Learning From The Unity In The Three Faces Of Power (Part 3)

Posted By William E Smith On Nov 9, 2015

Learning From The Unity In The  Three Faces Of Power (Part 3)

Sometimes we face differences that seem insurmountable. Religious differences are some of the most intractable. We don’t have to look further than the Gordian knot of relations between religions in the Middle East. (For the sake of disclosure, I do not belong to a particular religion but understand that all make valuable contributions to our spiritual development).

In the last blog we saw how one way to deal with such major issues is to understand and build on the positive forces in evolution. We also learned that to be effective in that process we have to embody the changes we seek.

This blog shows another path: to take the sources of our difference and see the greater whole to which they belong. If we can do this for major religious differences, solving the problems between production, sales and finance in our corporations should be a piece of cake. Our problems of social injustice, political gridlock and economic inequities should take just a little longer.

For religion, if we look back with a broad enough perspective to the Axial Age, we can see that all three major religious groupings—Judeo-Christianity, Islam and Buddhism/Hindu—are really part of the same evolution of humanity’s spiritual development. They were all developed in that age and each provides an essential contribution (Face of Power) to the whole.

The Eastern religions emphasize the appreciative Face of Power. They are relatively more open and free from dogma. From the beginning they did not deny other gods and in some cases included their worship. The Hindu/Buddhist tradition avoided personalizing God. It was not interested in explaining their religion as much as using it to live a good life. Religion was to be experienced not explained.

Islam emphasized the influence Face of Power. Muhammad was both a prophet and a very successful politician. The moral imperative to build a just and equitable society remains an integral part of the Koran. The Muslims voraciously opposed the worship of multiple gods but, in the beginning, were open to other religions, believing that—particularly the Jews, Christians and Muslims—served the same one God.

The Jewish and Christian religions were closer to the control Face of Power. Theirs was the God on the throne, the God of command who must be obeyed. They too were very adamant about not worshipping other gods.

So in taking that broader perspective to understand and attempt to resolve religious differences, we can see many more sources of agreement than we might otherwise. At the highest, more appreciative level, all agree that God is all knowing, all powerful and beyond the capacity of human description.

At the control level it is easy to understand that all feel God in the resonance of natural forces within each of us. We can feel this; we can know it with our senses as we complete our religious rituals, prayers, meditations, good works, and duties.

The problem remains the middle level. How does God’s power relate to us and the God in each of us? In God’s light, how should we relate to each other and the world around us? There is violent disagreement at this level that contributes to the religious wars and unresolved ethnic conflicts that have existed for hundreds and even thousands of years.

The resolution of these difficulties of the influence level was illustrated by the Pope and described in the last blog. Through the appreciative means of being open to all and embodying that belief in action, he struck that chord. He showed us a way.

The question is will we see the relevance and will we be encouraged to apply what we learn to our other great challenges?

Congress:From Spiritual To Political: Will It Hold?

Posted By William E Smith On Nov 9, 2015

Congress:From Spiritual To Political: Will It Hold?


On the same spot where the Pope delivered his seminal message to Congressandwithin days of the Pope’s departure, Nancy Pelosi applied his message to political leadership:

Political leadership(the face of influence)is for the good of all.It must seize the moment withopenness(the appreciative face)and pragmatism(the control face).

Paul Ryan, accepting the gavel as the new Speaker of the House, applied the same message:the equal presentation of the appreciative, influence and control faces of power: to his leadership of the Congress.

1. AppreciativeFace:At bottom we vindicate a way of life, that free people can govern themselves.
Open up the process let people participate.
A respected minority will work in good faith.

2. The Influence Face:Committees retake the lead in drafting all legislation.
We should not hide our disagreements; we should embrace them. We have nothing to fear from honest differences honestly stated.
Clarity between us can lead to greater charity between us.

3.The Control Face:The House is broken.
When taking the gavel Ryansaid, "Ifeel the weight of responsibility, the gravity of the moment.
Self-government is not only more efficient and effective, it is more fulfilling."

The Speaker's words invoke the three faces of power that areequallynecessary to spiritual development, political development and leadership development. With his in-office bedroom and his insistence on a family life he shows some of the same humility as the Pope, embodying his principles in personal practice.

Will the shift in attitude begun by the Pope and the ideals of Paul Ryan withstand the slings and arrows of our outrageous Congress?

It will.The time is right, but only if we--no matter our faith, no matter our political persuasion--do our part. The Congress is ours and it is there to do our will.
It is up to each of us!