By Yael Armony
Edited by: Orna Bendor
In this article we will describe the human wound, its origin, the way it is expressed in one’s biography, the way it controls us and manages us – and how it exerts ‘terror’ on the other and makes him feel guilty towards us.
What is our wound? How did it ‘solidify’ and gradually paint the picture of our lives? What is its purpose? How can we turn it into a source of personal development?
All of our wounds emerge from one source – our disengagement from the foundation of our being – from the spirit world from which we come and to which we all eventually return. Upon birth, we enter an earthly, relative and finite world – in which we experience ourselves through a limited and one-sided consciousness. We experience ourselves as finite beings.
The first appearance of the wound in human biography was the separation of the species and the expulsion from Heaven. The split between the sexes means the division of the whole person into two. The whole person was an eternal, asexual entity that grew its offspring from itself and continued its existence through them.
21 “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the place with flesh instead thereof. 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from the man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And the man said: ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Genesis 2.
The human’s search for his complementary part is expressed in the longing to become “one flesh” again. After the split, Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, followed by their expulsion from Heaven. This expulsion symbolizes the final separation from oneness and from eternity, and the transformation into an individual that is a lonely and mortal entity. No longer the son of the Spirit in his image and likeness, but rather the son of the earth, the son of dust.
19 “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Genesis 3.
The fate of the modern human-being is death consciousness as it is experienced today. In the past, death was not experienced in the same manner. For millions of years people have died a physical death, but they did not identify with their bodies and minds the way we do today. Rather, they experienced an unmediated connection with the spirit world and hence they did not identify with death. It was only in the 18th century that people started to identify with death – and that was the origin of the wound.
In individual biography, the wound begins to be manifested around the ages of 9-12. During that period the child begins to develop self-consciousness, and then also the recognition of being a sexual (i.e. partial) being, belonging to a particular gender. The development of self and individual consciousness involves the experience of separation and loneliness. The child experiences a double split: one split – between him and the world, and the other split – within himself.
The Cause of the Wound and its Purpose
The early perception – which characterizes the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) – was that the human-being is a sinful being. Not in the moral sense, but in the sense of ‘sinning’ or ‘being off target’ (in Hebrew it is the same word) – away from its essence and destiny. The venom of the serpent, which penetrated him in Heaven, caused his expulsion and turned him into a mortal being. As a mortal being he gets sick, grows old and dies; therefore he is a ‘sinner’. All the sins of morality were perceived as a result of the fall (from Heaven) and its manifestations. The human-being experiences himself as fallen, and longs for religious redemption.
Modern perception opposes that image and regards the human-being as an entity evolving towards freedom. The human-being is destined to be the tenth hierarchy, to evolve into a free and moral entity in the universe, in such a way that morality and love will flow from him out of freedom. This special quality that the human-being can develop is related to the stage at which he obtained his ‘I’. While the higher hierarchies, that are positioned above the human, have obtained their ‘I’ –’the divine spark’ – at other stages, the human-being has received his ‘I’ only on earth.
The human-being obtained his ‘I’ into a solid physical body, that serves as a buffer between him and the spirit. The spiritual hierarchies did not have such a partition. Their ‘I’ is a cosmic ‘I’, and they are not familiar with the experience of separation.
The solid physical body of the human (called by the Greeks as well as in the Middle Ages – the ‘Grave Box’) has tangible boundaries, which on the one hand create a real experience of detachment and separation, but on the other hand give human-beings the opportunity for freedom and development.
The other entities never left the whole. The person who has detached himself from unity is supposed to rediscover it and choose it out of love created out of his powers and limitations. Human success in the task of choosing good out of freedom will grant the cosmos a new quality, which was not there before.
Although all our wounds originate from one source, they have countless revelations. The way in which a wound will be revealed is unique to our individual biography and is also related to our previous incarnations. Identifying the wound and understanding it can therefore serve as a gateway to understand our previous lives, and to the correction we are required to do in this life.
Identifying & Working with the Wound
Much like a physical wound, the human wound is a center of pain and suffering. In our study of this subject we must, therefore, first ask – what do we suffer from? what bothers us?
This can be expressed mentally, for example by – depression, insecurity, fears, need for control, a sense of being a victim, a feeling that “nobody sees me” and so on. It may also be manifested physically – by pain throughout the body, chronic illness, overweight, anorexia, and more.
When we suffer from physical pain, an injury in the knee for example, it attracts all our attention, and prevents us from noticing other things and engaging in them. The painful organ temporarily becomes the center of our being, so that we lose sight of the whole picture. This leads to a situation by which the ‘whole’ begins to work in the service of the partial, and is required to fulfill its needs. The partial/fractional becomes a ‘tyrant’ of the whole and manages it. It may be stated that every disease – physical as well as mental – stems from the role reversal between the whole and the fractional.
An example of this is the process that takes place in the body when cells develop into a cancerous tumor. In the normal development of the fetus in the womb, the origin of every cell in the human body is the embryonic (stem) cells. It all stems from the fertilized egg, which contains genetic integrity within it. During embryonic development, the cells undergo a process of differentiation, in which – from a whole, ‘universal’ cell – they undergo specification to cells such as – liver cells, pancreatic cells, etc. In this process of differentiation, the fractional serves the whole and all the parts work in harmony for the benefit of the whole. When a person becomes ill with cancer, the opposite process occurs. The specific cell stops its differentiation, and regresses to an embryonic cell – but it does so in a special tissue whose function is to serve a specific function. As part of this process, cancer cells begin to ‘suck into them’ the nutritional and energetic forces of all the adjacent tissues and organs. This rapidly growing tumor develops in a manner similar to the first weeks of fetal development. The cancer cell receives nourishment, the cells divide, and a tumor is formed that damages the tissues and organs adjacent to it, eventually destroying them. This is a situation where the whole operates in the service of the fractional.
The cancerous tumor that grows in the dark, as does the human wound. As mentioned above, the wounded person suffers and seeks healing for his suffering. Like the cancer cell, the wound spreads to every good part of life, and terrorizes it.
For example, a person who cannot bear dirt, will obsessively clean his house and reprimand everyone about any ‘deviation’ from order. By doing so, his family members will feel limited in their ability to freely conduct themselves at home. Another person, whose wound is manifested in a feeling of ‘not being seen’, will require incessant attention, and will cause others a constant sense of guilt for not being sensitive enough to his needs. In both cases, our wound acts as a ‘terrorist’, forcing the other to stand at his service, and thus restrict his freedom.
During life, the wound thickens and radiates to every aspect of our lives. Eventually the wound will become a ‘chronic wound’ – so that the other will also regard us according to the hue with which the wound paints us. For example: the emotional reaction of a person who feels ‘invisible’, will be feeling insulted and blaming the other. When this reaction repeats itself again and again, the other will feel exhausted from the repeated guilt, and will naturally strive to distance himself. Thus, as the wound owner treats the other through the limited and partial view of his ‘wound spectacles’, the other will also start relating to him through the particular prism of the wound, and will stop seeing his other qualities, even if they are good.
As in any process of biographical work, so too in the work on the subject of the wound, we must look for its manifestations during childhood and throughout biography. A good starting point would be to search for events that occurred around the ages of 9-12, in which the wound experience begins to emerge. The wound will also appear during adulthood, and it is important to identify the manner in which it is manifested in various aspects of life.
The Wound in the Context of a Previous Life
The identification of the wound and its manifestations throughout biography, can be an important gateway to recognizing our being that comes from a previous life, and the correction we are required to make in this life cycle. Our wound may be seen as compensation for flaws and injustices we caused in a previous life. The flaw will recur as a recapitulation in this life as well, especially during childhood. For example, a person whose wound is associated with a constant feeling of low self-esteem, who experiences a sense of contempt and lack of appreciation from those around him, should check when in this life, and probably in previous lives, his actions may have inflicted similar feelings in others.
Biographical Case Description:
In order to illustrate how the wound may manifest itself in our lives, we will use the example of Ella (pseudonym) – a 49 years old woman, who is a coach and trainer of coachers.
“Ever since I remember myself there were two main things I suffered from. The first – an uncontrollable feeling of insult that arose following any remark, no matter how small, and the second – a constant feeling of pressure and tension, a feeling that “I carry the whole world on my shoulders”. This is manifested, both mentally and physically, in the form of stiff muscles, difficulty falling asleep, etc. My standards on issues such as: responsibility, morality, and sensitivity to others, are very high, and my natural tendency has always been to see others as “wrong”– not sensitive enough, irresponsible, not meeting expectations, etc. I tended to take on excessive responsibility, which ultimately created a feeling of burden, stress, loneliness and frustration.
Over the years, and following the processes I went through, I discovered how others experience it. It became clear to me that they often felt guilty, irresponsible, and immoral in front of me, as they felt under constant pressure to try to fulfill my demands.
I began to realize how I was “imposing terror” over my surroundings. My children should always be ready on time (namely, ahead of time) because I am stressed about not being late. It is forbidden to say to me “unpleasant” things, because it is “immoral”. You have to be very careful and sensitive towards me – because otherwise I will be offended. I came to realize that I had no tolerance for what I regarded as human weakness. I painfully discovered that I often created around me an atmosphere of tension, heaviness, pressure and guilt .
I came to realize that when my wound controls me, it makes me see the others only through this prism. In such moments I find it difficult to see that the other may be acting from a position that is not necessarily the one I attributed to him. For example – perhaps he did not remember to perform a certain task due to a problem of poor memory, rather than a lack of responsibility”.
My Childhood Wound – Compensation:
Ella continues: ”Projecting my wound on the other, and the way it made the other feel – came back to me in the form of humiliation and bullying. From the age of 9, and for many years onwards, I suffered from harassment, humiliation and insults directed at me by other children, especially one child, who made me feel helpless. At the same time, I stopped trusting adults in my life (because they did not protect me), and I began to trust only myself. The combination of a sense of being a victim and the distrust in adults, created a deep experience of loneliness, stress and shame.
In the process of biographical counselling, I was amazed to realize how my wound colored every aspect of my life. Throughout my life, I have repeatedly found myself working with “irresponsible” people, who, having realized that I tend to take on all the responsibility, happily passed it on to me. I found myself trapped in the role of the “responsible adult.”
Thus, as I grasped people only partially through the specific prism of the wound – the others also began to grasp me in a similar narrow manner. They did not address the feminine, creative and lighthearted parts in me – thus, causing me a lot of pain. My wound was a double-edged sword”.
Correct and Wrong Ways to Heal the Wound
From the description given so far, and from the story of Ella, one can sense how deeply rooted the wound is, and how much effort is required to release oneself from the ever-expanding circle that characterizes it. Because the wound causes us suffering, we are often tempted to ‘treat’ it and ‘get rid’ of it in improper ways that eventually only intensify suffering.
Lucifer’s way – as mentioned above, the wound is created as a result of detachment from the whole, and from the development of the individual self. Lucifer will entice us to give up the individual ‘I‘ and return to the warm and safe lap of the collective self. For example: by joining a sect, a closed group, or any other external framework, provides us with an experience of oneness/wholeness – but impairs the development of the free self.
Ahriman’s way – while Lucifer lures us to give up on ourselves, Ahriman suggests we give up on the other, on the world outside. Under his influence the ‘I’ is fortified within itself, by building an impenetrable wall around it, thus minimizing real encounters and disconnecting one from other ‘I’ s.
While Lucifer’s path is characterized by melting heat, which blurs the boundaries – Ahriman’s path is characterized by cold, rigid, controlled and impenetrable boundaries. It is important to note that as technology advances and plays a more prominent role in our daily life, this path further strengthens and materializes.
Both of these options do not heal the wound but rather try to undo and eliminate it, in order to relieve the pain it causes – but do not treat its root cause.
The middle way – this golden path first requires real work with the wound, by identifying it and acknowledging its existence. Next, one must consent to take full responsibility over it. Taking responsibility does not mean “getting rid of it”. The wound is our lot in this life, it belongs to our destiny, and our correction. However, we do not have to “believe in it”, nor do we have to fully identify with it. What we do need to do is to observe and comprehend how it has gradually taken over all of our relationships, and our attitude toward ourselves.
In order for the wound to be mended, we must inspect it spiritually. This process involves moving through our experience of helplessness in the face of our lacking interpretation of events. By feeling helpless, and asking for help from the spirit world, we may begin a process of wound healing. Helplessness will open up a new way for us in which we will not need to give up our selfhood, nor give up on others. We will learn to recognize ourselves in the other, and vice versa. By doing so, we may be able to make the transition from a state of judgment and criticism, to a state of acceptance and inclusion.
Our wound can become a valuable tool for development, self-awareness and real change. Each wound also bears another side which is right and good. For example, sensitivity, whose wounded appearance is a feeling of insult and sacrifice, is also a good trait that may serve us. When we clear away the color of the wound from it, we may use that trait to better know the other, and be attentive to him.
As biographical counselors, we may serve an important role in working with the ‘wound’. The counselee views himself and the world from the limited and partial point of view forced upon him by his wound. We can and are required to observe the counselee from a broader point of view – one that includes his higher self, that carries the full potential inherent within him – and by thus assist him to expand his point of view. In order to do so, we ourselves first need to develop our self-awareness, and constantly work on our own wound. Otherwise, we will find ourselves responding to the counselee’s wound out of our wounds, and not from our higher ‘I’.
Working with the wound does not end in this life. It continues even after death. There are tasks that we will not be able to fully complete in our current incarnation. We must painfully acknowledge this, and still continue to work tirelessly, in order to approach a more complete consciousness, a divine consciousness, as is written in Jewish ethical teachings: “It is not up to you to finish the work, but you are not free to abandon it” (Pirkei Avot 2:16).
The suffering that the wound causes us, is what leads us to awakening and searching. Our longing and yearning to return to the whole, lead us to find our unique spiritual path.
“Further: when we have progressed and attained a sufficient intensification of imaginative consciousness we do not only gaze at the panorama of our experiences, but become perforce aware that we are not complete human beings until we have lived through this other aspect of our earthly actions, which had remained subconscious before. We begin to feel quite maimed in the face of this life-panorama that extends back to birth, or beyond it. It is as if something had been torn from us. We say to ourselves continually: You ought to have experienced that aspect too; you are really maimed, as if an eye or a leg had been removed. You have not really had one half of your experiences. This must arise in the course of imaginative consciousness; we must feel ourselves maimed in this way in respect to our experiences. Above all, we must feel that ordinary life is hiding something from us. (…)
We feel this unavoidable indebtedness to life and recognize the necessity of owing the gods what we can only experience after death. Only then can we enter into an experience such as we owe to the universe.”
- Steiner, Anthroposophy, An Introduction, 1924, lecture 8, GA234