Written by Shai Tubali
For many years I have been driven by the wish to tap into the most essential key to psychic health and transformation.
This wish has surely been fueled by the many people I have met within the framework of my work as a teacher of inner transformation. No doubt, people have never failed to surprise me with the great entanglements and profound intricacies of their mind and heart. Therefore, I have had to look seriously into my own psyche and theirs in order to better fathom the human search as well as the source of human suffering.
Nietzsche and the will to power
At a certain point I had come across the writings of the terribly misunderstood philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. His assertion, that the fundamental search of the human being and the cornerstone of the psyche were man’s will to power, was met by me at first with utmost reluctance and suspicion. After all, I had been an initiate of a Yogic tradition which seemed far more optimistic about human potential drives. In fact, I had resisted this idea so much that I even dedicated a long chapter in my own treatise on Nietzsche that proved just how flawed this idea had been.
Nevertheless, my own direct work in psycho-transformative processes with many people proved me otherwise. The more I aspired to get to know the innermost of the human psyche, the more I was compelled to admit that the will to power was not only the key to the understanding of the psyche and its unconscious drives, but also the most potent key to mental health and transformation.
Put simply, the will to power asserts that it is not the survival instinct that drives people, but rather a constant desire for self-expansion and self-empowerment. Our very birth, our coming into this world, was driven by the desire to become more and more: to gain more control, more understanding, more experience, more life. In fact, life itself is made of this ambition of increase and expansion, or, as Nietzsche put it, “I am that which must always overcome itself”. This tremendous urge, biological and even physical in essence, also forms the human psyche and the personality, out of the power-weakness relationship between the self and the world. The gradual outcome is the system of the personality that is made of repressed wills and frustrations, conscious and unconscious wishes for power experiences, chain-reactions to weakenings and also compromises with the greater forces of the world.
True inner power as a key to overcome tensions and anxieties
As I mentioned earlier, it was my own direct work that forced me to admit the reality of the will to power; that it alone lay at the core of people’s yearnings and efforts. More than that, I began to notice that the regaining of the sense of power was the one element that made people heal and overcome their greatest sorrows. Prior to this realization, I had been pretty convinced that what could help a person to overcome his condition had been the broader spiritual states of consciousness; they had definitely seemed to hold the capacity to powerfully liberate a man from his worries and fears, his existential tension and fundamental anxiety.
However, at one point I could clearly see: the reason these spiritual states could liberate in the first place was their ability to endow the person with the sufficient power to overcome his psychological memories and survival instincts. What expanded states of consciousness could enable was a dramatic shift from ‘false external power’ to ‘true inner power’ – a state of complete satisfaction, since it satiates, even momentarily, the psyche’s basic hunger for a feeling of power. In this sense, the reason spiritual enlightenment is psychologically satisfactory is that it is followed by ‘bliss’ which is simply the by-product of a state of ultimate power, or ultimate self-expansion.
The three different states of power
It is important here to distinguish three different states. The first is ‘false external power’. This is the state in which we expect the world to satisfy our urges of empowerment and self-expansion, an expectation that leads us to inevitable aggression. False external power is the will to achieve power at the expense of others, and since the hope for power is directed outwards, it is never truly fulfilling since there’s always more to achieve and overcome, hence the resulting condition of ‘neurotic discontent’. The second state is ‘false inner power’, which is the psyche’s attempts to compensate for the experiences of weakening in the external world by means of mental, emotional and sensual enhancements; in other words, by using the power of imagination. We produce the false inner power through self-aggrandizement, secret victories over our external enemies, spiritual and religious concepts, finding solace in alternative worlds and so forth. This is what Nietzsche termed as ‘slave morality’, the underhanded way in which the weak invent alternative sources of power.
The state of true inner power
True inner power is a totally different state. It is the quality of the mind that is achieved when we turn this very urge, the will to power, inwards. Now, instead of wishing to overcome in the external world, it transforms into the ambition of the psyche to overcome its present level. This is what Nietzsche had envisioned as the ‘super-man’, an idea that was horribly exploited by those who sought only false external power, the Nazis. Nietzsche’s solution to the problem of the will to power was internal: the psyche overcomes its own limitations, first and foremost its reliance on false external powers. The result of this process is an inner expansion instead of the external one, which always involves struggle and conflict.