The 3 Qualities of the Awakened Mind: 3. Power

May 1, 2012   |   4 Comments

Vajrapani3 Screen Shot 2012-05-01 at 5.29.51 PM

Last week, we discussed two of the three aspects of the awakened mind—compassion and wisdom. Today I’d like to offer a (very) few thoughts on the third quality—power.

When we think about the quality of power, I’m sure many things come to mind. Some are positive—the certainty of a strong ruler or the beneficence of a saint. Some are not so positive—the authoritarianism of, say, teachers or bosses, or those who have influence over us due to wealth, beauty, or position.

However the Buddhist view of power has nothing to do with becoming a ruler or a saint (not that there is anything wrong with that), nor is it about authority, influence, or control. The Buddhist definition has more to do with the ability to see clearly.

This superpower is the quality of precision. The very definition of power here is the ability to cut through delusion and see clearly. When you are around someone who can do this, you can feel their power. It doesn’t come from yelling or storming about or tripping out on you in some way. It comes from their ability to know themselves, turn toward you, look into your eyes, and see you. The magnetizing property of clear seeing cannot be overstated. This is the power we seek, are drawn to, and that leaves us feeling naked and vulnerable on one hand, and completely, finally at home on the other.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen imagery of so-called “wrathful deities” in Buddhist iconography. These are the beings with multiple heads, fangs, wrapped in animal skins, perhaps clutching skulls or gyrating within a circle of flames. They are quite fierce and ready to fight. Their enemy? Ignorance. When you are being ignorant, they attack. You. When ignorance attempts to attack your mindfulness-awareness, this energy can be counted upon to attack on your behalf.

Power comes from synchronizing mind and body, over and over, from moment to moment. With such an effort the three forms of ignorance: passion, aggression, and delusion have no way to gain hold. And when you are free of these three poisons, there is nothing left but power.

Know that as we practice meditation, as we continuously place attention breath and synchronize our mind and body, we are also making a connection with the source of pure power and the tremendous well of energy that stokes it.

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  • Posted by:  Kate

    Dear Susan, the statement: “The magnetizing property of clear seeing cannot be overstated. This is the power we seek, are drawn to, and that leaves us feeling naked and vulnerable on one hand, and completely, finally at home on the other.” To realize in each moment we can embody and invoke the energy of these deities to stand against ignorance that keeps us from stepping fully into our “holiness-wholeness” in all areas of our lives is a blessing. Thank you for so eloquently stating it and reminding me I am not alone against this place. That is in itself the power for me is to remember that I have access and can invoke this power that resides within me as an aspect of the Divine. Mahalo, Katelyn

    • Posted by:  Susan

      It is good to know that there is a power that is always available to us and for us.

  • Posted by:  Kate

    Simply put I can be fully engaged in my life, whether day to day in all situations in my life, or on the mat in meditation and I can have faith and trust that this clear and present “power” can be invoked to sit, walk, interact with me in each moment for clarity in all situations. In this place I can “bow” to any situation and ask for clear seeing, clear knowing…this is the blessing, to not shy away from true power as it will hold up in the presence of the misuse of power in any situation. We need this in our world today and that is my prayer. This I trust! Thank you. kc

    • Posted by:  Susan

      This is so beautiful. Thank YOU.

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