"I am what I will be" -- Ex. 3:14
In Part I, we set out to show the path to individual empowerment. This led to the first paradox. Only you can empower yourself. However, we come into the world with no ability to empower ourselves. Although the potential is there, it requires an external agent to release it.
This led to the second paradox. Clearly, the family and society were the required agents. But, existing societies have very divergent opinions on the issue of individual empowerment. Furthermore, most seek to limit the empowerment of its members in order to enhance the power of a few.
Does this mean that, for most people, the goal of empowerment is an unachievable fantasy? Not necessarily. You could take the view that you are trapped by genetics, family and culture. Then you must remain who you are.
On the other hand, you could recognize that you can become who you will be. Who you are at this moment is a step on a longer journey to who you may become. The only issue is do you want to pay the price of becoming?
If your answer is no, then you have chosen to let others define you. If your answer is yes, then you must embark on the arduous journey from the enslavement of self to liberation of self. On the way, you will discover that you have everything available that you need to make the journey:
1. Axiomaticly recognize that there is one, unified Cosmic Truth (Truth). This Truth is different from the numerous "small truths" that contribute to Truth. In addition, Truth is not necessarily found in the opinions and assertions of a community. Creation itself is the model for what is True. That Truth is the same for both science and metaphysics. Theologically, this leads to the statement "God is Truth".
2. To seek Truth, you must become an impartial observer. As we have already said, being an observer is a requirement of the universe (Anthropic Principle). This is probably the most difficult challenge to achieving empowerment. We must separate ourselves from our perception of ourselves, and from the influences of family and culture that "programmed" that perception. As an observer, we can become aware of our own strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, we will be able to determine the actual strengths and weaknesses of our community.
Being observers allows us to put aside self-induced illusions, and draw closer to reality. We must learn that the world demonstrates its reality in the here and now; there are no "shoulds or oughts". The world as it is at this moment is the only world we have to work with.
As humans, we already have the tools needed to achieve that separation. They include doubt, questioning and taking nothing for granted. Have you noticed how quickly a child learns to question? From a metaphysical perspective, you might say that doubt and questioning are "God given gifts".
3. To validate our observations we must test them. The stories of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph in Genesis are examples of this. Each was severely tested by the circumstances of his life. In the tests, each was required to confront his strengths and weaknesses. Each was required to demonstrate his strengths. They grew and increased their power as a result. Yoga and Zen Buddhism follow the same process. The testing is the training. Life itself is a test. The level of empowerment that we achieve depends on our response to the test. Empowerment must be earned.
4. If there are tests, there must be demonstrable measures of achievement. Who, or what, defines those measures? We or society could define them. But, history has demonstrated that our measures are variable. They can lead to good or evil. Our standards for achievement and empowerment reduce to nothing more than opinions. According to these standards, empowerment can mean suppression and exploitation of the weak. It can also mean the exploitation of the strong by the strong, or of the strong by the weak. In this case, empowerment is not permitted to all who seek it.
The standards that we seek evolve from our search for Cosmic Truth, the Truth given to us by Creation itself. The actionable principles of this Truth are balance and connection. This is the basis of moral empowerment.
Now the assertion of the Pirke Avot becomes clear. "He who subdues his [evil] inclination" is morally empowered. He has struggled to discover himself, develop self-control and apply himself to sustaining balance and connection. People like him can enter society and lead others to empower themselves. Moses and the Sinai experience is an example. Through this process, the combined strength of the society balances individual weakness.
5. This process is cyclic. Empowered individuals empower societies. These, in turn, increase the capacity to acquire greater knowledge of Cosmic Truth. Then individuals can apply this knowledge to the next cycle of growth and achievement.
6. Of course, the concept of an empowered society is an idealization that may never be achieved. However, the same process can empower an individual or a group of individuals who have the courage to confront Cosmic Truth.