Personal Power Training

Personal Power Training

Dennis Bradford

389 Posts



Personal power training is probably not what you think it is. Let’s look at the two ways to increase your control over your life situation.

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on “Power,” becoming more effective starts with the right attitude. It is critical to believe that events occur lawfully rather than haphazardly.

If you believe in luck, you may believe that you can get something for nothing. That never happens. As Emerson notes, “nothing is got for nothing.” If you want to become wise, you must pay the price. That’s fair, isn’t it?

Your personal power training will be effective only insofar as it is grounded in lawful reality.

The healthier you are, the more likely it is to be effective. “The first wealth is health,” writes Emerson who here echoes Descartes. To maximize your odds of good health, adopt good habits of eating, drinking, exercising, and sleeping [see].

Personal power training consists of those habits you develop for yourself that are designed to increase your power. What, though, is power?

Emerson argues that power is “a sharing of the nature of the world.” This is why “Life is a search after power. . . “

If so, the purpose of life is to align with reality. The more successfully you align your life with reality, the more successful you will be; the less successfully you do that, the less successful you will be.

It’s not merely understanding personal power training that matters, it’s critically a matter of doing it. Sadly, “the step from knowing to doing is rarely taken.”

There are two steps to be understood and taken that are the essence of personal power training. They are the best we can do.

“The first is, the stopping off decisively our miscellaneous activity, and concentrating our force on one or a few points; as the gardener, by severe pruning, forces the sap of the tree into one or two vigorous limbs, instead of suffering it to spindle into a sheaf of twigs.”

Notice the connection between your level of concentration and your level of happiness. The more you are able to concentrate on one task at a time, the happier you are; the less you are able to concentrate on one task at a time, the unhappier you are.

Will increased concentration happen by luck or accident? Of course not. So Emerson’s second point about personal power training follows from his first:

“The second . . . is drill, the power and use of routine. . . So, in human action, against the spasm of energy, we offset the continuity of drill.”

Effective personal power training requires regular practice. It requires daily training of your ability to concentrate.

I think the most effective way to practice is some traditional way such as zazen or aliveness awareness or yoga. These are the time-tested ways that sages assure us work.

Spending at least an hour or two daily in some such practice will enable you to let go of secondary, less important, or miscellaneous concerns. The only primary concern, again, is to align your life with reality. Nothing else is of ultimate importance.

If you resist reality, you lose; if you accept reality, you win.

(Is accepting really a doing at all?  Accepting is a letting go of all resistance.  I think of letting go as an uncovering, as a way of being.)

The only time for resistance or acceptance is the present moment. You cannot now resist or accept yesterday’s reality or tomorrow’s reality.

Therefore, to enjoy effective personal power training, incessantly be asking yourself the following question:

Am I resisting or accepting the reality of the present moment?

It makes no difference what that reality is. It makes no difference whether or not you happen to like that reality.

The only factor that makes a difference is whether or not you are allowing the present moment to be as it is.

If you allow the present moment to be exactly as it is, your life will flow on. If you in any way resist its being as it is, your life will stay stuck.

The task is to drop all your beliefs and expectations and simply allow the present moment to be as it is.

Instead of expecting everything, Emerson writes, “I begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing, and am always full of thanks for moderate goods.”

Wouldn’t we be wise to emulate sages like Emerson?

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