Power is a widely used term in our daily lives. We all believe that power matters. We want to own it, abuse it, use it against each other and usually hold on to it until we die. Power is often associated with physical strength, intellectual capacity and wealth. Society reinforces for us that power is something to be attained and drawn from external sources. If these external sources are somehow depleted, then we are doomed. Therefore, when we fail in our career we lose our power. If we cannot prove our point in relationships, get approval, be applauded, appreciated or praised, we lose our power. This sort of power which is dependent upon external circumstances appears to be quite fragile and eventually leads to estrangement from our inner power.
As Acharya Shunya mentions in her teachings, power especially matters in terms of our relationships. It is actually the foundation of any relationship. According to her we have relationships to own our power; to share, live, reflect our power and finally accept another’s power.
In this framework, relationships are not only about love and affection as we ideally think it would be. Love and affection as sattvic feelings (full of clarity, light and closest to our spiritual nature), provide the best flora for cultivating healthy relationships. However, for sustainable relationships we need an initial recognition of our full potential and innate power which is sourced from inside. This sort of love, with a power house that lies within, enables us to enjoy love and affection without getting attached to it or being obsessive about it. As we reflect our soul power in the outside world, we emerge as independent receivers of love, instead of being beggars of it.
However, the kind of power we are accustomed to demonstrating in any form of relationship is actually egoistic power. As Acharya Shunya mentions in her teachings, egoistic power is not true power. Egoistic power is just a tiny reflection of our True, hidden power because ego-based power is fragile and timid and it often requires a violation of boundaries to show itself. That’s the power we know, that’s the power society dictates upon us. Everybody likes to see an explicit, threatening, controlling display of power which constantly attacks or defends to protect its ground. That is why ego power moves in a continuum of comparing, blaming, judging, suspecting, manipulating, talking, gossiping, bragging etc.
Atma Shakti is different from ego based power in so many ways. It is like electricity which is always powerful and never loses its potential. With Atma Shakti you don’t need to talk, threaten or make a scene to make others realize how powerful you are. It is obvious and anybody can see your power because it radiates from inside out. It is independent, inherent, inborn, fully potent and raw.
Acharya Shunya once described the nature of Soul Power with a beautiful analogy from her garden. She explained how all the flowers, trees and even the weeds live in harmony in her garden without interference from outside and how all the plants make way for each other. A great example is how her roses survived after they were shifted to the garden of their new house. The day Acharya Shunya and her family moved to their new home was a day with lots of rain and clouds. Therefore, they planted the roses in the front yard without knowing that it was a shady spot for roses. As a result of this honest mistake, the roses did not do very well for one whole season, even with fertilizers and lots of care.
The next year they decided to replant the roses in the backyard where there was more sunlight. To their surprise, the roses quickly returned to their full potential because the raw power in them was not lost, it was there all along lying dormant. Once they encountered favorable circumstances, the roses started blooming like crazy again. Obviously, the sleeping time in the front yard never diminished their power, and the outstanding beauty and wellbeing of the roses did not affect the other plants in the backyard. The daisies did not get jealous and the poppy did not get depressed about the beauty of the newcomers. They made way for each other and lived harmoniously with their full power.
Acharya Shunya says that this is because the rose, the daisy and the poppy never question their power, but they know it, own it, live it and share it with others. They don’t need to confront other plants to feel their potential. The poppy doesn’t have to drop its power for the daisy to feel powerful. They all share the same core, are fed from the same infinite source which is abundant, non-violent, spacious, compassionate and courageous. Plants have an inborn, inherent knowingness which is not mind or ego based.
Accepting Our Power
Atma Shakti is never afraid to accept its full potency. Acharya Shunya in her discourse always reminds us that compassion without power is useless, non-violence without power is not effective, goodness without power is not respectable. Any of these values without Soul Power makes us fragile, weak and definitely won’t bring us the respect and happiness that we deserve as human beings.
There is an inner permission to shine for each living being. We humans mostly forget about it and look outside for light, joy, happiness, acceptance and permission. True acceptance comes from inner permission.
“Powerless people are like beggars; they don’t have anything to give to each other.”
"Don’t hide your power,
Never question it
Refrain from grabbing at each other’s power
Live your power peacefully without causing harm”
Soul Power to Support Dharma
Power has to have a direction, a boundary, a channel to flow through; otherwise it becomes reckless and inconsiderate. The crucial question is how to draw this boundary. If we draw the boundaries of our power by looking at others who are more powerful than us, then our power becomes small, self questioning and reserved. On the other hand, if we determine our boundaries by looking at others who are weaker than us, then our power turns out to be abusive, arrogant, invading and egoistic. Acharya Shunya says we have to look inside and check our inner resources for defining the boundaries. This inner territory belongs to our Atma Shakti and is defined by dharma which is the righteous way, the way lit by inner light. Then Acharya Shunya asks us this one big question:
“What would you do if you lived alone in this world? Would you do anything in your power because you can?”
If we answer this question with compassion and guidance of our heart, the answer is simple and easy. The boundaries of Soul power are defined by dharma - the way we would act independent of external circumstances. As Acharya Shunya puts it, dharma is the lifestyle of the soul. When your soul acts with power instead of your ego, then it is led by dharma. At the other end of the continuum, when we act with ego power by holding on to power, grabbing at each other's power, trying to prove a point, the power gets corrupted, destroys whatever comes on its way, and accepts no boundaries. Ego power almost always exercises its might because it can, until it can.
How to Discover our Soul Power
Soul power reveals itself only when you receive jnanam ( knowledge of your True Self) and devote yourself to God. Your innermost self is closely associated with soul power. True power comes from your innermost self and flows with ease… it is not strained, stressed or violent.
Devotion to God (Bhakti Yoga) is surrendering yourself to something higher than you. This devotion sets us free from our egoistic habits of controlling external reality and trying to manufacture it. We all look outside for joy, happiness and fullness because society tells us that the best things are yet to come in our lives. They are just around the corner, the world says, and it requires a bit more effort to attain them. However, we all know intuitively that chasing happiness out there is a futile endeavor. Happiness, joy, fullness, even health reside within ourselves and it is closely connected to our knowledge of the Self and devotion to God. When we receive the higher knowledge of the Self from a trusted teacher and devote to God, our soul (atman) begins to shine. With this inner light we discover our soul power.
Acharya Shunya further discusses Soul Power in Chapter 20 of her book Sovereign Self.