Vulnerability: The Door To Heaven
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
When I begin a spoken word performance, a unique phenomenon takes place: I feel totally naked in front of people, and the words slip out, breaking a boundary inside of me which I am sometimes unaware of in the day-to-day. After the performance, when I am breathless and on my knees, I look up to see the effect it has had on the people around me. Astonishingly enough, I see some people in tears by the performance. They are moved. But I do not feel like I have moved them. Instead, there seems to have been an in-between force that holds the space--a living creature of the ineffable that swims through with the message of divine source, breaking the cages of all that is unreal. In that space, I am nothing. But the essence of everything comes through. As a poet, these type of experiences are what I live for because they are devoid of the business-as-usual mentality that chokes our civilization today. Being there feels like home. And I can tell the people listening are at home as well. Even if they cannot fully grasp the content of the poem, they are able--in some miraculous way--to connect with the source of the poem itself.
All this got me wondering: what in God's name allows it to happen? Why, when I am speaking, do I feel like I am falling? Why are some people brought to tears? And why does there seem to be more space in the room whenever I show my true, tender self?
After sitting with these questions for a few days I realized--quite quickly-- that it had to do with vulnerability. Giving in to something greater allows me to transmit the greatness of existence. This process of "giving in" is what you might call "surrender." And it feels self-sacrificial. The hair on the ends of your skin stand up, a vast space emerges, and suddenly, without warning, you are taken and left undisguised by what is real and raw inside of you. We have all had an experience like this, in some shape or form. You wouldn't be on earth if you hadn't. Why?--because the fabric of life itself is built in such a way as to make us vulnerable. Birth, death, grief, heartache, and the moment of fear before spiritual awakening open us and point the way. They are portals, and we should honor them as such.
But how to honor them? Well, the first step is to not resist any of it. The moment we resist these beautiful aspects of life, we suffer. This might seem self-evident, but in this society we are taught to resist much of the actualities embedded in life--so much so that it has become unconscious. With technology on the rise, we are set on becoming immortal, as if death--the one certainty of life--could go away; men are taught to "man up" when a hint of emotionality creeps in; and when the "sh*t hits the fan," we go straight into problem solving mode and look for a way out, instead of appreciating and feeling and honoring the more subtle lesson being shown to us. Maybe, instead of fighting, it would be better if we dropped our sword and kissed the soil. Maybe, instead of giving up, we give in. Once we have stopped resisting the certainties of life, once we feel into every nook and cranny of our emotions and feelings, once we honor grief the same way we honor joy, life will show us a way.
So, die into the feeling, whatever it is. Let go. If it makes you tender, let it strike you. Submit to it. Why would you choose anything else, knowing that it's the way you currently feel? Why fight what is real?
I know this might be easier said than done, though. When I am in front of someone, for example, feeling tender and raw, there is undoubtedly a sense of discomfort. But when this discomfort rises to the surface, I know it is safe to die into. I can't always say why this is the case, but I feel into it as I feel into music and poetry. I let it move through me in a way that honors my intuition. And when it moves, insight pours into the heart. That is when literal magic takes place.
I have always considered vulnerability to be magical. It has this unique power to give and receive at the same time. When you give yourself the privilege of breaking through, you invite others to do the same. It has this ability to push through bullsh*t and facade in a way that is somehow effortless. You just fall, and existence catches you.
When I think about poets like Hafiz and Rumi, for example, I imagine them standing in front of a crowd, powerful in their humility, broken open by the ecstasy of love which made them poets to begin with. And, granted they were vulnerable, their words would've landed in the hearts of all those listening. Because, if you are completely and sincerely vulnerable, it is impossible to utter a word of untruth. As I continue to write and share my work with others, I now know how pointless it is to claim artistry if you cannot strip yourself bare and show others the scars on your chest, or the deeper love you have inside for the arcane, unseeable things. It is the only way to approach life, and the only way to live.
Hafiz once said, "I am a hole in the flute that the Christ's breath moves through. Listen to this music." That hole can be compared to the sensation of falling we come in contact with when we are vulnerable. It allows the music to come through. Without the hole, there is no music. It's as simple as that. The second you decide to drop your guard to existence in a sincere way, eternity moves through. Surrender is the name of the game.
"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."
The call to action here is simple: instead of grabbing on and fighting, follow the advice of Rumi and "flow down and down in always ever-widening rings of being." Let existence wound you. Yes, it might be hard at first, because of all the conditioning loaded onto us. It might be difficult to trust the unknown, deeper feelings. But it is the only choice you have, if you want the real to taste you.