This episode shows how love and power are mutually exclusive, and how addiction to power is the ultimate self defeating paradox.
Read transcript below
Today’s is a simple piece. It’s entitled Love, Power, and Addiction. All of it may be well known to you.
I make a few observations. One is that where love exists, no one can possibly be all powerful. The thing about love is that it reduces power by nature. The reason is that by loving someone, you enter into a circumstance of care, of concern that leaves you attached to the object of your love in ways that make you powerless by nature. Love requires freedom and the thing you want most for a person you genuinely love is the growth and expansion of their freedom.
No one ever seeks to exert power over someone they love. In fact, we do the exact opposite. What we seek to do for those we love is to increase the extent to which they move freely, and are unencumbered by the imposition of power from anyone, especially myself. So the pursuit of power has no place in the realm of love. It’s not even possible in the realm of love. Because the circumstances, the conditions, the reality of the life with the person I love binds me, due to their quality as free. It puts me into a state of powerlessness.
If someone I love became sick, I’m powerless to help. Well not exactly powerless, but it consumes me. And it’s their circumstance, I do all I can to serve that person and to try to lift them up out of that affliction. Any parent surely knows the utter degree of powerlessness you feel if your child gets sick. If it’s a little child, one feels almost helpless in the face of that and is doing everything one can to serve and to try to alleviate the difficulties of your young child. If you have teenage children, and they begin their era and period of experimentation, they often put themselves in serious danger, either immediate danger, or danger of developing habits or styles of life that will be extremely harmful for them. In the long run. There is very little one can do under such circumstances. It’s a certain form of powerlessness. It’s compensated by the riches and the the fulfilling experiences, of being in love with someone being in love with your spouse, your husband and wife, being in love with your children, being in love with your parents, your aunt’s your uncle’s being in love with the person who’s most helpful on my blog. All of this binds me in ways in which power is never considered. In fact, the exact opposite of power is the quality of those relationships.
So why is it that power constitutes so much of the human experience. The problem is quite simply the lack of love, and the deception or the illusion that the rich joys of love, can be attained by having the illusory power to cause people to do what you want, the ability to cause outcomes in other people’s lives. That’s the exertion of power. But the thing about that reality is that love never arises from any relationship in which we exert power over others. In fact, all powerful people want is to be liked. That’s why people seek fame, fortune, and power. They want people to be attracted to them, they want people to be drawn to them. They want people to be dependent on them. They want people to be bound to them. But of course, the paradox is, the more power you exert over people, the more you become hated by those people. And so there is a weird kind of twist, an ugly twist, in which the more people are repelled by me, the more I seek to exert power over them, to keep them bound to me. And it’s an infinitely expanding cycle. It’s a deepening cycle.
This is why so much of the world is so deeply painful, flawed, and characterized by oppression. It is because the exercise of power, or the flagrant spending of wealth does nothing to provide the individual with the rich feeling of people being genuinely drawn to you, as a result of your care, your concern, you’re serving your long nights laying awake out of concern for the people you love. That’s the true draw. And that’s ironically or paradoxically, the position of greatest powerlessness. And so the exercise of power over people, and the presence of being loved and loving. They’re mutually exclusive. They’re the exact opposite to impulses. And yet, so many people are drawn to fame, fortune in power, to try to fill that emptiness, and to try to keep people attracted to them drawn to them, to try to have people want to be around them. And the very opposite becomes the case. People feel bought, they feel raped, they feel prostituted, or they feel merely oppressed.
That is what happens with power, money and fame. The second thing that happens with it is that it provides the capacity to momentarily or temporarily addict oneself. So with power, and with wealth, you can do things that temporarily distract me from the reality that no one wants to be around me, no one likes me. No one genuinely appreciates who and what I am. Because I’m not surrendered to anyone, I’m not caring for anyone, I’m not serving anyone, I’m just seeking to bind them to me by means other than genuine love. So if I’m rich enough, if I’m powerful enough, I can take 1 minute 30 second ride up to the lower edges of “space.” That’s pretty thrilling. During those 1 minute and 30 seconds of getting to the lower edges of space, I’m not really thinking about who doesn’t love me, how empty my life is and what’s the problem with my personality, I’m just excited. Also I don’t even have to be rich enough to take a 1 minute and 30 second ride into space to distract myself. I can be rich enough to go to a club all night and distract myself. I can be rich enough to go to some obscenely expensive restaurant somewhere in New York City and distract myself with some ridiculous little one ounce thing that costs $87. There are plenty of distractions that can come with wealth and power. During those momentary pursuits that have some sort of pleasurability, my loneliness and the fact that I’m not receiving what I want most, namely, people liking me, or attracted to me or appreciating me; the fact that that’s not there at all, doesn’t really obtain when I’m doing poppers in a rave or something like that. I forget about that.
All addictions are basically distractions. The addiction to power is nothing other than a distraction. The problem with addictions is that my relationship with them is seeking to temporarily destroy my awareness, temporarily destroy my consciousness, to distract myself. Most true addictions basically, move toward the annihilation of myself, drugs, alcohol, even sexual addictions, eventually, they move towards self annihilation. But the problem with addictions is that they are always coterminous with the presence of life in myself, and life desires survival. This means an addicted person is a perfectly self contradictory person, the life within them always seeks a survival, the addiction, whatever it might be, always seeks self destruction. Life becomes a wreck, an ash heap. We live years and decades in an ash heap based on various addictions.
Power though is a curious form of addiction because it is not just merely seeking a blackout, like drinking too much, smoking this crazy strength we’d have today etc. With power, the addiction is directly related to what I’m trying most to blackout, namely that no one likes me. This is because power is, as I said at the outset, a direct contradiction to the nature of love, which is the most powerless of all conditions to be in. Love is the most powerless of all conditions to be in.
To close, I just want to point out that the historical obsession with God, and God’s power is what has kept human beings distant from God. We don’t like being under the power of someone. We like the kindness, care, gentleness, concern and forgiveness that come from people. We’re drawn to that. So one thing I would like us to consider as I close here is that the historical obsession of the power of God actually is a detour, a misdirect. God is the exact opposite of powerful if in fact, God loves us, as many of us have experienced and know.
We already know that love, when desiring to keep people free and expand their freedom, is the most powerless of all experiences. So God’s condition in which he seeks our genuine love toward him, can never be imposed by the imposition of power despite whatever extent of the fullness of God’s power. It is actually the powerlessness of God that is the most interesting dimension, or should be the most interesting dimension of religious and spiritual life.
All right, those are my thoughts for today. I hope some of them are interesting. Thank you for listening, and we’ll speak again together soon.