During this journey I have been on with Sadananda and his love for another woman, I have had to delve deeply into the essence of trust. What is the relationship between trust, love and vulnerability?
There is the naïveté of trust, the childlike belief that this specific person will never harm us, never cause us pain. A trust like this ignores the basic reality of anitya, anatta and dukha—every compounded entity is impermanent, inherently empty of true existence, and will eventually give rise to pain simply by changing. If in no other way, the ones will love will one day die and leave us bereft.
Then there is the trust we place in our dream or fantasy of happily ever after. This fantasy is a powerful imagination that our needs for love, safety, connection, security, stability, and so on can and will be met only in this specific way, with this specific person. We narrow our sense of true vision into the tunnel-vision of this fantasy and are devastated when our dream turns out to be an illusion. In my work as an Ayurvedic practitioner and spiritual guide, I have seen the immense disappointment people suffer when their dream of family falls apart.
Once our naïveté of trust is shipwrecked on the rocks of emptiness and impermanence, once the dream of happily ever after reveals itself as a nightmare, we can easily swing into distrust and self-protection. We decide to trust only ourselves and seek ways to close the chinks in our armour to make ourselves invulnerable. Yet at this point we become our own worst enemies because we deny our need for connection. We are so determined not to let others cause us misery that we become the authors of our own misery and isolation. Simon and Garfunkel sum this one up:
“If I never loved I never would have cried…
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.”
In the depth of my own experience of pain, loss and immense disappointment, a light of what is fundamentally trustworthy and true shines in the darkness. That light is bodhichitta—awakened heart. Bodhichitta shows me that true love is not a contract, not a deal and not a bargain. It is not about, “I love you so you have to love me,”or “I do these things for you, you have to keep your side of the bargain.” True love is not a peace treaty, and does not depend upon our loved one’s ability not to cause us pain. True love is absolutely unconditional and is not involved in any way with treaties or contracts. Trust arises in me today as trust in my own basis goodness and trust in the basic goodness of those I love. Although their actions may give rise to a transitory experience of pain, basic goodness resides within them as an urge for my welfare and the welfare of all beings. Placing my trust in this deeper level, the Buddha nature level, I remain open and vulnerable. I am not a rock or an island; I am a tender, fully alive human heart. To love is to be vulnerable. Choosing tenderness, choosing vulnerability, I choose to live and to love. The beauty of this love which has shed naïveté and illusions is incomparable. Instead of saying, “I love you, so you aren’t allowed to hurt me,” I can truly say, “Having been hurt by your actions, I finally know what it is to love you unconditionally. Thank you for this gift I would never have received without your actions and the sorrow they generated.”
On the thin ice of concepts
I walked the shining lake of knowledge.
Summer came, melting the ice.
And walk on water.