The Varieties of Power
Power in itself is neutral. In a good person’s hand it will be a blessing. In an unconscious person’s hand it is going to be a curse. For thousands of years we have condemned power, but without realizing that it is not power that has to be condemned, it is that people have to be cleaned of all the ugly instincts that are hiding within them.
Is there such a thing as personal power which is different from power over others?
Personal power and power over others are two entirely different things. Not only are they different, they are diametrically opposite.
The person who knows himself, understands his own being, understands the meaning of his life, suddenly has an explosion of power. But it is more like love, like compassion. It is more like moonlight than like sunlight—cool, calm, beautiful. Such a man has no inferiority complex at all. He is so full, so contented, so utterly blissful, there is no reason for him to feel any ambition to have power over others.
I call it the power of the mystic.
Power over others is political, and the people who are interested in power over others are people who feel a deep inferiority complex. They are continuously comparing themselves with others, and feeling themselves inferior. They want to prove to the world and to themselves that it is not so—they are superior beings. All politicians suffer from an inferiority complex. All politicians need to be treated psychologically. These are sick people, and because of these sick people the whole world has been in immense suffering. Five thousand wars in three thousand years!
And there is no end for the seeker of power over others, because there are always people left out of his sphere of influence. That makes him still feel his inferiority. Otherwise, what is the need for anybody to become Alexander the Great?—just sheer stupidity. The man died when he was only thirty-three. He could not live for a single moment, he could not love for a single moment. All through the beginning of his life of thirty-three years he was preparing to become a world conqueror, and the remaining part was fighting, killing, burning. The only idea in his mind was to become the world conqueror.
When he was going to India, passing through Greece on the way, he met one of the rarest men in history, Diogenes. Diogenes used to live naked—he was so beautiful, it was perfectly suitable for him to live naked. Clothes serve many purposes related to climate, culture, but the basic purpose is not that. All the animals can manage to live without clothes in every climate all around the world, what is wrong with man? Is he the most vulnerable and weak animal in the whole world? No, clothes were first invented because all people don’t have beautiful bodies. You know people by their faces. In fact, even you yourself, if you see a picture of your own body naked without the head, will not be able to recognize that this is your body.
Diogenes was an immensely beautiful man; he needed no clothes. He lived by the side of a river. It was early morning and he was taking a sunbath. He had only one companion, a dog, and only one possession, an old lantern.
Alexander, passing through Greece, had heard that Diogenes was very close by. He said, “I have heard so much about the man. He seems to be a little strange, but I would like to see him.” So Alexander went to see Diogenes—Diogenes was resting. His dog was sitting by his side. Alexander said to him, “Diogenes, Alexander the Great has come to see you. And it is a great honor, it is unique; I have never gone to see anybody.”
Diogenes did not even sit up. He remained lying on the sand, laughed, looked at his dog and said to the dog, “Have you heard? A man calling himself ‘great’—what do you think about it? He must be suffering from great inferiority. This is a projection to hide some wound.” It was a truth. Even Alexander could not deny it.
Alexander said, “I don’t have much time; otherwise I would have sat here and listened to some wisdom from you.”
Diogenes said, “What is the hurry? Where are you going—to conquer the world? But have you ever thought, if by chance you succeed in conquering the world, what will you do then? Because there is no other world, there is only one world. Right now, fighting, invading, you can go on forgetting your inferiority. But when you have succeeded, your inferiority will come back, it will surface again.”
Alexander said, “Returning, I will come and stay for a few days here and try to understand. What you are saying hurts, but it is true. In fact, just the idea that there is no other world makes me sad. Yes, if I conquer the whole world, then what am I going to do? Then I will be just useless, and all that is hidden in me is bound to surface.”
But Diogenes said, “You will never return, because this kind of ambition is unending. Nobody comes back.” And strangely, Alexander never came back. He died while he was coming back, before reaching Greece. And a beautiful story has been told since then, because on the same day Diogenes also died. It is just a story, but very significant.
There is a river, according to Greek mythology, which you have to cross before you enter paradise. Diogenes was just a few feet ahead, Alexander just behind him. Seeing Diogenes, the same beautiful man, naked … and now Alexander was also naked, but not with that beauty. Just to cover his shame, Alexander said, “This is a strange coincidence, the meeting of a world conqueror with a beggar!”
Diogenes laughed and he said, “You are right. Only on one point are you wrong—you don’t know who is the conqueror and who is the beggar. Just look at me and look at yourself. I never conquered anybody, yet I am a conqueror—a conqueror of myself. You tried to conquer the whole world, and what have you got? Just a sheer waste of your whole life. You are just a beggar!”
The personal power belongs to the mystic—one whose flower of consciousness has blossomed, who has released his fragrance, his love, his compassion, far and wide. It is a very subtle power. Nothing can prevent it; it simply reaches your heart. It simply makes you fall in tune with the mystic—into a kind of synchronicity, a harmony. You don’t become a slave, you become a lover. A great friendliness, a great gratitude arises in you. Just the presence of the mystic creates an immense aura. In that aura, whoever is open, available, receptive, immediately starts feeling like bursting into a song or into a dance.
Political power is ugly. Power over others is ugly. It is inhuman, because to have power over somebody means to reduce that person to a thing. He becomes your possession.
For example, in China, for centuries the husband had the power over his wife even to kill her. The law allowed it, because the wife was nothing but a possession—like you possess a chair, and if you want to destroy it, it is not a crime; it was your chair. And if you kill your wife, it was your wife.… For centuries no man in China had been punished for having killed his wife—up to this past century.
Power over anybody reduces the other person’s individuality, reduces his spirituality, until he becomes just a commodity, a thing. For centuries men and women have been sold in the markets like any other commodity. Once you have purchased a slave, you have all power over the slave. This may fulfill some insane and sick psychology, but it is not healthy. No politician is healthy—I mean spiritually.
When Nixon was caught tapping other people’s phones, and he had finally to resign as the president, Mao Zedong’s comment was remarkable. He said, “Every politician does it. There is nothing special in it, why are they making so much fuss? Poor Nixon has just been caught doing it.”
And even after Nixon’s resignation as president, Mao sent a special plane, his own plane, to take Nixon to China—to console him, to say that this was just stupidity. “Whatever you were doing is being done all over the world. All the politicians are doing it. What was wrong was being caught. You were an amateur.”
What politicians are doing all over the world, all through history, is simply inhuman, ugly. But the reason, the basic reason is that they have a deep feeling of inferiority, and they want to prove to themselves that it is not so. “Look, you have so much power, so many people in your hands that you can make or break, so many nuclear weapons in your hands. Just push a button and you can destroy the whole planet.”
Power over others is destructive—always destructive. In a better world, anybody who is ambitious—who wants to be more important than others, ahead of others—should be treated psychologically.
Only humbleness, simplicity, naturalness, no comparison with anybody.… Everybody is unique, comparison is impossible! How can you compare a rose flower with a marigold? How can you say who is superior and who is inferior? Both have their beauty, and both have blossomed, danced in the sun, in the wind, in the rain, have lived their life totally.
Every human being is unique. There is no question of anybody being superior or inferior. Yes, people are different. Let me remind you of one thing; otherwise you will misunderstand me. I am not saying that everybody is equal, as communists say. I am against communism for the simple reason that the whole philosophy goes against psychology and all psychological research.
Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior, but nobody is equal either. People are simply unique, incomparable. You are you, I am me. I have to contribute my potential to life; you have to contribute your potential to life. I have to discover my own being; you have to discover your own being.
It is perfectly good to be powerful as a mystic. It is ugly, disg...