Power. Let’s talk about it. Let’s unravel its dubious myth and try to shine some light on one of the most misunderstood and distorted creative forces of our humanity.
If we think about power, most of us will think about people of status, people in “high” positions, politicians, leaders, teachers, authorities of all kind. We have ideas and beliefs and projections galore around the concept of power and what it means to have it, or not to have it.
We are usually divided into two camps. Those that want power and those that are afraid of it, in themselves and in others. This is where the distortions begin.
We either think that gaining status in the world will give us power, and with that comes prestige, respect, control, safety, worthiness, value etc. etc. Or, on the other hand, we believe power will corrupt us, so we reject it in ourselves and possibly in others. We may believe that if we gain power we will misuse it, our ego will get hold of it, or it will leave us isolated and alone, segregated from others.
And of course, we have a lot of reason to believe that to be true. We have been given countless examples of the corruption of power in the world, and comparatively few that would lead us to believe that power can be wielded in a healthy and respectful and loving way. Yes, we have our Nelson Mandela’s and Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King’s, but there are many, many more examples of people that use their power in a cruel and selfish way. We see manipulation and oppression, war’s, exploitation and all kinds of destruction.
The truth is we hold the potential for both of these forces within our being. Creative power and destructive power. Every single human being has the potential to use power to create love or to use power to create war. But as Carl Gustav Jung said: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
The key to clean power, in my understanding, is to realize and own this truth about ourselves. Until we, as a race, take ownership of both of these potentials within ourselves, we will continue to misuse power to destroy on one hand, and we be afraid to step into the creative and transformative power on the other hand. So how do we go about acknowledging this? We do that by stopping to believe that what we see in the world and around us has nothing to do with us. We do that by not projecting our light and our darkness onto others, but by finding those places in ourselves where we could be them. And we have to start with the dark, the shadow aspects, as those are harder to own, yet are also the doorway to having clean power.
Let me elaborate on that. If you do not know that your power has the potential to destroy, has the potential to give into the ego’s attempts to claim it, has the potential to control and manipulate and abuse, you can’t fully access your true, healthy power. A power that is kind and compassionate and full of love. I believe that the Mandela´s of this world have seen what their power is capable of. Both the evil and the good. Have seen and understood and owned the capacity for annihilation in themselves. Have tasted and wrestled with the ego’s attraction to exploit this force of our being, and brought its hidden inclination for corruption into the light. Making it conscious to their awareness, so it cannot creep in from the subconscious to steal the show despite of ourselves.
This is crucial. Not just for those in power, but also for those that give their power away in order not to “accidentally” misuse it.
We need creative power in this world, constructive power. Loving and compassionate and healing power. But we can only have that kind of power and use it in a pure and virtuous way when we have seen the full spectrum of what it is capable of. When we have become conscious of our minds predisposition to employ that power for its own gain.
We keep looking outside of ourselves for what is wrong with the world, but if we assume the position that the world is a reflection of ourselves, how can we bring light to the darkness we see out there. How can we look inside and find that we too would be willing to kill if our life depended on it, that we are taking part in exploiting our natural resources, that we contribute to conflict with our unconsciousness and look away from the atrocities of the world to stay comfortable.
This is not a lecture on moral judgement, this is an invitation to take personal responsibility, on our part, for the worlds shadow aspects. Starting by acknowledging their existence in ourselves. That is the only sustainable place we can start with in my opinion. We might be moving mountains “out there” to initiate change, and that is wonderful and needed and noble, but we must also be willing to stop pointing fingers for a moment and have an honest look inside of ourselves to see where we have blindspots that are not unlike those seen in the harmful expressions around us. How we misuse our power in our family situation, or at work. How we stay powerless to not risk our goodness. How we ignore those in need, and so on….
The bottom line is that we are all good and we are all evil on some level. The more we can see that, the smaller the chance becomes that we will act out our evilness and the smaller the chance becomes that we will be taken advantage of for our goodness.
It is another powerful paradox of life to be integrated: To the degree that we can own our destructive power, our constructive power becomes able to fully express itself freely and innocently. And we sure could use some more constructive power in this time and age.
May this contemplation be an invitation that calls you to have a sincere look inside of yourself and to make conscious the unconscious potentials of your power, all aspects of it to, as Gandhi so beautifully said, become the change you want to see in the world.
Kanika M. Frings
Co-Founder at DIMA, Mystery School, Mallorca, ES