Every authority that is “outside” you, not you—in other words, any authority in your life that is manifested in something or someone who is not you—is a product of your own mind; it is your choice. Authority is but a concept we impose upon nature in order to justify and allow other concepts to have power over us or others.
Authority is an illusion. The only true (non-physical) power that someone or something has over you is that which you give them. Authority is all in the mind. How do I know this? Think of something that once “had power”—and thus exerted “its authority”—over you, perhaps a parent or a teacher. Most people use what they consider to be “physical” power as an excuse for “mental” power. A prisoner in jail, one might argue, has no control over his situation, and thus the jailer has real power and authority over the prisoner. This is true to a certain extent. But, does the body control the mind or does the mind control the body? Are they perhaps one and the same?
Take the example of your high school principle. She had “authority” over you when you were in school. She had power over you because if you didn’t do what she said, if you didn’t follow her rules, you would be kicked out of school, or get in trouble with your parents, or whatever. The important thing here is the “if.” No if, no power. No if, no authority.
When you were no longer in school, she no longer had authority over you, right? She is the same person; it is the situation, the circumstances, what you wanted and “needed,” that has changed.
The reality is that you gave her that power and authority over you, in order to get something you wanted or needed. No want or need, no power. No school, no power. We give power and posit authority in order to get something we want or think we need or should have. It is a choice.
We choose that by which we are controlled. And thus, it is really we who control ourselves, whether it is in the guise of another person or institution. It is our power we give away. If we choose not to, then the “authority” is no longer there.
From my personal notes, 8/20/99.