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In every engagement, in every relationship, in every communication lies the opportunity for influence. We are constantly influencing those we engage with. Our engagements can be with people, pets, plants, nature, wildlife, and some would say, even with inanimate objects. In some ways, influence is a form of energy transfer.

Influence can be created when two or more transferees of the energy are attracted into each others field of vision, sound, thought or action. The intensity of influence, of energy exchange, depends on the relative harmony between the influencers. In ancient Indian tradition, this influence, this harmonious energy transfer between teacher and student was recorded by the way of Upanisad. The literal meaning of the word is – to sit nearby, in the vicinity, with humility and willingness. 

Why were humility and willingness essential in the teacher-student relationship? Perhaps it was so that the energy of the teacher was not unduly wasted in overcoming the inner resistance of the student. If you have ever tried to teach a student full of arrogance, you know that it is an uphill battle to have any influence on such a student. However, let us not forget that influence does go both ways.

Pause and consider. Have there been times in your life when a teacher apparently had almost no influence on you? Why may that have been?

When we attract the “right” influencers, the impact on our life is unmistakable in its breadth and depth. And how do we discern the “right” influencer for us? One criteria is to observe the short and long-term change in our actions and our attitudes brought about the influencer. Did we create a single better habit, a single sustainable practice as a result of being in their vicinity? Did we feel at home in their energetic presence? Did the influencer create a better vision, a higher ideal for us? 

If the answer to any or all of the above questions is an unqualified yes, then we would have been in harmony with our  influencer If not, then perhaps we have a bit of work to do to attract the ‘right’ influencer. This work may be in the form of making a simple decision to lower our inner resistance by a little bit by asking – what if? What if I open my heart a little bit more to That which flows poetry within me?

A common invocation used at the beginning of every Upanisad is – may there be harmony among those who gather here; may we influence each other towards goodness; and may this goodness influence all of us to greater peace. Quite a good use of the energy of influence and influencers, don’t you think? 


P.S. Join us Sunday, April 29th at 9amET / 6:30pm India for a conversation about “attracting influence(r)s” in our weekly twitter hour in #SpiritChat. We will talk about those who influence(d) us, and the impact that we make in our own role as influencers. Namaste. 

Sitting near nature

One of my greatest influencers, where I feel at home, and am content to “sit nearby” in harmony…