In our culture, the meaning of potential is often a projection, “She has so much potential,” or “He has wasted his potential.” In other words, he or she could become what someone projects them to become if they only applied themselves to work towards that goal.
In THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA, Nietzsche writes of the marvelous potential of the three metamorphoses. He says we all start out in life, metaphorically, as a camel, carrying whatever load is put on it. The camel goes into the desert to change into a lion. The heavier its load, the stronger the lion. The lion’s task is to slay the dragon called “Thou shalt,” because on each of its glistening scales is written the commandment “Thou shalt.” Some Thou shalts are 4000 years old, and some are yesterday’s commands issued by the media or from a host of commercial interests. The commands can have history, having been issued by our parents and our parents’ parents. The commands can issue from social expectation. When the lion slays the dragon it becomes an innocent child, a wheel rolling out of its own center, a sacred Yes, with its own will and direction.
It seems to me that we tend to define potential out of our own perspective. Camels will define Camel potential, and lions will define Lion potential (unable to slay the dragon and turning their might to other purposes). Then there is the innocent child, who intuits Potential; that which comes from the whole of one’s being. Unless you at least make an attempt at slaying the dragon, wound it to the tune of a few Thou shalts, you’ll always be acting out of another’s projection or desire for your potential. You will not have the opportunity to enter into the field of your deeper Potential. Once there, you might decide that being a camel in service of others is what you were made for. But at this point, you are choosing service rather than being led about by a rope: an untamed camel. Or, you may decide to carry a load for the benefits of mutual survival. In both cases, freeing yourself from Thou shalts does not alter the fact that life can be a struggle.
When exploring the fields of Potential, one must be honest about what one finds there, because the underlying truths do not lie; one’s life unfolds from what is true about it. You may find a tired camel, or a misguided lion stuck staring at its own mane in a mirror, or a child with original mind still searching for the farthest reaches of exploration and bliss. Or, you may find a combination of these in a sort of chimera, free from some Thou shalts but still challenged by dragons you had previously not seen. Life is complicated, and even the most illumined or redeemed individual must still face the most basic challenges.
Because it’s not always easy to know the genuine potential in ourselves or others, it is sometimes easier to disregard the search for genuine potential and operate primarily on faith. While faith is not necessarily a bad default position in the absence of knowledge or experience, it can put us in the situation of ceding our potential. We sometimes have faith that “the doctor knows best.” We sometimes have faith that authorities are looking after our best interests. We sometimes operate on faith that a situation can or should be improved in accordance with our current worldview. We sometimes believe that Potential will find us if only we cue up properly – stand politely in the line labeled “God.” Because the external beliefs and memberships we stream into consciousness and subconsciousness influence our perception, it is possible to miss out on an individually available potential because we had been influenced to pursue the potential of others.
All genuine potential has a reality that requires our personal awareness in order for us to attempt or achieve personal actualization. Potential is the choice or will-oriented cousin to fate or karma. The reality of psi, healings (in a variety of modalities), and on-going questions relating to the path of our lives all comes back to our current connection (either weak or strong) to the field of our larger Potential.
The practical upshot of this is that if we don’t take the fields of Potential into account, we can preach or motivate all day about “unlimited potential.” We would be correct in only the most abstract sense – not relatable to the current circumstances of an individual’s life. Nor would we be likely to have insight beyond generalized inspiration. Without an understanding of potential our divination may be wishful and our intuition tainted or biased. So perhaps it is time to define what I mean by fields of potential.
Defining the fields of potential
There are four aspects of potential. The first aspect of potential is the personal endowment that one brings to circumstance – the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual characteristics that possess various probabilities of expression. Some characteristics become more easily activated and others remain dormant. These characteristics predispose one to the development of skills and the integration of personality.
The second aspect of potential is that which threads as probable becoming: the events, connections to people, and aspects of Fate and Soul that possess a measured probability to spring into existence as experienced reality.
The third aspect of potential is circumstance. Circumstance is that external characteristic that nurtures or hinders endowments and probable becoming – such as environment, economics, and cultural disposition. To use the Biblical sower of seeds parable, do the seeds fall on fertile or rocky ground? Circumstance is not an absolute barrier that cannot be transcended. But it must be acknowledged.
The fourth aspect is an undefinable urge to manifest existence, to make our lives count for something. This is what I call feeling pulled by the fields of Potential.
Next up: Potential – Riding a Beam of Light