True Power.

If there’s anything that seems to create both longing and repulsion in our society, it’s power. People see it, and are both drawn to it and repulsed by its misuse. Even if we try to avoid power, we cannot avoid it completely. Power is a need as much as breathing and connections are. Without power, we would have no energy, and would only be a husk instead of dynamic beings.

However, the manifestation of power can vary greatly in its degree. Here’s some examples (those of you into Michael will recognize them) :

  • Power from obtaining blind unquestioning obedience from others.
  • Power from learning how to follow “the rules”.
  • Power obtained from positions in society.
  • Power from being an active member in a community and the support that means.
  • Power obtained from knowing yourself.

You can see a progression there. This comes in to what true power means to me:

You know when you have reached a state of true power when your power cannot be taken away.

If you look at the above list, only the last item cannot be taken away. Others can refuse to listen and obey you, rules change, positions can disappear, and communities can undergo upheaval. Jobs can be lost; friends can be offended. As Buddhism teaches : everything in this world is transient.


However, I’m discovering more and more in my life things which are not transient, but are simply intrinsically part of who I am. Here are some things that give me power.

I have the power to not resist.

Though this sounds paradoxical to power, it goes to the root of all suffering. We suffer when we resist whatever experience is happening to us in this moment. Creating division internally by resisting an experience is a form of violence to myself. The knowledge I can choose to not resist anything gives power.

[Note that this doesn’t invalidate or make wrong the choice to resist; sometimes it’s very practical and necessary to say “No” or “Not now.”]

I am open to support in all form

Support is absolutely necessary for power and well-being. No one can experience joy or power in an ivory tower. A baby is perhaps the best example of this, as I’ve mentioned before. They are profoundly open to others support; they attract attention and care through their trust and openness. It is their openness that attracts rather than any active behavior.

It is also powerful for me to be clear what “all forms” means. It means that I simply don’t know what form it will take, and I’m fine with not knowing. It can be from friends. It can be from guides. It can be from the earth under my feet. It can be from the simple sensation of brushing my fingertips against a couch, reminding myself of my aliveness. Being open to all forms requires flexibility, which brings me to the next itemâ???

I can adapt and change

Those who are rigid in their approach to life find themselves in constant battle. The world changes, as it’s designed to do, but they cannot. Therefore there is constant effort to make the world conform to their expectations. If a tragedy occurs, they are devastated. They will exhaust themselves in denial and in futile attempts to move the unmovable mountain.

Some martial arts can be good for learning this; they teach us to use the energy of the other person in an adaptive way, never making more effort than necessary. Some effort is always required, but by being flexible, we minimize it. The Tao Te Ching says it wonderfully :

A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.

Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.

This of course goes directly against the Hollywood ideal of power. Try it on for yourself and see if it works better for you than that!

I have detachment from results

Any attachment to an end result means there is something you want that can be taken away or not reached. This in itself provides fuel for fear. When we derive power from the process of living, instead of the results of our effort, there is nothing that can be taken away from us.

The best example of this is the greek concept of
aretÃ?. (see the link for a full definition) The person with aretÃ? simply lives to their utmost potential, even in the face of hardship and disaster. Their well-being is derived from this sense of excellence in their life. Their actions come not from a place of desiring results, but simply because excellence is who they are. It is a continual, self sustaining source of energy, filled with love of self.

I can speak out and exert influence

This is what most people would think of when it comes to power â???? but note that it came after all of the above. There is no power without the ability to make an influence. However, it is the ability, or potential, that makes the power. It there is a need to make an influence, there is of necessity an attachment and inflexibility. There is also a lack of Love in the behavior, and so it will always create a counter force. If you make influence from a place of complete acceptance and love, there is no additional resistance created. People start listening.

Others’ power adds to my power

This is the final clincher, because at the root of true power is Love. True power is in harmony with others; it rejoices when others gain more power in their own lives. There is no one to compete with, and therefore no fuel for conflict, either externally or internally.

By all means, share your own source of power!

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