Image by Gerd Altmann.
The day the power of love overrules the love of power,
the world will know peace.
— MAHATMA Gandhi
Perceptions of Power
Nothing can happen without the power to make it happen, and if you and I are to work at living more abundantly and soulfully, we will need not only a lot of love, determination and psychological maturity, but also a lot of power. Indeed, having power is very important and it serves as a central gateway that can potentially lead us into important new, soulful spaces and places.
Sadly, many people don’t think of power along those lines and either tend to pursue it relentlessly or, conversely, regard it with a somewhat jaundiced eye. What we forget, however, is that power exists at many different levels, and the kind of power the world needs today to usher in a new and improved society is of a very potent kind, but very different from that wielded by rajassic and tamassic man, where all too often it is used for selfish or destructive purposes. No doubt this underlies Lord Acton’s famous derogatory remark about “power tending to corrupt and absolute power corrupting absolutely”, and consequently might explain why many decent people who regard themselves as being “good human beings” often don’t want to have much to do with it.
This, however, is a great pity, a) because we can’t really accomplish anything much without power, and b) the problem is not power itself, but the way we relate to it. Anything can corrupt us if we use it unwisely.
Yes, my friend, it is the same power that determines whether we hurt someone or whether we heal them, whether we disempower or empower them. Power can be used for dark, manipulative ends to gratify our selfishness, vanity and greed; but conversely, it can be used in the service of our altruism.
Simply because it is all too often used for bad is no reason for us to walk away from it. On the contrary, there is all the more reason for us to start finding out more about it and exploring how we might bring into expression a higher-grade power that might help to offset its misuse.
What we badly need to understand is thatthe way power manifests itself at any time is determined by the quality of consciousness behind those using it, as well as by what it is being used for. For example, if utilized by conscious human beings who have worked at opening their hearts and who hold a positive vision for humanity, it can potentially be a great gate opener and can even move mountains.
A few years ago, I gave a lecture entitled “Soul Power” and the next section is taken from it.
Power can be used in many different ways and for many different things, and its nature radically shifts when someone who is connected to their soul life begins employing it specifically to aid in some ensouling activity. Then it assumes a transforming presence and becomes subtle and soft and often doesn’t look like power at all as we know it.
On many occasions, in particular when I am doing my work – giving lectures, teaching spiritual retreats or doing one-to-one sessions with people – I have felt that this higher power has sought me out! What I mean by this is that whenever I am engaged in some form of soulful service work – trying in some way to live my life as a sacred practice – I very often experience an empowering force flowing through me and assisting me.
For example, a few weeks ago I had been teaching a week-long retreat, and over that entire time I was aware of a delightful energy presence accompanying me that not only seemed to guide me as to what to do, but also filled me with joy, aliveness and vigour so that working with a group of 25 people felt like the easiest thing in the world.
The other interesting thing about this power is that it also seems to flow through me into the participants on my retreats and also empower them. But what I am crystal clear about is that it is not my power but rather a gift that is being temporarily “lent” to me on particular occasions.
The generosity of the universe
If I am teaching a retreat on a subject like love, I tend to notice that people will feel empowered in the area of love; if on joy or courage, then the empowerment will focus on these arenas. It makes my work feel like the easiest and most fun thing I could ever be doing, although if looked at objectively, it is actually extremely challenging working non-stop and single-handedly all day for a week with a large group of people, many of whom have many strong psychological blocks. So I am very grateful to this wonderful “helping presence” for being with me and supporting me.
At one level, I see it as the generosity of the universe regarding me in a kindly fashion because I am trying in my little way to do something to assist it. Put another way, it seems that when I am doing my best to have my daily life be my sacred practice, or, in Buckminster Fuller’s words, am trying to honour my role as being the “re-ordering function of the universe”, what happens is that the universe graciously steps in and gives me a helping hand.
What is interesting is that I do not feel this way if I am not doing my soul work. Recently, for example, I went out to dinner with some acquaintances; it was all very much small talk and I felt very sleepy throughout the evening as I was operating at a whole other level. Quite rightly, the empowering current decided for that evening to leave me well alone!
The Force is with us
So I ask myself this question. What if more of us learned to work with this higher or sacred power? Surely extraordinary things could be accomplished in all sorts of different ways if thousands of us invoked it.
I say “invoked” as I think this sacred dimension of power needs consciously to be “called into expression” and that there are three main criteria for making this possible. Firstly, we need to be sincere; secondly, we need to be working on ourselves along the lines already explored; and thirdly, we need to have some kind of soulful itinerary – some positive difference-making agenda – to commit to. When all these factors line up, then what I will call “the Force” is truly happy being with us!
Yes, my friend, I am talking about that self-same presence that Luke Skywalker brought down upon himself in that old Star Wars film when the Jedi warrior told him that “the Force” would be with him. And I think that the more we can have “the Force” working with us – or rather, for us – the more progress we will make personally and the more effective we will be in our endeavours to bring ensoulment into the world.
The importance of personal power
But let’s not get overly carried away. One important thing to know about this soul power is that it is dependent upon our also possessing a degree of personal power, as this gives it a basic structure or scaffolding to enfold itself upon. Without a solid personal structure, soul power might literally “blow us away”!
And personal power is something that we do need to work on; we can’t just “let go” into it. While of course these two kinds of power intermingle, personal power is something that is much more uniquely “ours” and that in most cases we will need to devote some effort to building up inside us.
My point is simply this. If, emotionally, you and I are wobbly and are always afraid and confused, higher power can’t really use us, can’t really work through us properly, as we don’t, as it were, possess the emotional scaffolding to support it. The name of the game, therefore, must be for us to work both at de-wobbling and at strengthening ourselves so that there is enough structure to enable us to be used in the service of higher power.
Acquiring personal power
So how do we acquire this personal power? Well, we can’t do so directly in the way we can develop, say, strong pecs by working out in the gym. Rather, it gradually grows inside us by our “working in”, such as when we choose to take greater responsibility for our lives and not shy away from addressing our emotional problems.
To have personal power, we also need to understand why a lot of us don’t have it and what some of the things are that we do or don’t do that subtly disempower us.
What disempowers us?
Probably what most weakens us is that we live according to stories informing us that who we are is not an abundant, sacred human being, but a struggling “sin-filled consumer”, whose main happiness lies in outer things. We’ve already explored this. There is nothing more soul-destroying than believing these stories, and what destroys soul also reduces our personal power.
The old story has conditioned us to relinquish our power or give it away to whoever in the system will have it. Doctors. Politicians. Bankers. Authority figures in general. And people are never loath to receive what we give them! Not only does this suck the life force out of us, but in handing over our responsibilities to others, there is no guarantee that what we give out will then be used for our benefit. (Do our investment advisers really care for us? Do our politicians really mind how we feel so long as we vote for them?)
This opens us up to playing the blame card, which in turn can lead us to feeling victimized.
How may we best connect with higher power and stay with our personal power?
Avoid what in our society disempowers us
Since higher power can’t properly “come through us” if our personal power is waning, we need to be mindful of doing things to keep our personal power strong.
The emptier we are of our “stuff”, the more space higher power has to enter us. Therefore, do all the inner work, i.e., visualizations, and dancing to drumming music and then lying on the ground and imagining all the old negative patterns flowing out of you.
Be “in the now”
Being in present time or “in the now” is very empowering as it focuses our attention very acutely. So sit quietly and, first, meditate on higher power and ask it to come to you. Many of us don’t receive things because we don’t do enough asking. So start talking to higher power. Say: “Hi, Higher Power, come and visit me today please!”
Then imagine yourself existing fully in present time. Say to yourself: “This is it right now. There is no past or future; only this moment. I choose to exist fully in present time and higher power is overlighting me.”
Befriend and affirm your personal power
So learn to love and cherish your personal power. Be grateful for it and affirm it. Know that you are not going to abuse it and that you will grow in strength by giving value and recognition to what is true, brave, noble and beautiful about yourself.
The more we choose to support or empower others, the more what we give out gets reflected back to us.
Take a stand to be who you are
Taking stands for what we truly believe in is very empowering and warrior-like. We do not compromise ourselves or say things just to please people (which was something I personally used to do a lot in the past as I didn’t like people disapproving of me).
At a societal level, it is about our choosing to live the truth we are taking the stand over, even if it is difficult and even if certain people won’t like it and we don’t always feel like it.
Stand-taking gives us enormous power and will often bring the Force to be directly with us.
Protecting ourselves is vital, especially as the more we “go for” truth, the more we may find ourselves having to confront the rajassic and tamassic forces at their darkest. And that can greatly discombobulate us. I often ask for protection in my work and at times like to visualize myself being surrounded by a ring of light or a cloak of fire that allows nothing negative to get through to me – if anything tries to, it gets burned up. Protecting ourselves in this way is very important. We can also ask higher power to protect us.
Stretching and risking
Whenever we have the courage to venture into new terrain – somewhere we’ve never been before – be it in our inner or in our outer life, it is always empowering as it means taking a risk and potentially going to the edge. And it is so often at the edge where new gateways are to be found. So when we intentionally choose to stretch ourselves – for example, when something scares us but we do it anyway – we can find ourselves accessing a lot of power.
So, my friend, never give up on things and never stop trusting in the essential goodness of life. If you live from this space, the Force will look after you and may even start endowing you with whole new capabilities.
©2020 by Serge Beddington-Behrens. All Rights Reserved.
Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Findhorn Press.
Publisher: Findhorn Press, a divn of Inner Traditions Intl.
Gateways to the Soul: Inner Work for the Outer World
by Serge Beddington-Behrens
In this guide about engaging in inner work to bring change into the world, Dr. Serge Beddington-Behrens reveals how the healing of our personal wounds combined with the growing of our soul life leads us directly to the addressing of world problems. Sharing inspirational stories from his own personal journey of becoming a transpersonal psychotherapist, shaman, and activist, he shows you how, by transforming your inner world, you begin creating important positive ripples that reverberate around all areas of your outer one.
For more info, or to order this book, click here. (Also available as a Kindle edition.)
About the Author
Dr. Serge Obolensky Beddington-Behrens, MA (Oxon.), Ph.D., K.S.M.L., is an Oxford-educated transpersonal psychotherapist, shaman, activist, and spiritual educator. In 2000 he was awarded an Italian knighthood for services to humanity. For forty years he has conducted spiritual retreats all over the world. In the 1980s, he cofounded the Institute for the Study of Conscious Evolution in San Francisco. He is also the author of Awakening the Universal Heart.