, those by Don Juan, the master of Carlos Castaneda, on the way of the warrior and paths that have heart, and what Osho said about sensitivity and openness: those words stirred up something deep within me, something that resonated beyond my intellectual understanding and penetrated my resistance. When I finally started to see the links between my experiences of complete vulnerability and moments of sensitivity, then something began to fit into place and that ‘no’, that had always been my first-line response, began to diminish until eventually it was no more.
Over time, reflecting on and reaching an understanding of many of my own personal experiences, it became clear to me that existence does not give us anything that we do not need; everything we have has a function, its own intelligence, its own reason. To be hurt is a capacity, not a loss. Try to imagine a world in which no one is vulnerable, where the capacity to experience or to feel one’s wounds doesn’t exist. What would this world be like? It would be terrible, a desert. Our capacity to feel wounded provides us with something fundamental, empathy: Empathy for everyone around us, we can feel the wounds of others. There is an incredible intelligence in the capacity to recognize one’s own wounds, to feel one’s own wounds and to stop trying to heal them. Yes, that’s exactly what I said. I know I’m saying something that may seem strange to you, even absurd, but in my opinion, we take a fundamental leap in our ability to love ourselves and others when we stop “healing” our wounds and learn to “keep contact” with them, without changing anything. We learn to grow together with our wounds.
The fundamental difference between a child and an adult is that a child gets hurt, but does not have the ability to survive in this world on his own, and so his injuries take him to the limit between life and death: there is a real case of survival, but for adults it’s another story. You as an adult know how to survive your wounds, by the mere fact that you are here and you’re reading this, still breathing, you have a life, probably a job, probably a roof over your head, probably relationships. This means that you have the capacity more or less refined, more or less stable, to regulate your existence, and regulate the energetic loading and off-loading of that existence. This also means that you have access to resources that a child does not have, because a child is very often unable to regulate the loading and unloading of his energy on his own, he needs his mom and dad, especially his mom, on whom he is almost entirely dependent. As we clean out our system of blocks, constraints, contractions and so on, we free ourselves and we can get in touch with a natural intelligence that regulates the loading and unloading of energy, as easily and naturally as we breathe in and out. This gives us space to experience a whole series of things in a non-infantile way. So, the ability to recognize our own wounds, to experience our wounds and to live with our wounds, lies at the basis of, and is essential for, Compassion. As long as we are attempting to heal our wounds, we are doing something that goes against the natural intelligence of our body. And until proved otherwise, despite all your wounds, you are still here, breathing, talking, communicating, taking care of your survival and perhaps also that of others. This means that your system has the capacity to live with those wounds, absorb them and turn them into real assets. It’s not about something that we’re missing, it’s about a resource that we have. Vulnerability is the ability to exist through an intelligence that also comes from our wounds, and this intelligence, paradoxically, makes it possible for us to become stronger, the more vulnerable we are. And this is not hard to put to the test: try to put yourself in a situation where you’re completely invulnerable, physically and emotionally. Sooner or later, your invulnerability will get shattered, because wherever there is rigidity it can be broken. On the other hand, vulnerability is a system of fluidity, it is more like water than rock, it adapts itself and incorporates, and so it is much more difficult for vulnerability to be attacked. In all the martial arts, the student reaches the highest level when he completely forgets about the technique; he has learned so well that at some point the technique disappears and there is no interference of thought: “Now I’m going to do this, I’ll defend myself in this way.” There is complete fluidity and vulnerability in the present moment, there is no projection into the future, there is no expectation, there is no strategy. Invulnerability is based on the rigidity of a system, you only have to look around you to see this. For example, in the 70s there was a massive blackout in New York that lasted for twentyfive hours, and that situation is the perfect, practical demonstration of how a minor dysfunction can completely bring a hugely complex system to the ground in its entirety. The more complex a defense system is, and the more you aim for invulnerability, the more vulnerable it will be. Therefore, true vulnerability is the intelligence of non-defense. And this is a thing that cannot be understood mentally, it is a practice. It is unlikely for someone to actively opt for vulnerability but, if at a certain point, a certain intelligence comes into motion, inevitably it will go in that direction. It is a question of starting to look at it, overturning the criteria that we have been taught: that vulnerability is a loss and invulnerability is a positive thing, because it is exactly the opposite. At the same time, it is also very important not to drop ego’s defenses in a random fashion. One should learn to gradually lay down one’s defenses in situations where there are elements of support; people or situations we can trust, with a friend, a loved one or retreats with other like-minded people. Our natural intelligence senses the situation and deliberately strips off our defenses, practicing vulnerability in a conscious way, also laying bare some of our wounds so that they are no longer hidden. One aspect of our retreats and the courses we run is just that: we create such situations on purpose where, for instance, a person who is afraid of revealing himself tries it out to see what will happen. In this way, vulnerability becomes a concrete experience, not just an idea. I can see that I am open, I have revealed myself and no one pulled a knife on me, and this is different from what I had expected until that point. This is the only way of learning; practical experiments, trying things out. Obviously, to do such an experiment you have to be present. This takes us back to presence as a necessary condition for any type of concrete, non-conceptual reality. In my own case, I learned almost everything I know about vulnerability in combat, doing martial arts. I realized that the more closed I was and the more I tried to understand and work out what was going to happen, the more I reacted so slowly that I had already been punched in the face four or five times and found myself on the ground before I knew what was happening. Instead, the more I let go of this, the more I opened up, the more I was simply present with who I was right then at that moment, the more naturally there was an emotional intelligence, physical and mental, in a system that knew how to respond to the movement of energy.
And orgasm, what is that? I’m talking about something that we can all relate to, what is an orgasm if not a moment of complete vulnerability in which our defenses crumble? The fundamental separation between inside and out caves in, the separation between me and the other gives way. The moment of orgasm is a moment of complete vulnerability, lack of boundaries, absence of time, no separation between one and the other; in fact, for most people, orgasm is the only, often brief, moment in time, when they get to experience their own vulnerability. And this, paradoxically, is what both attracts and terrorizes us the most.
The fact of also recognizing a whole series of elements that make up vulnerability, such as the willingness and capacity to exist with ever-increasing levels of energy, is essential for growth because only something that continues to expand its energy can grow. Personal growth involves expanding one’s boundaries beyond their limits, physical, energetic, mental and emotional, beyond those dictated by the inner judge and our conditioning in general. This means it is an open system. Therefore, our responsibility, if we want to grow, embodying our potential and our uniqueness, is to let the borders of our body become increasingly fluid, which means becoming more vulnerable and with defenses that are mobile and flexible.
In the beginning, it is with mobile defenses, not without defenses, that we are able to discover and support the body’s ability to find new defenses, based on how it adapts to the environment. The adult organism has an intelligence that will enable it to continually adapt its defenses, its vulnerability, via boundaries that are healthy and not mandatory, without being rigid and forejudging. This is the leap that we can take: from remaining fundamentally infantile and locked into survival, to becoming adults who fully live our lives. We recognize that as long as there is a body we need boundaries, and we also realize that there is a difference between boundaries that are healthy and conscious, and boundaries that are forced upon us and based on fear. Therefore, as adults we learn that our defenses and boundaries are not wrong, but we can also see how they limit us when they operate in an unconscious, automated manner, without us ever even noticing. So we should begin by verifying whether or not a certain defense is needed at any particular time. This is the intelligence of an adult and the proof of his freedom. It is all about Truth and Love: loving yourself, recognizing your truth and honoring it. In this way, the relationship between vulnerability, love, and truth is completely dynamic; they sustain each other and when you put them in motion the True Nature of your Being begins to circulate on its own, reactivating itself, and reconnecting itself with a whole series of resources, protections, openings, defenses, depending on what is required at that moment based on presence, and not on mental choice or the past.
Excerpt from Avikal’s recently published book, ‘When the Ocean Dissolves into the Drop: Osho, Love, Truth and me‘
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Available as Kindle from www.amazon.de – integralbeing.com/books
Avikal is founder and director of the Integral Being Institute which is active in Europe, Asia and Australia. In his newest books published by O-Books – Freedom to be Yourself and Without a Mask – with the respective, revealing subtitles Mastering the inner judge and Discovering your authentic self – Avikal provides far-seeing insight into his world of training and personal development. Avikal lives in Sydney, Australia. www.integralbeing.com – articles by Avikal on Osho News