The crass title of the note hides a more serious purpose. Power is almost completely metaphysically determined for human beings, despite various palatable notions of democracy and egalitarianism. Moreover, in the past century power has manifested in material wealth primarily in our planetary society. Thus an interesting question is whether it is possible to attain spiritual power that is completely distinct from the metaphysical and hierarchical global power structure which is tied to material wealth.
I will give some key points of a particular stream of a complex spiritual journey that I have undertaken myself over the past several years. Here are the major pieces:
- Man, elevating himself to the rank of the Titans, acquires his culture by his own efforts and compels the gods to unite with him. What is wonderful about the Promethean form (of Goethe) is the profound Aeschylean yearning for justice: the untold sorrow of the bold “single-handed being” on the one hand and the divine need, the foreboding of the twilight of the gods on the other hand, two worlds of suffering constraining to reconciliation, to metaphysical oneness. (Nietzsche, “The Birth of Tragedy, Section 9)
- Suffering is distinct from pain. Suffering is spiritual, not physical. Suffering has a very specific feel to it: it feels like flesh torn and mangled by nails and claws. It feels like salt and chili being rubbed into raw wounds. It is felt in the body as an unreachable burning sensation. The intensity of suffering varies and at intense levels it becaomes equivalent to the fires of Hell.
- Suffering is balanced by inverse pain. Masochists are drawn to pain partly because they have internal suffering often beyond awareness that is soothed by pain.
- The balancing of suffering and inverse pain is a path to spiritual power. A vast simplification but the self-lasceration of some Christian and Shia traditions can make much more sense in the understanding of this balance.
- It is difficult for me to consider swimming in the sea of pain without appropriate preparation in intense internal suffering. The pathways of this balance is extremely potent precisely because of Nietzsche’s observation about Prometheus above.