For me personally, having had time to digest the thread is as simple as the flow of a river. ;-) (not that simple really is it?, but I love a paradox).
It is simply having the personal spiritual power to act decisively, honestly and with intent, when in the face of great danger, to you life or somebody elses. Because danger/fear, are paralysing.
It can be said as, "to be able to do the right thing".
you see a homeless person, and although you may be able to help in some small way, you ignore the reality and walk on by.
You see someone being beaten up in the street, you turn the other way and ignore it as if it is not happening, instead of doing something as simple as calling the police to say someone is being hurt can you please come and help, if you do not have the skills to break it up yourself, but you can still act.
If your intent is to act/help, and not ignore this reality, and to be able to do this with humility, and without a sense of personal gain, and the feeling of "this is the right thing to do", is this not true spiritual power.
Is this not what we teach in a very subtle way in the martial arts. Act even though you maybe putting yourself in danger, dont freeze and ignore the realities of life around you.
How simple this sounds, why is it so difficult in reality?
I like it Andrew. As you like paradoxes let me mention zen, as in zen koans and actions done by zen charachters in stories.
I would say they seem like paradoxes but actually come from a place of oneness. Thus in your examples it is looked at from the view of what you consider help to be. But does that come from that ultimate oneness?
From oneness the enlightened zen monk may do something you may find hard to believe as help. Those type of things I too find fascinating as when I first watched a strange film part written by bruce lee called 'the silent flute'
Lets take the story you give of the homeless person in the street.
In true oneness you would become aware of the whole of that person and what they need beyond the apparency. Thus you would act accordingly.
I'll make up a story based on that. So this monk was walking by and noticed that the beggar had a great history of not being listened to and communicated to in any meaningful manner. He had tried to find out why and given up and all this had led to his current position.
The monk walked up to him and said 'Hello, how are you?'
The beggar felt quite overwhelmed and found himself talking away like to a long lost friend and telling him all about his life. At the end he felt something he couldn't really explain, an extreme joy. The monk said' It's been nice talking to you' wished him well and went on his way.
The beggar meanwhile realized the answer to his question and became enlightened and thus changed his life.
Ultimate Aikido perhaps.