Enlightenment.

Our young blogger friend Ashok, in his last LBC post has this to say:
“True power lies in fighting our subservience to ourselves. The process requires deep thinking and identifying who we are and what we stand for. Perhaps with more introspection, we might see a better class of leaders tomorrow.”

I am intrigued. At such a young age, Ashok has already started being an anthroposophist.

While I was mulling over his approach, I received the picture, with which I have started this post from another young friend Ashwani, who too is struggling towards enlightenment. IT APTLY POINTS OUT THAT THE PROBLEM IS “DESIRE”, even if it is for enlightenment! (Please click on the image to make it larger if needed.)

Recently, Cheerful Monk from Happiness As A Spiritual Practice has been on an extended discussion with me on my post The Most Dangerous Stage Is Respect.

Then, Conrad, another LBC blogger friend had this to say in the same post on Respect: “there is an inner calling to pursue certain esoteric things that does not seem to affect most people”

As you know, Ramana, we both feel that inner calling and those unaffected can be put off. It does not salve our inner itch, though, to try to turn away from it. Cest la vie!”

It certainly looks to me as if synchronicity is working over time again.

Conrad, Cest la vie! indeed!

Power.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Padmum and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get nine different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Grannymar.

In India, if you mention the word power, everyone without exception will talk about electricity or the lack of it. It is such an important part of life today that the frequent breakdowns, quaintly called, power cuts, load shedding etc, cause a lot of inconvenience to homes, farms, businesses and industry. There have been occasions when I have had to terminate online chats and skype calls because of this problem as well as delay some work when it depends on the computer. This got to irritate me so much that I have installed a very POWERful inverter to give me stand by power for a couple of hours, but not everyone can afford such arrangements and it is a frustrating aspect of our lives here. Hospitals, hotels, restaurants, factories, and other businesses inevitably have to depend on stand by diesel generators which add to the cost as well as pollution of the already polluted atmosphere.

But that is not what I suspect Grannymar had in mind when she suggested this subject. I bet that she had something totally different.

Let me see if I can come up with something that would resonate with her thoughts.

Power can be discussed in two broad categories – sources and uses. Briefly, sources are, wealth, position, expertise and concern. The first two are self explanatory but the last two need a little explanation.

The power arising out of expertise, is something that all of us face frequently. Let me take the example of the use of this computer on which I write these words. Without the expert support of my son for soft ware applications and professional support for hardware maintenance, I won’t be able to perform as well as I do now. Those two elements in my life can and do exercise their power over me, just as plumbers, electricians tailors etc do.

The next one is the power that mothers exercise over their children by giving care and concern to her children. In our culture, the father is the exerciser of power of position being the patriarch and he is often used to scare the children by the mother with cautions that he will be called to discipline the children, but children eventually work out that this is an empty threat unless in extreme cases. Children however cannot run away from the power of concern that the mother exercises. Such power is seen in the case of caring doctors, nurses and effective managers.

How is power exercised? In two ways, to punish or to reward. I don’t have to elaborate on these two aspects, but the background that I have given here can be stretched to study and analyze the sources and uses of power from the micro level to the macro level.

In my previous avatar as a manager, this was very much part of my duties in developing managers to assume greater responsibilities and I was inspired to use the material that one of my great heroes of those days, John Kenneth Galbraith, an Ambassador to India from the USA wrote about in his great book, “The Anatomy of Power”.

What I learnt about Power in the early eighties, continues to assist me in understanding interpersonal dynamics in all walks of life, particularly in my mentoring activities, where I see frequent cases of condign and occasional cases of benign use of power by control freaks in personal and business lives.

For those who are interested in learning more, I can do nothing better than to recommend JKG’s book.

THE MOST DANGEROUS STAGE IS RESPECT.

In my post “The Old Man And His Soul” the following exchange took place under comments between Cheerful Monk and me.

CM – I’m glad you found something that speaks to you. Do you feel the need of a spiritual teacher to help you connect with your soul?

Me – I have a spiritual guide as well as his guide as my Gurus. I rarely need to consult them for their wisdom has been drilled into me by personal lessons over the past decade as well as their lessons in transcript form available for reference. My immediate Guru has wound up his teaching programs here in Pune and is about to take off to the Himalayas for true Sanyas.

CM – I would have been surprised if that weren’t true by now. It sounds as if you still have plenty of opportunities to practice in your everyday life. Who needs to leave home to go on a spiritual journey? :)

Me – The journey is internal CM. The goal is Moksha. I am striving without leaving the confines of the four walls of my home, and without running away from my responsibilities and duties. This too is a perfectly acceptable situation in the system of philosophy that I follow.

CM – Of course. That’s why I’ve never understood your occasional bouts of why-me-itis. You have all you need without going anywhere.

My favorite prayer is, “Thank You, Lord, for the opportunity. I sure hope You know what You’re doing!”

I don’t really believe in a god, but the prayer has the right balance between acceptance, devotion and humor.”

This exchange led me to locate something that has stuck in the back of my mind for over a decade.

“When we try to bring about change in our societies, we are treated first with indifference, then with ridicule, then with abuse and then with oppression. And finally, the greatest challenge is thrown at us: We are treated with respect. This is the most dangerous stage.”
~A. T. Ariyaratne.

A.T. Ariyaratne is one of the world’s most successful community organizers. His organization, the Sarvodaya Shramadana, has mobilized millions of people in Sri Lanka in successful grass roots initiatives, with lasting benefits for Sri Lanka’s economic and community development.

Ariyaratne reminds us that it is easier to begin initiatives than to bring enduring changes to fruition. At the early stages, excitement comes easily. Later, after you begin to make progress, opposition develops – which can actually mobilize your efforts. People see themselves fighting “a noble battle” against the entrenched forces preserving the status quo. A few small initial victories establish confidence that more progress is just around the corner. Eventually, the initiative is treated with respect: the “enemy outside” begins to espouse all the same goals, objectives, and ideals as those instigating the change. At this point, it is easy for people to think that the work is over. In fact, it may be just starting.

~Extracted from “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Sange.

My internal spiritual journey has followed precisely these stages. Instead of people seen as themselves fighting, I have to fight internal battles against entrenched internal forces that say, “give up the practice”. And the work is never over, despite getting ‘respect’ from external sources for “knowledge”. It is always starting all over again. The whymeitis never really goes away for good. Conditioning is deep rooted. I have to go back to refer to material to clarify concepts and practices, and the journey goes on.

The joy is in being on the journey.

As I have understood sanyas, I am at that stage of renunciation where I do not have to go away to the Himalayas.