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Yueya

Vulnerability

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“Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”

 

- Brené Brown

 

This insight strikes at a core purpose of my personal cultivation. Learning wise engagement with my many vulnerabilities is an ongoing learning process for me.  I strengthen myself with the many Daoist and other practices I’ve learnt along the way – but that strength has the danger of becoming a shield behind which I hide my vulnerabilities. For me, it’s all about learning to wisely use that strength to, little by little, allow my vulnerabilities. It’s a slow process because my most sensitive vulnerabilities are so deeply hidden within me that I’m not even aware of them. I can only glimpse them by, for instance, noting how I react to situations and people; to that great teacher called life experience. Strong emotional reactions show me I’m near to becoming aware of some hidden vulnerability.  

 

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Excellent.  I do like the quote as well.

 

We all have our vulnerabilities, don't we?  I'm no exception.

 

And pretty much, yes, what matters most is how we react after one of our vulnerabilities have been penetrated.

 

Sure, we could build defenses but I think that would cause life to become rather boring.

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This is not exactly on topic but a tangent of sorts and along lines which I think could be translated to other paths or in certain situations:

 

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves"  Jesus

Edited by 3bob
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It´s really hard, in my experience, to pick a spiritual practice and stick with it long-term, because practice, if it´s any good at all, gently nudges me up against my vulnerability.  I hate that.  Even breathing is a pain in the ass if I really let myself get into it.  

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There is such strength in vulnerability.

 

A pity it has been cast in such aspersion and so thoroughly and successfully exclaimed as weakness and fear in the cultures of the patriarchies.  Indeed it is, in my estimation, fear which keeps one from the strength of vulnerability... such irony.

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Philosophies, religions and any other teachings - indeed knowledge in general - can also be used as a shield for emotional vulnerabilities. Sure, they can be of great value too, but like all powerful tools they can be used or abused. What at one time was a vital aid for personal growth tends to reverse and become an obstacle if it’s clung to once its purpose is fulfilled.  Once again, for me it’s an ongoing journey of trial and error to work skilfully with these tools. As the saying goes, “If you’re not making mistakes you’re not learning.” At my age (62) I can boast a past littered with mistakes – or, more positively phrased, a past gifted with many opportunities for learning. 

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vulnerability per this (op) context is not the way many use or relate to the term... I would normally relate to it as being taken advantage of which is at least problematic.   

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"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves"  Jesus

But sir, with all your wonderous powers can't you just cause the wolves to disappear?

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It´s really hard, in my experience, to pick a spiritual practice and stick with it long-term, because practice, if it´s any good at all, gently nudges me up against my vulnerability.  I hate that.  Even breathing is a pain in the ass if I really let myself get into it.  

 

And the older we get the more difficult it becomes.

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Isn't vulnerability a weak point. A flaw which can fracture the whole ? Get them fixed pronto.

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And the older we get the more difficult it becomes.

 

Do you mean the older we get the more vulnerable we become, or the harder it gets to be real with ourselves and others about our vulnerabilities?  

 

At fifty, I´m already feeling a certain kind of vulnerability that comes with increasing years.  Health, in general, seems a more fragile thing. I´m beginning to believe, at long last, that I will die one day.  New friends are a little harder to come by.

 

At the same time I´m kind of just OK with everything.  I accept myself now in a way I didn´t in my twenties.  Our culture celebrates youth but have you ever noticed how bat-shit out-of-their-heads a lot of those twentysomethings are?  (No offense, I hope; there are many, many exceptions.)  You don´t have to look farther than this forum to see it.  Look at all the young male whippersnappers all torn up about their sexuality, for example.

 

Some of the older people on the forum have mental health issues as well (ahum), but they are less likely to express obvious anguish -- or even admit to having any difficulty whatsoever.  In these cases, vulnerability has long been buried in the emotional landfill of personality.

 

So anyway, I´m growing in self-acceptance as I age.  Growing in self-acceptance at a snails pace, granted, but I accept that too. This forum is pretty darn humbling.  You ever notice how many brillant people there are here?  How many people who have put in serious work at their spiritual practices and really got somewhere?  Looking around at the Mensa-level intellects and enlightened spirits (a few people qualify for both groups!), a guy might start feeling a little small.  I´ve felt small before, but I´m more OK now, taking my place here.  It´s like walking in a grove of mighty redwoods.

 

I´m talking about self-acceptance because I think it´s key to allowing vulnerability.  When I accept myself, I have the strength to let you see me.  You might not like me after you do, but I know I´m going to be OK.   

Edited by liminal_luke
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Good response Luke.  Yeah, I was referring to most all that you said.

 

But then, on the other side, I find myself caring less about what others think regarding how I live.  Don't like it?  Go away!

 

Then there are those who think that hitting on an older person is a good bet because most are senile and don't know the difference between the truth and a scam.  I have surprised a few in that regard and I even right now have one work in progress.  (A big company and I'm fighting back on my own.)

 

And yes, I find myself criticizing today's youth and I know I shouldn't be doing that.  They are growing up under different conditions than I grew up with.

 

There will always be someone willing to take advantage of our vulnerabilities.  If they are still there after all these years they likely won't be going any place any time soon.  So we devise counters against those who wish to exploit our vulnerabilities.

 

So yes, it is important that we acknowledge that we have vulnerabilities.  Others will see them anyhow.

 

 

And then, Luke, after we have laid ourself naked for the world to see there will be those who don't approve.  We should not waste out time with them.

Edited by Marblehead
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So yes, it is important that we acknowledge that we have vulnerabilities.  Others will see them anyhow.

 

 

 

Thanks, Marblehead..  I wanted to emphasize the part you wrote above -- so true!  People always see so much more about us than we think they do.  Or at least that´s my experience.  Even online, different personalities really come through.  

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Thanks, Marblehead..  I wanted to emphasize the part you wrote above -- so true!  People always see so much more about us than we think they do.  Or at least that´s my experience.  Even online, different personalities really come through.  

 

Yep. The personality that we see in ourselves is, by definition, that which we see in ourselves by virtue of our own consciousnesses i.e. that which we are conscious of.

 

But this is just a small fraction of our overall personality and who we are. That larger part of our personality which is a result of our subconscious is seen by everyone one else with crystal clarity ... but not by us.

 

 

EDIT - and that is where our vulnerabilities lie, which has already been mentioned in this thread.

Edited by Miffymog
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But sir, with all your wonderous powers can't you just cause the wolves to disappear?

 

Jesus gave an a good contextual answer to that line of reasoning, do you remember it? 

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Jesus gave an a good contextual answer to that line of reasoning, do you remember it? 

 

Nope.  Help me out please.

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"I refuse to prove that I exist, for proof denies faith and without faith I am nothing"

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Nope.  Help me out please.

 

Matthew 4:1-10 King James Version (KJV) (Btw I'd say that in reading these verses "devil" could be interpreted as meaning corrupted ego and have about the same meaning)

 

1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve".

 

I'd also say or add that on any spiritual path whether it be Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Abrahamic, humanist,  etc.. that in effect similar - although being in different forms, terms, cultures, etc. - temptations are faced and either The "great Tao", Buddha nature, Brahman, God, spiritualized reason is followed by choice or the corruption of ego then proceeds... 

Edited by 3bob
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vulnerability per this (op) context is not the way many use or relate to the term... I would normally relate to it as being taken advantage of which is at least problematic.   

 

Yes, the phrase comes to mind, “the old, the sick and the vulnerable”.  I’m not suggesting to be vulnerable is a desirable state in any absolute sense. But to truly have no vulnerabilities is an ideal state beyond the human. To be human is to have vulnerabilities. What I am suggesting is that the strength I gain from various teachings and qi based praxis is not an end in itself. What it gives me is the qi strength and spiritual tools for me to expose and work through my existing vulnerabilities. 
 
It’s a gradual process, but slowly – by utilising insights from what I’ve learnt – my vulnerabilities dissipate.  When uncovering something raw I still feel the hurt but I’m better able to work my way past it. And then I’m able to allow my sensitively – my feeling, my soul – to expand that little bit more into the soul of the universe.  It’s not a process I’m able to describe in any detail – it’s a subtle dance that I suspect must always be individually learnt by trial and error.
 
I think Brian got to the heart of it when he wrote, “Vulnerability is one of the necessary components of intimacy.” I’ve had my share of close relationships and physical intimacy when I was younger but for me that was never enough. I always hungered for a greater closeness; a closeness I’ve painfully learnt is outside and beyond the possibility of inter-human relationships. What I’ve slowly come to realise is the intimacy I need can only come from ‘spirit’ - the path of mysticism.  It’s a yin path, a feminine path. And the inner gateway is through refining what were once my vulnerabilities. It’s a path that demands a breaking open of what, in hindsight, I now recognise as a small egocentric self with its false sense of wholeness, working through the ensuing inner fragmentation and feelings of devastation, to find a greatly enlarged sense of self.  And to survive this process – this ‘death’ and slow inner rebirth -  I’ve needed decades of yang praxis and the wisdom of many people.
 
Thus, those emotional shields are a double edge sword – they keep hurt out but also keep me isolated within a small sphere of egocentric self.  I still maintain many shields – some I’m aware of, but it seems an ongoing process of uncovering deeper layers of vulnerability; and an ongoing process of gaining the wisdom to transform them into inner gateways.   (Of course, in public dealings such shields are essential. Even within the semi-protected space of this well moderated forum, I learnt early on not to be too open.)
 
I’m not overly concerned about how far I’ll get along this path. Although in a very real sense on a spiritual path “everything is yet to be learnt,” what I’ve already experienced is better than anything else I’ve felt in life. I’ve found an underlying contentment such as I’ve never felt before. Considering some of the horrors I’ve been through, that’s enough for me. Anything more is a bonus. 
Edited by Yueya
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Matthew 4:1-10 King James Version (KJV) (Btw I'd say that in reading these verses "devil" could be interpreted as meaning corrupted ego and have about the same meaning)

 

Yes, corrupted ego is good because I have a hard time relating with words like "devil".

 

I'd also say or add that on any spiritual path whether it be Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Abrahamic, humanist,  etc.. that in effect similar although being in different forms - temptations are faced and either The "great Tao", Buddha nature, Brahman, God, spiritualized reason is followed by choice or the corruption of ego then proceeds... 

 

Yes, any belief system that operates dualistically would have refined ego as god and corrupted ego as devil.  Even the Zoroastrians couldn't handle the monotheistic teachings of Zarathustra because they couldn't handle the responsibility of their corrupt ego so they created a devil to blame it on.

 

There will be sheep and there will be wolves.  It's the way nature works.  No problem being a sheep I suppose as long as we learn how to avoid the wolves.

 

Actually, the rhino is a beautiful example of a Taoist Sage.  It is not a predator nor is it prey for any predators.  Its only threat is from elephants because of territory claims so they must be avoided.

Edited by Marblehead
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Yueya,  Thank you for sharing some deeply reflective and important insights and points in your last post! 

 

I do or may differ in certain ways with one quoted summation you made below: 

 

"...I always hungered for a greater closeness; a closeness I’ve painfully learnt is outside and beyond the possibility of inter-human relationships. What I’ve slowly come to realise is the intimacy I need can only come from ‘spirit’ - the path of mysticism..." 

 

To me the greatest realization/mastery would be to see spirit in all beings without limiting them to just a human or other level of form, thus in finding and knowing the spirit "by what is within me" (TTC 21) there would be no separation or disappointment with what is possible and within other beings...

 

Om 

Edited by 3bob
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MH,  I thought that was some good communication in relating back to my post, Thanks :-)

 

If we could all put on universal translators to help understand each other better there would be less strife in the world...

 

I have a few more comments which are somewhat off topic but imo are tangents to it:

 

1. If we can fully face "corrupted ego" within ourselves then we can face it anywhere else and in whatever form it may take.

2. The power to face such must be and is rooted deeply in spiritual truth that can not be turned or corrupted.

3. Ego, including a refined one, is a transitional form and tool that is used, but it is not  "what is within me" - per TTC 21 and similar teachings.   

Edited by 3bob
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