The Essence of True Power

Why do we admire great leaders and thinkers like the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Aung Sang Sui Kyi, and Albert Einstein?

Yes, they radiate the heart of love, compassion, courage, and conviction.  They stand for “truth”.  But what is this truth?  Isn’t it a larger view of reality that goes beyond the limits of material imagination?  Isn’t it an irreversible understanding of the way we are all inextricably linked to one another for better or for worse?

The following article was originally published in Joy Holland’s inspiring complimentary e-book Cultivating Your Voice in response to the question:  “What would you consider is the source of your power?”  I don’t consider myself a particularly “powerful” person.  But the driving force in my life stems from a deeper reflection on the nature of reality, which is what I attempted to convey in this article.

These are heady thoughts in one sense.  But if we actually take time to reflect on them, they can turn our world right-side up and infuse it with clarity, spaciousness, and kindness.

Wisdom and Compassion:  The Source of True Power

Joy Holland:  “What would you consider is the source of your power?”

The source of my “power” is my understanding of the nature of reality and the essence of mind. I place the word “power” in quotes to underline that this is not “my” power. This power doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s the natural energy and power of the universe. It’s the clarity of seeing reality as it is, which naturally empowers you.

What exactly is this understanding? The realization that everything that exists, whether on the material plane or within the realm of mind is empty of inherent exist. It’s neither permanent, singular, nor independent. Empty doesn’t mean void but rather full of potential and possibility as everything arises from and also recedes back into this empty, non-material state. This isn’t a nihilistic point of view nor is it eternalism, but the middle way. It is said: neither permanent nor non-existing.

The Fluid Nature of Reality

Emptiness is intimately connected with impermanence, which is another fundamental truth of reality. One that we often try to deny as we cling to what pleases and reject what displeases. But in reality, everything is changing not just on the gross level of one season turning into another or birth changing into death. On a sub-atomic level everything is constantly moving and changing as we speak. Nothing stays the same for a single moment.

It’s our inability to see and accept the fluid nature of reality that brings about suffering. Instead we abide by delusion, submerged in a constant play of hope and fear, acceptance and rejection, and seeing our self and the world as solid, permanent, and independent.

But if we actually take a moment to observe the world we can’t help miss the fact that everything is interdependent. Is there anything that can exist in its own right without the support of other factors? Everything actually comes about due to causes and conditions. Therefore, what we think, say, and do matters. It has an impact and an effect that is either positive, neutral, or harmful. Indeed, harming not only harms others. Ultimately, harming harms you whereas helping helps you.

Tuning into the true nature of reality as this ever-changing constant flow, helps us to learn to let go of all our preferences, expectations, and emotional drama, which are the very source of our suffering. We can enjoy life unfolding in each moment, while taking full responsibility for what we create by mindfully choosing our thoughts, words, and actions.

Letting Mind Be

How do you taste and cultivate this wide-awake sense of the world as a vibrant, energetic play?

The practice of meditation allows us to slow down, let thoughts and emotions settle, and observe precisely how it is mind itself that is the creator of suffering and happiness. By leaving mind unaltered and allowing thoughts, emotions, and perceptions to move through unimpeded, we begin to taste its open, spacious, empty yet cognizant quality – the innermost essence of mind.

Our heart naturally breaks open when we touch the true essence of mind, as we simultaneously see the needlessness of suffering. We sense the possibility of the cessation suffering for our self and others. Love, kindness, empathy, warmth, and compassion pour forth.

Though we may have powerful moments of insight, this view is not an understanding that occurs in one-fell swoop. Rather, for most of us, it needs to be nurtured with patience and joyful diligence. At the same time, the regular practice of meditation erodes away our lifetime of habitual thought patterns, allowing greater peace, spaciousness, and freedom to dawn.

Wisdom and Compassion

Wisdom – understanding reality as it is – and compassion – its offspring compassion – give rise to true “power” that is not contingent upon externals. Your genuine voice, authentic self, and strong center simultaneously emerge. You find a growing confidence and an unfailing refuge that you can return to again and again when doubts arise. You find a natural great peace that is beyond conception.

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe”, a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

How do these ideas touch your life?  Do they hold meaning for you?  Do they make a difference for you?

If you enjoyed this article please share the link.  Thank you!  Let’s connect on Google+ or the Always Well Within Facebook PageWith love, Sandra.

20 thoughts on “The Essence of True Power

  1. Reading your take on Tibetan Buddhist concepts always makes me feel as if I have found the doorway to the way back home. You have such a light touch in your presentation of ideas; your lightness is enlightening! :-) Love your blog!

  2. This is beautiful. I was just talking to my walking buddy this morning about how nice it is to be able to feel yourself beginning to get upset and taking that as the signal to hop out of your body and your identity and view the being that you are as though you were watching someone else. It gives you some separation from the drama that is happening and it gives you a different perspective from which you can decide what to do, how to respond (rather than just react). It also gives you time to remember that you always want to come from a place of love and compassion, however you decide to express that. Of course, there are times that I forget that option of viewing things from a larger perspective, but I am getting better at remembering that I don’t need to take things personally and that I can get a different perspective and act from that viewpoint. I hope this relates to what you were talking about! :)

  3. Jean,

    It absolutely relates. This is a beautiful approach! It’s a skill way to remember that the thoughts and emotions are just like clouds passing by in the sky. They aren’t the real deal, they aren’t “you”. Your innermost essence is like the sky.

    Thanks for sharing this here. It’s such a useful idea and I’m sure others will take to it right away.

  4. “… the driving force in my life stems from a deeper reflection on the nature of reality …” Sandra, you articulate so accurately the force that drives my life-path, thank you. This whole post – and the link to Joy’s wonderful book – couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I am slowly learning how to speak my dharma after a lifetime of public timidity. Coming out from under a metaphorical burka, as a dear friend has put it. Your writing is such precious inspiration for me. Oh – and I love the new theme!

    Bowing ~ miriam louisa

    http://echoesfromemptiness.com/

    • Thank you dear Miriam! I am happy for the synchronicity. And, I’m delighted you are feeling more comfortable with “speaking your dharma.” You certainly express beautifully on your blog.

  5. The minister at my church urges us to be “agents of the invisible” and never take what we think of as reality as the answer. Your wonderful post reminded me of that and brought up many other things that are swimming around in my mind. Thank you!

  6. from Galen Powell:

    “I love Einstein’s quote at the end of your article. It expresses the unity of great thought, beyond the labels of physics, Buddhism, A Course in Miracles, or anything else.

    You highlighted something I think is so true–our power is not our own. It belongs to everyone and everything. Sometimes people think that claiming our power is arrogant, but in reality, it is humbling because we know that it is a gift of grace from the Universe.”

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  8. Hi Sandra,

    I just got home from my second mediation class and I give you credit for encouraging me to do that. It’s hard for me!

    Thank you for gently pushing me to strive to be wiser, gentler and stronger. Lovely reinforcement to come home and read this:)

    • Fabulous! I’m so delighted for you. Most of us have busy minds and when we first try to meditate our mind can seem even busier! But it will get easier over time. People make big strides over the 6 or 10 week period of my course, so I know you will too.

      Thank you for being YOU!

  9. I agree with soulsister!

    The entire piece describes the way I practice the living of each moment. This stands out to me as my own truth: “This power doesn’t belong to anyone. It’s the natural energy and power of the universe. It’s the clarity of seeing reality as it is, which naturally empowers you.” When one practices this, everything truly is possible, and you know this quite simply because by “being” you are living it.

    Beautiful article, thank you for sharing (and for the sharing the ebook link).

    P. S. The commenting system is malfunction so the photo is me (Sandra) but the words and link are Joy!

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  11. Hi Sandra,
    It’s been a long time since I last visited here.
    This particular post drew my attention as I was just flicking and deleting through my email inbox.
    Very interesting.
    May I share: since my Awakening to many things Spiritual (shall I put it this way) about 2 years ago I have learnt the answer to one of your questions. And I notice you do question a lot! Lol!
    The Source of my true Power is without a doubt: Unconditional Pure Love.
    It takes a while to grasp this “concept”, but once you get it right, Life becomes as light as a feather.

    Wishing you all the best things you ever wanted! :)

    • Thank you treespirit for your answer to my many questions! Unconditional pure love is surely a beautiful answer and a perfect partner to wisdom. Life as light as a feather sounds incredible indeed. May it always be so for you. Thank you so much for visiting and sharing.

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