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Energy gradients

29 Oct, 2008 | Brian

Here in the U.S. we've got 120 volts of electricity eagerly waiting to course out of any of the dozen or more outlets that typically surround us. A volt is an interesting thing. It's potential. Like water flowing from a high point to a low one, electrical energy flows from a point of high potential toward a point of low potential. That difference, that energy gradient, is what we tap into, diverting the electricity from its intended course through a longer path that runs through a hair dryer or maybe a coffee pot, so that the little quanta tumble over something very much like a waterwheel and provide power for some useful work (e.g., brewing a tasty beverage).

It just so happens that everything we experience works on this principle. The Sun is the high-energy point, and the low point is the heliopause far out beyond the icy orbit of Neptune. Everything in between bathes in that energy gradient. Life functions because of it, a great metaphorical waterwheel scooping out gobs of sustaining energy from the Sun-river and building things like chinchillas out of it.

I guess it was Robert Moore who talked about a "True King" to which a warrior ought submit his service. The True King is a symbolic stand-in for a transcendent cause. Something bigger than yourself. Robert Bly channels Moore when he refers to "warrior energy," which is what a person gets when he puts himself into the service of a transcendent cause. Bly writes, "The person in touch with warrior energy can work long hours, ignore fatigue, do what is necessary." That puts me in mind of voltage. The king, the cause, up above, and the warrior below. By their difference they create potential. The result is energy. Useful work happens.

The thing about gradients is that the bigger the difference between the start and end point, the more energy is available. The deeper you put yourself in service, the steeper the gradient, and the more you respond with increased energy. You get more voltage.