Accepting vulnerability

Some days ago, my wife sent me this blog post. The following remarks resonated with me rather well:

While life looked great for the most part, I found myself occasionally experiencing sharp anxiety over things that seemed relatively insignificant to others around me. I related to these moments as personal setbacks in my otherwise happy journey of spiritual growth. Of course, being that harsh on myself made it worse.
All the same, with continued reflections, I could begin to see a pattern. I had a strong, an almost innate, sense of aversion – an aversion to pain, loss and to any kind of suffering.
I subconsciously detested multiple things, big and small, including the idea of falling sick, getting into an argumentative discussion, excessive socializing, meeting aggressive people or missing my daily dose of meditation or exercise. I was also averse to making blunders (perhaps minor mistakes that appeared major only to me) and harbored a subliminal fear of potential loss – of losing a loved one, my reputation or my new-found sense of peace.
I certainly could relate to this part of the blog post than the earlier part where he wrote about discovering an inner strength. Perhaps, I did so too in the last two years or I did not. I am not sure of that. But, the above part is something that I had experienced and am still experiencing.
It set me thinking on why it ought to be the case and I came up with the following explanations. Needless to add, the explanations are not mutually exclusive.
(1) Having given up (for the most part) on the pursuit of material goals and acquisitions, one naturally finds inadequately or not at all motivated to pursue certain activities whose ends would have been these. So, some activities and engagements drop out. There is more time. There is a certain incremental idle time in that sense. Hence, other thoughts come in to occupy the idle time. Vulnerabilities and fears get accentuated and get extra attention.
(2) As long as one feels that one is the ‘master of the universe’ or at least the ‘master of one’s personal universe’, one is driven by a sense of (false) belief in one’s abilities to handle things. As that feeling of ‘ego’ shrinks a bit and as becomes aware of one’s vulnerabilities, initially (‘initially’ has no reference to chronological time; chronically, it can last very long and it is, in my case) one feels a greater sense of vulnerability and experiences more fears. Logically, the next step in this process should be total surrender as one comes to terms with and accepts one’s vulnerability. For Yours Truly, it is still a work in progress, to put it positively.
(3) Both the realisation about the relative uselessness of material and other goals and the heightened sense of vulnerability could be due to some common underlying biological change. Who knows?
In a different context, my friend wrote to me that
“The illusory ‘I’  has to be ‘sustained’. otherwise the bubble will burst. But we are afraid of the emptiness. The great say that that emptiness is fullness’
He was responding to this blog post at ‘The Gold Standard’ blog that I maintain. He is right: even the partial realisation of the emptiness is unsettling. I am yet to come to terms with it.
Do you want to share your experiences and progression or tips for progression that helped you overcome this sense of vulnerability or fears?

2 thoughts on “Accepting vulnerability

  1. Very apt, absorbing and thought provoking. Speaks volumes about your leanings and maturity – though ought to be an essential rumination in everyone’s life, it is often a question of which life – since seeing things in perspective may take several lives.
    – Murali

  2. Dear Ananth,

    First of all thanks for triggering a torrent of thoughts with this blog of yours. Very aptly titled “Dealing with vulnerability”.

    What you have written about is very valid for people in transition. Not transition in a smaller sense of the word like moving from one job to another, one city to another, one country to another etc. But transition from one long phase of life with its own established norms, certainty, stability & well defined expectations to a radically new phase of life which is virtually an uncharted territory.

    The first experience is one of relief from the previous phase of life. Next you start looking around more minutely at people who seem to have found peace. Then you realise many of them are people who have detached themselves from the mainstream life. Many of them are people without family responsibilities … most often unmarried. They lead a life of a yogi, sanyasi, ashram-vasi etc etc. You realise you are not exactly in the same boat. You might have said bye to your old way of life but responsibilities have not gone away. Responsibilities … not only financial. Financial may be the easiest to plan and by this time one would have already done so. But emotional responsibilities.Then this triggers you to find a new path which applies to one in the normal family life but has moved away from the usual track. This the first lesson that I learnt. That I have to find a way/path that is unique to me and my circumstances. Bits and pieces can be taken from the lives of those who have found the peace but in totality their way of life does not fit in with mine.

    Let us move on. Having withdrawn but continuing to live in the midst of people who are busy running the race of life … at some point in time or other one may start wondering “What am I doing with my life?”. It is like you were also at the starting line of a 5000 Meters race and just when the pistol went off you decide not to run. Good that you decided not to run. Conscious wise decision. But then you see the others running earnestly. And what are you supposed to do now? Join the people in the gallery and cheer those who are running? After some time you will start wondering what are you doing here. Not only that, you had already decided it is not a wise thing to run the race, having run enough and having seen through the futility of it. How then do you cheer those who are running?

    Further, is that now the purpose of your new life? Obviously you did not get out of the race to remain in the stadium. You have to find a different purpose of life. May be far away from the stadium. Something that will give you a mission and a hold for life. And pre-empt any potential emptiness.

    This is probably a good lesson to learn from the ashram-vasis. They have found a new mission. A new purpose. Why not develop that new purpose, wherever you are? Not necessary that you have to get into an Ashram to find it. If you search deeply within you, it is there buried deep. One has to just unearth it. Paulo Coelho “The Alchemist”. Find your dream and go in its chase. Robin Sharma. The monk who sold his Ferrari. Purpose of life is to lead a life of purpose. There is a purpose for each life, given by God. And a special gift also given by God to enable one to find and pursue that purpose.

    Sorry, even though I tried to bring some order to my thoughts, still it has been a flood and I think I have conveyed in the same manner. To cut the long story short here is a summary of my thoughts:
    * Yes, a certain emptiness and a wonder about what one is doing, is inevitable in the transition.
    * Finding a new purpose for life (may be a long time dream) is the key
    * And going after this purpose is the new life
    * I do not want to simplify and say “Voila, you got it and now life will be great”. It will be under estimating the power of life if I say so. In the new life once again self doubts as to whether you are really in the right path and questions like ‘is it the right purpose?’ etc will keep cropping up. How much you love this new found purpose will decide how strong you are to overcome these “vulnerabilities”.

    Happy to share. Hope these thoughts kindle some other constructive ripples in the reader.

    Best Regards

    VP

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