By Sanjiv Ranjan Subscribe now November 2013 Power without responsibility is destructive, but power with responsibility is the secret to greatness, says Sanjiv Ranjan “The Vedanta recognises no sin, it only recognises error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta, is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power.” These are the words of one of the greatest spiritual leaders of this century, Swami Vivekananda. They are symbolic of the culture we belong to – of our magnificent heritage which has forever stood firm in its belief that when God created man, He bestowed upon him His own power. We belong to a culture which has always celebrated power, which has understood its depth . . . and by virtue of understanding its depth, deep down in our soul, in our wiser mind, we know that power which precedes responsibility is dangerous energy and often results in miscreation. An excellent example of power which preceded responsibility is the story of the demon king, Bhasmasur. For thousands of years, Bhasmasur prayed to Lord Shiva for immortality. Lord Shiva refused, and told him to ask for something else. Bhasmasur asked that he be granted the power to turn anything which he touched on the head, into ashes. “So be it,” was the response. In that very instance, Bhasmasur saw Parvati, Shiva’s wife, and was completely enchanted. He wanted her to marry him, but for that, Shiva had to be killed. Bhasmasur began chasing the one who had granted him the power, and the only option left to Shiva was to run. Shiva prayed to Lord Vishnu to help him. Vishnu then took on an enchanting female form, known as Mohini. The moment Bhasmasur saw Mohini, he was smitten by her and began to plead for her hand in marriage. Mohini told Bhasmasur that she would marry him only if he could match her in dance, step by step. Bhasmasur agreed. He gradually forgot the power which burned within his hands, and there came a moment when he mirrored Mohini’s action, and touched his own head.And through the power of his newly granted boon, he himself was turned to ashes. The power that he had prayed for had destroyed his own life. This is one aspect of power. On the other hand, our epics are also full of stories where great responsibility preceded great power. The leap of responsibility There is an incident in the life of Lord Rama when someone has to leap across the Indian Ocean to land in Lanka, and bring back his wife Sita, being held captive by the mighty demon king, Ravana. While others see it as an enormous and impossible task, Hanuman takes the challenge, the responsibility, of bringing back his master’s wife. And it is only then that he is made aware that he has the power to fly. Fly he does, across the ocean, with complete élan, and completes his mission successfully. What is even more noteworthy is that Hanuman was born with the power to fly, but being powerful before he took on a great responsibility, made him frisky and annoying, so the power was taken away from him in childhood itself, and restored only when he took on a responsibility which was great. Mythology is a wise teacher. Like life, she teaches you in ways which are subtle. She teaches you by allowing you to learn. The learning comes when the time is ripe. The story of Hanuman’s leap across the ocean, his discovery that he could fly, teaches us a very powerful lesson, which is that it is only when you take on a great responsibility that the greatest power is gifted to you. History is full of events where those who took on a great responsibility, accessed their deepest potential, and lived from power, position and strength. It is responsibility which turned one frail, dhoti-clad man into the Mahatma, the father of an independent nation, who wrested its freedom out of the hands of an empire which had ruled the world as well as the seas for more than three centuries. It is responsibility which gave Anne Sullivan the power to effectively teach a child as severely challenged as Helen Keller, and nurture her into one of the most loved, inspirational teachers in this world. Responsibility is the force which pulls power into you. The greater the responsibility you take upon your self, the deeper is the power which descends into you. What is power? Is having endless sums of money, which can help you to buy anything in the world, power? No, it is not. It will only give you an illusion of power. For the moment the money is lost, which is always a possibility in an uncertain world, your castle of dreams comes crumbling down. But knowing that even if every penny that you possess is taken away from you, you can make it all over again, from a heap of rubble and stones, definitely means that you live from power. Because now you have nothing to fear, nothing that you depend upon except yourself, and your ability to create. This is true power, the power to create wealth out of nothing at all, the power of vision, the ability to see things that no one before you saw or thought about, even though the opportunity was visible to all. Consider Newton, who discovered gravity through the apple that fell upon his head, or Edison, who created the light bulb when he realised that running electricity through a high resistance filament produced light. Does beauty or fame make you powerful? It give you nothing but the illusion of power, that too if you are seeking to control through manipulation, and if you are willing to live a life limited and orchestrated by public opinion. Both are double-edged swords, for the blades which move outwards, cut far deeper and hurt much more grievously within. The power of love But having love in your heart does make you powerful. Love is love when it is not sought, but intensely felt, in a place deep inside you. It first overwhelms you, and then by virtue of having overwhelmed, it overflows. Anne Sullivan with Helen Keller,who she transformedfrom great disability to apowerful inspirational force But such a love is possible only when you realise that love is not a transaction, or a ‘mergers and acquisition’ deal between two people. It is the force that you were born with, so that you could command the universe. When you come home to your Self, when you understand who you are, when you live from your divine lineage, it is only then that love takes on tidal proportions in your life and moves beyond being a transaction of how much was given and how much received. I was once in therapy with a lady who had desperately sought love all her life. In an attempt to buy love from those whom she cared for, she went to great lengths to please them, often at the cost of her own freedom and happiness. For her, love began with notions of giving, and the more she gave to a relationship, the greater were her expectations from it. She was trapped in giving and receiving, and most of the time she felt an aching emptiness in her heart, for she was constantly depleting herself in the process. When we explored her inner world we discovered a deep-seated feeling of rejection, which she attributed as coming from her mother. In the process she had rejected herself, and had very little self-love. Lack of self-love made her behave like a sacrificial lamb in any relationship she pursued, and at the end, all she was left with were a handful of bitter memories. Through restorative therapy she learned to let go of the rejection. She allowed love for her Self to emerge from deep within. And when self-love finally came to the surface, such was its brilliance that it drew into her life a man who deeply loved her, and together they explored life beautifully and creatively, completely immersed in each other. Love is a tidal wave. It resides in the ocean of your heart, and the first to be drowned in it shall always be you. The moment you have drowned in it, love will create a formidable energy field around you. Love is far more powerful than beauty. And love is far more powerful than fame when a revolution is the need of the hour. A revolution is always about healing structures which are crumbling, it is always about change, it is a renewal of the minds of people, the way they think, feel and behave. And for this, you need love in your heart. You need to unleash its formidable power into society, for love is the deepest healing force in the universe. The essence of ‘true power’ True power cannot be contained within money, social status, beauty, fame, or wealth, for there is nothing eternal in these attributes. True power does not depend on anything outside of you. It is what resides within you. True power is the genius and creativity which lie within your mind, the compassion and love that flower within your heart, as well as the strength and vitality that hold together your body. It is the life force which flows in your blood, which makes you hold your head high in defeat, and humble in victory, which makes you accept both with pride, dignity and equanimity. And the only ways to invite true power into your experience are: • To believe in it. To believe that you are capable of tremendous creativity, that genius lies with you, that in your heart you have enough love to heal the whole planet, and that your physical body has immense restorative powers. • To live through responsibility. What is responsibility? Responsibility is your ability to respond to a person, a situation, to the present moment as well as to life. To understand responsibility in greater depth, you have to know how a response is different from a reaction. You respond when you are connected and in sync with what is happening in the here and now. You react, when you have dissociated from what is happening in the moment, and your mind has moved into your past. You are equating something which is happening in the here and now, with
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