Vulnerable animal

One of the things that impacts me the most is the suffering of animals at the hands of humans. Like the cow I saw a picture of the other day, neglected, standing up to her belly in shit, looking back towards the photographer with big innocent eyes. Quiet, wordless, suffering. Not understanding what is happening to her. Complete innocence.

I see myself in those animals, and children and humans suffering in a similar way. I see all of us.

At times, we are all in that situation.

Vulnerable animals, without a clue about what is going on. That is what it all boils down to.

In our daily lives, we are – to a certain extent – in control and do understand. But if we look a little closer, we find that behind that thin surface is complete vulnerability and lack of knowing.

When we find this for ourselves, there is a great deal of liberation. We don’t need to hold onto stories anymore as an ultimate truth or answer. We don’t need to deny our complete vulnerability.

Instead, there can be a more receptive mind and heart. A mind receptive to the limited truth in any story. And a heart receptive to ourselves and others.

(If we have worked with our hara, our belly, we also find our hara more receptive, in this case to a felt trust in existence and life.)

As with other forms of investigation, it is a process of seeing and feeling what is more true for us. It invites in an embrace of (more of) the fullness of who we are, as human beings. And releasing struggle – in this case against seeing that we don’t know, and the vulnerability of our human self – makes it easier for us to notice what we are.

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Welcoming the orphans back


Life invites us to welcome our orphans back, all the contents of our experience we resist, push away, disown, tell ourselves are not there, try to escape.

Whenever any of these are triggered, whether it is pain, emotions, qualities about ourselves that don’t fit with our conscious self-image, or something else, we are invited to welcome them back, to be with them in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, as we would with lost children or vulnerable animals. They are orphans seeking a home, and we are the only one who can give them that home.

It seems that there area few main ways these orphans come up in our lives, knocking at the door wanting to be let in…

One is whenever there is a friction between stories of how life is and should be, when life shows up differently from how our stories tells us it should be. This triggers resistance, emotions, memories, scenarios and so on…. all things that come out of certain beliefs and identities that are at odds with the world, which they all are. Life shows me my knots, and I typically resist seeing them and welcoming them with open arms.

Another is whenever there is a reduced ability to resist, through illness, stress, altered states or something else. I find that when I am sick, or even just off one way or another, these orphans stand knocking at the door. My usual defenses are lowered or fall away, and now they are there right in front of me.

Finally, we can actively go out and look for these orphans. They have been left out in the cold long enough, so it is time to welcome them back into the warmth. This can happen through different practices such as meditation, or in an even more active way, as I am discovering now, through breathwork. We can also sift through our memories to find the knots, and also our scenarios about the future. Or, we can just notice where our mind goes on its own, because it naturally goes to our knots. Whenever there is a distraction, or day dream, or obsessing about something, there is typically a knot right there. A knot is a combination of a belief and its effects, including emotions, and this is where the orphans are.

If I don’t feel at home, there is a good chance there are a lot of these orphans in my life… experiences such as emotions, memories, scenarios, and more that want to be let into the house. My own feeling of not being quite at home, not quite at ease, feeling separate, those all come from these orphans who are not quite welcomed home, who are not quite at ease, who are disowned and separate.

Bringing up and being with

For a while, probably due to doing The Work and receiving diksha, a lot of knots came up on their own, so I could see the beliefs and inquire into them, and experience the emotions and be with them in an heartfelt way.

Now, it seems that there are bits and pieces left, scattered around, and I find that it is more helpful to actively go after them. To put myself in situations where beliefs are triggered, and go through my memories and imagination to trigger emotions I can be with, as they are, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, as if they would never change.

For finding emotions to be with, I find that going through my memories in reverse chronological order is helpful, and also to bring up the memories in the most vivid and detailed way, and then let the memory go and just be with the emotions.

Whenever attention goes somewhere else, I know that what may appear as distraction is really just attention going into another knot, as is the nature of attention to do. It leads me directly to another knot of a belief, a story that is taken as true, and an emotion that has not been fully allowed and experienced in an heartfelt way.

After a while, I also find it helpful to bring attention to whatever sensations are here now, the ones that there is even the slightest hint of resistance to, and be with those as well in a heartfelt way.

And then even do the same with some of the image thoughts here now, such as the ones of a sense of center in space, a separate self, and so on. I find that this tends to release identification with them, bringing me into headlessness, which is just another hint of how beliefs are really just resistance… resistance to what is already more true for me in immediate awareness. (And, we can say, resistance to seeing the truth in its reversals, to seeing it and its reversals as only relative truths, and resistance to fully allowing and being with whatever emotions it triggers.)

After that, I sometimes go into the most scary scenarios I can imagine for myself, the ones that are the most terrifying. And then, notice the beliefs there for possible later inquiry, let go of the images, and be with the emotions triggered in a wholehearted and heartfelt way.

These emotions are just like vulnerable animals, or scared children. All they want is to be seen, felt and loved as they are, as if they would never change.

And this helps what we take ourselves to be. It helps this human self in its daily life. It helps it heal, find itself as more whole.

And it also helps what we really are to notice itself more easily. When there are lots of knots – of stories taken as true and emotions escaped from – attention tends to get absorbed into them. We are caught up in them and the drama created from them. And this makes it less easy for this awakeness to notice itself as awakeness, and all of its content – including all of these knots and all of the drama – as awakeness itself.

Vulnerable animal and the Big Mind process

The Big Mind process is an excellent way of exploring the vulnerable little animal, or at least to get familiar with the landscape enough so the different parts of the process comes up spontaneously in daily life.

  • It allows all the different voices to be heard
  • It allows the personality to see and appreciate the essential function they each have
  • It allows them to see their own function and role more clearly
  • It allows the personality and the voices to recognize how they function now, how it serves the personality, how it does not serve the personality so well, and how the voices can serve the personality a little better
  • It allows the different voices to realign and work more as a team, knowing that they all have the same role of serving the human self
  • It allows for a clear seeing of how there is no separate self anywhere in all of this, not in each of the voices, and not in how they function as a whole
  • It allows for each of the voices to reorganize within the context of Big Mind
  • And finally, it allows for each of the voices to be loved and appreciated as they are, including to soak deeply in the love of Big Heart

All in all, a pretty good deal for this vulnerable little animal, which can get quite hurt, contracted and wretched in the process of living… for all of us, no matter how good our lives are on the surface.

Vulnerable little animal

This has come up for me recently… how I, at my human level, is just a vulnerable little animal, and how all the human drama is wrapped up in this.

As a little animal, I am vulnerable… tiny in a big world… ultimately at the mercy of my surroundings.

From this comes all the human drama… hope, fear, longing, suffering, denial, joy, sadness, contentment, grief, ecstasy, reactiveness, hostility, feeling lost, feeling belonging, discomfort… the whole package, comes right out of that.

And all this little vulnerable animal wants and needs is to be seen and loved. To be held in love and compassion… to soak in it… as it is, with no need to change… and in that, it does change… it does realign… reorient… knots untie… hangups unravel…

I can find myself as deep love and compassion (Big Heart) and allow all of my human self, all of the different parts, soak in this… softening… allowing the hard edges to soften…