The very word power means “over somebody.” Even people of great understanding have not been able to see the point. In India, one religion exists, Jainism…the word jaina means “the conqueror.” The original meaning certainly must have been what you are talking about: the power that arises within you as a petal opens and the flower releases its fragrance. But I have looked deeply into the tradition of Jainism. When they call a man a conqueror, they also say about him that he has conquered himself. Somebody has to be conquered.
They changed the name of Mahavira – his name was Vardhaman. Mahavira means “the great conqueror,” the great, victorious man. But the very idea that Mahavira has conquered himself, if reduced to simple psychological terms, means that he can stand naked in the rain, in the cold; that he can remain hungry in the name of fasting, continuously, for months. In twelve years of discipline and preparation, he ate for only one year; for eleven years he was hungry. Not in a continuity – one month he would remain hungry, then one day he would eat; two months he would remain hungry, then for a few days he would eat – but in twelve years the number of times that he ate comes to a total of only one year. For eleven years he tortured his body.
It needs a deep insight to understand that whether you torture others or you torture yourself, there is no difference at all – except that the other can defend himself. At least there is that possibility. If you start torturing yourself, there is nobody to defend you. You can do anything with your own body. This is simply masochism. It is not, in my understanding, finding the source of your inner being. Hence I would not like to call it power, because that word is contaminated.
I would like to call it peace, love, compassion…you can choose the word. But power has been in the hands of violent people; whether they were violent with others or with themselves does not matter. I think the people who were violent with others were more natural and the people who were violent with themselves were absolutely psychotic. But the people who have tortured themselves have become your saints. Their whole contribution to the world is a discipline of how to torture yourself.
There are saints who have slept on a bed of thorns. They are still there; in Varanasi you can find them. It may be good showmanship, but it is ugly and has to be condemned. These people should not be respected. These are criminals because they are committing a crime against a body which cannot even go to the court.
So the second part has to be understood very well; otherwise your first desire, of being intrigued by power, will be there again in a different disguise. Now you will start making efforts to find power over yourself. And that’s what it seems to be.
You say, “…a power not dependent on other people or their reactions – more within myself.” Even the reference to other people and their reactions implies that you are not thinking in a very different way. First you were interested that people should give you recognition; you should be a powerful man, a world conqueror, a Nobel Prize winner, or some other kind of stupidity. But everybody cannot be Alexander the Great. Neither can everybody become a Nobel Prize winner, nor can everybody be greater in some sense than others.