What is it?
Who can have it?
The other day, I had a long, lovely conversation with Rachael Maddox. At the end of a long trek by bike across the country, Rachael and her husband had landed in Oakland for a few days, and lucky me got to spend some time with her.
My time with Rachael opened my mind in an unexpected way, but first,
a small detour:
I was born in the latter part of the 50′s in the United States, a time when most women were housewives, ala Donna Reed (a TV show of the time). While my mother became a single mother in the early 60′s, the majority of women I saw, both in real life and on TV, were housewives.
I grew up with the sense that there would be someone to watch over me, to take care of me, a ‘big-daddy’ kind of sense of the world. Perhaps that’s the big Patriarch out there. After all, the religious traditions I saw espoused a ‘Father in the sky’. My government espoused a ‘Father in Washington’. Most TV shows showed the father as the head of the household making both the money and the decisions.
Looking back it seems odd to me that I would so strongly believe that a male someone, or something, would take care of things, because it was my mother that took care of me, both physically and financially.
Even though I now see and experience (and have for years) that this is not the case, the conditioning is strong. The conditioned mind’s worldview still sees the world this way, or perhaps a better description would be that it hopes the world is this way.
Back to Rachael,
Rachael is more than half my age. Her world view is different, of course, especially because of her age, but also because of her life experience. I don’t want to write of her world view, because that is hers to share. Be sure to read her blog and get to know her. You’ll be glad you did.
What I want to write about is how Rachael and my conversation with her helped me to see things in a new way.
Speaking with Rachael helped to unlock some of this unconscious conditioning about power, and how I unconsciously still hold out hope that someone, most likely a man, will ride in on his powerful horse to save the day, to save me, to save the world.
Many people never have seen this as a possibility.
Speaking with Rachael helped me to see more deeply and clearly that I continue to try to figure out a way to make what I now know is true about my experience (as a woman and the power I know is within me) fit into this cultural structure. It can’t.
This structure is a dream in that it causes us to believe that it is the true nature of reality. The structure exists in our minds, and in the institutions we’ve created with our conditioned minds, minds that believe in scarcity and a hierarchy based on perceived values and worth of different groups of people, and layers of life.
Scarcity and Hierarchy
In a culture where we believe in scarcity and hierarchy, privilege and not-so-privileged, it seems as though power is something held over others, or something where some have it and others don’t. That is how plays out in action in a cultural structure that sees power this way.
In this cultural structure, power is to be wielded over others, offered up by those who have when it is in their interest to do so, and to be adhered to by those who don’t have it.
In this cultural structure, there is a limited amount of power, so if one group has it another doesn’t. If one group decides to step into their power, it seemingly takes away power from others.
Notice that in a structure like this, when we believe what the structure shows us, power from within makes no sense. Even if we feel our own power within, our minds tell us things that support the structure rather than our own experience, because our own internal thought structures have been replicated from the cultural structure in which our minds were conditioned.
In our conditioned minds, power from within, power that is available for all, power that works together, makes no sense and can even seem dangerous to express in this cultural paradigm.
To the conditioned mind, there are few options:
One can acquiesce, consent to it by remaining silent, to the power out there, making one seemingly powerless.
One can join the power out there in beliefs, in actions, in thought, making one seemingly part of.
One can fight it, in actions, in thought, making one feel powerful against.
But to the awakened mind and heart,
one can feel the truth of one’s own internal power and choose from what is true. One can meet the ‘power over’ out there with ‘power from within’.
In very simple terms I use to try to express something that can’t be expressed, ‘power over’ comes from the fear of the conditioned mind; ‘power from within’ comes from realizing the truth of one’s own experience and feeling and expressing the powerful nature of the life that flows from within.
In recent days, I’ve noticed the Occupy Oakland movement showing signs of many of these ways of being with power. While some small bands of people chose to fight the structural power with power against by using violence, the majority of people have been coming from a place of awakened presence, choosing peaceful protest that comes from knowing they choose to no longer acquiesce to a power structure that does not serve its people.
The sands of our culture are shifting.
I know that the only way I can know what is real is what my own heart tells me. And, I know there is no knight riding in to save us.
All that can save us is love, the power of love, the power of the awakened heart. Many years ago, Jimi Hendrix spoke powerful truth when he said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
Letting go of hope and opening the heart to the power of love.
The place I find myself in is truly looking within to feel the power of love within. It’s not a projected or romantic love, the kind of I’ve known in my life. This love is powerful and it can almost feel too big to experience. And,
as wise Rachael writes, “We are capable of being love that big.”
And, it means one more step, being love that big in action.
Action can be listening. As a grandmother, a woman who has lived many years, I know I hold wisdom. And, one of the wisest things I can do is listen to the wisdom of a younger generation, a generation that sees things differently, a generation that can help us to wake up. And listen to other races and religions. Listen to both women and men.
Action is not silent. For me, remaining silent has been a place of powerlessness. And yet, the action I want to embody is action that comes out of silence. This action is a natural expression of the power of love. Love this big is an active force. Love this big moves us.