Anatomy of Power

Power is a malleable, invisible, infectious and multifaceted energy component that has a life cycle. Power generates a quantum field, which has the ability to grow or reduce ideas depending on the DNA (Dominant Narrative Association*). Power has the capacity to energise and de-energise at the same time. Human beings have a special connection with ‘Power’. Power can be both internal and external, it can be manifest and hidden. Power is one word can can mean several things at a time that can be both articulate and confusing. It is one word that can cause wars and deep human transformation. Power is evident and is felt like the heat of summer and the winter chill, you can sense its presence. If we name it, it may give power or take away from it, so there is always a negotiation happening with power. It keeps our heart beating, keeps us alive and it can also kill us. Every interaction with self or the other has power present. People can be born into power and thus may have unearned privilege and access to power. Sometimes people born in oppression and disempowerment can rise to have power. People who remain in power for too long can have power blindness that narrows their levels of empathy and perspective.

As a coach, leader, human, your insight into your relationship to Power is of extreme importance and has moral, ethical value to it.

Symbols of Power:

-Body type, Language, Race, Rank, Economic status, Type of car you drive, Clothes you wear, Brands you use, People you associate with, Spaces/Geographies you have easy access to etc.

Interaction with Power:

Humans and many animals since birth learn to associate and strategise their relationship to Power for survival. In initial years it means access to resources like food and security where the power is seen to lie with the parent. As the child grows the child is able to re-negotiate the terms and access to resources and comfort and may have shared power. However movement is always towards access to power. All this intuiting, sharing, understanding the dynamic of power is constantly learned and unlearned as the child grows into adulthood and happens through a process of ‘meaning making’. Symbols of power are introduced at an early age by social narratives and underpinnings of- what is felt, what is said, what is unsaid and what meaning is derived about the dynamic that co-exists. Usually the goal is for the child to have power as the child comes into adulthood. All behaviours and relating is learnt with respect to power.

Impact of ‘Power’ and its lasting relationship to ‘Self’:

Our relationship to external power dictates our relationship to our internal power that sources ‘Self’. Power has the capacity to both inspire and harm ‘Self’, E.g. You may get inspired by a leader and thus perceive them to have more power and in the process start seeking their validation that ends up disempowering you. The understanding of corrupt power, oppression and its manifestations helps us learn more about who we are as an oppressor and as an oppressed. It helps us learn about our agreements with Power. Also when we see power we could give away our power. E.g. Someone entering their CEO’s cabin with jelly knees.

Our agreements with Power are complex, fluid and depend on our experiences, personal symbols and continual meaning making:

-I want power, I will do anything to be in power, I will be compliant to power, I will rebel where I see power, I will negotiate with power, I will always associate with power and move towards it, I can see toxic power and I will rebel against it, I have enough ‘self’ power that helps me stand against any corrupt power, my ‘self’ power depends on the type of power present etc.

Remaining in observation of power, its interaction with self, its ability to influence, its ability to inspire and corrupt are all important for creating a systemic understanding of Power and thus helps us come from a space of awareness and sometimes a space of choice.

*Dominant Narrative Association: The association that we have with the dynamic dominant narratives running in the society, that can be seen in the collective unconscious as themes and symbols. E.g. When you see a picture of a wife serving a man on table, or an advertisement with many women wanting one man, there are gender biases being created in our mind about who has the power.

How I Connected with Ram and Sita

Yesterday evening my dear friend Sukhwinder Sircar created a space with Devdutt Pattanaik and a few friends, where he spoke about his book ‘Sita’. The Talk and discussion opened up  a plethora of thoughts and emotions inside of my mind and body. In this blog I am expressing some of those thoughts and revelations to self.

I have never looked at Sita as a concept. For me she has never been a role model, some how through the Ramayan that I heard, I ended up thinking of her as a husband follower. For me as a self proclaimed rebel that is something that I have never resonated with. But after listening to what Devdutt had to say my world underwent  a shift.
In our family and friends everyone considers my husband to be like Ram. Those who know him can vouch for his righteousness and his passion for following rules. I, on the other hand am a rule breaker. So our marriage alliance for me was like a alliance between Ram and Surpanakha, or at least that is how I have looked at it. For me what Surpanakha did was natural, in fact I shudder at Lakshman’s reaction to her and the violence in it completely shocks me. So, previously I could never relate to the epic Ramayana and could never bring myself to completely relate with Ram or Sita.
In the conversation yesterday three new themes opened for me:

The liveliness that Death creates:

It is, but one fear of death that causes us to create more meaning in life. Knowing that this will all end in a moment is something that makes us charged and gets us moving, it makes us follow rules, create order and build civilized society after all there is a legacy to be left behind. Being in this civilized society will always ask for sacrifice of Natural freedom. Ram represents Maryada Purshottam, Lord of self-control, who had control over all his natural desires and reactions, his sacrifice were his wife and children. The legacy also becomes more than our lives and we are ready to lose our lives for our legacy.
Raghukul reeti sada chali aayi, praan jayen par vachan na jayee.
It is the rule of the Raghukul that you may let go of your life but you can’t let go of your word.
In today’s context we work hard to create money and more work in our lives, sometimes we try so hard that we have to pay with our joy and our life.
The idea that creating a legacy makes us immortal as our name stays behind even after we are dead is something we all apply at some level or the other either knowingly or unknowingly. We all look for our significance in life.

The Field and The Forest:

The human race would like control and feel safe and hence they create fields by cutting forests, where the judgement of what is a weed and what is a useful crop is done. The Forest on the other hand is this deep, dark, uncontrolled space, where there is survival of the fittest and this invokes fear. The Field represents civilization and  the Forest represents Nature. How much ever we try to control, the Nature will take over. The Human life is spent in bringing control to Nature. When Devdutt said, Ram represents the farmer and Sita the field, My perspective of Ramayana underwent a complete transformation. So Ram follows the rules but Nature will do as it pleases. Representing Sita as field creates a new and meaningful identity for her, which I can relate to. There is always a conflict between the field and the forest, and it is the farmer’s journey to keep the forest off the field. The field has a boundary and when it comes out of the boundary it becomes part of the forest. Where there are no rules and it is survival of the fittest. Both the field and the forest serve a integral part in our life journeys. A field never gets contaminated by the forest until our judgement of what we would like to grow in the field comes in.

This philosophy is true in our daily lives where there is a daily tug between not wanting to follow the rules but having to do so. We have a field and a forest within us. Our Monday morning blues are a part of it…our spirit wants to be set free just like the forest, but we are scared of the forest. So even if we don’t want to go to office we do, just like Ram’s fourteen year vanvaas. There is a constant battle between our parts that are wild and those which are domesticated. Ramayana holds the mysterious wisdom of both Civilization and Forest.
In today’s world we have come far away from the real Forests and the Field, we have created safe havens for ourselves and we live in our own bubble. The Forests and Field are continuously battling outside and inside our haven.

The Mind and the World:

The world is the feminine and the mind masculine. The mind sees the world and the world sees the Mind, when there is a dialogue between the two and till the two are together there is peace. Mind is Ram and World is Sita. But when they are separated there is battle between the Wild parts and domesticated parts. The monkey mind (Hanuman) has to become the servant and become a role model of control to bring the two together. The Gossip in Ayodhaya about Sita’s purity was vicious and it created a disturbance in the Mind which impacted the world. The world is always pure and its purity can’t be doubted, but judgments can cause the rift between the world and the mind. Sita’s abandonment by Ram represents the mind abandoning the World. But with the world gone the mind loses its context.
I am not sure how this blog will serve you, but writing this has deepened my connect with Ram and Sita…:)
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