Potens Est

Money can be viewed as crystalized power, according to the Toltec tradition. And with crystalized power you can buy yourself a golf resort or if you have £3 billion to spare, an aircraft carrier. Power is weird as is money. Material power has a certain gravitational pull, it draws people to it. Not all are drawn but many are.  And power struggles are a major theme in popular culture, they lie aback literature, movies and TV dramas. People are fascinated by it and many stories are, in one way or another, about victory. These victories can be large scale or moral. There is some kind of obsession with winning. Often power and the powerful are not portrayed in a good light. This is because power can do strange things to people.

A long while back, someone accidentally gave me a gift of power. He was trying to denigrate me, to score a few points, he said that I was powerless in a certain situation. His attempt at “stabbing” me, opened up a wonderful new dimension for me, the dimension of powerlessness. A whole new avenue of inquiry lay before me, he opened a door. It was a tremendous gift. It had never occurred to me that being powerless might be interesting or a good thing. The less material power one has, the less responsibility there is. And without going all Spider Man on the subject, certain types of power can confer responsibility. As things stand I can no longer crystalize power, well only very small amounts. This means that there are many things which I cannot do. They are outside of my power, beyond my say-so.

Associated with power is the notion of potential, an un-manifested possibility of power. It is a kind of maybe you could do this, but it is untested on the physical plane.

Here on the farm I have no sight of the goings-on amongst the powerful, the rich and the famous. All I have is the window on these worlds offered by the press, who are drawn to them because of their gravitational pull. I doubt the press is afforded real insight so that which I see is very sketchy. I have no say-so in those worlds. I am powerless to affect those worlds. I am not drawn to them by the gravitational pull. This pull is in some cases relied upon. There is an assumption that moths are drawn to flames, which is a general but not encompassing observation. If you only want moths that is fine, but what if you want or need ladybirds?

Those keen on power seek to develop a power base, which they defend. They build a castle, a brand, an army. This branding is a relatively modern commercial thing and there are rankings as to which brand has the most power and which has the most loyalty. You could be a Nike or an Adidas person, for example. This brand loyalty is similar to having an army, we could be city or united in football terms. It provides a sense of identity, of belonging and contest. It gives us something to talk about and something to do of a Saturday afternoon.

Provided that one does not threaten a power base in any way, one is pretty free to operate. The moment a power base comes under the merest of threats some kind of conflict ensues, that conflict can be actual or simply political manoeuvring. Those with friends in high places have the power to stop you doing something. It is in their power, their say-so. All it takes is a quick ‘phone call in many cases. Many spend a lot of time concerned, even worried about their power base. This kind of power is a burden and it can exact a price, a price which some are more than willing to pay. If you are powerless, there is no power base to defend.

Which brings me around to these simple but profound questions:

Am I a moth?

Am I fascinated by or otherwise drawn to power?

If so, why?

Power by Association

It is common practice to claim “power” by association, this is the basis of name-dropping. And in social media such as LinkedIn many are “proud” to mention the number of connections they have. In the latter case there may be “power” in that they may know someone who could help / do. It is not uncommon for people to over-egg how well they know someone so as to bask in the “power” associated with that person. People make many claims. In Hollywood many will have claimed power by association to a certain movie mogul; “yeah I know Harvey”. The moment that his “gold” started to tarnish, they dropped him like a dead donkey. People may even have back-tracked on their previous claims.

To be associated is to be deemed powerful.

As it is for people, so it is for organisations. If one is associated with a particular brand like IBM or Microsoft, that carries power and kudos. People notice them on your CV, they have weight and gravitas. In this sense the association does bring a certain power.

This power by association is a fragile thing, it can be a double-edged sword, the example of Harvey being a case in point. It is safer with organisations than individuals. But some of these carry a tarnish as well, FIFA springs to mind. In the end it is a matter of perception.

In the logic of power by association, I have none, because I am not associated and as an unmentionable, it is very unlikely that anyone would drop my name and want to be associated with me for the purposes of claiming power by association. Maybe way back in the past, this might have happened a little, but not now. Whatever I try to do now might suffer from this lack of power by association. The associations tank on my car has pretty much run dry, it is out of gas.

Here in my yogi’s cave, I have very little idea of what goes on in the “real” world. Apart from a very brief factual bio, I am making no claims. I am not name-dropping anyone. I personally never got why some seemed so enamoured with this practice. It takes all sorts.

As an exercise:

Do I claim power by association?

What kind of power does that confer?

How do I personally feel about name-dropping?   

Power

In my research into various traditions I have only come upon one that mentions power explicitly as a part of its core teaching, others mention powers or power animals. In the Toltec Teachings power is seen as the third natural enemy. Power can mean different things to different people for me is means Joules per second, most often. Or in other terms the rate of work. This is not so far from the commonly held material definition of power. Powerful people can get things done to order. They have the ability to change things, to do work. They can have power to command others to do things. They have in this sense, power over. Power is related to dominion, to dominate, which implies a kind of mastery. The word dominate has some overtones which power does not. Yet we could say that England dominated on the rugby field. In this context it is not so bad. Power is weird.

Some people seek power, others have it given them, and others have it taken from them. Some are powerful, others are powerless. In material terms, right now, I am powerless. During my life I have only had some small material power, so I haven’t really been challenged to wield that power overly much. I don’t know what it feels like to have real power. I have only had a very small glimpse of it and that was over a decade ago. That was enough to show me the temptations. Power is weird.

There are other types of power such as knowledge, which has some power to it, as does expertise. One can materialise money from expertise, if someone wants your expertise they may pay for it. If they seek an expert opinion, you can invoice. There is physical power, sexual power, charisma and martial power. There is spiritual power:

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.  

What type of power you seek, if indeed you do seek any, is a matter of personal predilection.

Power attracts intrigue and shenanigans. It is a part of the pecking order in a chicken coop, it can confer access to food and sexual favours. As it is in the coop, so it is in humanity. With power comes struggle, struggle to maintain that power and struggle to obtain that power. If you have power, in the material sense you will have had to fight for it in one way or another and you may have to fight to secure it. This does not necessarily mean military fighting. Celebrity confers power, money means power.

With power can come possessions. We may possess many things and they in turn possess us. Who has power over who, the possessor or the possessions? It can be a moot point. Possessions can always be lost or taken away. Position means power. And we have power by association. I know Z, thereby I bask in Z’s power and glory. Better not mess with me because I am a friend of Z. Institutions have power and to belong to an institution is to share a little of its power. Power is weird.

Where there is a power imbalance we can have misuse of power as per the rumblings out of Hollywood. The dislike of these is a social judgement and not a lot to do with power, power is power. Seen through the lens of power alone, someone was victor. The tables have turned and that someone may now be vanquished by the power of public opinion. Power does not flow in one direction alone, it can twist and turn.

Those drawn to power, like a moth to a flame, can face unpleasant consequences.

Power is weird….

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Here are some questions pertaining to power:

Do I seek power?

If so, what kind of power do I seek and why do I seek it?