Jack Kornfeld tells a true story:
The mother of a teenage boy sits in court each day watching the trial of another teenage boy who killed her son. On the day of the verdict, at which time he is found guilty, she stands up and yells at the boy “I’m going to kill you.”
Several months go by and the mother visits the teenager in jail. She brings him some things that he may be able to use while in prison. Thus begins regular visits by the mother.
The day comes when the boy is scheduled for release. He has no place to go and so the mother offers to take him into her home which he agrees to do. She finds him a job. Over time he makes enough money so he can find a place of his own. The mother invites him to sit and talk about his future. She says, “remember that day when I said that I was going to kill you. Well I have accomplished my task. If you will have me you can stay here and live with me as my son”. The boy stayed and the mother adopted the boy as her son.
In Buddhist psychology is says that loving is about a deep understanding of each other.
Why don’t we tend to see the vulnerability in another? Are we too busy dealing with our own?
Imagine if we acknowledged that all the feelings of inadequacy, not good enough, fear of seeming stupid, or meaninglessness, or being excluded, are simply part of the human condition.
We all feel these feelings to a variety of degrees at various times.
Imagine if we saw the experience of our desperate sense of not knowing and meaninglessness as just what it is. What if we saw it as a ‘stuckness’, as our denial of what is. The irony is that while we are sitting in the resistance we cannot see that on the other side of that sense of meaningless, or not knowing, there is a whole other world waiting to open up.
Imagine this scenario. When you next enter a new space, focus on the vulnerability of all that you see or meet.
If you do this, you would then see the pretending to ‘know it all’ as a delusion or a way to hide fear. You would see not being able to give another deserved accolades as a desperate attempt to claim the feeling of adoration from the outside world for yourself. You would also see the velcro attachment to being right as some people’s desperate way of hanging onto experiencing the self as being safe and having significance. You would see endless chatter as a way of covering the silence, the unknown.
You see the examples of ‘see me, see me’ talk as being a desperate attempt at feeling that ‘I matter’ and ‘I am not insignificant’. You see the focus on tasks and ‘doing’ as a way of people staying safe with their heads above water.
How would it change our relationships if we saw each other as fairly desperate little creatures, one amongst 7 billion trying to feel ok about this life and ourselves?
‘I suffer because my interactions with others do not meet the expectations I did not know I had’ – Jim McDonald
What tends to happen is that we project onto others. This projection is the trance that forms the basis of all of our relationships. Rather than seeing each other’s vulnerability we see a representation of the other person in relation to ourselves. When the other person does not measure up to our beliefs around how people should behave, or how I should be treated, then we see them as the problem. Rarely do we look at our own beliefs – yet that is where the gold is. The gold is in identifying yet another belief or value. Good or bad, our beliefs and values are the bars of our prison. It is our beliefs, values and expectations that give us the experience leading us to conclude that the Now is not right. Most of these beliefs, values and expectations we are not even aware of. But as long as we have a pattern of projection, we don’t have the opportunity to discover what our they are.
‘Conscious relationships is at the heart of the spiritual life.’- Tara Brach
And so our relationships are constantly vulnerable to our perceptions of reality meeting our expectations of how the world should be, how relationships should be, how I should be treated, how I should feel etc etc. No wonder we find conflict!
In other words, we constantly get in the way of seeing each other as we are. The more we identify only with the narrative or constructed aspect of ourselves, the more our relationships tend to be dysfunctional and flawed. If not all the time, at least some of the time.
However when for a moment we park our narrative self and our desires and wants in relation to another, when we see their vulnerability and through that understand them, then LOVE has the space to emerge.