Knowing The 48 Laws of Power

Our lives are marked by chapters, just like in a book. For some of us, there are many chapters and for others there are but a few. The chapters of our lives are signified by the major events that occur and the changes we personally undergo. We may evolve in a particular philosophical direction that is very different from what we understood much earlier in life. The events we live through always teaches us. The lessons they impart can prepare us for new situations to come. Of course, sometimes we are taught but learn nothing at all. Either way, we have choices in life and those choices have consequences.

Humility Versus Strength

A very common choice in most situations is the choice between humility and strength. Basic humility is the discipline to hold back from advancing your needs while allowing the forces of a situation to operate without your deliberate action. That is the general theory of humility. Humility is also a mindset and psychological disposition. To be truly humble is to be part of the grand design rather than be consumed with the desire to define the reality of others.

Strength in relation to humility is the ability, through overt will and action, to persist beyond adversity. Adversity can be a physically undesirable situation, a change in fortunes, or a loss of social standing. Strength is a gift that can be misused and much of the law of nature and society is designed to balance the strength of individuals and groups with the overall integrity of life. Outside of the misapplication of strength, it can be a means to preserve an individual so they can continue to pursue their potential.

Between humility and strength, the latter tends to stand out and is often recognized either implicitly or in acclaim of bold action. Philosophically, however, spiritual beliefs upheld over thousands of years incline towards humility as one of the chief virtues that will produce a better outcome for all people. During the daily cycles that constitute secular living, the responsibility to be better approved in our efforts may lead us to continuous learning about the balance between humility, strength and motivations.

Strength and Humility Together

Living with humility can be far more challenging than describing it. Strength comes natural to biology and is a necessary aspect of enduring nature absent shelter. Another kind of strength though is mental as in how we operate within a social environment. When challenged in a social environment the right choice is usually humility and that would be consistent with spiritual practice. Sometimes that is elusive in all cases by all but an elect few.

Strong dispositions in terms of one’s natural presence or social faculty may be more easily accessible to that person by way of instinct than a conciliatory response. Untempered attributes along these lines can produce undesirable outcomes. Properly aligned with enlightened benevolent attributes however, strength can be an equally valid expression of one’s sense of a situation leading to beneficial change. At the very least, humility that transforms into despair can be a path to faithlessness. Strength, properly tempered, can affirm truth, reject impropriety without surrendering the entirety of one’s value system.

Part of the journey of life may be in learning this careful balance so that we do not overreach or fail to contribute as well as we may if we focus on the essence of our talents and selfless objectives.

48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Around 2002 or 2003 I had read a book of great interest to me at that time. It went by the title of, “48 Laws of Power” written by Robert Greene. It was a well written and thorough interpretation of historical figures. The book examined the historical record about how people gained power, how some kept power, how others took power, and the lessons on how people lost power.

Opinions diverge on the compatibility between the philosophies espoused in the book and those upheld in law and benevolent spiritual tradition. The allure of the book is the sense that within its pages are the answers for how to succeed in life and completely avoid failure. You might think that if you are an astute student of the material, you will have armed yourself with the knowledge you need to one day move from lower stations to the highest. At the very least, you might secure your influence ahead of others.

Many of my colleagues have read the book as well as a certain title by Sun Tzi. Fewer probably have read the works of David Alessandro formerly of Hancock Financial. In any event, I read the 48 Laws of Power. I thought about what I had read and realized, that it can truly be a recipe for material success and influence. More likely however, it is a manual for creating a passively hostile situation that, once disingenuous intent is realized, will produce far more ill effects than good. Well meaning adherents of the philosophies of this manual may unwittingly blanket their lives with innumerable Sins of Omission.

Cast The First Stone

I am as unrefined in my values as many have proven to be since people existed. That any of us recognize our unworthiness to be an enduring example of high virtue should never deter us from acknowledging what we believe or the way we aspire to live. The phrase that begins, “Let he who is without . . . “ was meant to give us an opportunity to forgive and award mercy and infinite second chances as we all have the potential to change in a better direction. It was not meant to silence verbal criticism of undesirable activity or to prevent disclosure of better alternatives. Even when stained or strained in our acceptability, we should have the strength and, eventually, courage to profess belief.

A Mirror On Reality

One of the most fatal things we can do is ignore reality. Reality has a way and a movement that can devastate the most earnest and hopeful of intentions. Our thoughts and beliefs can be of an unlimited and brilliantly heightened variety. Actions, on the other hand, must be balanced with reality. Ill consideration of reality can mean the total end of the example and advocacy of higher living and virtue. That is a potential tragedy overcome by faith. Faith, executed in strength defined by humility.

The strength to be humble and maintain evenness of self when self nature advises behavior seeking acclaim. The strength to step out when appropriate to voice reason to deception or confusion. The strength to admit error and not hide behind humble countenance.

Knowing Reality

Occasionally, those things that can be applied to ill effect can be used for the good. This is where I revisit the 48 Laws of Power. A colleague asked me had I read the book. I responded that I did. However, it had long since passed since I had the paperback copy. To reprise myself of the basic themes of the book, I picked up a copy of a book by the title of, “The 48 Laws of Power in 30 Minutes – The Expert Guide to Robert Greene’s Critically Acclaimed Book“. It is not a replacement for the full title, but it does well to sum up the major themes of the book.

What do I think about the main book? Foremost, I do not believe they are rules you should follow. Instead, you do well to recognize patterns of destructive action and intent and some of the specific rationalizations that underlay them. This knowledge may also assist you to better clarify your own subconscious motivations while adapting oneself away from such occurrences to the extent possible. The way you extricate yourself from a compromising situation has much to do with courage, strength, and wisdom. Sometimes the price is very high but must be paid. The cost of inaction is usually much higher outside of material gain.

Often one criticism of spiritual philosophy is that you are not shown how to live. As to specific advice, sometimes you need only observe what not to do. The 48 Laws of Power is an excellent study in that regard. You will be less equipped to succeed in secular activity than before you read it if you have that intent in mind. I can almost guarantee that anyone who was on the fence about where they stand will be far less lukewarm in their motivation after reading it than before. It can be a difficult thing to learn that despite outwardly believing one way you are actually some other way entirely.

Knowing where you truly are though is one of the surest ways to achieve a greater level of consistency. The right consistency therein assists with engaging with life in a way that is more in balance.

By Michael Gautier


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