Human Nature Power

Spiritual Sources of Power

The conventional analysis of the role of power in society has only focused on material sources of power.  The discourse of this blog acknowledges that civilization has both a material and spiritual dimension, that science and religion are complementary systems of knowledge, and that human nature has both a material and spiritual nature.  All of these notions follow from a certain understanding of reality itself – that reality, on an ontological level, has a spiritual dimension, as well as a physical one.  We have physical laws and forces, which we have only recently begun to comprehend and harness; and we have spiritual laws and forces, which are relatively more intangible that we have a more dim understanding of at present.  However, we respond to spiritual forces regardless of our understanding of them, just like we respond to gravity regardless of our understanding of it.  It follows easily, from this understanding of reality, that there are physical or material sources of power, and there are likewise spiritual sources of power.  How do we draw up and factor in these powers?

Humanity’s history clearly proves the ability to conceive of power in more creative ways than brutish military strength or manipulative economic clout; evidence demonstrates that the human race has always tapped into spiritual sources of power.  These include the power of beauty, the power of justice, the power of humility, the power of cooperation and reciprocity, the power of selflessness.  Even more obviously is the power of truth, responsible for great artistic, scientific, and philosophical advances; the power of character, inspiring countless generations to create positive change; the power of unity, without which we have no progress; and the power of love.

Before delving into the process of drawing upon these powers, we can already see by this short list of spiritual sources of power that they are unlimited resources – power need not be reduced to a scarce material good for which groups must compete.  There is not a fixed amount of humility, cooperation, unity, or integrity, which, when used up is then gone.  Understanding that intangibility is not mutually exclusive with existence helps one understand these powers’ unlimited ability to transform society and human thought.

- Equality of Women and Men Justice

Intersection of Justice and Equality

Relating the issue of equality of women and men to justice protects women from becoming oppressors themselves.  The challenge is not simply to provide women equal opportunity to participate in the present racially, economically, and politically oppressive social order.  In this case, women might not be oppressed categorically, but certainly all people would continue to be oppressed through society’s institutions.  Rather, the aim is to create new thoughts and structures which not only embody the truth of the equality of men and women, but embody justice in its totality, in all social systems, eliminating oppression in general.

There are many habits of thought that need to be overcome and replaced for this change to take place.  One in particular is categorizing, comparing, and labeling people.  Many relationships between individuals involve the tendency to place one person as better, and thus, dominant, and the other as worse, and thus dominated.  This obviously leads to an inappropriate exercise of power, leading to oppressive attitudes and behaviors. Justice, oneness, and equality are needed to purge out these habits.

The social structure most affected by the intersection of equality of sexes and the concept of justice is in the institution of the family.  The family – the basic unit of society – is civilization in miniature; and as humanity undergoes a maturing process, it, too, must profoundly change.  It is the social space in which individuals learn habits, qualities, attitudes, behaviors, and values.  Current conceptions of family that include a space of dictatorship dominated by one adult, a space of absolute loyalty to the exclusion of others, a space of liberalism centered on each person’s self-gratification, all are inadequate for humanity’s needs, and inconsistent with conceptions of oneness, justice, and equality of men and women.  The same principles that guide the advancement of civilization should likewise apply to the development of a family.

As justice and equality of sexes becomes the governing principles of family life will love flourish, will each individual develop their spiritual capacities, and will children learn habits of thought and behavior that will be carried on into the building of mature social structures.

Justice Knowledge Oneness Power

Love, Power, Justice

Just as the physical world has laws and functions in ways that reveal underlying patterns, so the spiritual world has laws and patterns that can be observed and understood. We can observe that justice only emerges where there is love. An environment of love needs to be cultivated through the authentic use of power, in the same way that a gardener prepares fertile soil and removes things which deter growth, like weeds, pests, and rocks. Power must be exercised authentically to create love. Love is the set of conditions that allows justice to flourish.

There is a hierarchy of value in reality, where God is the most valuable being in existence and the human being is the most valuable being in creation. Love is the process of properly attributing value to things, and is expressed by people who attain knowledge of reality. Ignorance results in inauthenticity, or sacrificing things of higher value for things of lower value. For example, the practice of Communism was inauthentic because it sacrificed human beings on the alter of ideology. Becoming more authentic requires attunement with reality, movement from ignorance to knowledge, and the expression of love.

Power can be exercised over others or with others. Exercising power over others takes the form of manipulation, coercion, or domination, and places a higher value on one soul than another. Exercising power with others takes the form of collaboration, mutualism, and empowerment, and expresses the spiritual truth of oneness – that all souls are equal. A person who exercises power with others acts more authentically than a person who exercises power over others. Practicing the use of power with others is more aligned with spiritual reality, and is more conducive to love.

What strikes you about this view of power (over vs. with)? What insights can you share about the relationship between love, power, and justice?

What happens if we reject all power as coercive? Can justice be created by eliminating power?

Do you agree that authenticity requires knowledge? What faculties allow us to detect inauthenticity?