by V.J. Leventhal
Power. Power bars, power yoga, power training, power elite, muscles, endurance, speed: we associate the word mostly with a sort of brute strength the big dog in the room, the most money and influence, the ability to have one’s way whenever one wishes. This kind of power has run the world for thousands of years. It is the inevitable result of a materialistic approach to life. If life is about stuff, then the one with the most stuff has the most power, and also has need of the most power in order to protect the stuff from others who would naturally crave it and the power it represents. In this model of existence, there is only one “pie” and power means having more of it then everyone else. Power means control over other people, over situations. So with enough power and control there should be no need to fear anything, ever again, right? Wrong. Fear remains just under the surface in people who need control over others to have power. Fear and anxiety are the natural results of the belief that there is only one “top,” one “best,” one “winner,” and everyone else is a loser, or lesser somehow. The brute force model of power works temporarily, but it is simply not sustainable to try to build a society where the largest number of people reap the fewest results of their effort. It requires more and more force to maintain control over this unpleasant situation.
There is another kind of power that has been known about for thousands of years as well, but only perceived and developed by a comparatively small number of people. This is personal, spiritual or psychological power power over one’s mind and emotions, power to follow one’s own will and define one’s own existence, separate from the materialistic brute force machine; power to be happy, to be wise, to be free, to help others. This kind of power does not involve control of other people by force. It does not limit the world to one finite amount of stuff over which we must war, but sees the possibility of an expanding universe of infinite (at least in terms of human scale) promise and potential. With the development of this internal power there is less need for the other external kinds of power. There is no need to control other people, only oneself. This is both liberating and challenging. Internal power is certainly at the heart of every great spiritual leader. People who have mastered their own minds and hearts have a different kind of energy that attracts others without any use of force or coercion. They simply vibrate at a higher frequency. Organized religions in today’s world have mostly become about competition and control. This is a long way from what their original founding philosophies actually taught. The original words of the ancient sages whether Hebrew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist or Animist are all about internal power. “Jihad,” for example, is about the battle within one’s own will to be a better person, not the killing of non-believers, as the fearmongers would have us believe. Why is it considered impossible to base a society on the pursuit of internal rather than external power? It’s what we profess to believe that love is stronger than hate, that faith moves mountains. Especially in America, the materialist dream has led to an unhealthy, frightened, and violence-prone society.
The time is ripe for a blossoming of spiritual power in the world, for nations as well as individuals to get a grip on the true nature of their lust for money and control, and realize the error in their thinking. We have plenty of great models for living a different kind of life one that is more compassionate, more sustainable, more fair; a life based on healing old wounds, creating new pathways, respecting diversity as well as preserving and understanding history. It’s time to rethink the whole ball of wax. People need to be re-reading the great thinkers of the past, and looking for the new masters who will help us take the next steps in our evolution.
What if we saw greed as a mental imbalance, an illness, an addiction to power? What if the exploitation of sentient beings and even of the natural world was seen as criminal? If all human progress and development was seen in terms of balance and sustainability to the seventh generation, as some native peoples did in early American history? What if we really believed in the Golden Rule?
There is a leap of faith required in any journey into unknown territory. A peaceful and harmonious society requires its members to step up and work on their own individual issues. This is difficult and unaccustomed work for many of us. Will people look each into their own souls and admit that they are angry and mean-spirited in their political views? Will they see that they are picking and choosing from the words they claim to hold Holy in order to continue distinctly Unholy behavior? Can people let go of their fears and be willing to try something different? Can we regain our belief in ourselves and each other so necessary in order to change our world for the better? These are the challenges humanity now faces, and with the economic and environmental state of the planet, we all need to get to work.
People who crave power over others are sometimes called “power-mongers.” The word “monger” is defined as someone who promotes something, often by unscrupulous means. Those who promote the idea of more and more external power are destroying the world. I’d like to define a new term for people who are developing their internal power “power stations” people who create internal power and then share this power with others who need it. We need more power stations in the world. We all have the ability to become more than we are and then to help others to do the same. Power for good, power for healing, and power for change: we are more powerful than we imagine. What we have to do is to believe it and do the work, step by step, inside our own hearts and minds; otherwise we will never become a part of the solution. Today, take the first step and ask yourself what it is that you believe. Then ask yourself why you believe it, and if it is good for the world. If you don’t have an answer, take the responsibility to go out and find one. It’s one thing to say you want the world to change. It’s another to actually change it. All real change begins with the only place where you have true power yourself.
Ѡ2009 V.J. Leventhal. All Rights Reserved.