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Wounds/Wounding

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Quotes about Wounds/Wounding

A Wound that Feels Like a Cut in the Chest

Experiencing the hurt for not being seen as a wound is not merely a metaphor. The student actually feels wounded, not only in the emotional sense, but literally, almost physically, as is clear in Nyland’s report. The wound feels like a cut in the chest, as a gash, as if one’s heart were physically wounded. There is the physical sensation of a painful cut, and this sensation of pain is inseparable from the emotional feeling of hurt. The emotion and the sensation comprise one state, an emotional wound that feels like a rip which hurts emotionally. This gash is not actually in the physical body; it is a cut in the shell, a rip in the structure of self-identity. The shell is beginning to disintegrate as a result of the loss of the mirroring. The wound is the sign of the threat to the cohesion of this structure. In fact, any narcissistic disturbance involves some level of breakdown in the structure of identity. Unempathic or insensitive responses from the environment affect the self like a stab of a knife. We actually feel stabbed, pierced, cut to the core. We naturally feel great resistance to experiencing this wound. We are terrified of falling apart, of losing the integrity of our sense of self, of disintegrating and disappearing. No wonder we feel we need mirroring for the preservation of the integrity and cohesion of this self-structure. The glue that keeps this structure together is missing at this point. This is literally true, almost physically true. One might wonder why there is such a clear physical component to the experiences described by students here. It appears that there are at least three factors which affect the student’s experience of the self-structures as related to the physical body. First, as we have noted, Mahler’s work on the development of self-identity clearly establishes that the body image is a deep structure in the self-representation. In fact, it is more or less impossible to have any experience of oneself in the conventional realm without a component of that experience being the identity with the body image. It is natural, then, that the student’s experience of many states will involve a sense of how that state relates to the body image. It is normal in any alteration of experience for one’s sense of one’s body to change. When we feel confident or mature, we might feel taller, or more solid, compared with feeling small or empty or unstructured in the state of inadequacy. Thus, an experience like the narcissistic wound will evoke an actual body image. 

Bringing Up the Hurt, the Deep Wound of Not Being Loved

If you continue observing and exploring your feelings around the issue of love, you’ll discover a certain deficiency. You’ll find that the need for love is an expression of a part of you that feels deficient and empty. It is always wanting to be filled from the outside. If you stay with that wanting, allow yourself to feel the desire for love deeply, you’ll feel the deficiency, the hole of love, and you’ll experience the hole as the result of the loss of your own love when you were a child. This will bring up the hurt of not being loved, the deep wound; if you allow yourself to experience this wound fully, it will become like a fountain, a fountain from which love flows. You will experience the aspect of essence that is love. This was the missing piece that had to do with the issue of love. Now you have love—not from the outside, but from your own essence. Experiencing this essential aspect of love erases the need to fill that emptiness from the outside just as space or the void resolved the issue around self-image. However, this experience is not enough to resolve the issue completely. Many of you are aware of this. The desire for love, and the manipulations around it, may get subtler, but they don’t disappear. This is because you do not have the implicit understanding. You have not approached your experience of love or space or any other essential aspect—will, compassion, pleasure—from the perspective of implicit understanding. You experience essential love, which is sweet, intense, and fulfilling, and you say, “This sweet feeling of love is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever felt. If it goes away, I won’t have it. I want to hold on to it forever.” Who’s talking here? What have you learned? You have had an experience of love, but that love has not transformed you. You have treated it exactly like any other object your personality wants. “If I have all this wonderful love, then people will see how radiant and loving I am and they’ll think I’m wonderful and they’ll fall in love with me and I’ll live happily ever after.” Nothing has changed. What you wanted from the outside, now you want from the inside, in order to get it from the outside!

Disconnected from Your True Nature, You Get Wounded

However, healing particular pains is not inquiry’s major endeavor. The main task of inquiry is to help the soul open up and reveal her treasures so she can become an open and transparent window for our Being. In other words, true healing is not just a matter of healing particular pains; it is healing the rift between the soul and her Being. So the objective of essential Compassion, the Green diamond of the Guidance, is to heal this disconnection or alienation between the soul and her true nature. This is what will truly and finally heal the human soul. Particular pains from your past can define and limit your experience in the present because you are not connected to who you truly are. When you are connected to your true nature, being rejected or hurt by others doesn’t do anything to you. You just feel sad for them; you recognize the wound that makes them behave the way they do. It is when you are disconnected from your true nature that you get wounded. So the inquiry must address your particular wounds, but the kindness of the Guidance responds from a larger perspective that knows the nature of true healing. Specific pains are addressed because this is the only way that deeper truth will be revealed. However, the Guidance does not always heal a particular pain right away. It might keep the wound open so you don’t forget that a greater connectedness is possible. This prevents you from dealing with your pain and suffering just so you can feel better and then go sailing, get back to your job, or resume your familiar life. So the Guidance might wait until you become committed to the truth before allowing the healing. Otherwise, it would not be functioning in accordance with its true purpose. The Guidance, however, is absolutely compassionate. Keeping the wound open does not mean allowing pain in order to be hurtful; the purpose is always to deepen the soul’s capacity for self-attunement, which means drawing her toward her essence. 

Discriminating Against Someone Else, You are Compensating for Your Own Sense of Inferiority

As we mentioned earlier, the phenomenon of social discrimination is closely connected with this specific difficulty of inferiority. When you discriminate against someone else, you are compensating for your own sense of inferiority; this is obviously a rejection of another person. Discrimination is based on value judgments of inferiority and superiority, and is rampant in our society. There are many kinds of discrimination, such as racial and cultural, in which one skin color or ethnic group believes itself superior to another. Black people, for example, were and are discriminated against in this country and in many others, as well. Some cultures choose a scapegoat, based on religion, race, or culture; or there is class discrimination, as in India, where the untouchable caste is supposed to be inferior to, and to contaminate, those of higher castes who touch them. Gender discrimination, in which women are typically seen as inferior to men, is pervasive. Children are often discriminated against, in the sense of not being taken seriously because they are not adults. To discriminate against someone is to inflict great suffering, since it touches the wound of inferiority that everyone has. It will bring up a tremendous lack of self-esteem, as well as a deep sense of shame about this painful wound within. Any discrimination of any sort—relating to another as if they are less than you—is a projection of your own sense of inferiority. 

Facets of Unity, pg. 229

Emotional Hurt Felt as a Wound of Being Cut Off from One’s Own Being

However, when we are confronted with impersonality in the course of letting go of ego identifications, if we neither posit it as the ultimate reality, nor reject it, but genuinely investigate the truth, we will ultimately come upon the personal element. The absence of the personal element, which is felt as an impersonality, can be seen at such times either as an emptiness in the chest, or the presence of a hard impersonal shield over it. The emptiness is felt as almost physical, as an empty hole or cavity in the chest. The emptiness affects the individual by making him feel that he doesn’t have what it takes for him to relate in a personal way. He is impersonal because he lacks the personal element. He feels the emptiness as a deficiency, a lack in who he is. This deficient emptiness is simply the state of the absence of the Personal Essence. The rigid shield is a defense against this deficiency, which gives the individual a sense of being a person that is not personal. In fact, it is what is usually referred to in depth psychology as a schizoid defense. It is a defense against personal contact, because of the vulnerability that it might expose. So the individual employs this impersonal defense of isolation and emotional detachment so that he does not feel either the vulnerability of personal involvement, or the sadness about the lack of it. This condition is much more common than is normally acknowledged, for it is usually hidden by the ego’s fake sense of being personal. The dissolution of this defense can bring into consciousness a deep emotional hurt, which is felt as a wound of being cut off from one’s own Being. If it is seen with compassion, this deep wound will lead to the emptiness in the chest, which feels as if something is lacking, that a precious part of oneself is missing.  

Experiencing Emotional Hurt as a Wound

At this point the person might go on to experience himself as an empty space, devoid of any fullness or quality. If he deals with the associations he has to this emptiness—such as those of dependency and need—and the fears produced by them—probably the fears of disintegration, disappearing, and so on—then he will remember the old hurt that cut off the essence. This is another big dark spot. The person will unearth the painful situation or situations that ultimately led to the loss of this particular aspect of essence. Besides the memories and affects, the individual will experience the emotional hurt as a wound. It will feel physically like a wound in the chest, but it is a wound in the energy system that corresponds to the emotional hurt and the loss of the essence. When one allows oneself quietly to experience the hurtful wound and the memories connected with it, the golden elixir will flow out of it, healing it, and filling the emptiness with the beautiful sweet fullness that will melt the heart, erase the mind, and bring about the contentment that the individual has been thirsting for.

Experiencing the Hurt for Not Being Seen

The shell is beginning to disintegrate as a result of the loss of the mirroring. The wound is the sign of the threat to the cohesion of this structure. In fact, any narcissistic disturbance involves some level of breakdown in the structure of identity. Experiencing the hurt for not being seen as a wound is not merely a metaphor. The student actually feels wounded, not only in the emotional sense, but literally, almost physically. The wound feels like a cut in the chest, as a gash, as if one's heart were physically wounded. There is the physical sensation of a painful cut, and this sensation of pain is inseparable from the emotional feeling of hurt. The emotion and the sensation comprise one's state, an emotional wound that feels like a rip, which hurts emotionally. This gash is not actually in the physical body; it is a cut in the shell, a rip in the structure of the self-identity.

Misunderstanding that Wounds a Child

When a child’s manifestations, actions, motives or expressions are interpreted incorrectly, this misunderstanding has a deep wounding effect on the child because he is not related to as who and what he is. The child will not only feel hurt and betrayed, but is likely to become confused and uncertain about his sense of himself. The child’s self not only needs to be seen and related to, but seen accurately and responded to accordingly, for his sense of self to develop accurately. Otherwise, some qualities will be incorporated into his sense of self in a distorted way because they will be integrated into his sense of self compounded with the misunderstanding. Clearly, this particular disturbance affects most children’s relation to essential presence, because even if the parent is open enough to see her child’s essence in a vague way (for instance, because of intense love), she is likely to misunderstand it. She may understand his expressions or motivations, but misunderstand who he is. This is a fundamental failure of the environment; it is not possible to estimate the extent of devastation to the growing self of the child as he becomes alienated from who and what he is, his inner preciousness and truth. We cannot blame the parent in this instance; she might be a normal and healthy mother who loves her child and does her best to provide him with what he needs. Her limitation is part of a societal norm, and she will not know otherwise unless she is fortunate enough to see what Essence and self-realization are.

The Big Fall, the Great Narcissistic Wound that Shows the Child His Limitations and Dependency

On the Being level the Essential Self has no limitations, but the child comes to believe that his body and mind have no limitations, which is obviously a delusion. The delusion is not the feelings and attitudes of grandeur and omnipotence, for these are the actual feelings of the Self of Being. The delusion is in attributing them to the body-mind. We can see from this that the Essential Self has no physical-mental wisdom. The grand qualities belong to the Essential Self, but they become grandiose when attributed to the body and the mind. The child’s  imperviousness to hurt is an expression of his solid identity with this Self of Being. It takes him a long time to become aware that these feelings of grandeur and omnipotence are false. When this happens he is thoroughly disappointed and deflated. This usually occurs in the rapprochement subphase, third subphase of the separation-individuation process. This is the big fall, the great narcissistic wound that shows him his limitations and dependency.  

The Central Wound of Not Being Loved

In other words, the more we rend the veils, especially around love, the more our souls can be quickened and the freer our hearts can be from these limitations and distortions. To be free means that the heart starts turning the way that is natural to it. When the heart becomes free and turns in its natural way, then it starts flying because that is its nature—to fly heavenward. The first veil we need to experience and deal with is the actual experience of not being loved. This is the central wound. Each time we felt not loved, a wound was inflicted, which created a separation from love and from the quickening of our souls. So we need to see that veil of the various ways we have felt unloved. And we need to rend this veil, which means first feeling the pain of not being loved, because suppressing the wound only makes the veil thicker. Veils are frequently parted by going through and into the wound, which is why Rumi says, How sweet is the pain that you cause me to feel as you draw me nearer. So if you really feel the wound, this is parting the veil.

Love Unveiled, pg. 44

The Deepest Wound, the Wound of the Separation from Oneness

As you consider this perception of oneness, you will see that in a very deep place in you, in the deepest part of your heart, there is a very deep grief, the deepest wound, the wound of the separation from oneness. And there is longing in our hearts, the deepest yearning. The most powerful desire we have, in the deepest part of our hearts, is the longing to cease as a separate individual; to be united, to see that there is really only one because it is our ultimate nature.

The Specific Narcissistic Wound

1. The disconnection of the self from its essential presence manifests as a profound and deep wound to the self. It is as if the very core of the self is yanked out from within it. This is the specific narcissistic wound, the hurt that expresses the pain of this fundamental loss, and reflects the actual state of loss. All of the factors which contribute to narcissism, compounded by the self turning away from its connection with essential presence, lead to this narcissistic wound. Centrally, the narcissistic wound is caused by the decathexis of the Essential Identity.
2. Alienation from the Essential Identity leads to the loss of the profound sense of value and preciousness intrinsic to the sense of one’s identity with Being. Value is a quality of Being which, when lost, leads to a loss of self-esteem. When we are in touch with Being, self-esteem is experienced as an intrinsic feature of the self, as part of one’s inalienable human inheritance. The wound of the loss of value is intimately associated with the narcissistic wound.

The Wounding of Rejected Love

When a quality of Essence is blocked from a person’s experience, what is left in place of that quality is a sense of emptiness, a deficiency, a hole, as we saw in our discussion of the Theory of Holes. You have seen in your work here how you actually experience that emptiness as a hole in your body where a quality of Essence is cut off. This creates the sense that something is lacking and, therefore, something is wrong. When we feel a deficiency, we try to fill the hole. Since Essence has been cut off in that place, we cannot fill the hole with Essence, so we try to fill it with similar, false qualities, or we try to fill it from the outside. Suppose, for instance, that our love for our mother is rejected, not valued. That love in us is hurt, wounded. To avoid experiencing the hurt, we deaden a certain part of our body, and in that way we are cut off from the sweet quality of love in ourselves. Where that love should be, we have an emptiness, a hole. Forgetting that it was our love that was lost, we think that we lost something from outside and try to get it back from outside. We want someone to love us, so the hole will be filled with love. Connected with the hole are the memories of the situations that brought the hurt and also the memory of what was lost. It is all there, but repressed. Since we do not consciously remember what happened or what we lost, we are left with the sense of emptiness and the false qualities or ideas we are trying to fill the hole with. In time, these holes accumulate. They are filled by various emotions and beliefs, and this material becomes the content of our identity, our personality. We think we are those things. Some people are left with a bit of Essence here and there, but in those whose childhood problems were most severe, everything is repressed, resulting in a subjective sense and look of dullness, almost deadness.

When there is Compassion, it Becomes Possible to Experience One’s Deep Wounds

Compassion: This is the aspect of loving kindness that is needed to experience and accept one’s hurts and wounds, without defense and without resentment. One cannot have an objective understanding about anyone if there is no Compassion. When there is Compassion it becomes possible to experience one’s deep wounds, an experience which readily leads to the aspects related to these wounds. Each time an aspect is buried there results a deep wound in the psyche, and the experience and acceptance of this wound is indispensable for the emergence of the buried aspect. Compassion is usually recognized in its manifestations such as consideration, regard, concern, sympathy, empathy, warmth and the like. However, it is a mode of consciousness, a presence of Being, in a certain differentiated form. Its real significance is not exactly to remove suffering, but to lead to the truth by providing the capacity to tolerate suffering. This increased tolerance for emotional suffering gives the individual the ability to refrain from ego defenses. This allows one to look objectively at one’s experience, which facilitates its metabolism. It eliminates suffering in a more ultimate and fundamental sense, by allowing the ability to see the deeper causes of suffering. 

Work on Integrating the Element of Love

Along the way, what many people discover is that the ability of the heart to come forth, penetrate, see, and mature has been arrested by all the hurt and wounding they have experienced in their life. As we work on integrating the element of love, we will have to confront many kinds of wounds and different “deaths.” It is true that there is pain, there is suffering, and there is hurt. But as we will see, they form only some of the veils we need to penetrate. It is said, “There are a thousand veils of darkness, a thousand veils of light.” So, some veils feel bad, some veils feel good. However, one who really loves is not concerned with the pain. The attitude of the lover is that pain is welcomed as part of the love affair. You can't have a love affair and expect there to be no pain or hurt. Experienced lovers welcome the pain as part of the situation. In fact, every time lovers come across some pain, some hurt, some suffering related to love, they welcome it. When you are doing the work, penetrating the veils, getting nearer to your true nature, all kinds of difficulties will arise. Someone who is not a lover will complain all the time, “Oh, it is painful. It is so hard. It hurts. Is it really worth it?” But the lover has a different attitude about it. 

Love Unveiled, pg. 20

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