Vulnerability as a resource

  • Avikal E. Costantino
  • 04. 11. 2020

                                                                                                                                                                               Avikal E. Costantino

People usually see vulnerability from a defensive point of view, rather that a resource. Existence gave us nothing we don't need; everything we have has its function, its intelligence, its reason. Being hurt is a capacity, not a deficiency. Try imagining a world where none is vulnerable. Where the capacity to live, to feel one's own hurts does not exist. How would that world look and feel like? Disastrous, a desert.

Our capacity to be hurt gives us a fundamental thing: empathy towards all the people around us. We can feel other's hurts. There is an incredible intelligence in this capacity to recognize one's own hurts, feel them and stopping «curing» them. We don't want to cure our wounds, we want to be in contact with them. We want to grow along our hurts.

The essential difference between a child and an adult is that a child becomes hurt and has no capacity to survive in this world in an independent way. Therefore, his hurts bring him to the edge of life and death and there is a real fact of survival.

But with us adults it is another story. Everyone of us knows how to survive, otherwise we would not be here. That means we have a capacity, more or less refined, more or less stable, of regulating our existence, regulating the energetic charge and discharge of our existence.

This means we do have a capacity of accessing our resources, that a child does not have. Because, a child has no capacity to autonomously regulate his charge and discharge of energy, he needs mother and father. Mother, above all. The child is almost totally dependent.

Ourselves, if we liberate and clean our system of blocks, conditionings, contractions etc., we have a natural intelligence that has the capacity to regulate the system, the charge and discharge of energy. As we are, naturally, like inhaling and exhaling.

This gives us the permission, the space to go and live a flow of thing in a non-infantile way.

So, the capacity to recognize our own hurts, to live our own hurts, the capacity to stay with our own hurts, is a fundamental aspect of the essential compassion, which is the capacity to be ourselves, the willingness to let ourselves be

Until we are looking to cure our hurts, we are doing a thing contrary to the intelligence of this organism.

Because, until proven otherwise, with all the hurts you are caught up with, you are here, breathing, relating, communicating, with a life. This means the system has the capacity to live with those hurts, absorb them and create richness out of. It is not a thing we lack, it is the abundance we have.

Vulnerability is the capacity to exist through our hurts, as well, and this intelligence makes us, paradoxically, more strong the more vulnerable we are.

It is not difficult to experiment with this thing. Just you try to put yourself in a position of invulnerability, physical or emotional one, and you will surely find someone breaking that invulnerability. Because, when there is resistance and rigidity, things can be broken.

Instead, vulnerability is a fluid system. It is more like water, than a rock. It adapts, recognizes, reflects. Therefore, it is much more difficult to attack vulnerability.
In martial arts, the highest level is reached when a student forgets the technique completely. When it is well learned it vanishes, it is gone. The interference of «I know this, I defend myself in this way» is gone and the disciple is completely fluid and vulnerable in the present moment. No projections in the future, no expectations, no strategy.

The more rigid a system the more attempting to be invulnerable the most easy to crack.

We can take a look back. For example, in 1973 or 1974 there was a complete blackout in New York for about a week that showed in a really practical way how a tiny disfunction in a system can absolutely knock down a complex system. So the more complex the defense system is, the easier to break.



                                                                                                                                                   Felice Beato, circa 1860. (source: Britannica)


True vulnerabilty is the intelligence of no defense. And it is a thing that cannot be mentally solved, it is practice.

Someone said «I have no choice but to stay there»…It is difficult to choose vulnerability, but if intelligence is going its way, it goes inevitably in that direction.

The point is looking at that whole thing overturning the criteria we were learned. That vulnerability is a lack and invulnerability is a positive factor because, it is just the opposite.

In the same time it is very important, if one is not completely foolish, that we do not take down our defenses unconsciously. We need to learn to do that step by step, taking down defenses in situations to begin with where we feel safe and supported.

it is the only way to learn, by experimenting, practising things. Obviously, to do it, one needs to be present. So, we come back to the presence as a necessary condition of being able to have any kind of concrete reality, not conceptual.

For example, all I have learned about vulnerability was in fighting, doing martial arts. Having in mind that if I am there, closing myself and trying to interprete what is about to happen, I was totally slow and already getting 4 hits in the face, being in the ground. Instead, the more I was letting go of this and was opening, being present to who I am in the moment, the more there was a natural emotional, physical and mental intelligence in the system that knew how to adapt to the movement of the energy.

What is an orgasm? What is an orgasm, if not a moment of complete vulnerability? Where defenses collapse, the fundamental separation of «inside» and «outside» collapses, the fundamental separation between me and another collapses. Where concepts regarding what should or should not, the judge, Holy Mary, vanish. The orgasmic moment is the moment of complete vulnerability. Disappearance of boundaries, of time, of recognizing a dimension. The problem is that it does not last long. How come it does not last long, cause physiologically it cannot last long? No, it does not last long because there is a structure that, when an orgasm reached a point of what is acceptable, it immediatelly puts back the structure of control. That is why it is so short, but nowhere is written that it needs to last as much as it lasts.

They taught us that orgasmic energy is an energy to be afraid of because it is uncontrollable, cannot be controlled, therefore the control. Otherwise, those moments are, if I am not mistaken, when you say «ahh…». And then, the cage is back.

It is understandable one cannot live an orgasm forever mostly because I don't think the system could sustain it. This I don't know, it is an hypothesis, it might well be that it can sustain it.

But, the very fact of recognizing different elements that have to do with vulnerability, as being available and existing at ever more expanding levels of energies, is a fundamental thing for growth. Because only that amount of energy grows that energetically expands. If there is no eaxpansion, there is no growth.

So, if we want to grow, our responsibility is allowing this organism to having more fluid boundaries. Meaning, becoming more vulnerable. And, with mobile defenses, in the beginning. The body has the capacity of finding new defenses according to the state it is in the environment. It is not that the body drops the defenses completely. It simply has its own intelligence that continually adapts its own vulnerability and defenses to healthy boundaries, instead of those mandatory ones.

This is the difference. Because, until I am in the body, I have a need a boundaries, too. But there is a difference between healthy and conscioius boundaries and those mandatory ones held by fear. That is the point. There, too, we learn as adults that boundaries and defenses are not wrong, but that they limits us because unconscious, habitual, cause we put them there unaware of doing it.

Instead, as we open to vulnerability and conscious boundaries we are able to recognise «I need this», «I don't need this». That is intelligence. A child cannot do that, but we can, grown ups can. One needs to learn when and how to do it, what resources to use.

And this is connected to Truth, and Love. Loving yourself and recognizing your truth in the moment, honoring the truth of any specific moment.

There is a dynamic relationship between Love and Truth, as one supports the other. Activating this relationship is not easy, but the good news is that once you do that, essential nature, True Nature, starts circulating in your system.

And in doing that it creates new resources, protections, openings, defenses, according to the necessity of the moment. Based on presence, not on a mental choice or past.


Avikal Costantino is the founder and director of the Integral Being Institute in Europe, Asia and Australia. His love for Martial Arts, which he began in 1970, took him to teaching Aikido and Sword.
He was the director of the Osho School for Centering and Zen Martial Arts in Pune, India.
Being involved with Zen and Advaita for more than 35 years, he now leads retreats such as Satori and The Awareness Intensive.
Since 1997 he has developed an innovative and original approach to the work with the Inner Judge and he is a well known teacher of The Dimensions of Being (Essence), Enneagram and Tantra.