I remember reading Carlos Castaneda's "Don Juan" books back in High School and being fascinated by the idea of a Man of Power. As I recall it now, this was a man who was constantly going beyond his limitations, feared by his enemies, with Death walking beside him. At the time, for a wounded teenager who had no idea where he belonged, this seemed like a good way to be. I wouldn't need anyone. I would be completely self-sufficient. I would be afraid of nothing and others would fear me.
It wasn't until many years later, when I was studying more authentic versions of native Medicine ways that I discovered that the traditional view of the Man of Power is really quite different. To traditional native people, a Man of Power is someone who is living a good life, in balance with spirit, honoring his ancestors, caring for his descendants. Someone who others look to for advice or help when needed; trusted by his friends and family. A man of integrity, with a good home, a loving wife and healthy children. This is one who is blessed by the spirits, and that is a Man of Power.
This is a very different vision than what I had read about back in High School, and it led me to consider some of the clear differences in our modern culture - relative to tradition ones - that lead us to believe that power is always something to use against others.
It seems to me that our modern Western culture, especially here in the US, is more than a little bit like that wounded teenager I used to be. It seeks to overcompensate for its feelings of vulnerability by being so big and scary that no one will come near. It doesn't trust the good will of others, and is more motivated by its fear than by its real strength. Unfortunately, too many of us living here have become reflections of this cultural model. I know that I myself and still healing the wounds of that teenager, slowly realizing that I do belong after all and that there is room for me to explore the gifts that my ancestors granted me.
This is a message that is slow to come to people living here in this beautiful land. This is a place where money and possessions have been given great value, so that those without these things are considered powerless, helpless and pathetic. People here have forgotten that money is nothing more than a means of storing and directing energy. Perhaps it is because they have forgotten their connections to earth, ancestors and spirit that they have put so much onto money. But I can see what an empty goal it is, when that becomes an end in and of itself.
The only true power, in the traditional sense, comes from living a life in balance; honoring your ancestors; caring for those who you love; treating others as you would have them treat you. I have been walking this path for awhile now, setting aside the old wounds and taking up joy. In doing so, my life has changed completely. It has not been easy. The old wounds are hard to let go of. But the result is that I live a fulfilling life. I love my wife and look forward to having a family with her. My work is easy and rewarding, because it flows from within me. I am loved, respected and appreciated by those who are important to me. This is heaven. This is becoming a Man of Power.