At our helper retreat this past weekend I had an interesting, clarifying, and helpful experience in regard to personal power. After a half of day of working with power issues, the class was asked to get up and stand in line in rank order of our sense of power relative to the power of others. Well we fumbled around, so the leader said she would rank us as she experienced us. I was in the lower third of her ranking.
Oh yes, my ego wanted to feel hurt to be so low in the power structure, but it really wasn’t much of an issue. Or was I fooling myself? Was I too defended to admit and to feel my pain? Maybe, but it doesn’t feel that way. Still I won’t rule fooling myself out.
The exercise held enough energy for me to reflect on it for a day or two. My first observation was the hierarchical nature of this idea — standing in rank order of power. The entire principle of hierarchical structures from a power perspective disgusts me, or rather I simply do not relate to it. It seems patriarchal and quite dualistic, fostering competitiveness and in the end disempowering to so many. I certainly felt the disempowering nature of this at first before I had more consciousness about what this exercise was brining up in me. And I could feel anger that we would even be doing such an exercise in a spiritual community, beyond the lessons it was teaching me, albeit unintentionally it seemed. Anger — some lower self pride there I confess and accept.
Then I asked myself, so whose power would I “follow” in this hierarchy? My answer was no one’s, really. People could try to lead all they wanted, but if I was not internally aligned, I would simply disengage.
If I asked who would I try to lead in this hierarchical structure, the answer again was no one. The entire notion of power-based hierarchical leadership is repulsive to me.
I looked at those ahead of me in the power line and asked, “Who here inspires me, motivates me, stirs me to action?” Here some more than others, but as many below me in this lineup as ahead of me. The basis of what enlivens me is not my sense of someone’s power over me. Or maybe my lineup would simply have been different from that of the leader.
Then I asked, again looking at this lineup, “Whom would I trust?” In matters spiritual, the answer was again not very many, and again as many below me in the lineup as ahead of me. For spiritual leadership I find I am not comfortable with the guru model per se, or perhaps I have not found a true guru in my life, or one right for me. I do find a great deal of resonance with the Pathwork lectures, so perhaps this body of material is my guru in some sense. But even here the Pathwork Guide says, “Don’t follow me, follow your own inner guidance!” To which I say, “Amen.”
Then I considered the purpose of our spiritual journey and saw that it was personal freedom, inner authority, and power from within for ourselves and for others. The spiritual path is a path that enlivens from the inside out and by which we remove our personality masks and engage and dissolve our lower self natures beneath our mask so that we can release all that is alive at our core essence.
I then realized that, while I have been chairman of several organizations in my professional career, I have never aspired to these positions of leadership. I was placed there by others, either by boards or by election. And when in such positions I viewed my role as one of empowerment of people, communications, and encouragement. I would help a vision to emerge rather than take charge and set the vision. Perhaps in a way this was servant leadership, as I understand this term. And servant leadership I find I respond to both in leadership and in followership.
Sure, one would not run an army or the fire department this way, but what about spiritual communities where the entire purpose is self-empowerment? How does the hierarchical guru fit into such a picture?
There is a paragraph in Pathwork Lecture 30 that, for me, speaks to this. In ¶ 30 of Lecture 30 the Guide says that more spiritually evolved beings come into our earth plane in common unimpressive human forms so that their truth can be accepted because it is truth, not because of the charismatic nature of the carrier’s personality. As the Guide says, “That would be too easy,” and people would follow the charismatic personality, not the truth the person may be conveying. Truth must be recognized for truth’s own sake.
Perhaps that is why the Guide spoke through and to some more common folk, as the likes of us. All of us people, in Pathwork or not, have lower selves and mask selves to go along with our higher selves. Can we be thankful for our imperfect container, our imperfect leaders, our imperfect organization so that truth can shine for truth’s own sake and not because of our wonderful organization, inspiring people, and charismatic leaders? Through our imperfections, perhaps because of them, we are ultimately more self empowered.
I feel at peace. And self empowered.