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#1154 - Friday, August 2, 2002 - Editor: Jerry



NINA

POWER OVER VS. POWER WITH

"... we must stay open to the wider flows of
information, even when certain information seems
inimical to our self-interest, where the needs of the
whole, and other beings within that whole are seen as
commenusurate with our own. Only then can we begin to
think and act together. For this we need a 'boundless
heart'. This I believe we have within us by virtue of
our nature as open systems. If we can grieve with the
griefs of others, so, by the same token, by the same
openness, can we find strength in their strengths,
bolstering our own individual supplies of courage,
commitment, and endurance."

"This kind of power may be most familiar in a
relationship to a partner, spouse or child. As you help
them develop their strengths and skills, your own sense
of well-being increases. This power, which enhances the
power of others, does not originate in you, but you have
been party to its unfolding. You are are its channel,
its midwife, its gardener." (Joanna Macy, Ecopsychology,
Sierra Club Books, p 257)

For another take on this power model:
http://www.pitt.edu/~tananis/reflections.html

I have been thinking about this power model for several
reasons. Obviously, some dynamic on this list has
prompted me to share thoughts on power over vs. power
with, but for this post I will concentrate on the other
reason this model has surfaced as 'important' in this
time.

First, a note: the model has taken on the language of
"vs." through common use. In my view of this use of
language, the "vs." connotes an inherent conflict
between the two forms of power and doesn't allow for
the spectrum that exists between the two. It suggests
that one must choose one or the other as primary mode
of operation. This is not necessarily the case...

The situation in my life that has prompted a thinking of
power over and power with is taking place at work. A
colleague, R, has become disproportionately invested in
the design of the firm's new office. When approached
with others' concerns for lighting, desking, and color,
R becomes highly defensive, using phrases such as "I am
not afraid of <insert what it is he wants to do>!" I
recognize what he is going through, as I have suffered
from the same designer's fever, but this time I find
that I am remaining blank in the face of his fury. His
fury is not inciting fury on my part.

However, the issues of comfort in this new office still
persist. Blankness does not equate to knowing how to
handle this situation. So, I go searching for a means
to communicate, in the way R is most likely to hear,
the concerns of the laborers for which he is designing.

I realize that the situation will move forward only if I
can manage to present these concerns as his concerns,
or at least as concerns that work with what he is
after. In the end, if opening is achieved, the "flow of
information" is wider for everyone involved.

(This is a cooperative use of 'power over' and 'power
with'. I am not blind to the probable fact that my
skills of 'power through' have come from necessity
given the particular social circumstances in which I
have found myself.)

Some may argue: "why do anything at all?" Why not just
laissez-faire it? Why not just reside in that area of
blankness? Good questions. I have wondered about these
things myself.

I recognize these issues as 'real world' issues. I'm
clear on what they key into as regards my workings,
clear enough that I'm utterly(, surprisingly) blank
about it. I'm also clear on the importance of a happy
resolution to the overall well-being of the machine that
earns my bread. The solution is based on 'what is
possible' in this moment.

JEROEN

i think residing in that blankness does not necessarily
mean to do nothing.. to me it means to 'act from
blankness'.. as such, residing in blankness 'operates'
the body and spontaneously extends the 'being blank'
towards the specific situation.. in that way, blankness
is effortlessly 'distributed'.. this operating from
blankness may take a very different form regarding the
situation.. sometimes it might look rather active,
sometimes more passive.. in any case, it is neither of
the two; it is blankness..

to believe you can 'handle the situation' is an
illusion.. 'handling the situation' becomes a 'letting
blankness act' and an 'embracing' of it is peace..

NINA

It seems there are two 'handlings' going on...

The first is the blankness (that doesn't roil into fury
in the face of another's fury). It is the blankness
that persists into the second 'handling'.

The second comes from the recognition that a path has
been initiated that is headed in a potentially
unhealthy direction. (For the purpose of this
discussion, I am going to assume that some directions
are more beneficial than others, given a particular
aim, in my particular case: the health of a 'corporate
culture'.) The second 'handling' is action based on an
understanding of a situation and where it might lead.

JEROEN

hi nina, when understanding where the discussion might
lead, i tend to ask the person(s) in the specific
situation what they are getting out of it, and why they
are so keen on protecting this specific form of
behaviour.. sometimes adding that in my experience their
behaviour is a form of unnecessary 'rule following'
(conditioning) and an obstruction to effortless
(peacefull) living..

as i'm not working, i give you a family example.. i hope
this helps..

this morning my dad got pretty irritated because i did
not throw the peels of the oranges immediately after i
ate the oranges in the 'compost barrel' in the backyard
(usually we only throw the organic garbage in the
barrel when the small garbagebox in the kitchen is
full.. we do not go for every peel to the barrel in the
backyard).. now my dad insisted that orange peels had
to be brought immediately to the backyard.. because
this sounded a little absurd to me, i asked him why he
insisted on this.. when he said, still annoyed, that
leaving the peels there was dirty, i said i didn't think
so at all.. adding that if he really wanted it like
that, i would do as he said.. there was a turning
moment.. i sat down and realised there was some unease,
anger with this moment.. but almost immediately i
realised that i had to accept 'his decision' (viz. the
moment) and 'i' could do nothing more.. so i let go the
effort (to get angry) and i (blankness) changed
subject.. to movies.. and we had a relax chat about
some movies he saw lately.. notably 'y tu mama tambien'
(and your mother too) and 'habla con ella' (talk to
her).. coincidence? :-)

he said he liked 'habla con ella' but that he didn't
always understand the funny, freaked-out scenes in it..
adding that they are not necessary to understand the
movie.. (f.e. for 'no reason' one secretary says to her
collegue that she just took a huge, great shit).. i
laughed out loud and asked him if that wasn't a 'touch
of mad genius' (implying that these things are not to
be understood).. he looked at me and although he had a
little smile on his face, i saw he didn't really get
the mad touch.. but a sense of lightness and peace were
there.. how did you 'manage' at work?

NINA

"{when understanding where the discussion might lead, i
tend to ask the person(s) in the specific situation
what they are getting out of it, and why they are so
keen on protecting this specific form of behaviour..
sometimes adding that in my experience their behaviour
is a form of unnecessary 'rule following' (conditioning)
and an obstruction to effortless (peacefull) living.."

J, that is direct, and if you are able to pull it off,
you are one notch smoother than I... or you are dealing
with people who would not blow their tops when
confronted in such a way. <g> Or with people who would
not turn those words around on you...

Honestly, given the perspective of the person, the
accused could do this and be validated. Afterall, in
the scenario I described earlier today, 'I am
apparently wanting something', too. Who says an office
should be comfortable for laborers and not simply a
beautiful marketing piece? Who is to say that
comfortable laborers are happy and productive? Who is
to say that laborers can't be comfortable in a
beautiful marketing piece?

Where are these questions going? Nowhere, apparently!
<g>

" as i'm not working, i give you a family example.. i
hope this helps.."

Ok, what I got from your example, feel free to correct
me if I am misreading the story:

- There was contention.
- The contendor's reasoning seemed absurd.
- The contendee allowed that despite the absurdity, what was demanded
was ok and agreed to do follow the demands. (This was the 'acting
from blankness' that you wrote of in your earlier message.)
- The contendee changed the subject to something more relaxing. (This
was another action from blankness..)
- There was a moment of realization of the differences and
commonalities between the contendor and contendee.

Yes, I see now what you were saying in your earlier
message..

There is something about the word 'blankness' that
niggles, though.

I am recalling the 'blankness' I would visit as a child:
essentially denial. Closing my eyes, ears, and self to
whatever absurdity was being hoisted on me. Becoming
clearly bounded.

I begin to see a difference between what you have
described and what I have described directly above.

"how did you 'manage' at work?"

I managed by standing aside and letting things run their
course. I see that things are already working towards
the direction of balance due to the particular
combination of personalities and interests in this
office. In this particular case, I need do nothing.

______________________________________________________________

ERIK PHILIPPUS
from ShaivaYoga

A Spontaneous Chant

To the Auspicious of all Auspicousness, to the Good,
To the Accomplisher of all objectives,
To the Mother who gives refuge to all,
To the Goddess who is effulgence,
Salutations to you.

Om Shanti,
Erik

___________________________________________________________________

NORMA

Words can never be shared as nutrients
until the speaker first tastes them,
absorbs them,
and allows digestion to complete its cycle
by the excretion of all waste.
If they are too bitter,
the tongue thrusts them out prematurely.
Too sweet,
and they can cause nausea with accompanying vomiting.
Somewhere in between
is where they survive long enough
to become actual nutrition.


JP

Thank you for the ideas/views shared. And the good food
for thought.

After I read your words , I asked myself, "JP, what
words could a person possibly share that are pure and
undefiled enough and ideal for the nutrition of
another?"

I have moments when I fantasize what it may be like to
be a Buddha who is described as having unlimited
skillful means at her/his disposal. With countless
manifestation bodies, able to appear and speak to
anyone according to that being's condition, capacity
and needs. And leap tall buildings in a single bound.

But I have a hard enough time skillfully communicating
my most basic of perceptions to other humans - and to
my own self. Or being skillful at helping my self or
others.

Can we just share what we can share - as best we can?
Bitter, sweet, nutritious, "just right", whatever we
can? Some people share through their silent presence.
Some speak little. Some speak a lot. Many different
ways for different people.

Sometimes, an immediate response, however it comes out,
can teach us a great deal. Even if we find our foot
lodged in our mouth. To just say it and be with it and
accept it and learn from it. We can of course, also
have an intention to be helpful to another also.

What would be an example of "waste" to be eliminated?
Are you referring to an ideal of being able to speak
undiluted Wisdom or Truth, from one's direct
experience, without the filter of personality or ego?
To speak with total authenticity at all times? It's a
very, very lofty ideal but a challenge for humans.

Does it really matter if a person's personality or ego
is noticeable when they share? Could such a person be
viewed by us as not "spiritually" pure enough for our
expectations?

The throwing up metaphor was very interesting. It
reminded me of Bulimea that affects the lives of
millions of humans who suffer from it. Including the
lives of loved ones in my life. Not being good enough,
capable enough, perfect enough, beautiful enough -
these mind loops of belief create great suffering in
people.

Many of us know the human experience of self-hatred in
its many forms and disguises. I still battle with these
feelings that can arise and sometimes overwhelm.

On the so-called spiritual path, we can create very
intense ideals of perfection for ourselves. We want to
be enlightened, wise, compassionate, authentic, pure.
Very, very pure. And we can condemn ourselves - punish
ourselves - when we fall short of the high ideals we
aspire to embody.

Then, we can also project onto others and when we see
them as being less than "pure", we can become
disappointed and begin condemning them.

I feel also that if we self-hypnotize ourselves enough
by constant affirmations/self-speak of not being
anything at all; of being "beyond" all this and being
one with the One, we may deny what is happening
in/through us.

On a lighter note:

There is mention in nondual-speak of being in a state of
equanimity and that all things experienced have "One
Taste".

If this is the Pure Land after all - perhaps chunks of
hurl can be as much a delicacy as a slice of New York
cheesecakeca or a simple, organically grown orange?

Whatever is spoken - by anyone - can be a source of
nutrition for the hearer, yes? It's up to the hearer.

The words are meaningless until we give them meaning and
then interpret them as pure or impure or in any other
way. Or give them power over us.

Perhaps the words of H.P Lovecraft or the Marquis de
Sade can be as divine and nutritious as the words Rumi
or Guru Nanak. Maybe flame wars on an internet list can
be as beautiful and inspiring as delicately crafted
haiku.

Howzabout we try this. Next time we go to a public
restroom, let's view the graffiti on the bathroom
stalls as sacred words.

A hug to you Norma.

JP who is guzzling down some Pepto Bismol

NORMA

Hi JP,
Yes. I hear what you are saying. Yet, I also hear what
experience has taught me. And although spontaneity is
life's finest means of expression, I find that I am
responsible for allowing its presence to come forth in a
way that does not harbor anything "other" than itself.

I'm not sure if it can be understood easily how valuable
language is, not only in its release but also in its
reception. And if a person needs to release old beliefs
in an attempt at emptying, than that must be understood
without the need for interference by interpretation,
especially if the interpretation comes from a "wounded
healer" under the pretense of an inner knowing that is
untainted by anything at all.

It is fairly understood, the mechanism of
thoughts....and how easily it can be for thoughts to
take hold of things. And so, therefore, I find it so
important to have an appreciation for words that can
become trigger points for the mind.

An example might be the word, "complexity".....There is
an understanding that as life moves past thoughts, a
deeper sense of awareness develops, and perhaps this
can be seen within the description of complexity, but I
also know, from my own mind, that...the moment
complexity becomes the goal, is the moment that the
mind creates a ball......if that can make sense......I'm
not sure...

Yes, you are right.......sharing must never be so
guarded that we must carefully design words for
presentation based only on cognition....for that
defeats all spontaneity....but some consideration must
always be taken as to exactly what the words represent
for the speaker, and can possibly reflect to and for
the receiver. I would much rather radiate the healing
that is taking place within me, than hurl pus onto the
screen as a gorilla does its excrement to onlookers.
And I am not at all saying anyone here is or has done
that....No not at all.....and even if they do...I'm sure
there is plenty of hydrogen peroxide and sterile gauze
around here to help assuage the wounds....My words are
just an expression of where I am coming from...at this
time in my life, is all....

NINA

Norma and JP, I liked what both of you wrote. It is all
in the eye of the beholder, nicht Wahr?

Reminds me of Tonglen. What comes is transmuted and then
leaves as another texture... only... how can that
texture be so different? It is, afterall, only the
breath. In and out. In and out.

___________________________________________________________________

ERIC

http://nytimes.com/2002/07/31/science/31PART.html

"Painstaking observations of a kind of subatomic dance
suggest that the universe may contain a shadowy form of
matter that has never been seen directly and is
unexplained by standard physics theories, a team of
scientists working at Brookhaven National Laboratory on
Long Island announced yesterday."

_____________________________________________________________________

MARY BIANCO

On the movie, The Fast Runner:



John Metzger wrote:
"Anybody seen this one yet?"

Yes John, I have seen this fine film and loved it! I
took a while to acclimate to the style of filming, the
people, landscape, culture, etc. but was soon drawn
deeper and deeper into this mystical world. The vivid
starkness of the environment is beautifully contrasted
with the complexities of our human nature.

...and the music is absolutely the best!!

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression




HOME


SPONSORS


ONE, by Jerry Katz

Photography by Jerry Katz

Dr. Robert Puff

THE NATURAL BLISS OF BEING

       

Rupert Spira

DISSOLVED, Tarun Sardana

HIGH JUMP, Tarun Sardana


Greg Goode -
After Awareness: The End of the Path




Consider joining our Facebook discussion community, Nonduality Salon, going on 20 years of active participation. We were the first online discussion group dedicated to nonduality in a popular sense.