Zen Tapes

Personal Power

Zen Tapes - Personal Power

(Zazen music plays in the background.)

This is Zen Master Rama, and you're in search of personal power today. Must be - that's why you picked up the tape.

Personal power is the ability to go into those other planes, to cross that threshold from one dimension to another.

Personal power. You want to know what it is or how to get it, or get more of it or stop losing it. And it's a feeling, my friend. Personal power is a feeling, like life.

So for the next 45 minutes or so, take off your mind, put it on a table, look out the window and watch out! You're in the magical world of Zen! In search of power.

Today we're here on radio station WZEN sending out your favorite songs to all you bodhisattvas and dakinis out there in Lokaland. Power is everywhere. It's in your nose! (Rama laughs.) It's waiting for you to discover it. It's under rocks, in trees, in people, and the wind and the sky and fire when it burns. Nuclear fission and fusion. The power to love, the power to avoid those who would gain power over you. The power to be free.

Power. People are obsessed with it. They can't get enough of it, the ultimate addiction. You can take a nice person and turn them into a slob, into an insane being, craving power, destroying anything that stands in their way. Or it can be guided with wisdom, light and knowledge, to be used to benefit others and oneself - power.

(Rama sings with the music.)

Anyway, enough of this nonsense. Let's shut the music off here (Zazen music ends) and stop singing and get down to what matters - power!

What is power anyway? Power, as I define it - personal power - is something that's not necessarily visible. We can see its effects, but we cannot see power itself in the same way that the wind blows, and we can see the effect of the wind. We can see it moving a wind turbine or perhaps blowing the trees. If it's strong enough, a tornado or hurricane can blow a house over, capsize a ship. We can feel the wind against our bodies and in our hair. But we can't actually see the wind. We see its effect. Because we can't see it, that doesn't imply that it's not there. Of course it's there.

So power is very much like the wind. It comes and goes; no one really owns it. Some people are foolish enough to think that they possess power. You don't possess power; power possesses you. Power uses you. And you can't exactly see, unless, of course, you have very advanced inner seeing, if a person is powerful. A person can seem to be not powerful and be quite powerful. Oh, there's physical power and the ability to lift large amounts of weight. There's mental power, the ability to get an A on an examination or to give an examination. There's political power, power to make decisions that affect the lives of other transient beings.

Power is the big obstacle, or one of them, that you have to overcome and learn effectively to deal with before you can reach enlightenment. There's no way around it. You can't just ignore it and pretend it's not there and avoid it. It's something that at some point in your life you're going to have to tackle. So you shouldn't be afraid of it.

Power has destroyed many, many people? Not really. Power doesn't destroy anyone. People apply it poorly and it can ruin their lives, of course. Power is like fire. If it's controlled, it can be beneficial to your life. If it's uncontrolled, it can destroy you. But fire is neither good nor bad; it's how you use it.

Personal power then, is not necessarily sexual power, political power, intellectual power or physical power. Yet all these attributes of power certainly come from having personal power. The ability to get down to that gym and work out on a regular basis is a reflection of a certain type of personal power. The ability to be President of the United States, the ability to win in the karate match, the ability to get the job, the ability to survive when there are those who would like you not to survive. There can be hundreds and thousands of people who would like you to die, and if you have enough personal power, you can keep them all back.

Personal power is the reflection of a person of knowledge. A person of knowledge, an enlightened person, a person even close to enlightenment, has a great deal of personal power. But they don't use that personal power to the disadvantage of others.

Rama smiling with his arms crossed wearing a designer suit
Seeing is the ability to tell what really is.

The works of Rama – Dr. Frederick Lenz are reprinted or included here with permission from

The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism.