Question: Sir, what is meant by being vulnerable?
Speaker: The word ‘vulnerability’ is not a very likable word. ‘Vulnerability’ to us is a consequence of the fact that there are forces outside of us that are hostile, aggressive and inimical, because we need to protect and defend ourselves against these forces. We need to have armours, protection, defences made of thought.
We do not want to be vulnerable. We want to be defended. The moment somebody says, “Vulnerability is a virtue,” we feel being vulnerable means – exposing ourselves to attack. What we forget is the basics of duality. You are attacked only as long as there is something to be attacked. And when there is something to be attacked, you would always feel attacked, or threatened to be attacked.
It is not as if the universe is conspiring against you, it is just that the self that you have built up, lives on a diet of threats. It is not as if all the arrows and bullets are aiming at you, it is just that the armour that you have raised, is justified only by arrows and bullets.
It would look very stupid if we say, “I have a thick armour,” when there is no threat of bullets. But because you must have an armour, so what you see is only bullets and guns all around you. ‘Vulnerability’ does not mean dropping your armour and getting hit by the bullets. Remember, the moment the armour drops, the bullets also drop.
Vulnerability scares us because we do not understand that the world has no objective existence of its own. We do not see that the world is not separate from us. We think that we may change, but the world will remain the same. We think that the self and the world exist independently. So we say, “So what if we become nice? The world is such a bad place that nice man cannot survive.” We think that even if we become nice, the world would continue to remain a wicked place. We have simply not observed well enough and we have not been educated in the basics of duality. How can the world remain wicked when you have dropped your wickedness?
So ‘vulnerability’ does not mean being defenceless against a hostile world. ‘Vulnerability’ simply means that having armours is stupid, because there is actually nothing out there, having enmity against you. There is simply nothing out there that is disposed unfavourably against you.
‘Vulnerability’ means relaxation. ‘Vulnerability’ means that if you are getting hit, then what is getting hit deserves to get hit, and what is getting hit, is just getting highlighted as the next item that must disappear from your mind.
And if you get hit, it is a matter of gratitude, because you did not know that there still exists something within you that could get hit. You did not know that you still had weak spots, and it’s wonderful that a situation arose in which you could see that the world still has control over you, that there is something within you which is arranged ‘against’ the world. And that is why it sees that the world is arranged against itself.
Yes, when you feel offended, when you feel hurt, it is a matter of concern. But it is not a matter of concern because somebody offended you or hurt you, it is a matter of concern because getting offended or hurt indicates that you are carrying stuff within yourself that can get offended or hurt. So when you get hurt, look not at the person or situation that hurt you, look inwards. “How is it possible that I am carrying stuff that is vulnerable to hurt?”
And remember, before this situation becomes obvious, that something has hurt you, the stuff is already there. Before the hurt presents itself, it is already present in an un-manifested form. Before that man comes and hurts you, you have already declared to yourself that you would be hurt, if such a man comes and says something to you. In that sense you are the one who has first of all made an enemy of that man.
He did not come and hurt you first. Even before he came to hurt you, you were the one who had declared to yourself that if he says such and such things I will get hurt. So who was the one who first divided the world from the self? Who was the one who first divided the world itself into ‘good’ and ‘bad’? You did that, right?
You tell yourself that if X comes and says A to you, you would feel bad. And there is no reason. You see, these are just random declaration that we make to ourselves. “If X comes and says A to me, I would feel bad about it.” Very random thing. Now one day X indeed does come and says A, you say, “I felt bad, I am hurt,” now what does X have to do with it? Yes X did say A, but you were the one who had pre-decided that you would get hurt, the moment you hear A from X.
‘Vulnerability’ means not pre-deciding. Vulnerability means – “X can come and say A, Y can come and say B, I have no reason to have decided in advance that I would get hurt.” And remember, hurt is never spontaneous. Hurt is always pre decided. You very well know sitting here, right at this moment what would hurt you. In fact you know a lot even about your neighbour. You know what would hurt your neighbour. And that is why you can so easily hurt him.
You may know a little less about what would hurt people who are strangers to you, but you know so much about what would hurt your husband or your wife. It is so easy therefore, to hurt them. And that is also what we mean by – knowing somebody, knowing what pleases him and knowing what hurts him. And when we know what pleases somebody and when we know what displeases somebody, then grandly we rise and declare that we know that person.
What do you know about him? You only know his conditioning. You only know what gives him pleasure, and what does not give him pleasure. Therefore your relationship with that man would always be of hurt and pleasure. When you would give him displeasure, you would hurt him. When you would give him pleasure, you will say that you love him, which is obviously not love at all.
Now vulnerability therefore should not be mistaken as being nice in all situations. All that vulnerability means is that – the seeds of hurt are not present, that – “I am not pre-hurt in advance.” Is that not so? Our hurt only gets exposed at the moment of hurt, but it has existed within us from long. Has it not?
We are pre-hurt. All we need is to be unwrapped and heated a little, otherwise we are ready to be eaten, pre-cooked, pre-salted, roasted. Just a little bit of boiling water is needed and the hurt becomes apparent. In that sense all of us are like walking bundles of sores. We are like bodies full of wounds and source. Even if a gentle breeze grazes against us, we feel hurt. What does the breeze have to do with your pain? You have been walking with all these wounds all over your body and mind. Anything hurts you.
Vulnerability means – “I do not know.” Vulnerability means – “I am not afraid.” When you know so much, when you are conscious that even the breeze is going to hurt you, then you are pre-hurt. You are already afraid of the breeze. You know how you avoid so many things, don’t you? Anybody here who does not avoiding something or the other? When you are avoiding something, are you not afraid? You very well know that if you come across that man, that thing or that situation, you would be hurt. You want to avoid that. So you are pre-hurt. You are already hurt, that is why you want to avoid that situation. You don’t want to avoid the hurt, you just want to avoid the hurt being exposed. Hurt you already are, walking bundles of hurt.
‘Vulnerability’ means – “I am not pre-hurt. Let the moment come, let the situation come. If the situation has to pierce me, let it pierce me. I will cry at the moment, but I have not been crying two nights in advance. When the joke comes, I will burst into laughter, but I have not been preparing to laugh. Now I am totally vulnerable to the joke. When the joke comes I am ready. I am always ready. And why I am ready? Because I am not pre-ready.”
What if you have been preparing for a joke since a week? You have killed the joke, have you not? That is how we kill life. “When the moment comes, I am up to it. I am one with it. I do not need a separation. I do need a boundary, an armour, a defence. I do not know what my response would be.” Is your laughter pre-meditated? Are your tears pre-meditated? That is vulnerability.
‘Vulnerability’ is like that beautiful green leaf dancing in the wind. The wind is there, and the leaf is responding to it. That is ‘vulnerability’. Come the wind, come the dance. No wind, no dance. The wind and the dance are one. The wind and the leaf are one. And the leaf has not decided to dance, and the leaf has not decided to not to dance – this is vulnerability.
“Well, if the breeze is good enough, the breeze will make me dance. I have not decided to dance, depends on the breeze. And I have not decided not to dance. If there is that beautiful breeze, then who am I to decide not to dance. It is not in my control. I have given up that arrogance, that I control my life. The winds control my life. And in that sense I control the winds. So my life is not ‘my’ life because what I usually call as ‘my life’, is just a confrontation of ‘me’ against the world. And the wind and the leaf are one organic unit. There can be no leaf without the wind. The entire air would get poisoned the day the leaf vanishes.
I am repeating: a vulnerable man is not one who exposes himself to hurt. The vulnerable man is the one who can no longer be hurt.
Your definition of ‘vulnerability’ is just your defence against being vulnerable. That is a very smart ploy, is it not? Give all right things the wrong definitions, so that you can avoid them. Everything that is beautiful, must be defined wrongly by you, so that you can avoid it. See how crudely we have defined ‘vulnerability’. We say, “Vulnerability means exposing ourselves. “Vulnerability means being at the mercy of the world, and the vulnerable man suffers a lot.”
What rubbish is this!
~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga‘ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at:Prashant Tripathi: What is meant by being vulnerable?
Read more articles on this topic:
Article 1: Ego thrives on hurt.
Article 3: Loneliness, Hurt, Conflict…