Practicing the Wound: How Deep Does Love Go?

“Hopelessness is the basic ground. Otherwise, we’re going to make the journey with the hope of getting security. If we make the journey to get security, we’re completely missing the point. Begin the journey without hope of getting ground under your feet. Begin with hopelessness.”

-Pema Chodron

On winter Solstice 2013 sitting in ceremony, I received a vision. It wasn't so much a vision, actually, as it was a Full Body transmission received inside every cell of my Being.

What I experienced was Reality as relentless WAVE, screaming with pure power. It was simultaneously creating and destroying everything, churning and throbbing with unbearable intensity. Contained inside this Wave was every aspect of existence. Every. Single. Aspect. Everything was held inside this great Wave without separation or distinction. It all pulsed as One Fundamental Essence. 

The ferocious totality of this ONE, this ALL, shattered my notions of reality. It was beyond light and dark, beyond good and evil. I sat, mouth agape, shivering in both ecstasy and terror, as I was stretched open wider and wider to receive the abundant fullness of this fundamental Truth. 

I had the distinct, full body knowing that this WAVE had no morality. It did not value peace over chaos or pleasure over pain. It was not evolving into a better version of itself. It did not reward or punish. It did not play fair. It did not make sense or make meaning. It was simply, innocently, breathtakingly complete. It was without pretense. Its crazy wisdom required no justification. It was simply doing exactly what it does, relentlessly, perfectly, forever.

There was an undeniable, overarching Presence inside this wave. A presence that reached through and beyond the sum of its parts as it simultaneously exploded out of each individual aspect. It is a presence which no word or language could accurately express, but the closest I can discern is LOVE. 

I was completely awe struck with how mind-bendingly TOTAL this Love was. Nothing was left out. Everything was included. Every beauty and horror, every joy and devastation, every saint and perpetrator, every mundane and sublime aspect of existence was embraced with utter totality. Nothing had more value than anything else. Love was screaming and birthing everything into existence. Love was slaying and burning everything to death. This Love was a Yes that has no No. 

The fullness was so total and complete, that it rang with clear emptiness. The scream was so loud, it was silence.

I was fascinated with the emotional texture of this Love. It was nothing like what I had known love to be. This Love was brutal in its wild relentlessness and yet filled with profound tenderness. It was harsh and destructive yet as innocent and natural as a blooming flower. It was completely indifferent to the impact of its constant churning, and yet simultaneously full of so much gentle grace. It was holding and embracing everything with deep, exquisite intimacy yet it had no sentimentality. It was a potency I had never tasted before. Wild, brutal, innocent and tender. It was as if it was saying: I love you, and this is really going to hurt. 

For the first time I finally understood, deep in my bones what is meant by groundlessness.

Reality is a constant churning of impermanence, being born and dying, creating and destroying. As much as we may try to find security and comfort or cling to illusions of control, the basic truth is that there is no stable ground under our feet. Reality does not submit to our attempts to pin her down or deny certain aspects. She simply is churning perfectly, and we cannot escape or slow down the fundamental instability of existing inside her wild Totality.

With this transmission inscribed inside my soul, I committed to spend the rest of my life in apprenticeship this Truth. This Non-Dual Love at the heart of reality. This Yes that has no No. This wild, brutal, innocent and tender Wave of existence. 

 

“We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not knowing is part of the adventure, and it’s also what makes us afraid. So we begin with the understanding that profound well being comes only by working with, not against, the gritty reality of life.”

Pema Chödrön

Tantra is essentially the practice of fully facing the reality of groundlessness, which means facing many harsh truths. Only as the heart breaks open to these harsh truths can the Heart can fully open to the Totality of Reality as it is, to the All inside of ones Self and inside the overwhelming intensity of this groundless wave of existence. Intimacy with the Perfection and Fullness of every beauty and horror stretches us open to that untamed LOVE, that relentless churning, that is forever saying YES.

The drop is in the ocean and the ocean is inside the drop. Just as fractals reach their tendrils into infinity, so are we as individual human beings, fractals of the Whole. We are inside of this wild, groundless Wave yet the totality of the wave also lives inside the cosmology of our own Being. 

At some point I began to wonder: If Reality is a perfect expression of wholeness, if all is the singular pulsation of the ONE fundamental essence, knowing itself through a kaleidoscope of forms, if Love is holding everything perfectly, then what is a Wound inside of this cosmology? What is there to Heal?

In this wild, groundless existence, nothing can be eliminated. The All exists here, now and always. There is no escaping it. There is no gaining control over it. We exist in Totality.

Perhaps, then, what we experience as wounding is actually a place where we are resisting reality, as it is. 

We resist and reject what we find unfavorable. And yet the Fullness of Love, the Totality of Reality includes even that which we find unfavorable. It is already part of the perfect, wild, untamed wholeness and completion of who we are, and indeed of the All that Is. 

When we attempt to change and transform ourselves or eliminate our own wounding, often what we are doing is switching from one side of a polarity to another. The law of duality is that both sides of a polarity cannot exist without each other. They in fact exist inside of each other. Shame lives in Pride. Sorrow lives in Joy. Weakness lives in Strength. Both sides are here, always, in the totality of Reality as it is. Despite our dualistic preferences, we cannot escape the other side. 

All we can do is shift our relationship to what we find unfavorable. We can turn towards the wound, the unfavorable side of the polarity, with not only radical acceptance, but with an embodied embrace, letting its presence be known inside our own skin. 

In this deep embodied acceptance, we taste the radiant core of pure consciousness, the ONE true presence that lives in everything, innocently pulsing, saying ‘YES, this too is Holy.’ When we embrace the reality of these wounds and disavowed aspects and accept them as part of the Totality that we are, we discover how deep love actually goes. There is actually nothing Love does not touch, nothing it leaves out.

The realization of our perfect nature comes not through purification, through fixing, eliminating, or transforming ourselves but through the full embodiment and open hearted embrace of all of our messy imperfections. 

This is what is known as Practicing the Wound. 

 

 

“Piercing the body with a sharp pointed instrument, and then projecting consciousness there, verily there is movement towards the pure nature of reality.”

-Dharana 93 from the Vignana Bhairava Tantra

Practicing the wound goes beyond attempting to fix and transform it. It goes beyond passive acceptance. Practicing the wound is diving down inside of it, projecting your whole self there.

Not as a Victim. Not as a Rescuer. 

 

As a Lover.

 

You become intimate the wound

 

You let it in

 

You enter into Union with it

 

You become it fully 

 

You embody it, imitate it, sing it and dance it 

 

You let it dance its dance Through You

 

You give up trying to control the direction of its flow 

 

You give up trying to make it go away

 

You give up being a victim to its existence 

 

You give up trying to transform it

 

You surrender to the fact of this wound

 

You fill it with your own consciousness

 

You open your heart to it, fully and completely 

 

You seek to know it deeply, on its Own Terms- for its Own Sake

 

You bring it as close to your body and heart as if you were making love to your Beloved

 

You let it come alive

 

You make it as present as the spit in your own mouth

 

You hold it deep inside

 

You meet it with curiosity and presence

 

Without needing it to change

 

Without needing it to stay the same

 

You climb inside its skin

 

You dilate and stretch open, making a home inside

 

You open your eyes while you are inside its skin

 

And see Reality as it sees Reality

 

You allow yourself be surprised at what you see

 

You let it show YOU its POWER and BEAUTY

 

You caress this Beloved and let it caress you back

 

You sink your teeth into it like the most delicious meal 

 

Without pushing or pulling

 

Without grasping or resisting 

 

And then, with practice

 

The wound reveals itself to simply be 

 

A Portal

 

Into the Totality of Reality

 

It is revealed to be a part of the WHOLE 

 

It always was, from the beginning


And always will be

 

It is wholly inseparable from the Whole 

 

Holy. Whole

 

You dive into this portal

 

This piercing in your own armor of resistance

 

Down, down, down

 

Until you realize

 

What is inside

 

Is innocent and perfect 

 

Exactly as it is

 

It has a core of profound Stillness

 

Radiating with Peace

 

And then it just

 

Simply. Is

 

Pure, radiant, perfect consciousness

 

It is already filled with Love 

 

It is the ONE essence knowing itself in this unique expression

 

It is inseparable from Truth

 

It is inseparable from the whole

 

It is as a shining gift full of secrets

 

You could never imagine

 

It is here to teach you

 

How to remember

 

To simply be

 

Total

 

With the wholeness that you really are

 

To know this wholeness is 

 

The deepest Truth

 

To know this Truth is

 

Freedom

 

Love on the Tantric path is relentless. It is brutal in its kindness, leaving nothing out. It will not be tamed by our dualistic preferences. Every inner demon and awkward inferior, every hatred and rage is held in the great heart of the Self and rocked in the booming ocean of deathless Love. It is the One True Taste. Forget everything you think you know of Love from the White Light Cult of New Age Spirituality. Tantric Love is the Love of the deep black groundless Void that swallows all distinctions and reveals everything to be the ONE primordial essence. It is the deep Red Love of sweet, fragrant Roses lined with piercing thorns, and the Red of Blood shed in death and childbirth. It is the wild Love of Kali, who destroys suffering by wearing the naked bones of skulls, rattling the love song of the brutal and beautiful truth underneath all surface appearances: That nothing can escape the mind bending Totality of Love. 

Practicing the Wound is like making the wound, our own resistance to reality as it is, our Tantric Consort. In consort practice we engage in relating with our Beloved for the purpose of spiritual awakening. We open our hearts so profoundly to another human being that we enter a state of surrender and union where we actually feel reality as they experience it. 

This other human being comes to represent the Totality of existence, the entire phenomenological world. This includes all of our dualistic preferences, but it also includes the other side of the polarity, everything we cannot control and all that we resist. It is easy to open our hearts to the aspects in someone we find favorable and attractive, it is easy to accept someone when we are sharing the same view of reality. 

But what about the aspects that are ugly or that we have deemed wrong? Their frustrating behaviors? Their perceptions of reality that clash with our own? 

When we open our heart and our body to a Consort, we are engaging in a practice of dissolving our limited perception of reality. We are surrendering to the fact of groundlessness. We are seeing reality through someone else eyes and coming to know that reality as deeply, profoundly beautiful and sacred.

This experience of deeply meeting the OTHER who is outside of us burns our egoic boundaries and preferences, incinerating them with the flames of compassion. It files down our rigid assumptions of who we think we are and what is worthy of being Loved. It opens us to see the sacredness in all dimensions of reality. It shows us how deep love goes. 

Taking this consort attitude to our wounds, our shadows, our disavowed parts, has the same effect. We begin to stretch open to taste our own Totality, to know the many different realities that are all part of the whole. We begin to allow ourselves to be undefended and vulnerable against the multiplicity of forms dancing inside the self. We begin to taste the purity and naturalness of all of the wild faces of existence.

To practice the wound, we become intimate with its reality. We soften our defense against reality as it is, and welcome home all of what has been disavowed. We surrender to the hopelessness of ever gaining any illusion of control over the groundlessness of existence. We surrender to the fact that Love cannot be tamed, that nothing can be eliminated from the Totality of reality. We begin to embrace the fullness of what we are and what the reality of Love is. We become naked and transparent before the intensity and beauty that is this wild, brutal, tender, innocent existence. 

 

Sting of a wasp
Rip of a nail
A razor’s slice
The needle’s plunge.

A piercing word
A stab of betrayal
The boundary crossed
A trust broken.

In this lacerating moment
Pain is all you know.
Life is tattooing scripture into your flesh,
Scribing incandescence in your nerves.
Right here
In this single searing point
Of intolerable concentration,
Wound becomes portal.
Dive through to the wild brilliance of the Self
Brokenness Surrenders
To Crystalline Perfection of Being

-Radiance Sutras