Eliminating Suffering or Uncovering Compassion?
“I wanted to ask you a Buddhist-related question. Since I’m living at a Zen Center right now they’re fresh on my mind. As I was trying to feel into the First Noble Truth of Dukkha, usually translated as suffering, I was feeling like it was very closely related to–if not completely identical with–the Core Wound. Do you have some reflections on this you would share?”
While I would certainly agree that The Core Wound is related indirectly to the Buddhist concept of Dukkha, the first noble truth, from my perspective they are certainly not the same, and to leave it there would be to miss the hidden treasure of what many find a difficult passage: Becoming conscious as the Wound.
In the Buddhist tradition the first truth Dukkha is basically presented as a problem to be solved.The second truth explains its cause (grasping or craving).The third says it can end. The fourth lays out the solution.
I would not question the logic or effectiveness of the Eightfold path to eliminate Dukkha or suffering.
That said, in many ways this framing of the situation as a problem to be solved followed by solution to be carried out is the definition of what the Trillium path refers to as the hypermasculine approach. The goal is to eliminate Dukkha (which is suffering).
In this path, the Core wound is not suffering in itself.
The Wound is actually not suffering, although it is experienced as such the less conscious it is. This gets tricky because in our path, the way the Wound is experienced is different depending on where you are in the process and so it is actually defined differently depending on how conscious it is.
The Core Wound is the Paradox of being both non-findable Unborn Unconditioned Awareness and very findable conditioned mattter/mind/ energy. This paradox needs no solution and is not actually a problem at all, but when we are not consciously being it, it is experienced as suffering and a problem.
Usually we are consciously identified with only one pole of our existence, either the born or unborn. Because we feel the need to be one to the exclusion of the other, we are not aware that we unconsciously compare what we identify ourselves with to what we don’t identify ourselves with.
For most folks, this means that they unconsciously compare the unfindable-deathless-unborn nature with the finite-always-changing nature, and the finite always comes up unsatisfactory. The unconscious comparison between the two creates the sense that there is something wrong, and we have been trained to read that as meaning there is something wrong with us in particular.
The other thing about the Wound ( the paradox) is that while there no problem and nothing wrong with it, it does have a distinct feeling component. At the feeling level it is the vulnerable sensitivity at the heart of life. When we consciously and experientially (not intellectually) embrace the fact of being the both/and of this Paradox of Onlyness, we are beginning the journey of making the Wound Conscious or becoming the Conscious Wound.What is discovered is that the more it’s conscious the more it is experienced as something entirely different from a problem: it’s experienced as something more akin to Heart, Love and Compassion.
The way that this happens is through the unwilled rot out of the hypermasculine attempts to be other than this vulnerable paradox.
So depending on whether it is conscious or not it either motivates our search for relief (we experience it as a lack and separateness) or it is simply what it is: Heart, love, or ( I would say) innate Bodhichitta, Metta, or Karuna. In the Trillium path, The Unconscious Core Wound is experienced as Dukkha; as it is made Conscious as the Conscious Wound, it is Karuna or even Bodhichitta.
In the Trillium path, the Core Wound is not something to be eliminated; it is something to make conscious. It is our very nature as sentient beings, not something that we can eliminate… it’s us.
The process of becoming conscious as the wound is to:
-First experience the Wound as something that we “have” and must find.
-Then relax into and feel into it.
-Finally to recognize that it’s what we are.
So if the Core Wound is initially experienced as suffering, it is finally known to be Love.