Power is the active force in life. It is the force of life that makes awareness. Power is seen in the wind, in fire, in movement—physical movement, emotional movement, mental movement. Power is awareness. Power in Buddhism is defined very precisely in many different ways. There is no singular word that can encompass all the different aspects of power.


The general term for power, spiritual power, the power of awareness, is kundalini. Kundalini is the energy of life that creates life. Life is awareness. It is movement. It is sentient.

Life is the power to perceive. Without perception, there is no life. Types of perception certainly vary. Plants have one kind of perception, amoebas another, birds another, human beings another, astral beings another. The universe itself is a giant perceptual matrix. It perceives itself in essence and through its substance. Buddhism, yoga, is the study of perception, and what is most endemic to perception is power—the power to exist, to perceive, and the power to change perception.

Perception defines everything. I may be sitting in a room and looking around, and I’ll perceive the room in one way. Another person may be sitting in the same room and they will perceive the room in an entirely different way. They may have had a bad day—they’re depressed, anxious, restless, and they don’t enjoy being in the room at all. I may be sitting in a room very happy, maybe something great just happened, or maybe I’m just feeling good and the room is gorgeous. Its colors seem bright; the texture of the rug is vivid. The other person may not even notice these things. Their perception may be memory. Perhaps they’re living right now in something that occurred earlier in the day that was unpleasant—maybe a confrontation with someone they knew well that was unpleasant.

Perception really varies. In other words, it’s internal. Perception is emotive; it is mental; it has to do with thoughts. But it is, in its essence, what we are. That is to say, in a certain way we are what we perceive. Or you might say, what we perceive certainly defines what we are. Now, we have to think of life in reverse. If we are perceiving other than what we are, if perception is the awareness of other, certainly, perhaps in a sense, perception can be the awareness of oneself. But if, primarily, the way we view the universe is the universe as other than what we are, perception is a mirror. In other words, we are everything that we don’t perceive.

All perception is a background. It’s a screen through which we can see ourselves. Perception is the ability to become conscious of self and that which is other than self, and other than self is normally what we perceive—what you call the external universe. And who are we? Well, we are the being that perceives. And certainly without thinking about it, a distinction is made between who we are and what we perceive. We perceive that which is other and that which is self.

Power is the band that we perceive things on. In radio we have AM stations, FM stations, short wave stations and others. They’re frequencies; they’re megahertz, kilohertz—they vibrate. Frequencies vibrate at specific rates, and within those frequencies we transmit information and receive information. Perception is made up of bands. It’s a way of talking about it. And the bands of perception vary greatly. There’s the human band of perception, the mammalian band of perception that would include all mammals. There is the plant, invertebrate, and so on. There’s lots of different bands of perception, and simply because we are in one band of perception and aware of it doesn’t mean others are not there.

We may be listening to FM stations. That may be all we listen to. But thousands of AM stations are on a dial just a few vibrations away. Experiences are being had, people are transmitting information, listening to music, gathering information. It’s just good to remember that the human field of perception is not in any way the only field of perception, the only band of perception. Nor is it necessarily the best. There is no such thing in infinity. Everything is the best, I suppose you might say. Infinity doesn’t label—its creations are not labeled, they just are. Human beings like to label things and we like to say, “This is better than that; this is more pleasing; this is less pleasing”—according to our sensorial system or our mental or emotional system or philosophical, sociological or political systems or religious systems.

Power, to begin with, is the thing that holds a band of perception together, and a band of perception is life for those who perceive in that band. If that band of perception were to go away, they would not exist. And there are many great bands of perception in the universe. There are both organic and inorganic bands of perception. And today we’re confining ourselves to the organic band of perception, specifically to the human band of perception. But I just want you to know that it is possible to modify your awareness field so you can perceive what plants perceive, what birds perceive, what beings in the astral perceive, what beings in the causal perceive.

There are many universes, many dimensions. They are endless. And it is possible to gain entry to those perceptual fields. Most of them are not particularly relevant for us. They won’t help us. They won’t make us happier. We won’t gain knowledge or information or power that we can use to improve the quality of our lives. They simply don’t reference it. There have been people who have classified and categorized these bands in different yogic systems. They enjoy—just as a botanist might enjoy classifying plants. It gives them some pleasure to create names and orders and to make catalogs. Human beings like that.

That’s one function of intellect, is to catalog. But cataloging doesn’t change anything. If we call it a rose, or by any other name, it smells as sweet. The name doesn’t really matter. It’s something that’s convenient for us—to communicate with each other verbally or in written form what something is, or in pictorial representation, or in sound. But it really doesn’t matter. In other words, if human beings didn’t exist without all their categories and classifications, life goes right along down the street. Life is not dependent upon our classifications and our categories, our science. But we are. We find it interesting and helpful.

Power is the bands of perception themselves. Power is what holds the bands of perception in place. The ability to perceive what we call life, the ability to live, is one aspect of power. Without the power to exist, to perceive, there is no life as we know life to be. Then, more specifically, within the human banding of attention, let’s say on the FM frequencies, there’s lots of variation. We can go from the bottom of the dial to the top of the dial. Or we can change bands completely and go to AM or short wave or an even longer wave.

Within the human frequency, well, what you see is what you get. There are the different conditions, mental conditions, awareness conditions, that you see people on earth existing in. They’re relatively representative. I would classify the bottom of the band as severe unhappiness, depression, alienation—things that we would consider very unpleasant. The top of the band, which would vibrate a little faster, would be happiness, contentment, peace of mind, a feeling of balance and overall wealth of spirit and ecstasy.

Buddhism, yoga, is concerned primarily with moving our awareness field from the beginning of the band of perception, the human band, up to the top, and eventually, of course, going from the human band to an enlightened band, or bands, of perception—just leaving this band of perception completely. But before you do that, you have to move through the human band from wherever you happen to be to the top. You can’t go beyond until you get to the top.

You were born with a specific awareness field. And that’s your karma. Karma means who you are, that is to say, where your awareness field is on the band of perception. And in past lives, whatever you did or did not do, whatever you experienced or did not experience, has caused you to be at a certain wavelength, to have a certain awareness field. When you’re born, that awareness field is not completely at your disposal. We may have a book that someone wrote and it may be in our hands and it may have all kinds of information in it, but until we’ve read it we don’t have the information. We can’t reference it or utilize it or enjoy it.

Within us is all the information from all the lives that we’ve led. And simply being alive doesn’t mean we’ve read the book. One aspect of Buddhism, or inner study, is the reawakening of past life knowledge, and it takes a certain type of power to do that. Past life knowledge is not necessarily a remembrance. It’s not the wedding album photo scrapbook of existence. You can remember what you did last week, and it doesn’t necessarily change anything, the physical events. Past life remembrance in Buddhism means the ability to bring a greater awareness, a greater knowledge that we had in another life into this life. The actual memories of where we were in time and space and with whom are not usually relevant.

If you were a great architect or a great musician in a past life, if you could bring that knowledge, that overall sensitivity, let us say, that you developed through architectural design and music into this lifetime, you’d be way ahead of the game—if you wanted to pursue those things in this life. But when you’re born or as you grow up—until you have a certain type of power, a certain type of kundalini—you cannot reference, you can’t get access, you can’t dial-in to those things.

One aspect of power is the power to bring our total awareness into this lifetime. A second aspect of power, of course, is to go beyond that awareness, the things that we’ve known in other lives, into new fields of awareness that we’ve never experienced. And the very transmutative energy or power that does that is called the kundalini. The kundalini is the energy that opens up the bands of perception. It’s also the energy or power that enables us to travel, mentally, from one level to another, from one plane or dimension to another, from one experience to another. It’s also the energy that enables us to have what I call a weird power, to do things or make things happen that would not happen otherwise, to apply a pressure, an occult pressure—in other words, to use energy backstage—to be able to use energy that is invisible to most people to create effects, perhaps thousands of miles away from where your body is located, or in other dimensions—to heal, for example. If you have power, you might be able to heal a person who has a disease without having to resort to antibiotics or surgery or whatever might be necessary. You could actually get inside their cell structures and create a change. You might be able to mold and shape events in your life or the lives of others.

Power is something that is not really visible—the kind of power that I am speaking about. It exists, certainly. We can see it in human life. Some people have the power to rise above circumstances. They went to the same high school with everyone they knew. They grew up in the same kind of environment, were exposed to the same materials, but for some reason they got to the top of the class. They succeeded in a way that most people didn’t, just even externally—perhaps in a material sense, perhaps in a spiritual sense, a political sense, a philosophical sense. Certainly the sociological factors and DNA are not all that determine success. It’s power, past life power or current life power that we gain through the practice of meditation, by leading a relatively conservative but extremely exciting and happy life—conservative in terms of the usage of energy.

Buddhism, one aspect of it, deals exclusively with power—how to get power, store power, utilize it intelligently, so that it creates benefit to oneself and to others. The primary energy that’s active in all the things that I’ve been discussing is kundalini. Kundalini energy is the energy of awareness and it can be used to modify awareness. An example might be an intelligent atom—perhaps that’s a way of looking at it. If an atomic structure—protons, neutrons, valances, electrons—could become aware of itself, and if it had the knowledge, it could change itself. It could add maybe some different electrons to some of its valances, change its atomic number by changing the protons and neutrons. If it had the ability to do that, it could become something other than it was.

Human beings do that in a way, all the time. We are born with a physical defect but we’ve gained the knowledge to change our body. We can perform surgery. We can have a radiation treatment. We’ve learned to use certain medicinal drugs to heal ourselves, to change our condition. We can go to school and gain knowledge and better our lives, have a different career. In a sense, we do that all the time. We’re intelligent atoms, I suppose. We’re intelligent organic structures. We can change who we are. And now, of course, even as you know, with genetic engineering, they’re beginning to look at the possibility of changing the actual physiological structure of the body—first, perhaps, in small ways with synthetic drugs that they’re creating and manufacturing; but eventually, perhaps, in larger ways.

Buddhism, yoga, is the study of changing who we are, modifying or perhaps totally restructuring ourselves as perceivers. Now, in a way, you really can’t change who you are. Whoever you are is who you are, and that always will be. There’s something in us that’s eternal, and that’s beyond change. And the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to reach that from this side, to become conscious of that side. This side is the mortal side, the limited side, the human side. Then there’s the eternal side, the timeless, divine side. And we seek to, in yoga, to yoke or unify our awareness field with the divine or enlightened side, the timeless side—because when we do that there’s no pain, there’s no anxiety, there’s no unhappiness. The eternal part of our being is perfect, free, always changing, always new, and completely conscious of all things—complete aliveness, complete awareness.

However, in the meantime, and on the way there, Buddhism is the study of power, initially. It takes a certain amount of power to even know your potential—to have a sense that you can change the way you perceive, what you perceive and that it will be very beneficial to you. It takes additional power to find out how to do that and even more power to actually do it. And of course, when you make structural changes in perception, it gives you power. It’s very curious the way it all works. It’s not necessarily logical. It just is how it is. Things are not necessarily logical. Logic is a way of looking at something. It’s a flow chart, a mental flow chart. But everything is not logical. Things just are. And logic is a secondary source referencing where we look at something and say, “Oh, well, this is this way because … ” No, it’s not. It is what it is. And we’ve decided that we want to apply rationale to it. It makes us feel better.

The power that is most interesting is the personal power that changes or shapes consciousness, and that’s kundalini. Kundalini exists everywhere. It’s called shakti, another name for it. That is to say, it’s a latent energy field, an invisible energy that is present in all of life, everywhere, in this dimension and in other dimensions. Then, more specifically, kundalini exists within us. It exists in greater amounts in certain places. Some people have more of it. Some dimensions have more of it. And initially, the student of Buddhism seeks to become aware that there are variations or differences in power. Some people have more than others. Some places have more than others. Some activities create and give one power. Some are draining. Some take power away. Since power is necessary to go into the happier states of mind and sustain them, to stay in them, and to go beyond them to the enlightened states of mind, which is, of course, the most desirable thing; since power is necessary to be healthy, to heal one’s body, to assist others, it’s the primary concern. It’s the first face on the totem pole in self-discovery.

Kundalini in a human being rests in potential at the base of the spine. We have a physical body, and we have a subtle body and a causal body. And then, of course, there is the eternal part of ourselves. There’s a touch of nirvana in all of us, something that is non-physical, non-dimensional, non-astral and non-causal—the real in us—but it is obscured. It’s hard to get to because of the physical body, the emotions, the thoughts, the mind, and just in general because we don’t have enough power to perceive properly. Kundalini is at the base of the spine.

The subtle physical body surrounds the physical body. It’s a body of energy. It’s also known sometimes as the astral body. And it’s composed of chakras, energy fibers, astral tubes that are similar to veins. Basically, the part of the subtle body that concerns a practitioner of yoga and Buddhism is the shushumna. The shushumna is a tube. It’s an astral tube. It’s kind of like a reed that runs from the base of the spine to between the eyebrows and a little bit above. And there are six chakras or energy vortexes that lie along the tube. The first is at the base of the spine. The second is the area around the spleen or the sex organs. The third is about an inch below the navel center. The fourth is in the center of the chest. The fifth is in the throat, the base of the throat. The sixth and the topmost chakra or energy center on the shushumna is between the eyebrows and about an inch above. There’s a seventh chakra which is located several inches above the top of the head, but it’s not connected to the others directly.

There are many other chakras, or nadis as they are also called. There are chakras in the hands, fingertips, feet and a number of other areas. They’re not really in the physical body. If you lost an arm it wouldn’t affect the subtle body or the chakras. They are non-physical. They’re astral. But they are in approximately that same area. It’s a way of trying to talk about them.

The release of power, the power that enables us to transform our awareness, to be successful and happy in life, is the release of the kundalini. All yoga either directly or indirectly, all Buddhism, relates to the release of the kundalini energy. The kundalini energy is in the first chakra at the base of the spine. It is called the root chakra. And through meditation, through going to certain places, being around certain types of people, participating or not participating in certain types of mental or physical or emotional activities, it’s possible to take that energy and allow it to move, to unleash it, from the base of the spine up to the third eye and eventually to the crown center. This energy, as it moves, it’s often compared to a snake that is coiled up and it seems kind of small, but because it is coiled it can spring very quickly. It can just jump and extend itself very fast.

The kundalini is seen as a serpent, as a coil of energy that’s at the base of the spine, but it can shoot right up through the shushumna, pass through the chakras, opening them all and bringing you into different states of awareness and finally bridge the gap and enter the crown center. The crown center, also known as the thousand-petal lotus of light, references the dimensions or planes of light, of enlightenment. Each of the seven chakras references different dimensional planes. That is to say, it’s a doorway. It’s a turnstile that leads us into different dimensions. And as the kundalini rises, either in an individual meditation session or just the general level in your life, those dimensions will be opened to you and the knowledge and powers of those dimensions will begin to come to you.

There is an immediate rise and there’s a general level. The general level is where the kundalini abides most of the time. In most people, the kundalini is in the first chakra. It may be in the second. That is to say, if we were to measure their kundalini, if we could look at it, we would see that it’s in the first or somewhere between the first and second chakra for most people on earth—usually in the first. It’s pretty locked up. And for average people who don’t practice Buddhism and yoga, the kundalini only becomes active maybe a few times in their life. At times of extreme intensity, the kundalini can become active. Very unusual circumstances—a car accident, emotional trauma, sometimes in warfare, in a battle situation—something can cause the kundalini to suddenly come out and when it does, it gives a person incredible power. Suddenly they can overcome all fear and attack the enemy because one of their friends was wounded and, you know, be very successful. Suddenly a 70 year-old lady who can’t lift a bag of prunes will lift up an automobile several inches because her grandchild got stuck under it.

You know, the kundalini can do physical things. But it can do mental things. It can make us understand something that we wouldn’t understand. If someone we love dies, and normally the experience might be horrifying or create misery for the rest of your life. But the kundalini can be released, and it brings us to a higher level of knowledge and understanding, and we see that there is no death, that that person has just gone, like we all must, on a journey. We’ll be following them soon. We’ve all been on it before. We’ll all be on it again.

It can provide mental awareness, a scientific discovery, a musical creation, all kinds of things. People who tap the kundalini and are able to release it are more successful in their chosen fields of endeavor—great painters, musicians, architects, scientists, engineers, philosophers, martial artists, whatever it may be, athletes. Anyone who is really on top has some access to the kundalini. They may not practice what they would call meditation every day and sit down formally and meditate and focus on the chakras, but they have learned somewhere along the line, in this life or other lives, ways of releasing power. And then they can use that power in a variety of ways, depending upon how wise they are and how balanced they are.

Whenever you see someone who has reached the apogee of their profession—if you are dealing with someone who is a corporate head of a very substantial corporation, if you see someone who is a very fine musician, a great writer, what we would call someone eminently successful in one or more fields—is someone who has what I call a weird power. That is to say, they’ve learned how to unlock the kundalini. There are things they do, there are foods they eat and don’t eat, places they go or don’t go, thoughts they think or don’t think, emotions they experience or don’t experience. Just the way they hold their mind, in other words, they’ve learned—although they wouldn’t call it meditation or yoga—how to meditate. And they consciously release the kundalini, or unconsciously.

Obviously, if you learn to consciously release the kundalini, you can be more successful even than those people are. Because they have come across something that they know works. They can’t tell you how in most cases. They know there is just something they do that keeps them on top of their profession, makes them happier, makes them more successful. But they don’t know where they can go from there, you might say. They’ve taken this as far as they can, and they just keep doing it over and over. But in yoga, in Buddhism, you study how to release and unlock the kundalini and take it up to the levels that would certainly afford career success, personal happiness, and physical health and mental balance. But we move it further into planes of knowledge and wisdom that enable the practitioner to do just about anything. In other words, there are ranges of experience and ecstasy—just plain fun—that people don’t even know are there to get to. Consequently they don’t. Or if they did, of course, they wouldn’t know how to do it or be able to do it unless you practice yoga or Buddhism or something similar in which there’s an actual study of the structures of awareness—how to transmute them properly and intelligently, with wisdom and balance. That’s the study of power.

Power is something that’s abused, something that’s used. I suppose use and abuse are in the eye of the beholder. But I would say, essentially, my template for viewing use and abuse is happiness. Happiness is not the same as pleasure. Pleasure is an immediate experience, very transient in nature, that’s enjoyable. And if we experience a great deal of it, there’s a sense of satiation. After you have too much pleasure, you actually don’t feel good.

On the other hand, happiness is something that the more you have of it, the better off you are. There is no such thing as too much happiness. It doesn’t satiate.

I would define the proper use of power as something that creates happiness for yourself and for others. And the abuse of power takes happiness away. It’s the enemy of happiness. Everything that I teach as a Buddhist teacher, as an enlightened Buddhist teacher, is towards directing an individual to happiness—not just a pleasurable experience or the avoidance of a painful experience but towards a happiness, a balanced wisdom and knowledge that’s sometimes just bubbly and euphoric or just very deep, very quiet, very still, very profound. The less we define it, I think, the better.

Power, however, doesn’t create happiness or unhappiness. It just is. It depends how you use it. Wisdom is the guiding force that directs happiness. Balance is happiness. It’s the ability to not need to go further today, to be satisfied and just to be bright—not to avoid, not to overdo, but just to enjoy.

Power is abused when its uses create unhappiness. And in particular, the abuse of power that seems to create the most unhappiness is when a person uses personal power to get ahead without regard to the welfare of others, or when power is used to go into the lower dimensional planes. These are the primary abuses of power, and if you learn them and avoid them, then you’ll have a very happy life in your practice of Buddhism.

Power can be used to get ahead. You can use power to get things other people can’t get, once you unlock the kundalini. You could go into an interview situation for a job, and you could cause someone else not to get the job. You could focus on them and they just wouldn’t perform well that day. People do this a great deal. A student of mine is an actor and he goes to auditions for films, for film parts. And very often before the audition, he’s sitting in a waiting room with a number of other actors and actresses who are trying to get the part. And he observed, after he had become more aware of power and how it’s used, that some of the people there would use their energy field simply to throw somebody else offline so that they wouldn’t do well in the interview. They might talk to them for a while, pretend they’re their friend or whatever, and at the end of the conversation the person was completely exhausted, drained—they’d go in and do a terrible audition.

People have power and it’s very important to respect that. The way I look at it is—everybody’s had thousands of lifetimes, if not more. And who knows what anyone has learned in a lifetime. Respect is not fear. Respect is an intelligent apprehension. And I think it’s a good idea to have respect for all beings because who knows what anyone knows or can do?

My student used to go into these interviews, as I said, and sometimes not get a film part because he would be “taken out.” Someone would use power in a way that would cause him not to succeed. Now, needless to say, while the person might have gotten the part, they would be unhappy in their own personal life because when we use power—this is the hardest thing to explain or teach, I think, in life—when we use power to cause someone else not to succeed so that we can succeed, it slows our vibratory frequency. It slows us down. We vibrate at a certain rate, each one of us. And when the rate speeds up, we experience happiness. We go higher on the band. When it slows down we experience unhappiness, and we go further down on the band.

Now the point of life, what makes life worth living, is happiness. Success does not necessarily create happiness. I could take you on a tour of West Los Angeles or any other very wealthy area, where you’d go into homes and meet people who are very successful in their careers, in the amount of money they make. And you’d be surprised that happiness does not blossom in Beverly Hills any more than it does in most places.

Happiness has to do with how quickly you vibrate, how intelligent you are, how subtle your awareness field is, how deep you are, how aware of your eternal part you are. That’s what creates happiness. Pleasure just comes from a temporary working out of things in a way that you like. But it doesn’t last. As soon as circumstance changes, you’re unhappy if it doesn’t change in a way that you consider favorable. Happiness is endemic. It’s part of us. And Buddhism is the process of getting to that part of us that is always eternally happy, bringing that happiness into our physical and mental and emotional life and experiencing it, enjoying it and knowing it.

Meditation is a process of speeding up the vibration. When you meditate, you increase your own energy level. With that increased energy level, through the stoppage of thought and a variety of other things, you can succeed or you could cause someone else not to succeed. I personally don’t feel that the answer is to cause others not to succeed in order that you can succeed. It’s better to take the increased energy of meditation and just put it into your own success and not try and use it to cause others to fail. Because if you put it into your own success, you’ll be happy whether you succeed or not, and chances are you’ll succeed.

And this is what I suggested to this actor-movie star student of mine, that he simply not be concerned about this—know that it’s going on; it’s good to know the street—and that he utilize his full energy from his practice of Buddhism and yoga to simply do the best that he could, to be at the highest energy level, best level of performance that he could. But needless to say, to be conscious that there are people who do what we’d call, I don’t know, black magic, lower sorcery. There are people who use power to interfere with the success of others, and not to be concerned about them. They’re not happy people, and they can’t necessarily be any problem to you as long as you’re aware of what they’re doing. You just step around them. When he was waiting to go on and be successful and to get the film part, I would suggest to him that he simply avoid those people. Just look around the room, and if you see this is what people are doing—they’re spending most of their time and energy causing each other not to succeed—rather than do that, just to take a book with him, to sit and read it, something that would raise his energy level, to ignore everybody, keep his energy that he gained—from his life and his hard work and his meditation and the practice of his craft—in his body and then simply to go in there and do a great audition. To get involved with some ridiculous battle of power with someone else will use up his energy, and then he would go in and not have much energy to succeed.

In other words, the trick is simply to avoid jerks, in my opinion, in life. There are lots of them out there. Most people are unhappy, intrinsically it seems, and there are people who just go their own way, and then there are people who just seem to want to trouble you. And so, intelligent martial arts is not getting in battles and winning them. Intelligent martial arts is avoiding battles because battles use up energy, and you can get hurt no matter how good you are, and that wasn’t what you had on your agenda today. Simply because you were going someplace today and you were going to have a great picnic, and you didn’t intend to get in a battle with somebody, if you get in a battle and even win, you never get to have your nice picnic. That was somebody else’s idea. The intelligent use of power is to apprehend those who would trip you up, to slide around them and go do what you want to do. Naturally, if there is no way out and confrontation and battle is inevitable, one can use power and strategy, balance and wisdom and enlightenment to win, of course. But the best battle is the battle that’s never fought. The best war is the war that’s won without battle.

But it is important to know that power can be used to interfere with things. To be afraid of that, however, is absurd. In other words, I have seen people who practice yoga and Buddhism who are scared to death of the sorcery powers of others, and this is absurd. If you are afraid of someone, you immediately give them an advantage over you and you give them entry to your awareness field. People can’t do much to one another with power, in my opinion, by and large. Most people—they’re not far enough along, they don’t have enough of it or know how to use it properly. I wouldn’t be very concerned about this. I think it’s paranoia. What you can do, though, is allow someone to upset you. And if you become afraid of someone, they do gain a power over your life.

I think a lot of people profess to have power, and it’s very minor astral power, and they get people very upset and then they do get power over you, not because they had any intrinsic power but just because your fear immobilizes you and makes you do a bad job. People can drain your energy a little or maybe they can make you feel a little bit uncomfortable. By and large, that’s about it. That’s what you are going to find around here, particularly in the West. And you know, at the most you’re going to get a headache. But if you become afraid, well then, anyone can overwhelm you and totally dominate your life.

The intelligent use of power is never to interfere with anyone else’s success, but to use the greater power you get to just be more successful yourself. Use power to intelligently apprehend people who might mean harm to you, and use that power to not be afraid, to simply step around them. And that’s the end of the discussion.

Use power to vibrate more quickly. There is enough room in this world for lots of people to succeed. Your success does not depend upon the failure of others. The way to win the race is not to trip somebody else in the race, but it’s to train hard, to feel great about yourself and to simply have more energy than other people do because you practice better yoga and Buddhism. That’s my opinion. Because you will not only have a greater chance of winning, but whether you win or lose you’re happy. Whereas, what is the great joy in winning some victory if it makes you miserable? It’s no victory. It’s a failure.

I don’t put much stock in powers that people have to hurt others, in sorcery and all this nonsense. I think there are a lot of unhappy people trying to make other people unhappy, and sure, people have oppressive natures, and sure, there are people who are horrible and who kill and hurt people physically. There are murderers and there are dictators and people are out of control, their desires are obsessive or they are just lost in illusions. That’s just part of life. But the intelligent use of power in yoga can assist you in avoiding that side of life and that side of humanity. And if you have to come into a battle, you can win it.

But what yoga does is—it makes you free. It makes you happy. And it gets you out of all the traps of human nature that create misery. Power’s best use then, the correct usage of power, is for one’s own personal success, and if you enjoy it—it’s not necessary—to make others succeed. You might find that makes you even happier. It adds to your power. It makes you vibrate faster.

But the key line, the benchmark, is happiness. And in practice, that is to say, in the practice of meditation, Buddhism and yoga, what is necessary or required is to simply extend your happiness to higher and deeper levels today than it’s been on any other day of your life. I would say if you’re doing that, you’re getting A’s in Buddhism. And if you are not doing that, if you are at the same level, you are getting C’s. And if you are not as happy as you used to be at any point in your life, you are definitely failing the course, which means you’re not practicing properly. There’s a bug in the program. We have to read the code—we have to look back and see what it is. It’s not by accident. There is no such thing. You are not doing something. And chances are, you are not meditating properly, deeply and fully. You may be trying to skip steps and circumvent the process. You are using power incorrectly. Your motives are not pure. You don’t vibrate quickly.

It’s simply a question of doing a system analysis of your energy flow, spotting where the problem is and changing it—without a sense of ego, without a sense of right or wrong—I was good, I was bad—guilt or remorse. These things are unnecessary. It’s just simply structural. Everything in Buddhism is structural. Emotions are there to enjoy life, but they’re not used in self-reflection because they inhibit a proper reflection. They gunk us up. Feeling sorry for yourself is a total waste of time, as is feeling sorry for others. Compassion and empathy are not the same as feeling sorry for oneself. They are emotions that extend our perceptual ranges. Whereas feeling sorry for yourself, feeling guilty, this accomplishes little or nothing in terms of a true change, an improvement of our state as perceiving beings.

The unlocking of the kundalini, which occurs by meditating on the first, second and third chakras, is the entrance into the planes of power. As you focus on the first, second and third chakra, you will gain access to the planes of power, and with planes of power, of course, come not only power, but experience in those dimensional planes. By and large, the first two planes are somewhat tricky for the beginner in meditation. Meditating on the first chakra and second chakra is not necessarily recommended. If you don’t have enough power, the planes won’t access or open anyway, and you won’t get anything from the experience. And if they do, there can be very powerful releases of energy that can kind of catch you off guard until you have a better sense of what you are doing. If you’re a new swimmer and you’re swimming in the ocean in big waves, you might have an unpleasant experience or drown. If you learn to swim and gain self-confidence in a pool or in a place where there aren’t huge waves, then later on you can learn how to deal with the waves, and they’re actually kind of fun.

I would recommend, initially, if you are trying to increase your personal power level, to devote a third of your meditation practice to meditating on the navel center, not the lower two. The navel center will activate the other two centers, but the particular planes it references are relatively easy to deal with and they bring the full power of all of the three lower centers into your being. You gain the power without the problems. Later on in the enlightenment cycle, it is necessary to learn how to go out and surf some bigger waves. And it’s fun. But initially, why look for a difficult experience? Seek a pleasant experience. You won’t gain more power from focusing on the first two chakras than you will from the third. The third picks up all three. When you focus on the third chakra, it has to pull the kundalini from the root center through the second up to the third chakra.

There are places of power, places where there is more power. Just as there’s more power in the chakras, there’s more power in certain areas. We call them “places of power”—in the Southwest United States, in certain mountains, deserts, sometimes by the sea. Sometimes where they build a city or even a shopping mall, there are places of power. In the United States we’re fortunate. We have a lot of places of power, particularly in the Southwest. Naturally in the Himalayas; there are lots of places of power in India. In Japan there are a number of places of power, very strong places. Mt. Fuji, of course, is a very strong place of power, and so on and so forth. There are lots of places of power around the earth. And if you spend time in these places, it increases your vibratory power. If you meditate in them, you can have very deep, profound experiences and store a lot of power.

Pilgrimages are journeys to places of power. Places of power very often have been frequented in the past by practitioners. For example, if you were to go to the Himalayas, people make pilgrimages sometimes to the caves where Milarepa and other great yogis meditated—not simply to pick up the energy or the vibration of the people who meditated there but because the place was and is intrinsically powerful, and that’s why Milarepa and others were meditating there.

The Indians in the Southwestern United States went to many places of power. And in those places of power, they were able to have profound dream experiences where they could see the future or know what to do and make proper decisions, where they could just be more and feel more and know more. Power places in the United States are certainly not limited to the Southwest. There are a number of them in the East, and in the South, and in the Midwest. But the majority of them are in the Southwest—the power planes. You might say, in a way of speaking, that these places reference the first three chakras. There are physical places that reference the fourth and fifth chakra—the chakras of balance. And there are places that reference the sixth and seventh chakra—places of wisdom. That’s what you have out there. There are negative places also that can drain your energy. They just vibrate really slowly. They’re weird, and when you are in them, they just pull you down.

We’re talking about keeping ourselves in a pure flow of light, being happy, learning to access and utilize power to clarify our minds, strengthen our bodies, renew our spirits, and generally have an experience of ecstasy, exultation and wisdom in the world of enlightenment. It’s power that makes all this possible. Without power, none of it happens. There is no life without power.

The last consideration in our short journey through the world of power is the teacher of Buddhism. There are two types of teachers of Buddhism: exoteric and esoteric. Again, I am using the terms of Buddhism and yoga interchangeably. The exoteric teacher of Buddhism is someone who doesn’t have power, really. They have a certain level of knowledge. It’s a person who has meditated perhaps for some years and practiced Buddhism. They can show you basic techniques of meditation. They can show you things that they’ve learned from their teacher or just doped out themselves or learned from books about how to save energy, how to increase it to a certain extent. They’ve reached a higher belt ranking in the inner world perhaps than the student has, the new student. But they don’t have true power. They may be able to make a person feel a certain amount of energy or shift their awareness slightly. But they don’t have the knowledge and the balance necessary to be an esoteric teacher—and the pure power.

An esoteric or enlightened teacher of yoga and Buddhism is someone who has obviously attained enlightenment, and has the ability to transfer—just as you’d give somebody money, if you had a lot, if you made a lot—they have the ability to transfer power to another individual, to someone they might meet or usually to one of their students. These are called, needless to say, empowerments. A real empowerment is not just a ceremony. In order to do an empowerment, a person obviously has to be highly empowered, have the power and also have the structural knowledge of how to transfer it to someone else. There are lots of ways to do it. It’s a very complicated thing.

The reason that you study with a teacher, as opposed to just pursue Buddhism and yoga on your own, is primarily for the empowerments, for someone who is enlightened and powerful to transfer power to you on a regular basis. Because with transferred power, you can go faster into the world of enlightenment. If you have a scholarship and you are going to college or graduate school, you can devote more of your time to studying and progress faster and do a better job with your scholastic endeavors. If you have to go out and work 30 hours a week at a fast food place, you might learn some interesting things and eat a lot of burgers or whatever, or fries, but you’re not going to be spending time you could be spending on your schoolwork.

Teachers transfer power to their students so that a student is able to progress faster. They can meditate better, maybe be more successful in their career so that they can spend a little less time on it and have more time to meditate and do other things. They might heal them in some way, help them with their physical body. There are millions of applications for power. But what’s most important is that the student uses that power intelligently and wisely. The primary reason for studying with an enlightened teacher is that they give you power. And with that power, the kundalini becomes active and moves through the chakras much more rapidly, and you are able to see and operate on levels that you would not maintain on a regular basis.

As I said earlier, there is a normal kundalini level that most people have which is either in the first chakra or somewhere between the first and the second. An enlightened teacher has all seven centers open all the time. Their kundalini is always all the way at the top. In an individual meditation session, we raise the kundalini to a degree for a short time—even though our normal level is first or second chakra, we may bring it up to the fourth or fifth, or maybe even the sixth level. But it’ll only stay there for a few minutes and then it will recede. Gradually, doing that again and again—gradually, over many days and months—the level changes on a regular basis and we exist in higher kundalini levels all the time.

When you study with an enlightened teacher, they do individual empowerments when you see them. But if you’re an accepted student of theirs, they are always transferring a certain degree of power from their aura to you. Instead of living between the first and second chakra, you might live in the third or fourth chakra all the time, or perhaps even higher. It depends on how adept and adroit you are with the usage of the power transfer. Transferring power does a lot of different things. It enables a person to be successful, to be personally happy, to be materially successful, to be spiritually successful. But it’s not all we go to a teacher for—we also go to a teacher to learn balance and wisdom.

Without balance and wisdom, power becomes very destructive. It creates unhappiness and not happiness. And to simply see a teacher to gain power is a mistake. You’ll gain the power, but with the current mindset that you have, you’ll probably create more unhappiness for yourself than happiness with it.

We see an enlightened teacher to gain a sense of humor, to learn balance and proportion and, of course, to learn wisdom; to learn to intelligently cultivate the higher mind and to only use that power that the teacher transfers to us and, of course, also teaches us to develop for ourselves through meditation and certain practices; to use that power to succeed and create happiness and not to block the success of others; to gain emotional control, mental control, physical control and spiritual control so that we can hurtle ourselves into the most beautiful states of mind—into ecstasy, into enlightened states of mind where we can become one with the eternal part of ourselves; and to avoid blocking others, interfering with others because that will decrease our happiness, slow our vibratory rate and generally bring us down and make us miserable.

A teacher teaches you—an enlightened teacher—how to use power, how to gain power. They give you power. But they teach you how to shape it so that it becomes an instrument of beauty and not an instrument of unhappiness; an instrument of fulfillment and higher experience, and not an instrument of self-frustration or the frustration of others.

Use power very carefully. Don’t be afraid to have it. You have to have it to succeed. But learn balance and wisdom in addition simply to the unlocking of the kundalini, if you wish to have a happy and enlightened life.