Traditional Japanese Martial Arts for Adults
Many people say they want power, though many may not know exactly what power is. Some may think power is having control over other people. Others may think power means the capacity to do what you want when you want. Perhaps to some power means financial independence or the capacity to purchase whatever you want, whenever you want it.
While certainly not comprehensive, I believe I can most concisely describe power as possessing a willingness to lose, suffer, or sacrifice. Perhaps this definition requires some elaboration. This does not mean that you actually lose, suffer, or sacrifice, but it is merely the willingness to endure the consequences of your choices, if necessary. This, somewhat ironically, produces power. It has become my experience that the willingness to lose often contributes to my winning; the willingness to suffer often contributes to my having a pleasurable experience; and the willingness to sacrifice often contributes to my not having to sacrifice. Most people are not willing to lose, to suffer, or to fail and I’m starting to think that is why they don’t succeed. They fear losing so much that they make it very difficult for themselves to win. In my opinion, people who are not willing to lose, hesitate. Their hesitation, their doubt, poisons their actions, and actually creates the loss they fear.
“So you just walked out?” I said.
“Yep. You’ve got to be willing to walk. Otherwise, they’re the ones in charge.”
Matt is right. You’ve got to be willing to walk. You’ve got to be willing to not care. The important thing to recognize here is that Matt wasn’t bluffing. Bluffing would mean that he really wants the car and was just hoping they would come down to his price, but would begrudgingly agree to a higher price if necessary. Matt’s attitude was different and it gave him significant power and control. He was completely content to not purchase the car. He had nothing to lose because he didn’t care one way or the other. Because Matt wasn’t emotionally attached to the vehicle, the car dealer had no power over him. Matt’s non-attachment produced his power. That’s the irony – the paradox. His power was a product of his willingness to let the vehicle go. The next day, the same salesman called my brother back and agreed to sell him the car at Matt’s price. See? That’s power.
A willingness to lose, suffer, and sacrifice is a source of power. And, I would hazard a guess that when we exhibit this willingness, we, more often than not, do not lose, suffer, or sacrifice. When you don’t covet the things that other people have or fear the consequences of what someone might threaten you with, you gain tremendous power in your life.
Upon realizing this, I began to remember other times and experiences in my life when I exhibited power by a similar mechanism. Years ago, I learned of this non-attachment principle when a relationship of mine ended. At first I was upset. My pain came from her no longer wanting to be with me. That pain vanished once I recognized how silly it was for me to desire to be with some one who doesn’t want to be with me. Think about that. Why would you ever want to be with some one who doesn’t want to be with you? It was that simple. I quickly found myself in a place of power, once again. By the way, this is not always an easy thing to do. Like Aikido, it requires courage, trust, patience, and practice.
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Non-attachment is a fundamental concept of many different philosophies and belief systems such as Zen Buddhism and Taoism. The word for the liberation from attachment in Japanese is 'SATORI'. Over the years I have observed that many people find this particular tenet to be one of the most difficult to accept. Historically, I have been one of these people who greatly resisted the notion of non-attachment. However, I have recently had some interesting experiences that have led me to discover a new dimension to the concept of power and its relationship to non-attachment, which, in my opinion, have expanded my power, not over others, but as a human being.
'SATORI': Non-Attachment, A Tremendous Source of Power
by Sean Hannon
In Aikido, the willingness to engage, to enter the physical space of your partner/opponent is a fundamental component of each technique’s execution and power. Within that engagement is the potential to fail – to lose – but it is also the potential to prevail! When you enter into an Aikido technique, you most indeed become vulnerable, but that is where you best stand to succeed.
There are volumes written about this concept, but in essence, non-attachment is just a fancy way of saying “not caring.” In the classic novel, The Fountainhead, architect Howard Roark refuses to work under any conditions other than his own. He is willing to postpone his career as an architect, if necessary, in order to work under his terms and his terms only. He is called an unreasonable extremist, yet this is the very source of his power, which ultimately leads to his victory over society. When a man committed to destroying Roark’s career confronts Roark and asks Roark to tell him what he really thinks of him, Roark simply answers, “But I don’t think of you.” Roark is a truly powerful man because of his innate and almost unconscious sense of non-attachment and indifference of others.
Non-attachment is often a difficult concept for people to grasp and/or embrace. I, personally, struggled with this concept of non-attachment for many years because there are many, expensive material things that I either possess or I want to possess. I want a big screen television, for example. I also enjoy taking vacations and wearing nice clothes. Does this mean that I can’t practice non-attachment? I don’t think so.
I have come to believe that practicing non-attachment does not mean packing up all of your belongings and donating them to charity. It doesn’t mean being addicted to poverty or living like a hermit. To me, practicing non-attachment means not allowing someone else to hold things for ransom over me. I have created a mechanism to exercise this. This mechanism allows me to maintain my power in many situations. If someone tries to coerce me into doing something by threatening me or withholding something from me, I immediately devalue in my mind the threat or item being held ransom by choosing not to care about it and simply moving on. Simply not caring is a tremendous source of power. Try practicing this in your daily life and just watch what happens! It can be hard to do sometimes, but just watch at how it instantly and completely disarms others!
Having said all this, it would be very easy to misconstrue this concept and think that not caring means going so far as no caring for others. This concept doesn’t mean you don’t or shouldn’t love or care for others. It simply means that you aren’t attached to them in an unhealthy way.
The art of Aikido is a great way to learn and experience the power of non-attachment in a very tangible, physical way. Come experience a power you never knew you had. Experience Aikido!
Forging within ourselves the ability to dis-allow someone from withholding something of value from you is what I call power. My brother, Matt, for example, helped me internalize me this concept. Matt once told me about an experience he had trying to purchase a car. He went to a dealership with a fixed, maximum price in mind of what he was willing to pay. That is, he was willing to pay only so much for the vehicle. If he had to pay more, then he didn’t want it. Therefore, he arrived at the dealership with a tremendous amount of power because he had already firmly decided what he was willing to pay and that he would stick to it. An hour and a half later, he was sitting across a desk from the car salesman who was hemming and hawing at the price Matt was willing to pay. Unable to meet my brother’s price, Matt got up to leave saying, “This is what I’m willing to pay. If you want to make the sale, call me. Here’s my card.”