How Vulnerability Can Save the World

Meditation Vulnerability New York City

In the past, I’ve blogged about vulnerability as a path. In other words, it’s not simply a choiceless state of being (we are vulnerable), it is a point of view. A stance. A way. In fact, it may be the only way to solve the problems our world faces. We could at least consider that. I mean nothing else has ever worked. Warfare, peace talks, diplomacy, terrorist attacks, charity, politics, activism…some of these things are really great and some are completely heinous. Nonetheless, they have not created peace in our world.

Could it be that we are going about it all wrong?

What if the only choice for creating a peaceful world was for each of us to create peace in our hearts? It’s possible that this could be the solution. One of the greatest spiritual masters of our age, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, put it quite succinctly: “If you subdue the hatred within, you will discover that there is not a single enemy left outside.” What if, rather than trying to defeat or subdue others, we attempted instead to defeat or subdue our hatred and fear of them? And finally, what if, upon hearing such a suggestion, people did not laugh or dismiss or roll their eyes but actually thought it was possible?

I realized that to quell any knee jerk reactions of hating or fearing other people (even for so-called excellent reasons), I would need to put my assumptions and projections aside at least momentarily. Not for the purpose of building better, nicer, or even more intelligent assumptions and projections, but for the purpose of—wait for it, this is the magic part that transforms everything—for the purpose of feeling. I could feel my own fears. I could feel my rage. I could feel my sadness. When I can do so, it enables me to feel the fear, rage, and sadness of others. When I deny my own, I have to deny everyone else’s. I’m not sure why it works that way, but it seems to.

To feel, we have to open—our eyes, minds, hearts, senses—while putting aside what we expect/hope/fear we will find, otherwise the only communication we have will be with ourselves. To open, vulnerability is required.


When we become vulnerable, we can feel. When we can feel, we can connect. When we can connect, our hearts open. When our hearts open, we cannot hate.

You do the math.

By Susan Piver


Join Susan Piver April 12th- 14th, 2013 at the Shambhala Meditation Center of New York for the introductory Shambhala Buddhist Training weekend, Shambhala Training Level 1: The Art of Being Human.

Susan Piver is an authorized meditation instructor in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage, the New York Times bestselling author of 6 books, including the award-winning How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life (St. Martin’s Press, 2007) and The Wisdom of a Broken Heart (Simon & Schuster, 2010). She has practiced meditation for over 15 years and teaches around the world. Here personal website and blog is