I have often heard from people that after a powerful opening glimpse of the unimaginable truth of their being, the demons of the past seem to arise more strongly than ever. Rather than the openness and innocence of "What is this now?" the response is often something like "Why is this bothering me again? Why don't these things just disappear? What is wrong with me that I don't experience permanent liberation?" On one hand, there is misery and suffering, and on the other hand, innocence and openness. These "hands" are the polarities of the mind. True innocence is the innate capacity of the heart to openly meet whatever is appearing when it appears, and to see it truthfully for what it is. I guarantee that most everything is not what it appears to be on the surface, but in order to discover a deeper truth, what appears must be met fully in innocence. Not the learned innocence of "but I'm innocent," but the natural openness of innocently not knowing.
True innocence is the capacity to directly experience what is here right now, without any demands that it look, act, or feel differently.
Innocence is openness, the willingness to see and to trust, even if what appears seems absolutely untrustworthy. True innocence is not naivete, nor is it delusion. However, it involves vulnerability. The willingness to be innocent is the willingness to be hurt. This willingness to be vulnerable is what the term "spiritual warrior" really means. Vulnerability takes more courage than being cynical, strong, or powerful. It takes courage to be open, innocent, and willing to be hurt.
Because of the nature of extremely close relationships, especially between parents, children, lovers, and partners, hurt is often experienced. So what? Hurt may feel like the end of the world, but it's not. Hurt hurts. The degree to which you are willing to be hurt, not wanting to be hurt but willing to be hurt, is the degree to which you are willing to love, be loved, and be taught by love. Love can be your teacher, though it never teaches withdrawal from experiencing hurt. Other people are not the source of your hurt, the source of hurt is the fact that you love. Trust the love. If love is to hurt you, then let it hurt you fully. Let it annihilate you. Let your heart break open so that an even deeper love can be revealed.
Most everything we do is to avoid vulnerability. We dress up in grown-up clothes, and play at doing grown-up work, in an attempt to escape the defenseless innocence associated with childhood. But innocence is not limited to children. It is possible for you as an adult to be consciously vulnerable and innocent. You can consciously hurt. You can consciously suffer. When you suffer consciously, suffering is revealed not to be what you thought. In conscious suffering, you are no longer fighting the suffering. You are consciously present in it. Then suffering itself reveals the Buddha, Christ's heart, God revealing itself to you on the mountain. If suffering is met as it appears, then suffering is discovered not to be suffering. But the intention is not to meet suffering to get rid of it. The innocent intention is to meet suffering as it is, even if it means feeling hurt.
Most people are more afraid of having their feelings hurt more than they are of having their bodies hurt. But the willingness to be hurt is crucial. Without the willingness to be hurt, there is no willingness to love, no willingness to die, no willingness to live, no willingness to be.
It is easy to see from your own life experience that no matter how much you try to run away from hurt, you still experience it. To stop the running, to turn and experience what is chasing you, open and unprotected, you have to be willing to be free. Are you willing to be free?
You can examine your life and see for yourself what you are running from, what you are trying to escape. It may be very subtle. But just in the seeing of it, there is the possibility of a deeper opening.
Everywhere I've spoken with people, I have heard this statement: "I want truth, God, and realization more than anything else-----why don't I have it?" When you honestly want truth, God, and realization more than anything else, you realize it is already here. People don't realize it is already here only because they still want it on their own terms.
Look into your life and see what stands in the way of fully and permanently realizing the truth of your being. See if perhaps you find the mindset of having it your way, on your terms, not wanting to feel this, or to see that, or to know the deeper truth. Then see if it is actually possible to feel it, to see it, to know it.
As a gateway to the experience of conscious suffering, and as a means of opening to vulnerability and true innocence, you can ask yourself this question: "What hurt am I unwilling to experience?" Do not look for the "right" spiritual answer, or lie to yourself, but simply open to what this kind of inquiry can reveal. The intention is not to fix or change the hurt, but just to see what is true.
Can you sense the energy it takes to avoid feelings of hurt? Review the ways you try to avoid hurt, what habits of mind you use to avoid it. Be willing to see the repeating patterns and to experience the price you pay for the avoidance, all of the time and energy you invest in avoidance. Just in this moment, what if you simply open to it all, avoiding nothing, welcoming all?
Are you willing to trust love rather than your mind's protection from hurt? If you are willing, then you will taste the possibility of living a life of love and conscious innocence. This is possible for everyone. Love is the teacher. If you are willing to surrender to love rather than trying to control it, love teaches you who you are.