The cornerstone of my life and my work is vulnerability. Seventeen years ago I wrote this chapter about vulnerability and it remains the center of both my psychology and spirituality, which is found in my HeartHealth and Marriage of Souls books. When I say that the heart is the vulnerability of being, I am making a direct connection between what we are calling the heart and our pure being.
Vulnerability is the capacity or susceptibility to being hurt. The word vulnerable is also synonymous with the words openness and exposure. When a person is truly vulnerable, there is an unobstructed entrance or view to the person’s heart, being and soul. In the strongest or most enlightened person, there is no protecting or concealing cover because the person needs none. Such people carry themselves in full view of others because they are not afraid of being hurt, because they are not afraid to suffer.
he most important key to finding love is found in our willingness and ability to be vulnerable.
Our ego (our separate self) is that very edifice that we have fabricated to protect our hearts. It is the wall that all beings on this planet create to protect themselves from being hurt. We have incarnated onto this planet where all beings have suffered the pain of separation but we are promised salvation. Pain and suffering are God’s way of telling us we are doing something wrong with our life, something inexact with our consciousness. Pain and suffering have a purpose and when we can get in touch with that purpose, our path in life tends to straighten itself out. Or at least we can eventually learn which way to go to begin our journey that one day will take us back to the full light of happiness.
One way out of suffering is to see that it has been given to us by life’s greatest teacher.
Hurt is something our beings naturally feel. Hurt is the appropriate response of the human heart when attacked or misunderstood. When we betray the innocent and vulnerable nature of the pure heart, we cause hurt. When we are born we have a great capacity to be hurt. Babies and young children are totally at the mercy of their environment—they are totally vulnerable—but they slowly lose this after years of repeatedly being hurt and misunderstood. We slowly lose the vulnerability of being as we erect our ego or mental separate self. When Christ said that we needed to be born again he was referring to the reversing of this process.
When we betray the innocent and vulnerable nature of the pure heart, we cause hurt. The separate mind is the betrayer of the universe of heart and true being.
When we are vulnerable we stop putting on fancy airs and we drop our obsession with our self-image that we hope looks a little better than we actually feel. Any kind of spiritual self-image automatically blocks our vulnerability, thus cutting off the heart and blocking us from the very thing that we want—love. When we do expose ourselves, we become psychologically naked. This happens only when our defenses are down, when we are not worried that others will attack or judge us. Then we can be just who we are. But this is difficult because that is exactly what happens when we just are. People want us to be or feel or think something different. The paradox of vulnerability is that, though we can only be vulnerable when we are not worried that others will judge us, being vulnerable means openness to such an attack. In human relations no situation is completely safe when it comes to our vulnerabilities. In the beginning, when we first learn to open ourselves, it is prudent to pick the most gentle and caring people we can find to whom we can open our hearts.
Christ’s instructions for being born again were clear. What he was talking about was that childlike quality of pure vulnerability. This is the space of pure being.
That is why it takes courage and strength to be our naked vulnerable self. The path of vulnerability is for the strongest and it is for the most humble, for those who remain closest to the ground because they are not secretly hoping to look a little better than they are. Humble and vulnerable people do not walk around with a self-image that needs protecting; they feel what they feel and they share what they feel without shame. As we become more and more practiced in our vulnerability, our hearts expand and grow. The heart can grow so large and strong that eventually it cannot be hurt too badly. That is the strongest person, totally open to whatever comes. This is actually the egoless space, having no expectations and laying no demands on the universe. We open ourselves without fear and take whatever comes.
To treasure vulnerable love is the first law of a pure heart. – Christopher Hills
After many years or incarnations of being closed in the heart, being vulnerable to other human beings can be terrifying. When we fall in love the first thing we do is open our heart, exposing our sensitivities, vulnerabilities; giving power to someone to wound or reject us with their insensitivity’s or selfishness. This is why so many people are afraid to fall in love. In any situation, until the heart is used to being open, vulnerability initially feels like our heart is going to come right up through our throats.
When we first open the heart, a river of feelings is released, swamping the mind and its habitual defenses. We feel overwhelmed because our usual cool control is lost. The coolness of the separate personality is swept away as familiar ground moves from under our feet. Though most fear this moment, it is such a release, such a lightening of our load. Our real self is freed from the iron grip our ego normally holds over heart consciousness. Most egos are so rooted in their separateness that nothing short of the full fires of romance is capable of reducing oneself to the vulnerable self. And then we usually make ourselves vulnerable only to the one person we have dared to fall in love with, still excluding others; thus our vulnerability remains slightly incomplete.
The head never really allows the heart to love. Our fear of pain is stronger than our love of love.
We cannot begin to flow towards another person or towards our own higher or inner being until the psychic skin covering the heart is removed. Once this occurs the risk is great because we enter that vulnerable space and the games from our head disappear. We lose our ego’s protection, that hateful sense of separation is released and we feel that good feeling flowing. We crave that feeling of aliveness that comes from opening up. We feel safe once we are in this space. A welling-up feeling fills our insides, a warmth and sense of caring or being cared for.
When the vulnerability of being meets up with an equal vulnerability of being, a strong bonding force is naturally set up between these two beings. Open hearts can do nothing but love and when two such hearts meet, explosions of love are made manifest and there is nothing we or anyone else can do about it. No power on earth can dissolve the love of two persons if that love be true.
The pure in heart treasure vulnerability above all vibrations. A person tuned to love cherishes this space because he or she knows intuitively that this is what is most needed in human relations.
The purest heart has no mind. The pure in heart is all heart.
The gift of vulnerable love far transcends the mental sharing of spiritual concepts and stories no matter how profound they are. The head normally can’t wait to advise. The heart, when listening to the inner world of another, listens, listens more, asks questions that draw a person out further, and thus shows a loving interest in the inner world of the other. Such a heart actually has the ability to get into the inner world of another because the heart feels and experiences no separation. When listening perfectly to the being of another, our being has the capacity to commune, to be at one with that other. The reunion of beings beyond the normal separate space of ego consciousness is a very beautiful thing when it happens.
My tears flow. My being opens totally.
Vulnerability must not be confused with mental openness. It is very possible that someone could share the most intimate details of their life and still not be vulnerable. The difference lies in the vibration. Often in the beginning of relationships, people find it easier to be vulnerable about hurts and pains from the past when in fact their real vulnerability has something more to do with feelings being generated in the moment. Expressing love or sexual attraction is often the most vulnerable issue at hand. Expressing these feelings leaves us exposed to others. When we share these feelings our relationships are quickly taken to deep and often intimate levels. And in these spaces, though we may suffer, we grow.
The purpose of our life here on this earth is to contact our being, expand and grow our being by coming into a direct relationship with the essence of our heart’s true nature. And what is this true nature? The heart is the vulnerability of being.