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October 27, 2011

The hardest (and best) thing: being human

Another Place by pathlost

(from the writing our way home blog)

Kaspa writes: It’s becoming more difficult for me to write. Why? Because more and more I am trying to ground my writing in my real human experience, with all of its messiness and f’d up-ness – all of this alongside the cute kitten photos and the rhapsodising about how beautiful the countryside here is.

Two weeks ago I gave a Dharma talk during a Buddhist service that was very well received because of the humanity in it. Last night I began a talk by listing some of my flaws (I didn’t have time to mention all of them).

After last night’s talk someone said they weren’t sure if there was something different about me, or if there was something different about how they were listening. I suspect a little of both – it can be easier to connect with someone who accepts their own humanity and vulnerability than with someone who is keeping their messiness under wraps.

Usually I upload recordings of the talks to the website of my Buddhst group: Malvern Sangha. I haven’t put the last two online yet. They are usually uploaded the next day, and it’s been over a week now. The superficial answer is that it takes time to convert the filetype, and I’ve been busy (and it’s a boring job). The real reason they are late is because I know that in those two talks I am more exposed than I usually am.

I know and trust everyone that was physically present at the talks. In that situation it’s a little easier to relax than online where I don’t know everyone that might listen – I’m suddenly more vulnerable again.

Once a month our sangha have what is called a stone passing. Essentially we use a stone as a talking stick, and each person gets a chance to speak from the heart, whilst others listen. This is one of the most powerful forums I have experienced. As people sink into trusting the group, and are able to open up, they are able to admit to being human. They can say, “this is what I am struggling with this week”, or “this is why my heart is heavy”, or even, “this is why I’m really excited at the moment”. For those of us listening it’s a relief to hear that we’re not the only one.

Being exposed to vulnerability allows us to be vulnerable, and my experience of being able to be vulnerable is that a weight is lifted. Sometimes, when I’ve been holding onto some grief, or struggle, it’s like a spot bursting. An initial painful pop, as all the emotion spills out and then the lightness and softening that follows.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in ~ Leonard Cohen

Okay. Now I’d better upload those talks….

P.S. If you want to get more in touch with your vulnerability, you could join one of our writing our way home e-courses. There’s still time to enter our draw to win one of three free places in November. Click here for more details.

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