Dialogue, negotiation, both sound reasonable enough! We can glaze over any differences and use them as synonyms, right?
That’s how power insinuates its way into every relationship. In the wink and nod, in a silent conspiracy to agree not to say what we mean, to hide away our agendas and bask in the glow of pseudo; we gloss over an inconvenience. We hide our capacity for cleverness as a clever strategy to maximize our chances of winning.
This describes negotiation. The pillar of death-bed capitalist dogma that insists all can be fit into a power equation and that negotiation is our natural stance as we join in noble battle – its economic equivalent, “Hey! In these kinds of wars, no one gets hurt, right?”
“Compassion. Of course! There’s room for compassion! Towards our chattel. How else can we be good stewards? It only makes sense, in a negotiated analysis of the situation, after all! If we can gain a surplus first, then we can afford to do ‘Good Works’ Hell! That’s good for business too!”
Bohm and Krishnamurti point out that we can can step out of the limitations of our present conditioning and connect with Mind, that Mind is compassion, a force binding the universe together, and that we can further this process via an engagement with Creativity and Dialogue.
Try as we might – as we so desperately will it to be! – this cannot be reduced to a negotiation within a struggle for power.
Strength versus power.
Every tyrant feels weak and without sufficient power to avoid what they see as their inevitable victimization. That’s not how we see tyrants from the outside, it’s how they see themselves. Within that delusion strength, the possibility of gaining or maintaining true strength, is traded away in the expectation that the bargain is worth making. The more power they get the weaker they feel, the more power they crave. There is never enough power.
Culture based on power seeking is fated to endless striving, endless binges, the impossibility of finding satiety. There is never enough, of anything.
The debilitating effects of eroding strength blinds the tyrant to the futility of this position. Fractured attention always finds some partial “evidence” that ultimate Victory is right around the corner! The distinction between strength and power is lost. What is that distinction?
Strength is an attribute not a possession. It is developed within an acceptance of our innate vulnerability. It brings with it courage and it feeds off compassion and returns the gift within reciprocity. The pursuit of power negates all possibility of strength because it refuses to accept our vulnerability and insists on the fiction that we can control ourselves or our surroundings through an act of will. Strength builds in a relationship with truth, while the pursuit of power entangles us in a framework of deceit and generates conditions that distance us from any possibility of recognizing truth. Strength is a function of Mastery while power is never more than an illusory acquisition.
The kicker is, we all have the potential to see ourselves as a tyrant sees themselves. In this there is an endless possibility of self-justification to maintain a stance of negotiation – Hell look at Pascal! – to avoid facing the Ego’s fears that without its projections we have no existence!
None of this removes our responsibility. There is no solace in being a tyrant on a small scale. In any case where we insist that we are here only to negotiate, we are using others and closing off any possibility of compassion entering our lives.
There is everything at stake in this distance between Dialogue and Negotiation.