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Reason and Power - Part 1

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Reasonable power resembles a dream. The dream of the royal ruler, the enlightened despotic autocrat: it should be possible to effectuate the control and allocation of power in the world, a power which is just and humane, without causing anyone suffering whatsoever. Since Renaissance and Enlightenment several attempts have been made to enable such a righteous regime in Europe. The question remains how much has appeared to be recalcitrant in this respect; how can we in this century – and especially in the bizarre current situation - intersect  the power of the worldly forces and institutions  into a gnostic directedness, in order to restore the inner kingdom in its glory, thereby preserving the exalted insights and the activity of reason.

 

An original ability

Power is an ability, energy, originally an ability to create.  Do we still know that original ability? Do we recognize this capability within ourselves?

On the outside we recognize power as the practice of maintaining, or as a control mechanism. If we regard someone as authoritative, we completely attribute the effective practice of that control to him or to her. And when we talk about the Arch-Creator, we attribute to him or her the All-power, the formation of all power in all universes.

 Divine power

Yet it is surprising that this divinity from the beginning does not seem to interfere with the world as we humans experience it, except through indisputable laws of nature; after all, the workings of these  laws of nature  - often perceived as cruel – merely are to "regulate", to control.

The divinity does not wish to exercise power over the principal human freedom, no matter how limited that may be. According to some people, the divinity is not even able to do so, which is quite paradoxical for an All-Mighty one. It leaves the practice of power to the people themselves as well as to nature.

What is the reason that this exalted source of power does not intervene in a world of extreme distress? This question has been asked for ages and ages as a reaction to the horrifying atrocities during wars or to the abuse of human freedom, thus putting the survival of the planet at risk because of the striving of above all their own interest, prosperity and contentment. So, the planet and all of humanity are completely dependent upon themselves and on the laws of nature, and therewith on the power formation and power practice in the world.

 Self-maintenance and culture

Up until now we, as humanity, have interpreted the formation of power according to the advancement of our own interests, our own country, our own group, our own race, own class, own gender, own property, everything with respect to self-maintenance which is logical and natural and in view of social security and continuity. If this is done in a reasonable and balanced way, it will form culture with achievable expressions of fine arts, everything within a framework and structured with proportions, hierarchically, in other words, in power relations.

 Reasonableness is rare

The power relations of this world, with their own power laws that determine existence, try to give life content, meaning and purpose. But this hardly ever  happens in reasonableness and in equilibrium, because the formation of power has natural boundaries such as  one’s own interest coming first and the law of the strongest. The formation of power almost always requires victory in battle. Only when there is a power vacuum, natural leadership can be the decisive factor in power formation and a possible power struggle would only be partially forced or necessary. For the formation of power in this world, struggle, competition, rivalry and the achievement of victory are more or less essential.

The most precious aspect in the formation of power is also called wisdom, because eventually wisdom enlightens the new ruler best in his struggle for victory. But in this striving for world power it is a matter of course that the wisdom of this world can enlighten it – and furthermore the question can be raised if the wisdom-of-this-world can in fact be useful and fruitful, for instance to obtain victory.

 Loss of wisdom

In the currently sliding scale to less and less real wisdom due to the amount of information that is no longer manageable on the one hand and the flattening of life to where banal and basic reinforce each other, every victory is a very temporary one, because the wisdom has almost been filtered out. In the beginning of the new information age, it was put this way:

"In knowledge we lose wisdom; in information we lose knowledge. " [1]

In the bare, dry and businesslike data of information we lose the knowledge that is coherent and manageable for soul experience; in the knowledge that is more or less coherent, we have lost the wisdom of reason.

Which power serves the victory through ratio, that is the victory of the spirit? In Chinese wisdom it is worded that he who conquers the people is  strong, but he who conquers himself, is all-mighty. In other words: such a person possesses the power that is not from this world.

 Formation of power and power extension

It is well known that when the worldly power has been established, it states its own laws and is not guided by reason or by Tao. When power has been established, it wants to maintain itself to a minimum state and often it wants to expand, with means that according to the ruler certain measures justify the goal.

Often reasonableness and balance are then sacrificed to power expansion.

Since the reason emerged, worldly power primarily wants to assert itself as a rational instrument in Europe as an economic power, aiming to further expand a monopoly formation. The pre-eminent means of achieving this is the market or trade - in which proverbially everything is permitted. That market and world trade appear to be free, but are directly interdependent in relation to monopolies, protections and positions of power. That is why there is an unfriendly way to cultivate that freedom in maintaining and expanding positions of power: it is then said that power corrupts.

 Religion and fear

It is not at all surprising what has happened since the enlightenment with regard to the positions of power of religious institutions: these organizations  of established power institutions have with all allowable and unallowable means, like oppressing, intimidating and excommunicating, tried to secure their power in a hierarchy, hereby using visible and invisible energies. At least for as long as the meek herd allowed this to happen, because the method of fear (threats of hell and damnation), especially through the growing awareness of the existence of reason, was exceeding its expiration date. One of the fruits of the enlightenment was in this connection the limitation of the power territory of religious institutions, the separation of church and state. The disadvantage hereof is however that the power position of the state also received an impulse. Surprisingly this separation of church and state has not by far been established everywhere: for instance in England the head of state (the queen) also is life-long head of the state church. Partly through such concentration of power a world-wide empire could develop. The pre-eminent instrument to maintain power is fear, both one’s own fear of loss of position and influence, but also the enhancement of fear for sanctions and losses in the citizens and followers (believers), in case the ‘authority’ is ignored. Whenever contamination with fear has sufficiently taken place, many times very impulsive, irrational actions take place. And they can be very aggressive. It is a well-known psychological fact that fear and aggression are strongly coherent. It is also called irrational fear or dispersed fear to indicate that reason as instrument of the spirit has been complete rescinded.

 

To be continued in part 1


References:

[1] T.S. Eliot, The Rock, Faber & Faber, London 1934

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