The Tea Toad started things off. He said, "Irwin, my boy, tea is a bit like power; it should be bold, never bitter, and is best when shared with others." I couldn't have agreed more with this advice, but what was he really getting at? I was soon to find out. The Dharma Frog, in his usual quiet way, began to speak, "The power of love is stronger than the love of power...in other words, Irwin, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Power, apparently, was the topic, and lesson, for the day.
As we continued our chat, I began to understand the direction we were moving in; power isn't so much about ruling over others with force, as it is about our ability to affect change in the world. Our ability to influence others, and to effectively bring about change, depends on what others think of us. This was a whole new concept of power for me. I wanted to know more so I asked the wise ones to explain further. They went on to tell me that our ability to alter the state of others...which is what power boils down to, depends entirely on how much trust the "the others" have in us. Power, it seems, is constructed in the judgements and actions of others. When we are granted power by others, they increase our ability to make their lives better...or worse. When we receive power from others, it feels like a vital force. It propels us forward in pursuit of our goals. Power can also make us feel excitement, inspiration, joy, and even euphoria. Power can be, and often is, an addictive drug; the more we have, the more we want. And it's important to use that power for good, ie benevolent behavior, rather than for evil...serving no one but our own self-interests, and causing harm to others. I was finding this all so fascinating!
The Dharma Frog summed things up by saying that when we find ourselves in a position of power, that we must be very aware of the feeling that power gives us. Are we feeling the desire to help others, or are we feeling the need to help ourselves? We must also pratice humility; power is given but it can also be taken. Power is a gift. It gives us the ability to transform lives. And we mustn't be impressed with our our own work. In fact, we should always be a little critical of what we do. Accept and encourage the skepticism of others. No matter what good we do, there will always be more work to do.
The path to enduring power is to stay focused on others and to give; resources, time, respect and, most importantly, power to others.
When we are truly powerful, we become empowered to change the psychological context of powerlessness. When power is given to us, others shouldn't feel less powerful, but MORE poweful. Power like tea is, indeed, best when shared. But, I think, the most important take-away from their message is that power should also mean love. When we love ourselves, we don't feel the need to control others. We believe in the old adage, "live and let live. What we do feel, though, is empathy and without empathy, there can be no love. They go hand-in-hand. When we're seen as someone who is loving and empathetic we become powerful in the truest sense of the word. And that kind of power is something that I want a lot of!