This post is on other type of energy; The energy, and power, of individuals and the importance of “managing” or “handling” it, it’s about personal energy efficiency and leadership.
Curious as it may seem, two of the books I read recently have a similarity on the subject that I would like to explain here…
One is “Bushido, the soul of Japan“, the other “El encantador de perros” (César’s Way) from César Millan, known from TV as “the dog whisperer”. The first book shows (apart from many other themes) what ethical leadership means in Japanese tradition and chivalry. The second book, what leadership means for dogs and ultimately in nature.
In Bushido, here is a quote I specially liked, on how politeness, etiquette and elegance is understood as mastery of spirit and power in repose:
“…But they all united in the ultimate essential, and this was put by a great exponent of the best known school of etiquette, the Ogasawara, in the following terms: “The end of all etiquette is to so cultivate your mind that even when you are quietly seated, not the roughest ruffian can dare make onset on your person.” It means, in other words, that by constant exercise in correct manners, one brings all the parts and faculties of his body into perfect order and into such harmony with itself and its environment as to express the mastery of spirit over the flesh. What a new and deep significance the French word bienseance comes thus to contain! If the premise is true that gracefulness means economy of force, then it follows as a logical sequence that a constant practice of graceful deportment must bring with it a reserve and storage of force. Fine manners, therefore, mean power in repose…”
Now, what César Millán considers calm and assertive energy is also the elegant and powerful presence of the leader of the pack. The leader in nature is very energetic, but shows this power in repose, as calmed and assertive energy.
The paradox is that the leader in nature is following it’s instinct and the samurai is exercising correct manners, and needs effort for his spirit to master the flesh. Discipline is the way to achieve this. For me, this means we, humans, are now so far from the natural behavior that acting as a leader in nature requires quite some effort.
A key symbol in Bushido is the sword, the “emblem of power and prowess” is also the soul of the samurai. Bushido laid great stress on the proper use of the weapon;
"A dastard or a braggart was he who brandished his weapon on undeserved occasions. A self-possessed man knows the right time to use it, and such times come but rarely."
This efficient use of the sword means an energetic and powerful person doesn’t have to show by using it, just like a natural dog leader doesn’t have to bite (or even bark) to be the leader of the pack.
In short, elegant, calm and assertive energy is how we are leaders not only of the pack of dogs, also in society. In other words, it’s the “sustainable management of power”, or energy efficiency applied to ourselves.