How often are we told what to do without being told why? Why is that so? Because some people believe that knowledge is power and therefore giving it away makes others more powerful than themselves. I completely disagree. I do believe that knowledge is power but I don’t believe that there is a finite amount of it. I believe power, like love, is exponential.
Now, there is a difference between power over others and the feeling of being empowered. Here are some examples or metaphors that I think help distinguish these two concepts.
There are said to be 7 main Chakras or energy centers that correspond roughly with the spinal column. The lower chakras deal with more survival and earthly issues. As you move up the line towards the head and beyond, the chakras deal with more ethereal or spiritual issues. Right down at the bottom at the base of the spine is Muludarha Chakra. This chakra deals with raw survival issues, food, shelter, safety. When in balance it allows for a sense of confidence and generosity, high physical energy, self mastery and a feeling of being grounded and secure (empowerment). When out of balance it exhibits in bullying, excessive materialism, low self esteem, fearfulness and neediness (need for power over others).
Oh boy, here we go. I am probably going to get myself in trouble but I will chance it. I grew up in a Roman Catholic household. My father was extremely religious and would drag us out of bed to go to church in the mornings. My experience of God was of someone punishing, scary, and who wielded power and vengeance over us mere human beings (Power over others). In the Buddhist and much of yogic philosophy, it’s all about the Buddha or God residing in us all. The higher being or consciousness being accessible to all who work towards it. Energy or prana or life force is not finite but infinite in nature. (Empowerment)
Owning Your Path
Being empowered comes with responsibilities. Personally, I love to be asked, “Why?”by my students, teachers-in-training, employees, friends, my kids. The question, “Why?” deserves an answer. Being questioned makes me have to think about what I do and how I do it. It also makes me responsible for my choices and actions. In teacher training I often say to students, ” When someone asks you why you teach a posture in a particular way, it is not okay to say,’Because, Mimi said so’.” They should have their own good reason and understanding about how they teach what they teach.
The true definition of Guru, is one that passes the light to another. In many traditions, often in yoga, there is a belief that the Guru or leader should never be questioned. They are the holder of all the knowledge and we are simply followers. To me, that is again an example of Power over others, not Empowerment. I believe that everyone deserves to be empowered with knowledge. I believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect, compassion and generosity. This especially applies to those who have less power in the first place like children. Sending love, light and knowledge out into the world does not darken our own. In fact, it brightens it. At the end of each practice, I love to do OM. Ask me why please??? Okay, okay, I will tell you. Because I believe that the OM at the end of class sends out the collective positive energy that has been created in the class out into the world. Who knows if it is really possible to do so. I don’t know for sure but I hope it is true.