The 48 Laws of Power author Robert Greene uses history as examples of human nature and the quest for power. From the first paragraph I was awake with his psychological analysis of society and it’s power structure. He exposes that game that everyone plays and no one dare admit to or even talk about that infuriating lack of responsibility towards others that one must cultivate in order to feel superior. It is so elegant and evil at the same time, our animal nature to control and deceive for personal benefit is so closely rooted within our instincts to survive and therefore seems to make right any wrong and wrong from what is right.
There is nothing very odd about lambs disliking birds of prey, but this is no reason for holding it against large birds of prey that they carry off lambs. And when the lambs whisper among themselves, “These birds of prey are evil, and does this not give us a right to say that whatever is the opposite of a bird of prey must be good?” There is nothing intrinsically wrong with such an argument – though the birds of prey will look somewhat quizzically and say, “We have nothing against these good lambs; in fact, we love them; nothing tastes better than a tender lamb.”
“Another way of avoiding the game would be perfect honesty and straightforwardness, since of the main techniques of those who seek power is deceit and secrecy. Being honest will inevitably hurt and insult a great many of people, some of whom will choose to injure you in return. No one will ever see your honest statement as completely objective and free of some personal motivation.”
Very recently I have pondered the value of honesty from others, it is truly a gift if someone is honest with you, which is why it so rarely happens. Another person has to genuinely care about you to tell you the truth. Admittedly I perceive myself as a person that is conscious of honesty to myself and others, from which I stand to reap, or suffer from, my own kharma and fate. I fear as much as I obey, due to motivation. I do not enforce honesty on myself for the benefit of all others, as the altruistic idea of honesty would suppose but more of a tactic, commonly labelled ‘CYA.’
“If the world is like a giant scheming court and we are trapped inside it, there is no use trying to opt out of the game. That will only render you powerless, and powerless will make you miserable. Instead of struggling against the inevitable, instead of arguing and whining and feeling guilty, it is far better to excel at power.”
Certain basics skills are required to master the game of power. The Ability to Master Your Emotions, Anger, Love and Affection.
“Related to mastering your emotions is the ability to distance yourself from the present moment and think objectively about the past and the future. Like Janus, the double faced Roman deity and guardian of all gates and doorways, you must be able to look in both directions at once..”
“All human interaction requires deception on many levels, and in some ways what separates humans from animals is our ability to lie and deceive.”
“Playing with appearances and mastering arts of deception are among the aesthetic pleasure of life. They are also key components in the acquisition of power.
If deception is the most potent weapon in your arsenal, then patience in all things is your crucial shield.”
“Power is essentially amoral and one of the most important skills to acquire is the ability to see circumstances rather than good or evil”
“Deception is a developed art of civilization and the most potent weapon in the game of power”
“It is a game. Your opponent sits opposite you. Both of you behave as gentlemen or ladies, observing the rules of the game and taking nothing personally…….Train your eye to follow the results of their moves, the outward circumstances, and do not be distracted by anything else.
Half of your mastery of power comes from what you do not do, what you do not allow yourself to get dragged into. for this skill you must learn to judge all things by what they cost you”
“Be wary of friends- In fact you have more to fear from friends than enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them”
“Lord protect me, from my friends. I can take care of my enemies.”
“The best way to pass one’s days is in peaceful enjoyment of riches and honor. If you are willing to give up your commands I am willing provide you with the fine estates and beautiful dwelling where you may take your pleasure …..”
“A Chinese proverb compares friends to the jaws and teeth of of a dangerous animal; If you are not careful, you will find them chewing you up.”
“Pick up a bee from kindness and learn the limitations of kindness. – SUFI PROVERB”
“Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden, and revenge a pleasure. – TACITUS c A.D 55-120″
“There is almost a touch of condescension in the act of hiring friends that secretly afflicts them. The injury will come out slowly: A little more honesty, flashes of resentment and envy here and there, and before you know it your friendship fades.”
There are so many great quotes and lessons in this book I believe I will re-read it again sometime soon.