Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Vulnerability
Creation Evolves from the Least Vulnerable to the Most Vulnerable
When the shell becomes completely permeable, completely transparent, completely vulnerable, when there is no shell anymore, just empty space, then the question arises: Who’s there to be scared of what? What does it mean to be scared? What does it mean to be vulnerable? We protect ourselves because we believe we are vulnerable. But by that very protection we change vulnerability from being the greatest support to being the greatest danger. If you’re not vulnerable, you’re separate. If you’re separate, you’re scared. You’re scared of everything. The complete understanding of vulnerability is that the nature of the human being is ultimately the supreme reality, is this unity, is everything. The human is the possibility of being the supreme reality. We are the final, ultimate fruit of existence, because we are the most vulnerable. Creation evolves from the least vulnerable to the most vulnerable. Rocks are less vulnerable than trees, and trees are less vulnerable than animals, and animals are less vulnerable than humans. Reality has to become completely vulnerable, all the way to the utmost possibility of vulnerability. And when that happens at the very tip of development, at the ultimate apogee of evolution, you experience yourself at the utmost vulnerability, and you see you are everything, you are the nature of everything. So, if you go through total meekness, total weakness, total susceptibility and total vulnerability, leaving yourself at the mercy of everything, and if you allow yourself to be completely, totally at the mercy of reality, you realize you are the reality.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 201
If You're Completely Vulnerable You Don't Make Choices
Student: So you don’t make choices if you’re completely vulnerable?
Almaas: No, if you’re completely vulnerable, you don’t make choices. In a sense, choices are made for you. Your inner source moves in a certain direction. You become like a glove, and Essence is the hand that moves you. The glove doesn’t make a choice. If the glove makes a choice, it won’t let the hand move. If the glove says, “No, I want to go this way,” and the hand says, “No, I want to go that way,” you’re in conflict. That’s what emotional conflict is all about. But if you don’t choose and you let Essence, your nature, function through you, the glove will be permeable, vulnerable to the hand, and then your nature will move you. And your nature has intelligence. We don’t trust that our nature has intelligence, that it will know where to go, what to do. So, we don’t let ourselves be vulnerable to it. We feel we have to choose. But when we are truly vulnerable, the choice is always to go along with the supreme will. We don’t go against it, ever. Our choice is to be vulnerable to the supreme will, which is our true nature.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 211
Loss of Support and Lack of Identity
Thus there are two aspects of the experience of narcissistic vulnerability: The first involves a sense of lack or loss of support; the other, loss, weakness, or lack of identity. The student experiences the loss of external support as a weakness of a certain kind. He may feel as if his bones are getting soft and losing strength and solidity, and hence cannot support him. He may feel spineless or that his backbone is soft or brittle. He may feel that his legs are weak and unable to support his weight, or they feel small and skinny, or soft and mushy. He may feel small, helpless and unable to support himself, or structureless and amorphous like a jellyfish.
The Point of Existence, pg. 248
Our Vulnerability is a Total Openness to Any Possibility
We are vulnerable not only physically, but also mentally. We can be conscious of our situation—we can reflect on it, know its implications, and understand it. Our human mind is so impressionable, so influenceable, that the best word to describe it is vulnerable. The fact that it is so influenceable, susceptible, and impressionable leaves us open and vulnerable to absolutely everything. As a baby you are completely at the mercy of the environment not only physically but mentally. You are vulnerable in a way that influences you for the rest of your life. You’re so susceptible to your parents and the rest of your environment that almost everything about how you feel and how you think is determined from outside: what you think is good, what you think is bad, what you think you want, what you think you don’t want, even who you think you are. Animals cannot really be conditioned in that way, because their minds are not that impressionable. Not only are we very vulnerable physically and mentally, but we’re emotionally vulnerable as well. Some animals are somewhat vulnerable emotionally, but we human beings are completely vulnerable emotionally. We are probably the most emotionally vulnerable creatures on earth. Our capacity to feel makes us emotionally vulnerable, puts us in a very vulnerable position. Emotionally we’re susceptible to the experience of whatever state is happening in our bodies. We can experience pleasure and experience pain. We feel love, but also hatred. Our vulnerability is a total openness to any possibility.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 193
Receptivity to Our Deeper Nature
But if the personality understands what vulnerability actually means, then we become receptive to our deeper nature and it acts on us. We are no longer the actor; we are a permeable membrane. We are acted upon, we are penetrated by our nature, and we allow it to come out. And the work on the personality, which can be seen as refining it, allows that membrane to become increasingly vulnerable to our Essence. The less defended and opaque the personality is, the more it is permeable to Essence. And as Essence manifests through the personality -- as it permeates it, influences it, as the personality becomes completely one-hundred-percent vulnerable to our truest nature and -- we begin to see that there is no difference between them. We experience oneness, unity.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 202
The Door to Intimacy
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.
The Unfolding Now, pg. 53
The State of Defenselessness
When one finally allows the state of vulnerability, it can manifest as a state of defenselessness. This indicates the dropping of the defensiveness of ego. Such letting go means the abandonment, usually transitory, of certain deep identification systems. These constitute the core of the defensive structures of ego. The result is again the manifestation of emptiness, this time vast and of immeasurable depth. It is a deeper dimension of space.
Pearl Beyond Price, pg. 382
To be Vulnerable is to Flow Like Water
To be human means that you don’t say, “I want this to happen,” or “I don’t want that to happen.” You’re so vulnerable that you don’t need to choose what you experience. Whatever comes, comes. There’s no resistance to it. When I say that to be human you don’t choose this over that, I don’t mean that if you feel yourself choosing, you should tell yourself not to choose, because then you’re choosing. To be human is to be completely spontaneous, so delicate that you can’t resist or say no to any experience. Then you become like water—light goes through you. To be human is to be like delicate water, very clean, very transparent, very fresh. It doesn’t have any opaqueness; it is completely colorless. You can see all colors through it. It’s very fluid, transparent. Whatever impression comes from within you goes through you like light through water. To be vulnerable is to flow like water. To be like a running stream with the freshness of running water. There is a clarity, a lucidity, a delicacy. Vulnerability is like water, but the water is very delicate. It’s like the water of tears—so delicate, so fine. If you are like tears, if your very nature is like colorless tears, then you feel what it’s like to be vulnerable.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 204
Vulnerability Gives Us the Possibility of Experiencing All Levels of Reality
As far as I can tell, we are the only beings who are permeable to everything that exists, from the most painful to the most sublime. We're sensitive not only to experiencing the pleasures and pains of our bodies, to feeling our emotions, the painful and pleasurable, and to sensing our thoughts, but our vulnerability also gives us the possibility of experiencing, and being aware of, being in contact with all levels of reality. We're permeable to not only physical, emotional, and mental stimuli, but to essential and spiritual stimuli as well. So, not only are we vulnerable in the sense that our feelings, our preferences, even our identity can be influenced, but we are also vulnerable to being aware, conscious, and permeable to our true identity, and to the nature of all existence. So you see, our uniquely human quality of vulnerability is a disadvantage from one perspective and a great advantage from another. We’re wide open to all influences, all possibilities if we allow ourselves to be -- if we don't defend ourselves, if we don't build a shell and hide behind it. Our human consciousness is so vulnerable that we can actually know who we are. We're so conscious, so permeable, that we can experience the very nature of all of reality -- the nature of a stone, a tree, the nature of ourselves.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 197
Vulnerability Seen as An Asset
Believing that we need to be thick-skinned to survive is not something we hide from ourselves; it’s completely accepted in our society. We are told that to get ahead, we have to become more thick-skinned and not feel things. And this point of view is actually rationalized with all kinds of philosophies. But something happens when we build a shell and hide inside it, which is the source of most human complaints. When we cover up our vulnerability so that we’re not open to hurt and pain, fear and influenceability, we also become insensitive to joy, love, happiness, pleasure, and aliveness. This helps us understand further what vulnerability means. It is true that we are physically vulnerable, but if you look at the physical vulnerability of a human being, you see that that vulnerability itself is also an asset. This vulnerability gives us the capacity to adapt better than other creatures. Vulnerability ultimately means sensitivity, transparency, penetrability. We see it as influenceability, which we think is negative, but it actually means that we’re open, we can be penetrated, we’re sensitive to impressions coming into us and going out of us. This leaves us at the mercy of all kinds of influences, but also gives us the possibility of greater versatility and flexibility in terms of what we can do, how we can respond, what environments we can live in. We can adapt and respond differently to different stimuli. Human beings have been able to adapt to and live in all kinds of environments. Most other creatures can’t do that because they have a narrower range of responses. We have been able to adapt because of our mental, emotional, and physical vulnerability.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 196
Vulnerability to Love
You’re most vulnerable when you're experiencing love. Beyond love is unity, where vulnerability and invulnerability become one. Love is the first emanation, the first particularization of the supreme reality, which is unity. The first expression, the first breath of the unity is divine universal love, with its sweetness and delicacy. That is where you are the most vulnerable, before your vulnerability becomes invulnerability. When you’re loving, you still feel at the mercy of everything. The step beyond that is to become even more vulnerable, and then you’re completely invulnerable. So we’re seeing how love can lead always to complete vulnerability and thus to invulnerability. Love is the highest, the deepest, the most intense, the most expansive possibility of feeling. Love is the heart. Beyond love is the supreme reality, which is beyond feeling or no feeling. So vulnerability is vulnerability to love, and extremely deep vulnerability is love. If you really are vulnerable, you’re loving. You can’t help but be loving. And if you’re very loving, you can’t help but feel vulnerable. If you allow yourself to feel, your heart is completely open.
Diamond Heart Book Three, pg. 206
We Don’t See that Complete Invulnerability Means Complete Openness
You see, we are afraid. We believe we need to separate ourselves, create thick shells and defend ourselves against impressions of all kinds, because we feel separate from the invulnerable reality, the state of unity. And we separate ourselves from the invulnerable reality by trying not to be vulnerable. By trying not to be vulnerable, we become vulnerable in a negative way. We believe that complete invulnerability would mean complete defensiveness, complete isolation and detachment from all experience. We don’t see objectively what vulnerability is; we don’t see that complete invulnerability means complete openness. Complete openness means the lack of all separateness. The absence of all boundaries means unity, which means invulnerability. However, we go at it the other way around. We try to find invulnerability by isolating and defending ourselves, by becoming less sensitive, less human.
But when we attempt to resist the vulnerability, when we say the slightest no to vulnerability, we’re creating a boundary, a shell which makes us feel separate. And that very separateness makes us vulnerable to fears, makes us paranoid. There is no paranoia if there is unity.