Right Use of Power (Members Only)

January 12th

Date details +
  • $40.00 Standard price
Price description +
Room: Main Meditation Hall

Registration & Light Snacks: 8:30-8:50

Program:  9:00-1:00


Right use of power is based on the pathbreaking work of Cedar Barstow who notes, “Right use of power is one of the most crucial needs of our time and one of the greatest challenges we face in leadership and personal development. We have the capacity for wisdom, skillfulness, and service in the use of our power. Yet we have all been wounded by misuses and abuses of power by those in positions of trust, and we have also inevitably misused or underused our own power.” Peace, harmony, and a life-sustaining world depend on the appropriate understanding and use of power, not only by our leaders, but by every one of us. 

Why is power in spiritual communities so challenging? Because we make a virtue of simplicity and humility, we tend to dismiss, suppress, or deny our own personal power, and to dissociate from the power of others and the power dynamics in the community. We don’t have ways of discussing them without shame or blame, and so we remain silent and therefore complicit in abuses of power.  In our Buddhist tradition, there is great power: the power of the Buddha nature in all being, the power of the dharma in relieving suffering and liberating beings, the power of sangha to nourish and support wisdom and compassion in ourselves and in the world. Yet we have little training in the skillful use of power: the capacity to stand in our strength while acting from our heart. The world is desperately in need of this profound energy, the exercise of our vow. To fail to use our spiritual, personal, and role power skillfully is itself an abuse of power that is common in spiritual communities.


Ultimately, power is the ability to have an effect or an influence. Every single person has power, but the wise use of our power is not simply a matter of good intentions. We must learn and practice how to use our power skillfully. The right use of power is relational, compassionate, and pro-active. We will explore the four dimensions of the right use of power: being informed, being compassionate, being connected, and being skillful, and their application to our spiritual communities and our path of vow.




Peg Syverson, Ph.D. was ordained as a Soto Zen priest in 2004. She has been a student of Joko Beck, Jan Chozen Bays and Hogen Bays. She and Flint Sparks are senior teachers at the Appamada Zen Center in Austin, Texas. Peg is one of three certified Teacher Trainers in “Right Use of Power”.  She is also an Associate Professor Emerita at the University of Texas at Austin. For more details go to Peg Syverson.

This program is for all members of the Austin Shambhala Meditation Center.

Please register now or as soon as you can, so we can plan appropriately.


Pricing:  If you can pay a $40 registration fee, we would be most appreciative.  If you can’t, just pay whatever you are able. Please do not let money stand in the way of your participation!!  If you can pay a little more than $40 and support others, that would really help!