On the Nature of Power (Part 1)

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Christ / Course Ideas

The subject of power has been on my mind for a while, but I haven’t bore down and etched out my thoughts onto this electronic tablet.  My thoughts are various and contradictory, so this is one of those inner frontiers with the unknown for me.  I did pause to think that we’ve come a long way- from engraving stone tablets to tapping on hybrid plastic-metallic ones.  I was at a loss, however, to fully understand the implications.  What does this type of “progress” really demonstrate?  Clearly some things change.  Others stay the same.

While modern tablets are neat, cool, efficient, and interesting, I don’t view them as evidence of any real power.  Not, at least, the type I deeply desire to contact, join with, or express.  Tablets may provide an incremental improvement in communications and our collective access to information, to taking our computing with us on our daily jaunts, and they may contribute to lowering the average cost of computing with subsequent benefits to the world economy.  Who the hell knows.  Some would say these are real game changers, but I think these are ramifications of the same old same old.  I think power relates to transformation, and by transformation I mean transformation of our understanding of who we are.

Which is more powerful in this regard: Nelson Mandela or any type of technology you like- your choice?  Which was more powerful worldwide, the abolition of slavery or the dropping of the atomic bomb?  Which was more powerful worldwide: the resurrection of Christ, or anything at all?  I don’t mean that last question to be somehow dismissive of any path or way.  I am using the term Christ to mean that active, conscious aspect of the Source of all Creation that lives in and as that Creation (yet inseparable from the Source), and the resurrection to mean the “moment” when that aspect broke a sound barrier- when that awareness unshackled itself forever from an entrapment in false identity, and turned over the leaf of being able to express itself in form without ever again losing It’s identity in Love.

To draw meaningfully upon the vernacular: “That just happened!”

The waves of transformation are still rippling through time and space from that epicenter.

These waves have nothing to do with religion or race or creed.  They accept and embrace all.  These waves have everything to do with a heartfelt sense of unity, or communion, with what is true.  These are not waves of a particular language, culture, place, or time.  They are simply waves of Love, of recognition, of acceptance and healing.  They can dress up in any color, shape, or dialect and remain unchanged.

I’ve already discovered something here I think: the effect of expressions of power is transformation of who we think we are, and thus our world, but the direct expression of power is linked to knowing and sharing the truth of who we are.  The truth is already accomplished, already active, already real, and never-changing.  When we express it, transformation occurs.  This is related to the reasons why, in A Course of Love, Jesus repeatedly says that the purpose of the Course is to restore our true identity.  If there is truth to this logic I am stumbling around, to know ourselves is one thing, but to express ourselves is to access true power.

I’ll state the obvious, however: power is a scary word.  Someone whispers the word “power” in our ear, and the clock doesn’t tick more than twice before images arise of all the brutal and horrible situations acted out upon the stage of history, and still occurring today, of one demonstrating power over another, of people seemingly powerless in the face of poverty, disease, oppression, institutionalized abuse, economic warfare- of tanks rolling through squares, of secret police, of retaliation and control, of hidden agendas, of freedoms and rights deprived, of power bought and sold in back rooms, etc.

Who wants this type of power?

We’ve all heard the phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Think about the implications, however.  The power of Creation is absolute.  It’s the whole enchilada.  It is the only power available to us, the only power we could ever need, a power we have deeply desired to access and to know within ourselves for a long time… and this implies it would corrupt us?  This popular turn of phrase suggests that somehow the real power at our core, were we to accept it, would be our ruin.  This is an impasse, a stall in the movement of the energy of Creation, a sidebar we call “time”.  This is the perception in which and with which we live…  We think real power is a force we can command and throw around at will, but could we really “use” power to suit our individual aims?  Could we really “use” true power to ensure differing outcomes?

No.  I don’t think we could.

Our definitions of power, like many facets of our awareness while we occupy a separated state or condition, are deeply flawed and distorted.  True power could never bring about harm.  True power could never bring about gain for only a few, or bring about any form of loss whatsoever.  True power could never provide protection for only a particular group.  True power could never be “wielded”, never be “brought to bear”, and certainly never be turned on itself.  Our belief that there are perhaps two great powers at work in the land- one that is good and one that is evil, one that is true and one that is false, one that we desire to reach and one that we fear will catch up to us- is a belief in a type of power that could never truly exist.  This is how separate minds perceive the world.  This is one of the perceptions being healed.

Healing this rift requires a willingness to experience a reinvention of ourselves and our world.  I think exploring this topic of power will bring some of the key principles of A Course of Love together- principles such as means and ends being the same in truth, of the suggestion that power flows from relationship, and of the suggestion that it is to our feelings, not our thoughts alone, to which we must turn to walk across the gap.

(To Be Continued…)

18 Comments

  1. Interesting thoughts to ponder. I am reading Love and the Soul by Robert Sardello and it is bringing up lots of similar thoughts. Thanks for sharing, look forward to further writings on this topic! 🙂

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    • Thanks for your note! I haven’t read any Sardello before but I looked it up on Amazon and read the jacket. Looks really good. There are so many good things happening! It is a really interesting time. Peace to you this day, Michael

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  2. Gede Prama says

    Amazing and Thank you for writing which is quite good and best wishes always, and greetings. Kindness blossoms in your heart

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    • Lovely Gede,
      I love finding those who have found me, finding those I love who are sharing such amazing contemplations on our shared Truths.

      Yes, I would so so so agree that kindness is blossomed in the heart found so ingeniously sharing with such clarity and eloquent writing here….

      AND it take kindness in Gede’s own garden to know our shared germinations. 🙂

      Maren, Maren quite contrary how do you grow?
      With Michael and Gede, and what stellar men to find helping my growing garden, too.
      -x.M

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  3. Really liked this part1. I’ve been interested for more than 10 years in dictators, and why it happens what happens to them and around them. Of course it depends on the level of intelligence, and more importantly on the level of compassion.
    Mandela’s power did not lie in brute force, but in compassion. I also remember Vaclav Havel as someone who without aspirations turned his communist country peacefully into two democratic countries. But at the other side of the scale, I see that Ghandi’s message got lost in the battle field of religion and almost one million people died in the uncontrolable mess that ensued just before and after independence.
    I also see the difference between the vengeful pact de Versailles, after WW1, and the difference someone like Gen. De Gaulle made, 30 years later, after WW2, shaking hands with the enemy, something that led to one of the strongest bonds between these two states inside Europe 60 years later.
    Power is certainly not something to take lightly.
    The power of transformation equally, in the lesser tuned mental minds, and without the right help, can hopelessly go wrong and end up in psychiatry, or in spiritual materialism, or in self declared gurus, who think they completed the task, but couldn’t get any feedback from someone at just one level higher. If there is no mentor, or if her advise is not listened to, the power becomes absolute, and a new Pol Pot is born.

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    • I have always had a deep fascination with Hitler. Not a popular thing to admit, but I have learned much by studying his way of conducting himself within the incredible destruction he instigated, participated in and figure headed for.

      I do not speak or understand German, but just watching his speeches for their style (rather than content) is very instructive and one can learn lots about how humans trick themselves into following such shadow by the way it is packaged. I also once saw a tittle silent video clip of him at his villa in the mountains during a “social” down time. The camera (not focused on him) caught him in a side conversation with the woman he was reported to have loved. There as a set of facial expressions that crossed his face that for the first time made his shared humanity revealed to me (may not be a very popular thing to say)… it was a weariness and a sorrow and a bit of little boy vulnerability and fear that his face showed. It stunned me for a moment and I found a deep compassion for a lost lost lost lost lost and can I say it again LOST human family member.

      Hope you are feeling better.

      (and thank you Michael for a moment of catchup with another I adore through your precious electronic sanctuary here)

      -.M

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      • … Hitler … it seems that those dictators always divide between good people and bad people, and get their energy from that division. Blaming the others. For Dzengis Kahn it was every non Mongolian, for Mao it was the not communists, for Stalin and Pol Pot, it was everyone except themselves.
        These days in film theaters, it is the aliens that we can attack ‘for the good cause’.

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    • Hi Bert, I agree with your thoughts on compassion being a key to good leadership. You’ve got me thinking about some things to include in the follow-up. You’ve also got me thinking with your examples of global evolutions in power about the distinction between power at such a grand scale, and power at the micro scale- power over a particular street or neighborhood, power over members of the family- and about how these are somehow parts of the same issue. Our individual lives are never truly independent of the issues we see manifest on the larger stage. And this gets to the ultimate question, (right?), how can what we choose to espouse and embody in our individual lives make a difference to the whole…? (That’s a rhetorical question! Ha! 🙂 )

      Then there is the question of checks and balances, which seem so important in our world to preventing the development of a horrible and absolute power, or the misuse of power. But why is that so necessary? It seems to me there is a root “problem” we perpetuate as beings when we desire others to have some or certain powers that we may not wish to be responsible for, or as a means of protecting us from what we fear. Can we ever achieve a truly benign power in the world while the “reason” for power is protection from that which we fear? I don’t know…

      Michael

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      • a root problem: …
        … growing up and being stuck with some traits at the level of a toddler with tantrums, and/or an 8 year old narcissist bully — and a bully needs a victim, or it won’t work, so they too unfortunately get stuck …
        … and we all get stuck somewhere, because the scale reaches to infinity
        … fear — we should replace fear by love and compassion, then power becomes an absolutely lovely guidance for everyone
        … a desire to be better than average. People are social animals, always comparing to not become an outcast, and at the same time trying to be in the better half of the Bell curve.
        thank you for your article(s) – great and very interesting subject!!!

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  4. I was very glad to read this post. Started looking at the definition of power – it’s a scary word. Think too much about Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and all the other maniacs and dictators in history and everything freezes in fear and doubt. I’d like to ease away from the toxic memory of it. The ‘power’ we’re thinking about here is absolutely different; the power of transformation, ‘an awareness free from the entrapment in false identity’. I see it like a subjective realisation and transformation arising from Truth and the collectivity of that leading to social change, very much in the long term. Thank you Michael, it inspires contemplation. The Path is the goal…

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    • Thanks for the note. I think so many of us desire getting away from toxic histories… That is the thing, right? Both individually and collectively… What do we do after the new car has been scratched? What do we do after we have behaved poorly? What do we do with this realm of experience and relationship, now that it has its scars? And yet, when the past is found outside the present, we see so much beauty and opportunity. The Path is indeed the goal… the means and end both…

      Michael

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  5. ~meredith says

    Hi, I’m Meredith. I enjoyed this read very much. Comments and all. I was surprised, though how quickly the word ‘power’ was attributed to individuals… but not owned as part of collective thought. Leaders have supporters, and truly… it is a collective energy that turns the wheel of destruction. Many of us don’t want to reveal our own, destructive thoughts, but if we did, if we realized our anger, our fear of helplessness, we might understand our part in generating atrocities. Hitler is a word now equated with evil, but many people he engaged in creating atrocities took horror to levels he did not even know about. Willingly. With satisfaction. Hitler, the man, never equalled Hitler, the archetype. Nor did any other leader. It is our wish, maybe, but can we then ask ourselves about the hitler seeds within our own minds? Do we dare? I believe we must learn to recognize every seed of our inner nature, and name it, so we can own it and understand how to consider the many ways we trick ourselves, and dodge accountability that is spawned from malcontent.

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    • Hi Meredith, I agree wholeheartedly with your beautiful words here. I see clearly how Hitler has risen to the level of a concept, or an image, in my own mind. I try, like Maren described, to return to the image of him as a simple man- a man who gave representation to the malcontent you described so well.

      I really (did I say REALLY?) liked the way you brought it around to each of us being responsible for our malcontent. Malcontent is the driver, right? I’m no historian, but Germany was coming off a brutal and devastating depression, an inflated currency, and all of that. It had been shackled and oppressed to a certain extent by previous treaties and sanctions- (again, excuse my ignorance of history and the details)- but my point, in trying to echo your own, is that this malcontent breeds anger and fear, and it finds expression…

      Ignorance, anger… malcontent. These lead to the evils in our world? And in our failing to take responsibility for them within our very own lives, we are no “different”, right? Thank you for such a powerful observation. It makes this horrid, archetypal evil that we so often see as bigger than anyone, into a vast field of individual dissatisfactions, brewing within people just like us. Every day. And that is where we can get in touch with it and face it- absolve it, transmute it, forgive it… right here in our own hearts.

      Michael

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      • ~meredith says

        Dear Michael,

        Yes. Until we examine every perception we name, and understand the perceptions as part of our identity we cannot accept that our lives are more than pursuits of victimhood.

        Thank you for the wonderful reply.

        Meredith

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  6. I really liked all the comparisons you made in this post. There is a lot to ponder about here. I think I will always think of power differently from now on. Real power is transformative. Real power is for the greater good. Real power lasts.

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    • “Real power lasts.” So true. Real power is creative and the echoes never cease. Thanks for your note and presence here. It is powerful… 🙂

      Michael

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