The Sacred Wound

No one wants to be wounded, yet almost everyone is at one time or another.Some wounds are small, some are very large. Some wounds are physical, some are psychological, and some are both. All wounds require healing; psychological wounds are usually more complex and take longer to heal. For example, an abused child will feel the psychological wounds long after his physical wounds heal. Our relationship to our pain is a key factor in how well the wound heals and whether or not it becomes a “sacred wound.” A “sacred wound” is a wound that opens us up to a deeper and more sacred place within our self it--opens us to our own soul. Our broken humanness is an opportunity for the soul to reveal herself. The broken places may allow our inner light to shine through.

Our deeper psychological wounds often involve some form of betrayal. A betrayal always involves a broken trust. The deeper the trust, the deeper the betrayal---and the deeper the wound. The deeper the wound, the greater the possible blessing.

Children innately trust adults, especially parents, relatives, teachers and (sometimes) clergy. When one of these is the perpetrator of abuse there will be a deep wound in the child’s psyche and the healing process will be long and complex.

Virtually every sage and saint has been betrayed by someone in their lifetime; and in most cases, he himself has been seen as a betrayer. Jesus of Nazareth was famously betrayed by his own disciple, Judas; and Gautama the Buddha was betrayed by his own cousin, Devadatta, who, on several occasions, tried to assassinate him. Conversely, Jesus was seen by the Jewish Zealots as one who had betrayed their cause, and Gautama was (at least initially) seen as a betrayer when he left his family for a six-year quest for enlightenment.

To become a sacred wound the experience of betrayal must be seen in light of the fact that we have placed our trust in someone or something that is inherently untrustworthy. Some people are more trustworthy than others, however, everyone and everything in this temporal universe is inherently untrustworthy; no one or nothing is permanent or lasting--everyone will die; everything will decay.

 When we place our faith within the relative world of time and space we will inevitably experience disillusionment, disenchantment and betrayal. When this experience does occur it is important to not view this as a failure of our own or as an evil deed of someone else, but rather see that it is the natural consequence of expecting perfection from a world that is not perfect—and ultimately, not real.

Even if our wound does not involve an overt act of betrayal it is important to examine the inner feeling of betrayal that arises within us when our self-talk is “Something has gone terribly wrong… This should not be!” Our suffering is largely the result of this erroneous assumption rather than of the pain itself.

These experiences can be very painful indeed, but pain is not the sign of a broken universe. Pain is indicator that something needs our attention; it may be an indicator that something needs to be released.

Knowing all of this is true does not mean that it isn’t perfectly normal to get lost in the story that surrounds our suffering. At times of deep trauma our story may seem like the only thing that we have to hold on to. It’s very important to be very patient with others—and even more patient with ourselves--when we return to the story again and again. Healing has its own timetable.

Kahlil Gibran tells us, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understating.” Our understanding is enclosed in our familial and cultural conditioning which must be broken through in order to discover the infinite wisdom that lies within us.

Ultimately, the sacred wound can lead us to a life heretofore not accessible to our conscious awareness—and, to the experience of peace beyond all human understanding.