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What is Power?

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And how can you find your own? The source is closer than you may think.

This article appeared in our June 2004 issue. At a recent discussion on “Spirituality and Politics,” the panelists — all luminaries of the human potential movement — spoke of paradigm change, the evolution of consciousness, and the need for radical political transformation. But one word they never mentioned was “power.” This set me to wondering What is my relationship to power? I reject both the extremes of quietism — the resignation from all efforts to wield political power — and jihad — the willingness to use violence to secure the political triumph of my beliefs. Likewise, I reject the secular vision of raw, amoral power exerted through economic pressure or military might. Because I am, at heart, “religious” in some left handed way, I need to understand the nature of sacred power in order to know how I should relate to political power in an appropriate way. What belongs to God and what to Caesar? The Sacred Cosmos Step back into pre-modern times. Once upon a time, sacred power was nearly inseparable from magic. Power was thought to reside in chants, rituals, a …

Sam Keen, whose Psychology Today conversations brought Joseph Campbell, Norman O. Brown, and other seminal thinkers to national attention, holds two M.A.s in theology from Harvard and a Princeton Ph.D. in philosophy. His books include the best-seller Fire in the Belly, Hymns to an Unknown God, and his most recent, Learning to Fly: Trapeze – Fear, Trust, and the Joy of Letting Go.


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