Do You Want Power?

The Tao of Power

The Tao Te Ching explores a remarkable power that is latent in every individual. This power, that Lao Tzu calls Te, emerges when one is aware of and aligned with the forces in nature (Tao). It is essential to Lao Tzu’s system that we understand why and how reality functions, and that we come to realise that nature invariably takes its course. We already know that it is rarely worth the effort to swim upstream, but do we know that way the stream is flowing? We realise that it is difficult and unsatisfying to cut across the grain, but can we see that way the grain runs? Lao Tzu believed that a constant awareness of the patterns in nature will bring us insights into the parallel patterns in human behaviour: Just as spring follows winter in nature, growth follows repression in society; just as too much gravity will collapse a star, too much possessiveness will collapse an idea.

Like all matter and energy in the universe, the emotional and intellectual structures that we build are constantly transformed by outside forces. Much of our power is wasted in propping up our beliefs, defending them, and convincing others to believe in them so that they might become “permanent.” Once we understand the folly in this, we gain power by using the evolution in nature to our advantage–accepting, incorporating, and supporting change when and where it wants to occur. Our cooperation with the forces in nature makes us a part of those forces. Our decisions become astute because they are based on a dynamic, evolving reality, not on fixed or wishful thinking. We are able to see things that others might not because the reach of our minds is extended through the contemplation of the universe. We develop vision and we help create the future with the power of our vision.

Lao Tzu believed that when people do not have a sense of power they become resentful and uncooperative. Individuals who do not feel personal power feel fear. They fear the unknown because they do not identify with the world outside of themselves; thus their psychic integration is severely damaged and they are a danger to their society. Tyrants do not feel power, they feel frustration and impotency. They wield force, but it is a form of aggression, not authority. On closer inspection, it becomes apparent that individuals who dominate others are, in fact, enslaved by insecurity and are slowly and mysteriously hurt by their own actions. Lao Tzu attributed most of the world’s ills to the fact that people do not feel powerful and independent.

Mohandas Gandhi

“Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.”