PowerUniversity of Maine; Orono, Maine, USA
Luther I. Bonney Hall
25 January 1974
Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers of the ultimate Truth, I wish to give a talk on power. We all know what power is. Everyone from a child to an octogenarian can tell us what power is. But I wish to say a few words on power from the spiritual point of view, based on my own inner experiences.
Life is action and action is power. Now, to whom does this power belong? Is it mine? No, never! Were it my power, I could use it at any time. But there have been many times when I wanted to use power and could not, precisely because this power does not belong to me. This power does not belong to any individual. It belongs to some higher realm.
Why do we want power? We want power because we feel that it will satisfy us in various ways. Within us we have the animal, the human and the divine. Although we have come out of the animal kingdom, we still have a good many animal propensities in our life. Although we are aspiring for a divine and higher life, the unlit, the obscure, the undivine animal and human in us are still predominant. To satisfy the animal in us, we want power to destroy the world. To satisfy the human in us, we want power to gain supremacy over others and lord it over them; we want power so that we can bring others under our control and make them extol us to the skies. To satisfy the divine in us, we want power so that we can identify ourselves with all and sundry. The divine in us wants to become inseparably one with all human beings on earth. With the divine, there is no question of destruction, no question of supremacy; there is only the universal song of oneness.
Here we all are seekers. Before we entered into the inner life, the life of self-discipline, we noticed quite a few things about the members of our family: body, vital, mind and heart. We discovered that our body was exceedingly weak, impotent; our vital was extremely aggressive, dangerous; our mind was constantly confused, obscure, doubtful; and our heart was continually insecure. We stayed with our weak body, aggressive vital, unlit mind and insecure heart for a good many years.
Then something deep within prompted us to enter into the spiritual life, the life that could give us the message of the Infinite, the Eternal and the Immortal. Now that we have started making progress in the spiritual life, we have come to realise that this very body of ours can become most powerful. Our vital, our mind and our heart can also become most powerful. But we must know that the power of the body is not the power that we outwardly see, the power that takes the form of destruction. The infinite power that we now see in the body is expressed in the body’s self-dedication to the Supreme Lord. The boundless power that we now see in the vital is expressed in the vital’s dynamic, enthusiastic urge to welcome the vast world as its very own. The infinite power that we now notice in the mind is expressed in the mind’s clear, perfect vision of the ever-transcending Beyond. Finally, the infinite power that we now notice in the sun-vast heart reveals that there, in the heart, our divinity grows and our reality constantly fulfils its own Immortality.
There are three types of power usually seen in the present-day world: machine-power, man-power and soul-power. Machine-power is to some extent blind. It takes tremendous joy in destroying the world. Although machine-power is unconscious, even in its unconsciousness we notice that, in a subtle way, it enjoys destruction. But we must remember that this machine-power is utilised by man-power, by the power of man’s fertile brain. So machine-power can easily be brought under our control if we use our human brain-power or, preferably, our heart-power. Heart-power is the power of love, the power of oneness. If we use the power of our love and the power of our oneness, then the power of destruction can easily be nullified.
Our soul-power is constantly, incessantly, trying to come to the fore and guide our outer consciousness, our outer life. Unfortunately, right now we do not pay any attention to the soul-power; but once we go deep within and become familiar with it, we shall be able to use it most effectively. The soul-power is the power of universal oneness. The soul-power is the power of real fulfilment and complete perfection in our aspiring lives.
There is a negative power and there is a positive power. Negative power we see in our idleness. When we live a lethargic, tamasic life, we tell God that we are tired and exhausted, that we do not want to budge an inch. We say, “If it is true that You are all Compassion, then please offer us what You have: Peace, Light and Bliss.” But if an idle person invokes God in this way, God is not going to listen to his prayer. Never! Again, a rajasic person, a man of unpolished, undisciplined dynamism — or, rather, aggression — wants to pull down Peace, Light and Bliss from Above by dint of his unillumined will for power. If he succeeds, it will be a disaster, for when something is achieved untimely, it is never given due value or utilised for a divine purpose. If we utilise power for an undivine purpose, we invite destruction into our life of aspiration. If we utilise power for a divine purpose, we shall be fulfilled in a spiritual, divine and immortal way. Positive power can be all-fulfilling. The Upanishads, the sacred Vedic lore of India, tell us that a weakling can never realise the highest Absolute.
The soul cannot be won by the weakling./"
If we at all want to dive into the inner life, if we want to be guided and moulded by the soul, then we have to be extremely strong. The strength we need is not so much physical strength, but the strength of self-discipline, the strength of self-enquiry, the strength of self-withdrawal from the life of the senses, the strength of self-effacement in the world of offering and self-fulfilment in the world of aspiration and meditation. The Upanishads again inspire us most profoundly:
Uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodatha…
Arise! Awake! Realise and achieve the Highest with the help of the illumining, guiding and fulfilling Masters. The path is as sharp as the edge of a razor, difficult to cross, hard to tread—so declare the wise sages.
But the Upanishads in no way want to discourage us. On the contrary, this sacred message will always inspire us to run towards the Goal. But we have to know that only he who is awakened can run towards the Ultimate Goal. The Goal, God-realisation, cannot forever remain unattained or unattainable. Today’s impossibility will not always remain an impossibility. No! If the seeker’s cry is strong and powerful, the Smile from Above is bound to dawn.
In our day-to-day life, we constantly exercise power, either in accepting or in rejecting reality. When we use power to accept reality with a view to transforming it, if necessity demands, then this power is called the soul’s power, the power of the Source. But if we exercise power to reject the world-situation, to reject the possibilities of the world, to reject this world because we feel that its sufferings and turmoil are past correction, then our own transformation and illumination will always remain a far cry for us.
Each human being gets the opportunity to invoke power in various ways. Every day he gets the golden opportunity to invoke power with his hope. Hope is nothing but concealed power. When we cherish hope, we must know that we are consciously or unconsciously invoking an inner or higher power. Today’s hope turns into tomorrow’s actuality. Today’s dream is bound to be fulfilled in tomorrow’s reality. As hope is a power, so also is expectation a power. We expect many things from ourselves and from the world. We feel that today’s expectation is going to bring down tomorrow’s realisation. But in the spiritual life, we play the role without any expectation whatsoever. We feel that our role is to perform divine service, but not to expect the fruits thereof. If we can love, serve, pray and meditate with utmost sincerity, purity and self-offering, then our God-appointed realisation is bound to dawn. It will far transcend our highest expectation and far surpass the flights of our loftiest imagination.
In the spiritual life we deal with silence and we deal with sound and, finally, we deal with a Consciousness which is beyond both silence and sound. Silence is power. This silence creates the world within us and without. Sound, the Cosmic Sound, is also power. As the Transcendental Silence creates the world, so does the Cosmic Sound sustain and maintain the world. Finally, the Consciousness which transcends both sound and silence immortalises the seeker’s aspiring being.
We cannot separate the Power of God from His other divine aspects. Power is one aspect of God; Love is another. In the ordinary life, power is power and love is love. But in the spiritual life, in God’s Life, Power and Love are inseparable; they are like the obverse and reverse of the same coin. Now, if we do not properly understand the power of love and the love of power, we run into the most deplorable difficulties. Before we realise the highest Transcendental Truth, what we have is the love of power. But after we realise the Truth, we come to feel that there is only one thing in our life, and that is the power of love. As long as we remain in the world of desire, we cherish the love of power. But the moment we enter into the world of aspiration, dedication and illumination, we come to realise the power of love. The love of power destroys the palace of Truth within us. The power of love builds the palace of Truth within us and creates the Kingdom of Heaven within and without us, bringing down Infinity to play in the heart of the finite. When the power of love replaces the love of power, man will have a new name: God.