As the story goes, the renegade samurai (ronin, they call them) was running through the streets slaying people in his rage. The villagers, fleeing to safety, ran up into the hills and yelled to the monk meditating in his (her) temple. Run, run, run... the ronin is coming. The monk, as one would predict in a morality tale, continued to sit in serene meditation. The ronin finally got to the temple and confronted the monk, sword at the ready. "Don't you know I have the power to run you through with my sword?" he (she) said. A deep breath and the monk responded: "Don't you know I have the power to be run through with your sword?" And with that the ronin gave up his or her wicked ways and sat with the monk in meditation.
Power has been a buzz-word for years. It is thrown around in politics and equally in psychology. Who has the power? Who doesn't? Which Party is in power? I feel powerless... You're abusing your power... I'm going to claim my power... Power over, under-powered, misuse of power, Power to the People!
The dynamics of power, which include the dynamics of oppression, aggression, abuse and the opposing experience of being: disenfranchised, invaded and victimized, are real and terrible. These issues must be addressed day in and day out at every level. (A good read on these ideas is: Consciousness-in-Action: Toward an Integral Psychology of Liberation & Transformation by Raúl Quiñones Rosado)
But this is a simpler post, about a simpler, though curiously difficult, version of power. It is about the power of that monk we left in paragraph one. What does it take to have an inner power, which does not have any need to: control; grasp; fight; dismiss; attack or run? From many spiritual traditions (including our Buddhist monk's), there is an invitation to transcend the ego, live without fear, gracefully accept death and ultimately be enlightened. Sounds right. Sounds really hard, as well.
In the meantime, while on that noble path towards non-attachment, there are some easy steps to take in that direction. The process is about getting out of the way of the polarities of power and finding a deeply centered inner power. In this place, we know who we are (mostly). We know our strengths and weaknesses, our preferences, our aversions. In this place, we use what power we have to create safety (if we can), to find love and belonging (where we can), to become a better person (in every way that we can) and to serve our deepest truths (always, if we can).
Here, by way of an invitation to explore True Power, are a top ten list of things to do.
*Remember to make all your choices conscious ones. This is the power of intention.
*Don't hide who you are, from yourself or others. This is the power of acceptance.
*Know what you feel, what you think, what you want. This is the power of self-awareness.
*Know how much you don't know. This is the power of humility, the power of not knowing.
*Stand your ground, whatever it is. This is the power of commitment.
*Take risks, for anything that is important. This is the power of courage.
*Be in relationship to other people: This is the power of community.
*Find the soft places in yourself, where you cry, and care, and give: This is the power of love.
*Pay attention to what is wonderful, beautiful, surprising. This is the power of awe and wonder.
*Write your own list: This is the power of You.
And may the peace (and power) of being exactly who you are be number one on your list.