Access and exercise your true power
In the second message of the six-part summer series Wisdom Tales from Around the World, Rev. Joanne tells us the story of The Powerful Fighting Rooster. Coming from ancient China, it tells of a king who has a fighting rooster that he would like to be the most powerful rooster in the land. He takes the rooster to the best trainer. The trainer tells the king, “come back in a week for your rooster and you will see his improvements.” The king does so, but the rooster is not strutting or crowing as powerfully as before and the king is confused. The trainer then tells the king, “come back in another week.” Again, the king returns, and the rooster is even less aggressive, so the trainer tells the king to come back in a month. The king returns one more time and the trainer tells the king that the rooster is now so calm and serene that all of the other roosters will see his confidence and run away.
This story is a metaphor that shows us that it is not always the loudest and most aggressive that garner the most respect. This is not to say that as a show of strength that we must allow others to abuse or take advantage of us.
Joanne tells us of the chickens that she raised. There were many hens and one rooster named Foghorn. Foghorn was a beautiful bird that could easily fend for himself. Many of the hens learned that they could peck at Foghorn’s feet and he would not respond. Over time, enough wounds were inflicted that even after he was removed from the coop the damage had been done and he died from his injuries. Foghorn could have easily prevented the hens from pecking him, but for whatever reason, he did not do so. When we are in a position of power or authority we must exercise that power wisely. Finding the balance between brute force and intimidation and withdrawing completely and relinquishing that power can be difficult to find.
In the Taoist tradition, there is the concept of yin and yang. This represents a balance of opposites in the world such as dark and light, male and female. In the symbol itself, we see that yin and yang are not only complementary to one another but there is a portion of the other actually within each.
It does not mean good versus evil, or that light is positive and dark is negative. It merely represents that there is no day without night, or up without down.
One interpretation of this is that in every challenge there is a blessing, and within every blessing there is a challenge. This can help us to learn to live with the ebb and flow of life. It is not helpful to think that by exercising “power” over others that we will have everything go our way. Unity teaches that it is through the use of compassion, understanding, kindness, and humility that our true power lies. This power is the power that we use to take control of our own thoughts, words and actions.
Joanne tells us about Father Gregory Boyle. Father Greg is a Roman Catholic priest and founder of Homeboy Industries. Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community.
Father Greg makes it clear that Homeboy Industries is not about “saving” anyone, but rather to offer a way to heal their lives through genuine compassion, kindness and personal attention. This approach does not always work when people first encounter Homeboy Industries. Often it means individuals coming back more than once, but Father Greg understands this and knows that all goodwill come to each in their time.
His message that everyone is created exactly as God intended them to be does not mean that whatever unpleasant things we may be experiencing are placed upon us by God, but rather that underneath the circumstances of our lives, however difficult and challenging they may be, is the person that is made in God’s image and that once that recognition is made, behaviors, attitudes and actions will align in the outer world and true transformation occurs.
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. Tao Te Ching (Taoism)
Many spiritual traditions share the same wisdom. Although a Roman Catholic and not a Taoist, Father Greg knows the truth of the above aphorism from the Tao Te Ching. He teaches his students to seek wisdom and true power over mere intelligence and strength.
In moments of upset, discord, or challenge this week, consider how you are showing up. Pause, breathe and remember to center in the Divine Spirit within before speaking or taking action. Know it is in being centered that you are strong and powerful.
If you are fortunate enough not to have any moments of upset, discord or challenge this week, you can still pause and breathe at any time to center yourself with Divine Spirit from a place of joy and gratitude. Doing so reinforces the practice of going within for guidance so that when you do meet with life’s challenges you have developed the ability to tap your innate ability to become centered and then act from a place of wisdom and true power.
I have a small office desk call bell of the type often seen at the check-in desk in hotels. This week, whenever I have a moment when I feel as though I need to pause and breathe, I will ring that bell as a reminder to take the time I need to become centered and act from a place of peace. There are any number of ways to remind ourselves to do this. How will you remind yourself?