Originally posted to God Made The Rainbow on 12th August, 2008
Too often we give away our personal power to others. We give others the power to make us happy, to satisfy us, to make things feel safe, or nurture us, or validate us. I feel like this is a terrible thing because it leads to so much dissatisfaction, dissappointment, blame, resentment, feelings of loss, betrayal, anger, hate, mistrust and so many other terrible things. How can another person be responsible for our own happiness? That is too important a thing to give away to someone else.
When there is something that is very important to you in your life, why give away the hope of getting to someone else, when you can take it up for yourself, and see to it that it is done as you need it done. It is really the only way you get what you want in the ways that you want. This does not mean one should be taking from others’ their power, or taking from others what one wants, without their having given it. It means more that we should be saying yes to our needs and desires, after having examined whether they are appropriate, and nonharming, and having come to relate to them in a nonattached way, where even their very fulfillment is not a precondition of our happiness. To the extent that we can do that in preparation, we are empowered to find for ourselves the sources of our happiness.
Now, of course, this is all within in a dukkhic context. To invest particular objects, people and experiences with the expectation that having them will bring us happiness is a certain risk, based in delusion and ignorance of our true nature. A certain paradox arises as to how to continue to live in the world and pursue fulfilling our desires while practicing the Dharma of ultimate liberation at the same time. They appear as contradictory goals. It appears that to the extent that one can let go of having to pursue happiness through intransitory phenomena and can instead embrace emptiness as the source of liberation and happiness, one is able to more effectively liberate oneself from samsara.
However, I wish to acknowledge that I am not a perfect bodhisattva, yet, at least, and may I be someday in some future life, and so, there are only so many things that I can put aside for so long before I have to say yes, this is important too, and see that my own needs are met. My basic sanity as a human being is ultimately in service of the goal. The Buddha recognized the Middle Way meant you should eat food, and that even lay practitioners could lead householder lives, be married, raise families, have sex and hold public professions while simultaneously working toward self-liberation for the sake of all beings.
This is definitely my path, and I must embrace it. Too long have I denied, pushed aside, or made to wait certain needs that once again, press intently out from within to be satisfied. I will not say they are wrong. I am saying yes to them and their satisfaction. May I soon find those who feel the same.
So, what is a more balanced way of exercising personal power? It might be to…
Be aware of what one needs
Examine its merit
Discern its purpose and its ethical aspects
Decide to ask for it, and ask for what one wants
Visualize it, and believe in being in the receiving of it
Act in a way that receiving of it comes naturally
Watch for the arrival of the circumstances of reception
Accept and work with things as they arrive, welcoming them
Enjoy having what one asked for arrive
Reflect on the process
The only other thing I could think of writing about is how to deal with obstacles. Obstacles arise, and confusion is one. Loss of faith is another. Failure to follow through with each step is another. Failure to get clear about what one wants in another. Pitfalls are everywhere, and one must very proactively encounter and overcome each one. That is all I want to say about that now. This is all probably obvious to those who have thought about it. I draw from the teachings regarding the Law of Attraction. Please correct me, or add on as you see fit.
Republished with permission from Andrew’s blog, Wandering Spirit.