Accountability

It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” – Moral (Clone Wars: Storm Over Ryloth)

 

To err is to human to forgive is divine. But are you accountable for your mistakes? Do you inspire people or do you let your ego lay blame elsewhere?

 

The Human Condition

Today there is an accountability crisis. People avoid being held accountable for their actions. When they do or say something wrong, they avoid taking ownership. Blame is allocated elsewhere. Fault can always be assigned. The status of “victim” or a person’s identity can be used to excuse the behaviour or justify it.

 

We live in a world where the consequence for bad behaviour and poor performance are routinely avoided, argued away, and dismissed.

 

This should not be the way. When a mistake is made, we should owe up to it and commit to doing better. If at fault, we should accept it and the consequences that it carries. We should learn from our mistake and use it to avoid a repeat. You can own your feeling and mistakes.

 

In the end, cowards are those who follow the dark side.” – Yoda

 

You are not a Mistake

No one is perfect. At times everyone thinks, says, and acts in ways that they are ashamed of or regret. By being accountable we learn to accept that we are only human and have the right to make mistakes and learn from them. We learn that we made mistakes, we are not a mistake.

 

By making mistakes we build a value system from an early age. We earn our place in the family unit, social group, community, and society by being accountable. Being accountable is to be a social creature made to work with others, a human being.

 

You are responsible, Ahsoka. These men are depending on you, and this time, so am I” – Anakin

 

Making Amends

Alcoholics have an accountability problem. Everyone knows this. It came with the territory. The last person an alcoholic will blame for the mess they have created is themselves. The act of choosing to drink is a failure of accountability because we know where the drink leads. Money that was needed for food is spent on booze, time better spent elsewhere is lost in a bar. We disappoint and hurt family, close friends, associates, employers and partners.

 

Through alcoholism we leave a trail of broken hearts and dreams behind us. We fail to acknowledge the harm we have caused to others and to ourselves. Facing reality we seek someone else to blame, a scapegoat but deep inside we know we are the cause of our problems.

 

Recovery is futile without taking action to make amends for the harm we have caused others. Without accepting accountability for our faults and mistakes we leave a dark shadow on our soul and eventually we return to drink.

 

If you make decisions out of fear you are more likely to be wrong” – Ahsoka Tano

 

Owning it

So why is it so hard for so many people today to face mistakes, own feelings, admit wrong, apologise to others, and make amends? It all boils down to ego and personal values. The Jedi and Sith provide a analogy:

 

A Jedi is fundamentally different from a Sith in that she will always be accountable for her conduct. This is because a Jedi is self-reliant, self-assured, and grounded enough to know that shirking accountability and blaming others betrays their inner system of values. Most of all it hurts others as well as themselves.

 

A Jedi is gracious enough to quickly admit a mistake, seek to make amends and resolve not to do it again. A strong sense of self and self-discipline will help turn out thoughts of denial, blame, resentment, and self-pity.

 

A Sith by comparison is a narcissist who is unable to show and feel empathy. They display a grandiose disregard for others and care only for themselves. A Sith is never at fault, other people are the problem, not they. Mistakes are never made unless they are caused by others. Blame is always deflected. Where a Sith perceives a wrong done, he will seek restitution or revenge.

 

Being narcissistic, a Sith personality will fly into rage and will bully, threaten, and accuse others of wrong. The Sith relish in the failings of others and use it to prop their egos up.

 

The Sith, like narcissists everywhere are weak and fragile self-loathing people who hide their true selves by projecting their faults on to others. They instil fear, anxiety, and self-doubt in other people so that they can maintain a level of control. The chaos and insecurity they create is debilitating to those around them.

 

You don’t have to carry a sword to be powerful. Some leaders’ strength is inspiring greatness in others.” – Ahsoka Tano

 

Own it or be Owned

There is a Jedi in all of us and there is also a little bit of the Sith. The next time you find yourself on shaky ground after an emotional outburst or a mistake will you own it, or will you be like a Sith and refuse to take the blame?

 

Will you work on being accountable and set an example to others and make amends?

 

Will you inspire fear or greatness? Do you let your ego or humility step forward?

 

That is your choice.

 

Justice

I have brought peace, freedom, justice, and security to my new empire”- Anakin

 

The Fall

The Jedi were Guardians of Justice. As representatives of the senate they avoided political affiliations and were dedicated to promoting justice and peace in the galaxy. The Jedi did this by applying a code that was ethical, moral and balanced. In other words, they used the “Jedi Method” for dispensing Justice.

Despite their best intentions the Jedi ultimately failed in their mission and were at times a source of injustice in the galaxy. The Jedi were not loved everywhere they went, far from it. As the Republic began to unravel to its end the Jedi found themselves making difficult choices which conflicted with the Jedi Code. The Jedi were complicit in the erosion of the democratic rights of citizens. Their action betrayed the very principles they stood for hastening their final demise. The foundations of justice on which the republic was built were compromised. The failure of Justice led to the rise of Palpatine and the final fall of the Republic.

The Jedi lost sense of who they were. Along the way they compromised their principles for power, prestige and influence. The Jedi became political pawns and were eventually eliminated by Palpatine under Order 66. It was an ignominious end to a shining beacon of freedom and justice in a chaotic galaxy. With the fall of the Jedi came the end of Justice.

Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity” –  Alexander Solzhenitsyn

A Complex Moral Virtue

Justice is a moral virtue that is as hard to define as it is to achieve. Justice is rarely universal or perfect. For every Justice  there is always a grievance left in its shadow. The scales will tip in favour for one party at the expense for another.

In a perfect world, every decision made in the name of Justice would serve everyone equally and no harm would result. We know this is rarely the case and one person’s gain will be another person’s loss. As hard as it can be to grapple with the outcomes, we should all strive toward “Justice for all” but be aware that mistakes can and will be made. Spend a day in the criminal or family courts to see this how Justice often plays out.

Humans are born with a sense of justice and become conscious of it at an early age. Children know intrinsically when something is unfair. They recognise compassion and empathy and carry an innate natural wisdom. As children age, they are influenced by parents, peers, teachers and the environment. Personal prejudices and biases creep in as the ego flowers. We never lose our divine sense of Justice; it only becomes shrouded.

Truth never damages a cause that is just” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Lady Justice

No two people will have the same answers because everyone holds a different set of values which they define as stated principles. Each person has a varying outlook and idea on how Justice should be dispensed and appear at any given time for any issue. Every person has their unique set of preferences, bias and prejudices known and unknown. These vary and change over time with knowledge and experience.  The exception is those that are told what to think. Without further thought or reasoning they blindly accept dogma and dare not stray from it.

Jedi used their sound judgement and reason. They were flexible enough in their thinking to not fall into traps or follow orders without question. Dogma was avoided. Jedi would at times question the sanity or the morality of decisions made. At the same time the Jedi were sworn to the order and were expected to follow orders. This conflict between personal judgement of what was right versus duty would plague many Jedi.

A real-world Jedi must confront the same questions and grapple with the same inner conflicts. Real-world Jedi are diverse, they are every race, colour, creed, gender, political leaning, sexual orientation and opinion. There is no die-cast Jedi with a “typical” appearance, character or set of ideas. People in general are no different. Regardless of who you vote for, the causes and issues you follow be they social or environmental how you define “Justice” in every instance may differ from that of others.

The foundation of justice is good faith” – Cicero

 

Seeking Justice

Alcoholism distorts ones sense of right and wrong. I had a very skewed sense of justice as it applied to me. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, I was never at fault for any of the harm I caused. Restitution was for others, not me. Blame for my own faults could be assigned to others. I was never at fault. Even when deep inside I knew I had overstepped the mark I was able to rationalise my way out of it. I was the victim in all of this.

Recovery forces us to get honest with ourselves. We look back in to the past  and list all of the people we have harmed. Character flaws are exposed for what they are. Mistakes and injustices are admitted. Seeking to put things right we seek to make amends as far as we can without causing harm to others. Our pride, ego and security is no longer important, we have to put justice first. Our sobriety depends on it.

Justice takes courage. It also takes a commitment to rigorous honesty and humility. Selfishness, pride and ego need to be put aside. It is not a case of saying “I am right therefore you must be wrong“. It is about looking beyond appearances and courageously seeking the truth.

Justice is truth in action.” –  Benjamin Disraeli

 

Jedi Method

So be careful when you demand “Justice”. Things may not be as black and white as they appear. Bias and prejudice will only further cloud judgement. Be mindful of hidden agendas, ulterior motives and a natural desire for restitution or revenge. Justice should contain none of these things.

You must ask if your sense of justice correct? You can seek advice but decide you must, what is right. It may help to ask three important questions before you dispense Justice:

Is it ethical? Ask yourself “would you do something that you would consider wrong or questionable if it were done by someone else?”. If you cannot satisfy this test, then the thing should not be done.

Is it moral? Ask yourself before making a decision “Will I be able to sleep soundly tonight? How would I react if I were on the receiving end? Will I be judged harshly?”. Remember that each judgement that you pass carries consequences, for others and for yourself. Accept that.

Is it balanced? You must determine if something is fair. Does it respect the rights of others? Is it equitable (equity)? Is there also a degree of impartiality? Does it recognise the arguments and grievances of all sides equally (equality)? Is it fair?

Is it true? Justice only holds if it is based on truth. Honesty is paramount. Lies, half truths and falsehoods negate justice.

So, the question you have to ask is “what do you value? What are your principles and finally, how do you define Justice? What is your blind side, and do you know your own biases?” Are your decisions around Justice based on truth, fairness, compassion and wisdom?

Does it agree with the Jedi Method?

 

Image: March on the Jedi Temple during Order 66 (Copyright and all rights reserved by Lucas Films Ltd)

Force

There is no Death; there is the Force” – Jedi Code

 

The underlying message of the mantra “There is no Death; there is the Force” is self realisation. You are more than a persona, a physical being with an ego. Within all people resides the potential of infinite higher self. The true goal in life is to come to knowledge, understanding and realisation of that true nature.

The Jedi accepted that death does not exist. Death is an illusion like time or matter. Life is seen as a manifestation of an eternal state that transforms between the physical and the spiritual which is eternal. Some people describe the eternal essence as the spirit, the inner divine and Chi, Prana, Baraka. The Jedi describe it as the Force. How you describe it and what you call it is up to you.

 

Luminous Beings

Luminous beings we are, not this crude matter” – Yoda

Death does not exist, only the dissolution of the physical state and the ego. What is left, call it the spirit, returns to the Force. This true inner self was always connected to the Force and always one with it; it just did not know in its physical state and was disconnected. This is the illusion of separation.

The concept of enlightenment is the return of oneness with the source, the loss of duality and self realisation. Some call this enlightenment or transcendence. It is also know as “God-Realisation” and “Nirvana”. The Jedi aspired to reach this level of awareness and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Anakin and Luke Skywalker achieved this state of becoming “one with the Force” through their physical deaths.

 

Dying every day

Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force.” – Yoda

An alcoholic is also an example of ego run riot and the greatest fear is not so much death but the dying every day that comes with it. In a way, an alcoholic lives in a twilight zone between the living and the dead. The ego, ever fearful of death, feeds denial and false pride with resentments and belligerency. The disease will often carry its host to the grave. In my experience there are worse things than death; spiritual death is to live in a very dark place.

Many alcoholics will be vaguely aware that they are in trouble when temporarily sober but are unable to prevent the “next time” and the spiral descent to what we call “rock bottom”. A spiritual solution is more often than not the way out. That may be nothing more than an admission of the truth and surrender to a higher power. At rock bottom I experienced nothing less than a spiritual experience at this point and the impact was immediate and dramatic.

It was the start of a journey.

 

The Journey

Close your eyes. Feel it. The light…it’s always been there. It will guide you.” – Maz Kanata

Arriving at self-realisation can take years or decades. Sudden enlightenment can also occur through a profound spiritual experience. People who have had traumatic experiences, hit rock bottom and visited hell speak of a sudden and overwhelming spiritual realisation. Some psychedelic experiences have also left a permanent mark on people through a transcendent episode.

For the most part self realisation of our true nature evolves slowly and gradually through meditation practice and application of training. Over time we come to different levels of awareness and realisation on our life journey.

 

Self Awareness

Self awareness is an awakening to our potential. We come to a spiritual awakening that reveals our ignorance and the path before us. This is the beginning of the spiritual Hero’s journey for many. Luke Skywalker accepting the call to adventure on Tatooine was the realisation of this stage.

 

Self Exploration

Self exploration follows. Awoken to the possibilities we begin to seek answers to the questions that matter; “who am I?” and “what is my purpose?”. We begin to change the way we live and adopt practices such as meditation and study to deepen our understanding. We are looking for jewels. Luke Skywalker’s time with Obi-wan Kenobi and with Yoda on Dagobah gave him the opportunity to seek knowledge of his life purpose.

 

Self Discovery

Self discovery is experienced through insights as our consciousness begins to expand through the practices. We are finding jewels through our efforts. On Dagobah and then on Cloud City Luke was forced to confront his shadow and dark personal truths. Along the way, he came to deep insights.

 

Self Understanding

Self understanding is the beginning of self knowledge at a deeper level. In Jungian terms it is the process of individuation of the true self. Knowledge of the ego self, the inner anima and animus and acceptance of the shadow are part of the process.

 

Self Love

Self love is acceptance of the whole of one’s being and forgiveness of ones faults. This acceptance and forgiveness is extended to others. The presence of the inner divine is heightened at this point. Luke Skywalker at “Return of the Jedi” had grown into a man at ease with himself. Being a Jedi meant being able to find forgiveness and empathy for others.

 

Self Transformation

Self transformation is the realisation of the archetypes in our lives. Through inner awareness and life experience we put aside old habits and ideas that no longer serve. The personality undergoes a death and rebirth as the ego begins to be eclipsed by the true (individuated) self. One can be said to be reborn. Luke Skywalker arrived at this nexus when he refused to kill Vader. As a result the Dark Lord, Darth Sidious was defeated.

 

Self Mastery

Self mastery is the full realisation of individuation. The whole personality is born and the ego is mastered. The emerging archetype resembles the Jedi Master who is calm, at peace, passive. Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine had arrived at Self Mastery when he met Luke Skywalker. Luke also finally achieved mastery when he faced his old apprentice Kylo Ren on Crait.

 

Self Transcendence

Self transcendence is the flowering of the individual potential in this life. Short of being “one with the Force” it is the highest level of awareness possible. This state is being in constant conscious contact with the divine. Life becomes a meditation. Very little will upset or ruffle the feathers of someone at this level. There is complete acceptance of life and death. Imagine Yoda on Dagobah as he neared his physical end.

 

Self Realisation

Self realisation is the conscious union of the self with the soul. Enlightenment has occurred. The illusion of suffering, separation, duality and the ego has been dispelled. The true nature of all things comes in to focus as the veil is finally removed. There is no longer self, there is all. There is no death there is only the Force. One can now be said to be “one with the Force”.

This is the Jedi journey.

 

There is no Death

Life is a journey and we can be said to arrive at the destination when we transcend to the next life. The meaning that we apply to the time we have ultimately defines the life we live. Being sober is a start. If this journey brings me closer to knowledge of the Divine then I can be all the more grateful.

The reality is that everything and everyone must die. Nothing is eternal, not even this universe that we live in. To grasp to attachments and refuse to “let go” when the time comes is to truly suffer. People will die including those close to us and to mourn them is natural and healthy but to mourn obsessively and refuse to accept the nature of things is unhealthy. I take faith in my personal belief that death is simply an event in the wheel of life and that nothing truly dies. Ultimately the Force is everything and all there is.

We belong the the Force and ultimately return to it.

Harmony

There is no Chaos; there is Harmony” – Jedi Code

The underlying message of the mantra “There is no Chaos; there is Harmony” is perception. At times everything around us seems in utter chaos. Thoughts and emotions can run amok and cause us to act in ways that we later regret. The way you respond to things out of your control remains within the power of your control.

 

We can control our lives by controlling our perceptions.” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

For a recovering alcoholic, the progression of the disease is like being caught in a whirlwind. It is nothing less than pure chaos, a type of hell or nightmare in which we have no control. The only way out ironically is to accept, admit and surrender, there lies the keys to freedom.

 

Whatever has been said about Darth Vader it can never be said that he was an agent of Chaos. Darth Vader was to the extreme a controller, he wanted to rule the universe and control the Force. In the end he was little more than a slave to Darth Sidious who was chaos himself.

 

Sheev Palpatine was a megalomaniac, a narcissist with a colossal ego who thrived on chaos, deception and manipulation to control others. Not that different to a functioning alcoholic, Palpatine was drunk on the power of the Dark Side. Control was maintained by perpetuating disharmony through fear.

 

Chaos, like Palpatine, was my master and I know her well. She was a cruel mistress but she promised me joy, power, confidence and popularity. She made me feel like a king and allowed me to feel alive and free. Once I was hooked she made me a slave and I could not live without her. She made me lie, steal, cheat, fight and disgrace myself over and over again. She challenged me to leave and then would punish me severely when I returned. I rode on this merry-go round from hell for over 20 years and tried many times to get off but could not until she took me to a very dark place and that’s where I found my way out. The grace of a a higher power.

 

You can choose Chaos or Harmony. That is in your control.

 

“Your perspective is always limited by how much you know. Expand your knowledge and you will transform your mind.” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

We know that the world can seem chaotic yet viewed from a distance the planet appears in order, calm and peaceful, in harmony. Even if your world seems to be falling apart there is more working in the world than not. The water, electricity and telecommunications systems are still running. There is still food on supermarket shelves. Harmony resides behind the chaos.

 

Whether in full glory or behind a mask of clouds, the sun will rise in the morning. Harmony cannot exist without chaos no more than day can exist without night. The sun never really rises, and it never sets, that is only a perception. Yet we do not feel the world turning beneath our feet.

 

Our beliefs control our bodies, our minds, and thus our lives…” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

When we center ourselves and look at a situation outside of the lens of our own reactivity it often looks very different. To paraphrase Epictetus, “it is not the thing that harms us but our perception of it”. Chaos exists within you but so does harmony.

 

By grounding yourself you can sort through the chaos and find inner harmony. The world may fall apart but that does not mean that it should also cause your mind to do the same. You have a choice how to perceive a thing and how to respond to it.

 

Buddha stated that in fact there is nothing. Nothing we perceive is as it appears. Everything is an illusion. Yoda tried to explain this to Luke Skywalker and demonstrated that power when he lifted the X-Wing out of the swamp on Dagobah with his mind.

 

What quantum physics teaches us is that everything we thought was physical is not physical.” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

Quantum physics demonstrates how little we understand matter and energy. All matter is in fact packets of energy and essentially comprised of nothing. This sub-particle concept is incredibly mind-boggling but illuminating. Consider that an electron can exist in two different points in the Universe, at the same time. It can be here and there at the same time. Chaos and harmony are in balance at the cosmic and at the particle level.

 

Our goal is to live in harmony with others, the environment and ourselves. By achieving harmony with the inner and outer environment we come to be in harmony with our higher self.

 

Our very cells respond to our thoughts. A mind that resides in chaos and disharmony affects the body at the physiological and DNA level. The community, nature and health of the individual are affected. When we are in a balanced a state of harmony allows for the body, community and nature to heal itself and function.

 

human beings have a great capacity for sticking to false beliefs with great passion and tenacity,” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

Giving up false beliefs, becoming honest and pouring passion and tenacity into recovery is what brings contended sobriety to the suffering alcoholic. The formula works wherever disharmony exists.

 

The world is in the current mess because humanity is in disharmony with itself and with nature. Our species has forgotten that we are a part of nature and not separated from it. We share a common fate because all is ultimately connected. Once we find that connection with nature and live in harmony with it, the balance can be restored and the world can recover.

 

When Yoda said “we are luminous beings, not this crude matter” I believe that George Lucas was alluding to this convergence between science and the spiritual. The interconnectedness of all things defines the Force. Harmony cannot exist without chaos. The Force binds everything together and pervades everything like the Tao. Where chaos and harmony meet and balance, we find Infinite Love. Is Life, the cosmos, not both after all? It is a perfect union of chaos and harmony.

 

“Nature is based on harmony. So it says if we want to survive and become more like nature, then we actually have to understand that it’s cooperation versus competition.” – Bruce H. Lipton

 

To ground yourself be mindful of your thoughts and emotions by regularly checking in on them. Ask yourself, “What am I feeling right now”. Observe, impartially, the emotions that stir within you. Explore them with a curious mind without becoming attached to them as if observing them from a distance.

 

Observe your thoughts in the same way; ask “What am I thinking right now?” Dissect your thoughts without judgement resisting the urge to attach to them. You only need to decide if they are reasoned and serve you. Let go what doesn’t.

 

Anytime you feel yourself disconnected stop for a moment. Just breathe focusing on the air entering and leaving your lungs. Close your eyes if you wish. Open them and look around. Feel the earth beneath your feet. Open your senses to the world. Seek out nature whenever you can. The natural world will centre you and restore harmony. Be at peace, calm, passive in the world.

 

Watch the full episode with Dr. Bruce Lipton for FREE: https://londonreal.tv/dr-bruce-lipton…

 

Serenity

There is no Passion; there is Serenity” – Jedi Code

 

The underlying message of the mantra “There is no Passion; there is Serenity” is acceptance. It is important to understand that passion is not a negative emotion and can be a virtue. However, passions can also become an obstacle to serenity if they are not controlled.

 

Expression of the Divine

Passion is a wonderful gift and provides the drive and creativity in all human endeavours. Without passion in the world we would see a stale and soulless world. Society could simply not exist. Imagine a world without art or music any other forms of human expression. There would be nothing, no creation, only nature as it was before.

 

I believe that the expression of passion is the expression of the divine. But passion can also be destructive. Anakin had great passion for his love and his desire to be Master; however, his passion consumed him and overwhelmed his humanity. His passion became an obsession as he attempted to control others, the order of the galaxy and life itself. Anakin struggled against the Force, the natural order of things.

 

When we are passionate to a degree that it enriches the lives of others and brings us closer to our true inner self is when we achieve true serenity.

 

The Power of Now

The purpose in life is to live to be whoever we choose to be and to fulfil our higher purpose as we define it. This can only be achieved by living in the now and enjoying life as a moment to moment experience rather than to feel regret or longing for a past that is gone forever and fear or false hope for a tomorrow that never comes.

 

The universe does not revolve around us, but we are all a part of the universe and have a right to be here. Life happens in the now.

 

Passions

As an alcoholic I was and remain a very passionate person. In the past that passion would get the better of me. I had energy to achieve what I thought were admirable and justifiable outcomes in my personal and professional life and would become resentful, obstinate and belligerent when I did not get my way.

 

My passion was in  getting absolutely drunk. I showed a lack of emotional maturity and would funnel my energy in a destructive way, through drinking and “getting back at others” to such an extent that it cost me many relationships and opportunities.

 

With recovery came the realisation of my many character flaws and a shift toward a less selfish approach to what I consider as important to me. I believe that I do not have to compromise my values by being more tolerant and accepting of others and their needs. They are my values.

 

I can be firm without being disagreeable. I can demonstrate passion without harming others or preventing them from achieving their own goals. Everyone has a right to express themselves, but not at the expense of another. This realisation has bought me a greater degree of calm and serenity in my life and a deeper understanding of myself and others.

 

Serenity

We see the Jedi and they look serene, nothing much seems to get them upset. They appear to be in a state of equanimity and non-attachment. This does not mean that a Jedi is an empty shell devoid of passion. Jedi don’t get too excited about what they can and more importantly what they can’t control.

 

To experience serenity is enjoy the beauty in all things and take wonder in the simple things, the flight of a butterfly, the intricate design of a snowflake or a seashell and the immensity and mystery of the star filled sky. We should accept things as they are not as we would have them be. Rest in the Now.

 

The serenity prayer best encapsulates the message behind the mantra “There is no Passion; there is Serenity”. Feel free to replace the word God, with “Force” or whatever you wish. The message is to learn to differentiate between the things that are in our control and things that are outside of our control.

 

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can, and

The wisdom to know the difference

 

Self Knowledge

In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.” – Yoda

 

There is no Ignorance; there is Knowledge” – Jedi Code

 

The underlying message of the mantra “There is no Ignorance; there is Knowledge” is humility. Through objectivity and rejection of illusion we see the world as it is. We recognise our delusions for what they are. We seek the truth and self-knowledge above all. In doing so we arrive at humility.

Pride and vanity cloud our judgement and obscure the truth and the antithesis of which is humility. We learn to accept that we do not know what we do not know and that the truth behind all things is hidden. We then leave ourselves open like a vessel to inquire, question, to acquire knowledge. Never stop learning.

 

Ignorance

Ignorance is bolstered by pride, but fear keeps us there. The truth is that no-one in this world knows everything and can ever know everything. To believe different would be arrogance in the extreme. To be arrogant is to be ignorant and to turn away from learning is to deny growth. The human spirit wants nothing more than to grow. Arrogance and ignorance are born of fear and it is fear that keeps us from growing to our full potential.

As an alcoholic I suffered ignorance to the extreme and was arrogant and full of self importance. I looked down on others as inferior and everyone but me had a problem. My fault was that I chose not to know myself and learn from what was painfully obvious; the inability to moderate and to be humble.

 

Falsehoods appearing real

They say that the definition of insanity is to “do the same thing continuously and expect different results”. That is how alcoholism works; “it will be different this time” and “I have it under control” or “what do they know, I’ll show them”.

If I had applied simple scientific method to my long list of problems I perceived to be caused by others I would quickly have come to realise that the above statements represented a false hypothesis.

The belief that I could control my drinking was continuously proven wrong with every bender and every hangover. Yet, the alcoholic will persist, often to his untimely end with this insanity. The only way I got out of this merry-go round was to admit that I did not know, that I was ignorant and all I had to do was open myself up to be ready to learn and embrace and explore, rather than reject without exploration.

 

The Brink

Human behaviour as a whole is no different. We are not much different you and I. We all now stands at a crossroad in its history. Society has harnessed the technological know-how to end all life on this planet as we know it. A mere virus of our own making can bring society to its knees. We are at the mercy of nature and worse, we are the victims of our own ignorance and hubris.

Humanity now stands on the brink and while the intellect exists to create technology and power, we also lack the wisdom to yield it for the benefit of all. It is ignorance and arrogance that will ultimately hold humanity back from achieving its higher purpose. It may also destroy all life on Earth. The Ego ultimately kills the Ego.

Society, this human species has been around for a quarter of a million years as a sentient being able to think, reason, contemplate, judge and make conscious decisions. We have free will and the ability to exercise it. One would think after so many thousands of generations we would have learned a thing or two and not be making the same mistakes, the lessons would be written in our DNA.

We have all the power to change but at this nexus of collective human history we stand at the edge of a chasm. Beyond that precipice resides eternal darkness. Conscious thought, at least on Earth, no longer exists. All knowledge ends when ignorance prevails. This should not be the future for humanity.

 

Transcend

Being alcoholic puts me in a special place. I know what it is to be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually sick. I also know what that self-knowledge was crucial in my recovery. If I had not had the courage to admit my addiction and face my demons I would probably not be writing this today. But for the grace of the Force I am here writing this. Each passing day a little more truth reveals itself to me.

Consciousness of self and the gift of self-knowledge is granted to each person. It is up to you to “know yourself”. Each must find the path that separates ignorance from knowledge and false ideas from facts. This is done by identifying values, defining principles, realising passions and interests, setting personal goals and understanding your strengths as well as your weaknesses.

You may arrive at each through a guide or make the journey alone. When you know your life goal and purpose, you have arrived at true knowledge of your place in this world. At this place you leave yourself open to self-actualisation, individuation and transcendence to a state of higher consciousness. You become who you truly are; Self.

The wonderful reality is that we can transcend to the next level of knowing, a place where science meets spirituality and where we no longer need to live as un-evolved beings. Knowledge of the truth reveals the beauty and order in the universe and the divinity within all life and the oneness of all things. This state is pure consciousness, knowledge and enlightenment. It is the essence of the line “there is no ignorance, there is knowledge”.

Equanimity

There is no Emotion; there is Peace” – Jedi Code

He who seeks to control fate shall never find peace.”Ghosts of Mortis (The Clone Wars)

 

The underlying message of the mantra “There is no Emotion; there is Peace” is Equanimity. Emotion is a part of being human and to fully experience life one must embrace the full spectrum of emotions whether perceived as negative or positive.

The Buddha said that in life “there will be 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows”, that everything in life is essentially impermanent and transient. To grasp to anything, to build attachment, leads only to suffering. This includes emotions.

Equanimity is being able to experience emotions fully but without forming attachment to them. Without giving emotions free rein we can experience acceptance and peace.

In order to achieve deep inner peace one must be able to allow emotions to be as they are. To fight emotions such as fear, anger or grief is to give it life. What you resist persists. By being able to observe our emotional state, being aware of it and not letting it dominate our lives or dictate how we react to situations is the key to achieving inner peace.

The image of a Jedi calm in the face of adversity and completely at peace as a storm of fear and violence rages around him is in essence what this line teaches us. Think of Qui-Gon Jinn facing Darth Maul in the final scenes of the “Phantom Menace”. Before the duel Qui-Gon Jinn meditates despite the danger he faces and finds inner peace. Decades later when Obi-Wan Kenobi met his former friend and apprentice on the Death Star he also confronted the peril with equanimity.

Right now the world faces peril in the form of a pandemic. There has been nothing like it for over a hundred years. How this one will play out no one really knows and much of it depends on the actions that each individual takes in the face of this global threat.

No one is immune and everyone will be affected in some way. It is a reminder that we live in a global community. The most unremarkable acts, far away, can have profound consequences for all.

Will you face the peril with fear, anger and denial? Will you act irrationally and irresponsibly or will you find calm and peace amidst the calamity? Jedi Training prepares us for times such as these so that we can face them with equanimity. We accept that it is happening, we respond rationally and use self discipline to do what is expected of us without complaint.

Recovery means practicing our principles every day, not just when things are going well.

Use these times and every challenge you face to practice your principles. Embrace emotions as the divine gift that they are, but don’t let them rule you. Don’t give in to fear. Be “calm, at peace, passive”.

Diplomacy

Diplomatic mission over Naboo

 

You were right about one thing, Master. The negotiations were short.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

 

The Jedi were trained in diplomacy as much as in Lightsaber combat. Violence was a last resort. Physical force was used proportionate to the threat and only as far as necessary. In all cases a Jedi would seek diplomacy as a way of achieving a mutually beneficial outcome, if possible. Skills in negotiation and communication were paramount. The Lightsaber was only on hand if negotiations turned deadly.

 

Galactic Diplomats

The Republic was dependent on the Jedi being able to persuade allies and potential allies and build strong friendships. Jedi were often sent by the Republic Senate as diplomatic emissaries for this reason. Diplomacy was used to secure trade agreements, treaties, free hostages and avoid or resolve conflict. The Jedi recruited across the galaxy from all worlds and could easily bridge any cultural or linguistic divide by assigning the right team to engage in negotiations or provide a protocol Droid to provide impartial advice and assist. A Jedi could also be excused if they used subterfuge, half-truths or deceit in difficult or deadlocked negotiations. The “Jedi Mind Trick” was seen as a tool to achieving a desired goal without resorting to violence.

In many ways the Jedi resembled the professional diplomat of Earth, with one key difference. The Jedi only acted in the interests of the Republic and never for personal gain. Jedi were also warriors albeit “warriors for peace”. A Jedi who rushed blindly in to the fray with Lightsaber drawn was a liability. A Jedi who could not use diplomacy to talk himself out of a fight was a threat to peace and the Jedi Order.

This is not to say the Jedi were pacifists who objected to violence in all its forms. Violence when required was used without emotion or haste. A Lightsaber was never drawn in anger or used in hate or as a tool of revenge or murder. The Lightsaber was a symbol of control, purity in strength and the cutting edge of diplomacy. At least that was the intent and part of the Jedi Code.

 

You call this a diplomatic solution?” – Anakin

No I call it an aggressive negotiation” – Padmé Amidala

 

No People’s Person

Some of the Jedi were not the best diplomats and suffered the presence of others. Anakin was impatient and emotional, not the traits of a good negotiator. Anakin lacked the skills of a diplomat. Mace Windu could come across as inflexible and grim. The Jedi Master was a traditionalist and did not like the Jedi Order becoming intertwined with the Senate believing there was a conflict of interest at stake during the latter days of the Republic. This put him at odds with the political elite on Coruscant and other Jedi. Ultimately it led Mace Windu on a collision course.

No one is perfect. I would admit to being very brittle and aloof at times. I can also be rude and short with people. At times I have reduced people to tears in the way I have spoken to them. Most of the time I am oblivious that my tone, language and body language presents as defensive, aggressive or impatient and rude. This is the way I am and have always been. Alcoholics also have a penchant for getting people off side and otherwise offending those around them with skill. I used to joke that I not only burned bridges, I napalmed them.

One of the hardest things in recovery is learning how to treat people. We wish to acquire humility and patience so that we can achieve serenity. At the same time we want to be treated with kid gloves and tolerated. We are recovering alcoholics and want the world to be gentle with us. How often do we fail to give others the same tolerance, patience and gentle treatment that we expect for ourselves? How often do we fall back in to the old habits of resentment, anger, impatience and vindictiveness.

I don’t expect I will change any time soon. My character is so ingrained that I will never be completely cured of being an a-hole. What I can do is strive to be more diplomatic in my approach to people. I do not have to like everyone but being respectful and being tolerant is a start. When I fail, which I certainly will I must make amends as soon as I can. There is nothing worse than upsetting others through our words and actions and letting it go. Amends have to be made, our serenity and sobriety depends on it.

 

I am a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan” – Princess Leia

 

Common Past and Future

The 12 Steps recognises a number of truths. Firstly, it lays the blame of our insane behaviour directly on we who are alcoholic. We were insane and others suffered for it. Secondly, it is possible to make amends for our past mistakes and reset our lives so that we can find peace and serenity in the present and look forward to a better future. Thirdly, our character flaws and faults are not irredeemable. By willingly turning them over to a Higher Power and living by principle we experience a change in character. Despite our diversity and differences, we are not unique and we share commonalities with others who suffer, are recovered and those who were never alcoholic to begin with.

Its is understanding those differences and identifying where commonalities exist that is the key to getting out of self and learning diplomacy.

 

So how do we exercise diplomacy?

 

 

The Art of Diplomacy

Diplomacy is learned behaviour, a skill and an art. Learned because as children we observe our parents and peers and learn from their interactions. What is acceptable behaviour is adopted sometimes through trial and error and sometimes through guidance. The skill of diplomacy is using tact, reasoning, communication and negotiation in a manner that recognises one’s opinions, beliefs, ideas and biases as well as those of others. Challenges are skilfully navigated towards arriving at a desired outcome. The art of diplomacy is more refined. It is the mark of a true Jedi because it demonstrate effortless use of the Jedi Code in dealing with others.

 

Language is important.

The words that you choose and the way they are spoken can either persuade and influence or disillusion and alienate people. Be mindful of you language without surrender, use tact in your delivery. Always be clear and avoid ambiguity or misleading statements. Be sensitive to cultural mores around communication. For example, in some cultures yelling and being animated in negotiations is acceptable, in others it is frowned upon severely.

 

Patience is a virtue.

Never rush in to negotiations. Think things through before speaking or remain silent. If possible, have a plan on how to proceed with discussions.

 

Compromise, but never on principles.

Negotiations should never force you to compromise or betray your own principles regardless of the cost.

 

Be assertive yet agreeable.

Getting your way does not mean you need to force it. At the same time betraying weakness can quickly work against you. Hold on to your ground and only concede when it advantageous to do so. Just be nice while doing it. You can disagree without being disagreeable. Manners never cost anyone.

 

Face to Face.

Negotiation is best done person to person rather than remotely through email, messaging or phone. Much in communication is lost when facial expressions and body language is absent from negotiations. We are all guilty of over using email and texting to communicate and have probably been misunderstood more than once. Always insist on face to face negotiations and follow up with electronic communication.

 

Listen and Learn.

Active listening is essential to effective communication. Strive to listen, engage with questions to clarify and really try to understand what is being said. Show interest and avoid appearing absent or distracted. No one likes an incessant talker but everyone likes a good listener. Best of all a listener will learn something new while a talker will only repeat what is already known.

 

Empathy and understanding is the key.

Selfish motivations and biases will cloud negotiations. While we hear the concerns, demands or grievances of another party we are filtering them through the lens of our own needs. By understand where the other person is coming from and putting ourselves in to their shoes we can start to see the world and the issue through their eyes. With empathy comes arrival at a place of mutual understanding.

 

Open horizons.

Anyone who has worked as a Diplomat will reinforce the need to understand who sits at the other side of the table during negotiations. There exists cultural, religious, historic and linguistic differences between people and to bridge the gap it helps to understand them. Any smart Diplomat will study closely the culture of the country they are working in and make efforts to learn the rudiments of the language and otherwise seek the services of a local to act as adviser and interpreter.

 

You don’t have to like the guy, just work with him.

Rapport and honesty are important but not crucial. World leaders will meet and agree on crucial issues of national and global importance. They may not like each other but for the sake of diplomacy will find rapport to undertake productive negotiations. Honesty is a facet of trust which is requisite for agreements however an honest Diplomat will concede that the real world is more complicated than that. In the real world we are no different. One must use their discretion. Every day we must negotiate with people whom we love, like and dislike including family, friends, work colleagues, clients and random people we meet. If you deal honestly and have rapport you are likely to run into less problems getting your way however you should be mindful that being overly honest can also come with a price.

 

Diplomacy can appear to be a hard to acquire skill but it need not be. The four golden rules to remember are listen actively, respond respectfully, make your case clear, apply your principles. The art of diplomacy is understanding the differences around you and finding the commonalities that exist between them.

 

Blue Shadow

Patience. They’ll be here in a moment. You seem a bit on edge.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

There’s a good chance we’re about to destroy all life on this planet, including ours, and the senator’s. So yes, I’m a little on edge. Why aren’t you?” – Anakin Skywalker

I’m just better at hiding it.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi  (Blue Shadow Virus, S1, EP17 The Clone Wars)

 

The Blue Shadow Virus was a biological weapon that was developed by a mad scientist in the employ of the Separatist confederacy for use in the Clone Wars. The strain of virus was extremely deadly and quickly killed any living thing it encountered. As a result the Republic treated the virus very seriously and mobilised the Jedi to counter and eliminate the threat at all costs.

 

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker were sent to Naboo to deal with the threat and succeeded however some of the virus was released in an underground laboratory infecting Ahsoka Tano, Padmé Amidala and several Clone Troopers. The race was on to find a cure. At the outset Obi-Wan Kenobi kept his calm while Anakin fearing for the safety of Padmé and his Padawan,  panicked.  The two characters reactions to the Blue Shadow virus typified human nature when presented with a crisis.

 

Two days ago I observed a type of panic which would not have been so unusual if it had not involved people frantically buying rolls of toilet paper in bulk quantities. There was something hilarious but also deeply disconcerting about it. Adults were fighting over large packets of toilet roll and filling their shopping trolleys until the bundles started to topple out in a mad confusion of toilet paper. A roll that had escaped from its packaging unwound itself down an aisle, disappearing under a shelving rack. The sight was comical yet bizarre. What struck me about this scene was the symbolism and my own creeping panic which I struggled to suppress.

 

Three ply scented toilet paper is the mark of an advanced industrial society seemingly under threat. Fifty years ago it was seen as a luxury, whereas today it is seen as the symbol of human dependence on what is safe, familiar and expedient. What I was observing in that store was a type of mass irrational fear in action. Fear for the safety of ourselves and those close to us can drive us to desperate, even insane measures. My mind began to race, should I grab as many rolls as I could before the last one vanished from the supermarket aisles forever? I suddenly realised, this was the type of moral panic Douglas Adams would’ve parodied, holding a mirror up to society. Obi-Wan’s words came in my head and my inner Jedi was restored. Things returned to their normal perspective. The melee over toilet paper continued behind me as I walked away.

 

Over the next 48 hours approximately 3,000 people died of cancer in the US alone. Another 17,000 mostly children had died of malnutrition worldwide. Malaria had killed 2,400 people and the common flu had taken the lives of over 2,000 worldwide without counting the new strain of coronavirus.

 

Two days later I am at work and the company has admitted that the economic implications of the coronavirus outbreak may end up costing us jobs. The reason? Market jitters and falling share prices due to lowered confidence and trading panic at the stock exchange. Commodity prices are beginning to falter. Fear and moral panic were to blame, not sick and dying people affected by a virus from China which had gripped the headlines and people’s minds since the beginning of the year. I don’t know how I will cope when its time to let people go because the business is no longer profitable.

 

Fear of the unknown can be crippling. When the unknown is invisible the fear is compounded. Ignorance is the ultimate multiplier as it always has been. The natural reaction is to imagine the worst possible outcomes which often leads to actions that make the situation worse not better. Irrational fear seems to be commonplace today. Moral panic pervades societal reactions to threats, real and imagined. We are driven to fear by our exposure to news headlines, instant messaging and social media posts. The source of our anxieties has evolved but the mechanics have remained unchanged. Humans remain a species that lives in perpetual fear of shadows and the dark imaginings of things beyond the recesses of our mind.

 

Being alcoholic I am still prone to catastrophic thinking and reacting without thinking things through. My decisions can be driven by emotions not reason. I awake at night from dreams that stir my anxiety. News reports will trigger an adrenal response. I will in turn be angry then fearful at something which I have no control over. During my years of active drinking I would rush out and stockpile booze not toilet paper when beset with moral panic. I came in to recovery recognising that this sort of reaction to the world was a mere symptom of the insanity of alcoholism.

 

Disproportionate response and irrationality is really just another way of saying we can’t handle what we can’t control. I do not belittle people who feel the compulsion to stockpile sanitary products when the world seems to be falling apart, I feel sorry for them. The behaviour is obviously a reaction to a deep seated fear of the unknown and impending change. Rather than sit around and do nothing, they observe what others are doing and mimic that behaviour. If people are stockpiling food or toilet paper, so will they. If people start to panic and loot they will likely follow suit.

 

No one can say where the current pandemic sweeping the world will lead. We can imagine that it could be as bad as the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918. The virus spread to all corners of the world and killed more people in a single year than died during the First World War. I somehow doubt it will come to that, we live in different times. At the time of writing less than 100,000 people have been infected although the number of unreported cases is likely far higher, the world is not falling apart, not yet at least. Compared to the Blue Shadow Virus, SARs COVID-19 appears like a particularly nasty strain of the flu, not an existential threat that will kill everything it touches.

 

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka Tano were able to retain their composure and focus on the things they could control when confronted with the deadly threat of the Blue Shadow Virus. When Padmé was infected she showed true courage, dignity and decorum in knowing that she would die and remain entombed forever in isolation to prevent the disease breaking out. Anakin Skywalker had surrendered to panic and was quickly bought back to his right mind by Kenobi before he reacted impulsively and put more lives at risk. At the last moment the threat was contained by clear thinking and a vaccine appeared saving the galaxy.

 

None of this is to say that the coronavirus is not serious. There is no intent to try to diminish the pain and anguish that people have experienced at the loss of loved ones. It may turn out to be very bad with millions of fatalities. Conversely it could be resolved within months. Humans are resilient and reason can prevail. Fear and panic will not resolve the issue or make it better it will only make it worse.

 

Keep it simple. One day at a time. Inform yourself from reliable sources, not click bait and rumour. Wash your hands and maintain good hygiene. Exercise normal every day caution. Focus on the things you can control which are ultimately your own impressions, choices and actions.


 

Awareness

You will know when you are at peace, calm, passive…” – Yoda

 

Mindfulness is defined as “The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the here and now. In other words being mentally right here in this present moment as you read these words.

The journey into a philosophy for life begins with awareness of the ability to analyze our own existence. Awareness is nothing more than knowledge and mindfulness of ones personal thoughts, biases, beliefs, feelings and place in time and space. Consciousness of self is awareness of ones inner existence and the effect the self exerts on the world.

A Jedi has acute awareness. She will sense every quiver, every sensation and emotion in her body without reacting to it. She will allow distracting thoughts to pass like clouds without engaging them. A Jedi is completely aware of what is happening inside and outside of her with each passing breath. The Jedi is aware and focused in the present moment without concern for the past or future. A Jedi uses observation, reason and objectivity in becoming aware of a situation and determining a course of action and when making a judgement.

When Obi-Wan Kenobi sat meditating before he fought Darth Maul he was clearing his mind of all distracting thoughts and emotions. Luke cleared his mind of all doubts and fears before taking the fatal shot that destroyed the Death Star.  The Jedi relied on awareness to connect with the Force and harness the presence and power to accomplish their goals.

Awareness practiced as mindfulness is no mystery. In fact it is part of our natural makeup. The Eastern and Western philosophies and spiritual traditions have advocated mindfulness and the power of living in the Now for millennia. Despite this we are led to believe that we require rigorous mental training with the aid of instructors, gurus, books and apps.  Nothing could be further from the truth. All you need to do is start.

Being aware is being fully engaged in life. It is taking time to smell the roses, appreciate the sun on your face, the wind in your hair. It is stopping to pet the cat you encounter on the street. Being aware is acknowledging your thoughts and emotions but allowing neither to dictate your reasoned actions.

Meditation is a mindfulness exercise. You can practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime. Being fully aware while driving a car, brushing the dog, washing the dishes, listening to music, playing with the kids and in fact doing just about any activity is an exercise in mindfulness. It is simply paying attention to what you are doing.

Commit your mind to the task with intent. If you are washing the dishes you are only washing the dishes and nothing else. Feel the water on your hands, the hardness of the porcelain and cutlery. Hear the sounds it makes. Use all of your senses. When you eat an apple experience the apple, observe its shape and color, notice the taste and texture as you bite in to it.

When you enter a room stop to look around. If there are people in the room take the time to notice them. Form a general impression from your surroundings wherever you go. Never blunder along with your face buried in a smart phone oblivious to what is happening around you. This is an all too common sight in society today. People are barely aware they are alive.

When you sit, allow mental intrusions to pass without engaging them. You can focus on the breath, the rise and fall of your chest or abdomen. If thoughts distract you, simply return to the breath.

There is a saying that when an old man sits, he only sits, there is nothing else going on; this is the essence of mindfulness.