The Three Marriages

An Excerpt from The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship by David Whyte

Poet and author David Whyte examines the three marriages of relationship, work, and inner self. Here is an excerpt on the transformation that can come through accepting our own vulnerability.

"The real gift and the crux of our difficulty is our constant and entirely natural experience of vulnerability. Trying to live without feeling vulnerable means we do not understand the fierce nature of the reality we inhabit. In closing off our vulnerability, we close off the authentic exchanges that tell us we are actually having a real conversation. Vulnerability is the door through which we walk into self-understanding and compassion for others. Being enlightened does not mean we assume supernatural powers or find a perfection that exalts us above the daily losses other human beings are subject to; enlightenment means we have accepted thoroughly our transience, our vulnerability and our imperfections and live just as robustly with them as without them.

"The relationship between the ego and the deeper enlightened self is much like the relationship between the rescuer on the muddy path and the person who does not 'wish' to be rescued, who must gestate through the lonely night in the woodcutter's hut. The ego is meant to look after us, to care for us and protect us, and perhaps come looking for us when we seem to be lost. But when we identify completely with that protective figure, we lose the more important story and halt the possible transformation occurring in the depth of the night. Sometimes the best thing to do is to hold a kind of silent vigil beside the part of us that is going through the depths of a difficult transformation. When the outer story that the ego tells, merges with the one the inner self has come to, this becomes 'the marriage of true minds.' The ego seems to disappear, but actually it has simply assumed its rightful place in the hierarchy of priorities; it has become a good servant to the soul's desires."