The beginning of this series starts here …
In a world like ours, being vulnerable is dangerous. We can easily see that the most vulnerable among us are the ones that are preyed upon and the ones most subject to abuse. So creating a persona of strength and masking our vulnerabilities may seem to be a reasonable approach to survival. The resistance to showing vulnerability, however, reflects even in our most personal and intimate relationships, often depriving us of genuine experience.
In exploring our perceptual relationship with Time we have begun factoring in the varied aspects of living within a culture, and the cultural consensus that is promoted. In a culture directed to meet the ever increasing needs of securing a projected future, the manipulation of vulnerability in hierarchical structure becomes an essential means of managing its population and producing outcomes. For all intents and purposes it is considered justified and expedient.
In the dialogues we began further addressing the subject of empathy as we began exploring Culture. Empathy is another broad subject. Essentially invisible, we have only been able to define its warp and weft as it weaves through our lives. It wasn’t until the very end of the dialogues that I came to an understanding of its roots, which is also our objective here. As in the dialogues however, we begin with the breadth of its influence.
In this context, the manipulation of vulnerability is essentially the employment of the patterns of empathy, how it moves through populations, and then the use of this understanding as a means of influencing outcomes. In practical terms, people who remain vulnerable are easier to manipulate and control. Using the same techniques, businesses and popular culture create prototypes to be emulated and copied that promise safe and effective embellishments to “personas” protecting us from vulnerability at the expense of our own self knowledge.
On the other hand, there is safety in numbers. When caught in a web of personal helplessness it is seductive to empathize with those who share our particular vulnerabilities, supportively elaborating on the theme. However, without self-healing, these empathetic sympathies tend to validate suffering, keeping us in an empathetic loop and distancing us from opportunities for a deeper self understanding.
Empathy in one form or another weaves through our lives either through cultural promotion or personal choice. In every sense, hierarchy, empathy and the manipulation of vulnerability are major factors in the function of culture.
As human beings, it is within our most basic nature to mirror the emotions of others, reflecting our own conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings. It is felt that expressing empathy affords us a way of dealing with our own vulnerabilities by experiencing them together or through the lives of others, giving breadth to our social instincts. Moving us to feel deeply and follow our need to belong and to be understood, we form supportive relationships that have the expectation of enhancing life. These relationships have the opportunity of promoting personal and collective growth and well being, or at the very least they give us a “safe” place to inhabit until challenged further. Empathy is complicated and has many sides.
As humans, our reliance on empathy and its patterns have become the means by which we organize our projections, judge the value of relationship and steer our course, anticipating progress through the patterns of cause and effect that have defined our history. We will begin to understand that as human perception has moved deeper into a perceived separation from the Continuum of Life, we alone as human beings have developed our mental and emotional empathic abilities to both heal this perceived separation, but most often to maintain it.
Even though we witness emotional depth in other creatures besides ourselves, as we continue to explore our human relationship with empathy it will become clearer that it is incorrect to assume that this depth of relationship in other creatures is an empathic response. In the dialogues it was said that empathy as a form of response is solely human. However….
“Through the continual balancing
of our thoughts and emotions into an integrated physicality
or has the opportunity of maturing,
becoming less selective, less self protective, less manipulating
and more open to a compassionate and equable response to all vulnerability.”
Despite the seduction and continual employment of empathy, we remain part of the Continuum of Life whether this is acknowledged or not. The nature of the Continuum is to be adept at sophisticated reorganization in organized complexity, adjusting and healing any imbalance. And though we are an integral part of this,
“The essential requirement
of creative reciprocal relationship itself
In our current worldview our regard of time as absolute, as opposed to time being simply a useful measure, substitutes for trusting. It substitutes for trusting that we have the ability to survive by being in a creative reciprocal relationship within the natural organization of life. Culturally we have determined that it is for our highest good to base our endeavors on ordering all of life to our own requirements, thus insuring our future. I was told that, in our current paradigm…
“Culture is the measure of our empathy.
Time is the measure of our perception.”
Hierarchy in all its manifestations is the natural extension of this marriage and a pervasive means of measure and control. However, as our perception becomes a cognizant physical embodiment, we realize that inspiration is the common reciprocal language of a spiritually intelligent world. As we shift our perception to the immediacy of relationship, rather than a perceptual relationship with time, reciprocal resonance in the form of insight replaces empathy as a means of connection.
Our regard of time though, may still hold us in the illusion that everything we experience, including insight, has a forward linear motion. Perhaps not realizing that insight moves in waves…multi-dimensional, multi-layered.
Sometimes inspiration is simply… a grace-full-ness. Enlivened by these synchronicities we reach for understanding about ourselves, our relationships, our work. As these waves of inspiration move us along, our sense of connection and relationship is enhanced and in our own way we open to everything around us. With our senses heightened, we deepen our cognizance of the physicality of insight.
As our recognition of insight increases, the dichotomy inherent in a time continuum may foster the feeling of being “singled out” creating either confusion and/or delusion. The images of “winners and losers”, and “chosen ones” are strongly imbedded in our psyches.
“In the Continuum
there is no measure
New insights that allow us to venture into unfamiliar or darker territory can also be complicated. We may only comprehend their immediate relevance as insight continues to move deeper in our experience. Only then do we begin to understand further relationships and connections… which then lead to new and deeper insights. We begin to realize that insight is a pulse ever beating, requiring continued responsiveness to actualize further within us and manifest fully in our lives.
All relationship within the Continuum is based on trust. As we open to insight in these darker realms we are given the opportunities for understanding all that is necessary to heal our vulnerabilities. Because this is a reciprocal relationship we also have the ability to slow the momentum… to take a breath when needed or when becoming overwhelmed.
The more cognizant we are of our own internal balancing act however, no mater how confusing or difficult, no matter how young or old we are, the more likely we are to be responsive to the subtleties of insight. We are also better able to distinguish when our vulnerabilities are manifesting, lending weight and coloring our experience. Life hands it out in inscrutable ways to have a closer look. Opening to this gives us what we need. Need here is the operative word. Not desire or projection.
In coming to a level of maturity in the balancing of our thoughts and emotions, at any time in our lives, we have the opportunities to learn resilience, to gain the strengths needed to heal our vulnerabilities, equipping us to handle whatever presents itself. The guidance for this is within us. Acknowledgement is our prayer, a prayer without measure or future tense. It was stressed that this relationship requires no less than daily spiritual acknowledgment, in whatever form our spiritual practices take. Acknowledgement is simple and immediate. It is a matter of conscious relationship not necessarily of form.
“Large tree in winter with branches touching the sky.
The cold winds twist and bend the branches into grotesque postures.
A prayer for the purposely obscure and conventional postures
seated in better times.
The world revolves around the sun
Spring follows winter
Summer follows Spring
The tree prays in all seasons”
© Jana H. White
Artist: Kathe Kollwitz