Guidance from the I Ching: 34 - Great Power

With great power comes great responsability

July 27, 2020

“Great Power. There is an advantage in correct persistence. An enlightened person, therefore, does nothing that is outside of established conventions.”

I consult the I Ching (Book Of Changes) for inspiration at the start of every week. This week’s message is all about using power responsibly.

According to the I Ching, times of Great Power provides a test of our character. In times of Great Power, our ability to influence others is at its peak. Others are noticing you, and your words and actions create change.
But what kind of change are you creating? How are you using your Great Power? Are you choosing to be a force of good or evil?

Having the Great Power to shape the course of events can be a beautiful thing, or it can be a recipe for disaster. It all comes down to how we choose to exercise it. As Uncle Ben told Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Having the power to influence others should always be used judiciously. The I Ching clearly states that Great Power should “always be subordinated to the idea of right, and exerted only in harmony with it.” For Great Power to be genuinely beneficial, it must be used wisely and justly.

“True power comes from our ability to suppress our emotions and desires. If you want to use your Great Power successfully, your ego needs to be put in check.”

Jose Johnson

Maintaining humility in times of Great Power is vital. The I Ching says, “a little person deploys strength indiscreetly; an enlightened person does not do so…only inferior people boast of their power or make a show of it.” True power comes from our ability to suppress our emotions and desires. If you want to use your Great Power successfully, your ego needs to be put in check. 

The time of Great Power does not mean that you should go all-out in your endeavors. On the contrary. The I Ching suggests that this is the time to be composed and show control. Now is not the time to flex; this is the time to work with restraint if you wish to achieve your goals. While you may have Great Power now, it is not an unlimited resource. The wise fighter conserves their energy for when it is needed most. When dealing with a difficult situation, rely on the Great Power of patience. When we force an issue that is not ready to be resolved, we get push back, either from individuals or the universe itself. Learn to understand when to lean into resistance and when to allow things to follow their natural course.

 The I Ching warns us that just because you have Great Power does not mean that all of your attitudes and opinions are justified. Just because you can sway people towards your point of view doesn’t mean that you should. When leaders use their position to further personal agendas without regard for the greater good, this leads to the dark side of Great Power. It is important to remember that incorrect actions will eventually pull you and others into chaos. To avoid a catastrophe, learn from the past and avoid doing anything that is not honorable.

As the old saying goes, power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. So in times of Great Power, be cautious of the siren call of ego and pride. When you look at our current leaders and influencers in society, ask yourself if their expression of Great Power comes from a place of humility and truth or self-aggrandizement and deceit. And then look in the mirror and ask yourself the same question. 

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