Traits of the Awakened Mind, Part 3: Power

August 14, 2023   |   Leave a reply

Hello wonderful Open Heart Project,

We’ve discussed two of the three aspects of the awakened mind—compassion and wisdom. Today I’d like to offer just a 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.

Where have you witnessed true power in your own life?



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