The Master

… for the dark side looks back.’ – Yoda

 

Two there should be; no more, no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it.”  – Darth Bane

 

The Sith were the antithesis of the Jedi. Serving the Dark side of the Force the Sith were diametrically opposed to the Jedi. The Sith sought to dominate the galaxy and impose their will on all life. The story is one of the struggles between the dualistic nature of the Force. The conflict between the Sith and Jedi is a struggle were the Light Side attempts to negate the Dark Side and the Darkness seeks to extinguish the Light. One must dominate the other. One must be Master.

Within each person it can be argued is a similar struggle. What Lincoln called the better angel of our natures does not always prevail against the dark side. Within all of us lurks the shadow of the Dark Side, our own inner “Sith”. Throughout our life we face an internal struggle with that duality of our nature. We are torn between virtues and vice. Virtue does not always take precedence. Good does not always prevail.

 

Remember, the first and only reality of the Sith… there can only be two. And you are no longer my apprentice. You have been replaced.

―Darth Sidious, to Darth Maul

 

The Headmaster

Believe it or not, our personal Dark Side is a teacher. I refer to it as my inner “Sith Lord”. I attribute selfishness, belligerence, arrogance, self-will and a rampant or an over inflated ego to my inner “Sith Master”. Emotions such as anger, resentment, hatred and especially fear are the outcomes of an effective education in the Dark Side of the Force. For more than two decades, alcohol was my Master and I was its willing apprentice.

Among the Sith there was a constant struggle for supremacy between the Master and Apprentice called the “Rule of Two”. The Master sought to keep the Apprentice in servitude. The Apprentice served the will of the Master and at the same time learnt from him through the suffering of training. Through pain, fear and loathing the Master kept the Apprentice in check and bent him further to his will.

 

Now I am the Master” – Darth Vader

 

Rule of Two

The Master also knew that the Apprentice sought the power to eventually usurp him and become the Master. While the Apprentice continued to learn and submit to the Master and serve him, he was of use. The Apprentice sought to learn all he could from the Master. Once the Apprentice was ready to overthrow the Master, he was killed and replaced. The Apprentice however demonstrated his superiority by killing his Master and assuming the role and seeking out a new Apprentice. Thus the Sith grew stronger and stronger with every generation through the natural selection of the “Rule of Two”.

Darth Sidious served Darth Plageuis and killed him. Darth Sidious at first drafted Darth Maul as a servant and then betrayed him choosing Count Dooku as a suitable Apprentice. Dooku became Darth Tyranus until the Sith Lord in the guise of Palpatine recognised Anakin as his chosen disciple. Once he had corrupted the Jedi Anakin to the Dark Side, Palpatine had his new protégé kill Count Dooku in cold blood. Anakin soon became Darth Vader and served Darth Sidious until the Sith line was ended in the Return of the Jedi. The history of the Sith was one of domination, submission, betrayal and death.

 

“(Darth Plagueis)  became so powerful … the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew, then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. never saw it coming. It’s ironic he could save others from death but not himself.” – Palpatine (Darth Sidious) to Anakin

 

Natural Selection

The analogy of the relationship between Sith Master and Apprentice accurately describes the alcoholic’s relationship with booze. The relationship is far deeper than shallow desire. It is a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual “craving” to something which is at once endearing, warm and inviting while at the same time cunning, devious, cruel and unforgiving. Alcohol becomes the unwavering and unforgiving Master that dominates every aspect of life, even to the grave.

Alcohol embodies the power and the Alcoholic craves it. A “Rule of Two” resides within that relationship. The only thing that matters is the relationship between the Addict and the substance of Addiction. There is nothing else. A struggle evolves over time in which the Addict attempts to seek control in the relationship. Through resistance and failure the Addict is constantly reminded of the futility of her attempts to overpower her addiction by self will alone. Every attempt leaves her weaker.  Only one victor can emerge from the throes of that struggle. There can be only one Master.

In time the Master takes everything and leaves nothing but despair, anger and fear.

 

The Sith took everything from me. Ripped me from my mother’s arms, murdered my brother, used me as a weapon, and then cast me aside. Abandoned me. Once, I had power — now I have nothing.” — Maul (Clone Wars: “Twilight of the Apprentice”)

 

 

Harsh Lessons

In my early recovery I imagined my addiction to be some dark beast that dwelt within me. That beast had me on a short leash. Attempts to leave were cruelly punished. My confidence was shaken with every failed attempt to escape. As I fell deeper in to despair my addiction mocked and tormented me and I grew more dependent on it. The Dark Side closed in all around. I found the harder I fought the deeper was the decent in to the Dark Side and ultimately my personal Rock Bottom.

Finding a Higher Power and rejecting my addiction by turning it over was the act of overthrowing that insidious Master. In the end there could only be one. Alcohol would take me to the grave or I would usurp it somehow and reclaim life. In the end all it took was a willingness to believe and the act of surrender. In order to over throw the Master I had to face myself and stop fighting. I came to realize that when I looked at the face of the beast I stared squarely at myself. I and the Master that I feared and reviled were one and the same. We were two sides of the Force that Lincoln described; the better angel facing the dark side. By ending that struggle I was able to walk free again.

 

When you look at the dark side, careful you must be … for the dark side looks back.’ – Yoda

 

The Apprentice

I never forget that every person has a dark side although not all are slave to it. That is the Tao, the duality residing within the whole. My Dark Side remains but I choose not to give it license. I can’t afford to. I never forget that once it was the Master and it seeks to return. Like a prisoner condemned to a dark and deep cell it hides in the shadows brooding. It patiently waits. It believes the day may come when it will kill its old Apprentice. And when I peer deep in to my soul I see that Dark Side it is watching and it waits.

Keep fear at bay and be touched by Better Angels.

The Cave

Five Years

Today marks five years of sobriety in my life. I look back at that time and I ask myself have I come far? Am I a better person? Is it worth it? If I am honest with myself I can respond with some conviction “yes” to all of these questions. When I look at the person am I now compared to whom I was five years ago the change is remarkable. This process of change has not been dramatic but gradual. Change has not come over night but has been achieved through incremental progress, “one day at a time”.

Has it been hard? It has been the hardest thing I have ever done. Becoming sober and trying to achieve a measure of emotional sobriety has been a roller coaster ride. The good news is that anything that we strive for, anything worth doing is rarely a walk in the park. Sobriety is no different. Most days we are getting by fine but we keep up the pressure and test ourselves. By never resting on our laurels and by applying principles in all areas of life and by being true to our values we prepare ourselves for those tough times when we need to dig deep. Philosophy helps us to get there.

 

“There is no success without hardship” – Sophocles

 

Life is a Wrestle

The Stoics understood the purpose of philosophy. They committed to applying their philosophy every waking hour. It was not a tool they used when they needed to draw inspiration or use a handy “get out of jail free card”.

 

“The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing, in so far as it stands ready against the accidental and the unforeseen, and is not apt to fall.” – Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius compared life to a wrestling match. A wrestler is able to move gracefully and with purpose. The Wrestler is aware of his surroundings and can move through time and space with ease like a dancer. At the same time a Wrestler can anticipate an attack and if taken off guard can quickly recover from an assault, break a hold and turn the table in his favor. Using strength, flexibility, agility, momentum, technique, courage and intelligence the Wrestler prevails over his opponent.

Unless we take our philosophy for life and apply it, practice it and make progress constantly we will not benefit. We should learn from mistakes and strive to improve so that we do not become complacent and untrained. We are less likely to handle the adversities of life, be it an opponent in the ring, a sudden crisis, a tragic event or even a petty inconvenience that raises our ire if we are ill prepared.

Being sober has been five years of “train hard to fight easy”. I have had to wrestle mostly with my own failings. I have worked the 12 Steps and applied my principles and values in order to recover.   Working the Steps and being Jedi has enabled me to manage my anger, fear, anxiety, resentment and self pity.

 

The Cave

In many ways the last five years has been a solo journey.  I have had to face many challenges and confront many fears and a great deal of doubt and pain alone. My family has been there and there is also a fellowship to learn from but ultimately any one who passes through their personal Dagobah Cave must do so alone. When Luke Skywalker confronted his dark side in the Dagobah Cave he did so by himself. Yoda knew what Luke would face there; he too had faced his own personal Demons and conquered them.  Yoda also knew that Luke had to face the cave alone.

 

“What will I find in there”? – Luke Skywalker

“Only what you take with you” – Yoda

 

The Dagobah Cave scene was a symbol of the human need for self exploration and self knowledge. We all want to know what resides within ourselves every flaw and fault as well as every virtue. When I embarked on my journey or recovery I did not know myself. I thought I did but it was an illusion. The person I saw when I looked in the mirror was not the person that other people saw. What I believed others saw in me was not a reality either. I lived in self illusion and dishonesty.

Only by having the courage to confront myself and reveal all of my faults and flaws to another and to my Higher Power was a clear picture presented. I was appalled by what I saw but I also knew I did not have to be that person any longer.With self-knowledge  I could change but I had to want to and be prepared to do the work.

 

The essence of knowledge is self-knowledge” – Plato

Catharsis

In order to change sometimes we have to be prepared to undergo a personal catharsis first. For me it was hitting rock bottom and then finding a way out as I surrendered to a Higher Power. It was not the first time I had experienced a transformative experience. The death of my Mother when I was seven was traumatic and confusing. The years I spent in orphanages, juvenile foster care and living with an abusive alcoholic taught me about survival and the value of human dignity and justice. Service in the military and years as a homeless itinerant after discharge taught me about the wider world and showed me the best and worst in others and in myself. Alcoholism too was an important school of life.

 

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” – CS Lewis

 

All of these experiences were personal Dagobah Caves; trials on the journey of life. All of them carried poignant and powerful impacts on my life that shaped my character and my destiny. Those experiences carried important life lessons which have made me who I am today.

 

“Self knowledge puts us on our knees, and it is very necessary for love. For knowledge of God gives love, and knowledge of self gives humility” – Mother Theresa

 

 

The School of Life

If my alma mater is the school of hard knocks, then the last five years of sobriety has been the most powerful graduate school I could have ever hoped for. The prize has been emotional, mental, physical and spiritual growth. Recovery teaches us a great deal about ourselves and others. We are taken beyond the limits of what we thought was humanly possible. Much of the time we are swimming against the tide.

There are  years or decades of reinforced behaviors, ideals, bias and sacred cows to overcome before we can progress. The requirement is a complete overhaul of who we thought we were. We have to stop looking outside ourselves for faults and excuses but look inwardly at how we have made our lives. For many this can be confronting and frightening. Some of us fight it and resist but we know that we must enter that dark cave and put trust in our Higher Power. We must enter alone and face the truth, only then can we emerge victorious.

“When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.” – Dalai Lama

 

Life Contract

Tomorrow I will wake up to another sober day. God willing there will be many more. I like to believe that I will see this life through without sliding back in to alcoholism. The future is uncertain and far better people than me have relapsed so I don’t take my life for granted. Even the most promising Jedi can turn to the dark side and become Sith. If I can continue the upward march towards a higher vantage point that never ends till the final breath I will be contented. There is still much work to do; there is no five year contract on sobriety or personal betterment. It is a life contract with my Higher Power.

We should never be complacent. I will not rest because of a milestone. It is only another day. Aurelius believed that his Legionnaires should train as hard in peace as they did in war. So should we. As Jedi we are compelled to train and to improve ourselves, it is our personal duty. While we drop our guard our opponents are watching and waiting for an opportunity. Our addiction is outside doing push-ups while we get comfortable in our complacency.

If we work at it a little at a time, day by day, consistently without repose we see the change that we seek not just in ourselves but in others too. Improvement happens incrementally. We work and do what we have to do, rather than what we want to do.

A philosophy for life is for life and to live well is to do so without struggle and without rush. We only live one day at a time and deal with one obstacle at a time, with each step we climb higher. Consistency and commitment is everything. Faith keeps us there. Remember it took Yoda nearly 900 years to reach enlightenment. Enjoy the ride and also take the time to smell the roses, you worked for them.

Jedi trust their feelings or intuitions

Jedi are a ‘feeling people’ and believe in using and trusting their feelings and intuition. Jedi are intuitive and are in touch with the core of their being.

(33 Jedi Traits)

Who am I?

A decade or more ago I took a personality evaluation test called the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). My Employer’s HR executive had decided it would be a good idea if everyone took the test and shared with everyone else their traits. The rationale was that people are different and they react differently to things. Their personality type will determine many of the traits we observe that either inspire or annoy us.

For supervisors like myself it was explained I had to map the personalities of my subordinates in order to manage them better. If I know my tools, the psychologist explained, I can use them more effectively. The results for supervisors would also be used to help determine advancement through the ranks of the company to higher level positions.

My results were disappointing and inconsistent with the companies profile for advancement to middle management and beyond. Based on my personality type I was to advance no further than frontline supervisor. I was stuck. This was disappointing but I also felt intuitively that it was for the best. I liked being in the field, interacting with people and getting my hands dirty. The sterile world of “brown nosing” and office politics was not for me. Besides, I figured that eventually my drinking would mess things up so why climb the lofty heights only to be unceremoniously thrown back down.

INFJ

What was my fatal flaw? The MBTI revealed my personality type to be INFJ. My chosen profession should have been an artist, poet, monk, philosopher, aid worker, teacher or child care worker. I was a bit shocked because I always thought I was a bit of a rough diamond he-man sort of guy. To be told I was more of a quiet “sharing and caring” kind of guy was not what I was expecting. I sought to hide the results. The lads at the pub and the guys in my Army Reserve unit must not know about this. I started to feel I didn’t know myself. I didn’t.

For years booze had obscured my true nature from myself. From the age of 18 I had tried hard to be someone else. My real personality had been eclipsed by a false persona that was not the real me. Alcohol had kept me in denial and now some psychologists test had just held up a mirror that showed me who I was beneath my fake exterior. It was a revelation but intuitively I knew I had been suppressing my true self for decades in order to be accepted. Alcoholics tend to do this and it causes an inner tension. We eventually face a psychic crisis as the real person we are catches up with us.

Introversion

The MBTI test revealed that a strong “I” meant introvert. This surprised everyone as I always played the extrovert but it was show. I never felt comfortable around people or crowds. The Psychologist revealed that “I”’s have a “party going on inside” but when forced in to social situations could would tire easily. She reassured me I was no social leper, we just don’t need others to draw energy from. We get it from ourselves. “E” suck energy out of others. It sort of made sense; I had to drink to feel comfortable in a crowd.

Intuition

For some reason “N” means “Intuition”. I didn’t know much about the word “Intuition” other than the racy video clip by the singer Jewel. I also thought intuition was something to do with stopping at three beers, something I was never good at so I thought my intuition must be poor. Apparently it was also off the scales. This fortunately was good, if I were a CEO, but not so good so far down the ladder. She had to interrupt me as I drifted off a bit and thought about Jewel. “Intuitors”, she told me tend to be dreamers.

Feeling

“F” was for feeling. F meant I tend to listen to my heart more than my head. If I feel something is not right I’m usually on the mark. The problem of course is that emotions can get away from strong “Feelers”. Otherwise she said “F”s are sensitive to other people and can be empathetic.  I wear my heart on a sleeve is what the shrink said and I protested in indignation. This was a problem for the company as my “F” was off the charts. Being an “F” meant I was liable to have principles that would extend beyond share holder value. I could turn in to a “whistle blower” or worse, a unionist. The blood drained from my face. I started to remember the trouble I had caused in the Army because of principle and wanting to defend others. “F” meant “Fail”.

Judging

My “J” was not as strong but still significant. “J” is for Judging. Not to be confused with the judgemental type. This was a redeeming feature as it indicated I am task orientated and plan work. Unfortunately I can get so focused on one task I forget others or miss information. It seemed to me I would now spend the rest of my career doing data entry. Why couldn’t I have been an ESTJ like Darth Vader? Those guys made it far in the company. The CEO was an ESTJ.

Be Yourself

The final report went to my boss sealing my career trajectory. I was sort of relieved but still hated myself for being an INFJ. Who should I blame? Parents, God, the English teacher who had told me to be a writer some day. I had often looked in the mirror and asked “Who am I?”, this test revealed my personality. I saw the result as a flaw not realizing it was actually a good thing. My real character flaws were obstinacy, belligerency, resentment, apathy, anger, dishonesty, self pity and selfishness all alcoholic tendencies. Not the real me.

I often wonder how the test would have gone if I had arrived at work drunk and fresh out of a Night Club. Before the morning blues and dry horrors had set in. I could have sat the test and got a completely different score. The Psychologist told me the test was very hard to fool. I have sat it several times and once got drunk and did it again trying for a different score. Every time INFJ.

These days I actually love that I am an INFJ. It makes perfect sense. The company and that job is long gone but I am still an INFJ and always will be. I know myself better than I did and to know thyself is a great thing. Whether a person can truly know themselves is a matter of opinion. We can be Jedi and go some way to trusting ourselves and being in tune with our feelings.  We can be ourselves without fear and with confidence. I will never again try to be anyone other than who I am. That’s a start.

The Advocat

I looked up INFJ today and found our archetype is the “Advocat” or the counsellor. We have a strong sense of morality and idealism as well as loyalty. Obi-Wan Kenobi was an INFJ as was Aragorn and Lady Galadriel of Lord of the Rings.  INFJ’s are dreamers who do. They are quiet achievers who try hard to make a positive impact on the world. They are altruistic and selfless people who fight tirelessly for what they believe is right. We are strong willed and decisive but soft spoken and caring. We are less than 1% of the world so we are truly special. Yes we have our weaknesses but then so does everyone else.

To my delight I found that Carrie Fisher, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela were all INFJ. I feel blessed to have that in common with these great people.

Accept who you are, be yourself. Embrace the authentic you even if you are an ESTJ like Darth Vader. MTFBWY.

https://www.personalityclub.com/blog/star-wars-personality-chart/

The Jedi Mind Trick and the Happiness Trap

Jedi Mind Tricks

The Jedi Mind Trick was used by the Jedi in Star Wars to influence and alter a person’s belief or perception of a certain thing. In “A New Hope” Obi-Wan Kenobi uses the Jedi Mind trick to get past a Storm Trooper check point with the Droids being hunted by the Empire as they contain the stolen plans to the Death Star. Using suggestion, Obi-Wan is able to persuade the Clones that the two Droids are not the one’s they are looking for.

Jedi Mind tricks are used on several occasions by the Jedi as an alternative to direct action. The Mind Trick had its limits. It was useless against life forms with a strong sense of self will and mind. The winged Toydarians for example, were immune to it, probably because they were so good at selling spare parts to Bounty Hunters. The closest thing to the Jedi Mind trick in the real world is persuasion and suggestion. I can think of many times I was convinced to purchase something that I didn’t really need probably due more to my own gullibility rather than the Force.

“I am not the Drunk you are looking for”

Over the years I tried to apply a version of the Jedi Mind trick on others and found my powers lacking. People usually don’t want to do something unless they see personal benefit.  People are generally persuaded to something through reason, fear or the offer of reward. Once the motivating factor is removed, they stop doing it.

Jedi Mind tricks do not work in reality, I can’t wave my hand in front of a Police Officer and say “You have only had one beer, there is no need for a sobriety test”. I can try but I’ll probably get laughed at and then arrested. In some states they probably throw the book at people attempting to “Jedi mind-trick” law enforcement Officers.

So if I can’t “Jedi Mind Trick” my boss to give me a pay rise or a day off, my teenage daughter to tidy her room or my wife to cook my favorite dish can I use it on myself? That is, can I use a form of Jedi Mind Trick to help me achieve a sense of equanimity and balance? How can I mind trick myself to happiness?

“Wishful Drinking”

There are two ways to trick your mind in to a better state. One is based on a false perception of reality and only works for a short time because deep down you know it’s not real. We call that “wishful thinking” or in my case it was “wishful drinking”. That is, getting drunk to feel better and capture a fleeting sense of happiness, fulfillment and contentedness. The other way takes effort and requires mental training. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is one such method based on Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

“Wishful Drinking” of course is also a book by Carrie Fisher where she recalls the story of her struggle with alcohol, drug abuse and depression. It is a humorous and at times sad portrayal of a woman we came to know and love as Princess Leia. The relevance of course is that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is all about achieving equanimity and balance, not a shallow illusion of happiness. Happiness is your own personal view point and what makes you “happy” will change over time. I know it has for me. In the book, Carrie Fisher makes the following point about happiness which many of us can relate to.

Happy is one of the many things I’m likely to be over the course of a day and certainly over the course of a lifetime. But I think if you have the expectation that you’re going to be happy throughout your life–more to the point, if you have a need to be comfortable all the time–well, among other things, you have the makings of a classic drug addict or alcoholic.”
― Carrie Fisher, “Wishful Drinking”.

Happy versus “Happiness”

We know of course that life is not a fairy tale and if we expect to be happy and fulfilled all the time we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. The concept of true “Happiness” seems elusive but it is not. I have seen the happiest and most contented people alive in some of the most modest of settings in the poorest countries in Africa, South America and Asia.

What made these “poor” people happy? Well, they know who they are, they feel connected with and valued by their community, they are surrounded by loved ones and they feel like they are making a contribution. They live simple and productive lives and realize what truly matters. Most of all they are committed to living in accordance with their principles and values.

Watch the Netflix documentary “Happy” if you don’t believe me.

People who are unhappy are unhappy about not being happy as they define it. This is called the “Happiness Trap” (Harris, 2008). Sound like a Jedi Mind Trick?

ACT

This is what Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is about. It is a mind hack that adjusts our perception of ourselves and our response to life in a realistic and honest way. It gets us out of the “Happiness Trap”. There is no simple and temporary “Jedi Mind Trick” to it. The idea is not to “fool” our brain but to train it in “right thought” through pragmatism and mindfulness. With practice ACT rewires how we think about ourselves and the things that bother us and with practice it takes barely any effort to apply in our lives.

The method has been used to help treat veterans suffering anxiety and PTSD and as an alternative to drug therapy. ACT is also gaining popularity with Psychologists and Therapists as a simple and easy way to treat addiction, anxiety and depression. The US DVA promotes ACT as one modality and offers a free app called ACT Coach to use in conjunction with therapy and meditation.

The core principles of ACT are acceptance, commitment and action. The key primer is mindfulness. All of these are key Jedi traits:

  • Defuse and reject beliefs and thoughts that do not serve;
  • Accept feelings, sensations and emotion and let them come and go without struggle;
  • Identify your values and commit to them;
  • Be present in the moment. Observe your thoughts and feelings without judgement;
  • Commit to action that demonstrates you values and those that improve yourself.

The wonderful thing about ACT is that it is so easy to do with practice and can be incorporated in to a meditation practice. The very essence of ACT is in the 12 Steps program so if you are working the steps alone, with a home group or a sponsor there is a good chance you are doing it already and reaping the benefits in your recovery. If not, discuss it with your Therapist and explore it as an option, try it and if it works for you keep doing it.

References:

Fisher, C (2009). Wishful Drinking. Simon & Schuster.

Harris, R. (2008). The Happiness Trap: How to stop struggling and start living. Boston, MA: Trumpeter.

Jedi for Life

A Practical Philosophy

Many people today are finding meaning and purpose in attaining a philosophy for life which is both practical and applicable to living in the modern world. Whether that philosophy is taken from the eastern traditions of Zen Buddhism or Taoism or is drawn from the ancient schools of Philosophy such as Stoicism or Epicureanism, people are finding benefit in applying their chosen philosophy through daily practices and principles that improve their lives and allow them to meet and overcome daily challenges.

Psychologists have demonstrated that people who commit to a personal philosophy of life consistently practice principles and demonstrate virtues that lead to personal satisfaction and physical and emotional well-being compared to people that have  no philosophy of life at all. The revolutionary psychologist Albert Ellis was inspired by classical Eastern and Western philosophies in developing rational emotive behavior therapy to help people with depression and addiction issues (Ellis, 2001).

Depression, anxiety, anger, fear and conflict are many of the common problems that we see in society today and often we suffer them ourselves much of it through our own fault. We would prefer to blame others, our circumstances, bad luck and society for our problems without looking at our own part in the mess we find ourselves in. Through rigorous self-honesty, acceptance and commitment, each of us can choose how we respond to our negative emotions and thereby how we empower them or not and the degree to which they afflict our lives. Each of us can decide how we want to live our lives and what virtues we wish to cultivate and how we choose to respond to life moment to moment. Training in a real world Philosophy can provide us with the knowledge and skills to achieve equanimity, objectivity and harmony with self and others.

Many people also find a sense of spirituality through their Philosophy and a realization of a higher purpose in their lives than simply living to achieve instant gratification, material gains, status and fame. They realize they are part of something greater than themselves and become aware of their connectivity to other human beings, to nature and the universe and life becomes more meaningful and joyful than they ever realized before. They realize their place in the world and the impermanent and transitory nature of life.

Without embracing the doctrines and dogma of organized religion, one can achieve a good life that is spiritual, meaningful and powerful through training in a Philosophy of Life. One can live each day mindfully and spend their life in the moment rather than in regret of the past or fear of the future. You can be emotionally resilient, physically fitter, more aware of your own needs and the needs of others and ultimately more contented and happy in your existence than you ever felt possible. Once you change yourself for the better you will find that people treat you better and so does life, the clouds part and you have the power and confidence to deal with life on life’s terms. You also become an inspiration to others and in some small way you make the world a better place.

I practice Jedi Philosophy as a Philosophy for Life, in other words I am not satisfied to simply cite the tenets and take an academic approach as many students of Philosophy do. To be Jedi is to live the Philosophy because it provides the answers and a formula for living that works for me. This does not mean that I consider myself a Jedi Knight or Master of the Star Wars fictional universe and wear robes and carry a Light Sabre, far from it. I am a regular guy and today enjoy Star Wars as much as the next guy but I do not consider myself a Star Wars Geek. Yet I am inspired by the virtues that mark a Jedi and I emulate them in my life.

My Story

I grew up with Star Wars from the age of ten when “The New Hope” hit cinemas exactly 40 years ago today on May 24, 1977. Like many other children growing up in that time I saw the epic as more than a movie, it was something more powerful. Luke Skywalker was a kid who like me seemed to have been given a rough hand in life but yet  had managed to overcome that and find within himself an incredible power to change not just his own destiny but the fate of an entire galaxy! Living in State and Foster Care at that time and coming from a broken home rife with abuse and alcoholism, Star Wars gave me a sense of hope and a place to escape. The Jedi also captured the imagination of an entire generation and continues to inspire a growing global community of fans and real world Jedi.

While much of Jedi Philosophy is inspired by the fictional Jedi I still live in the real world and deal with real world problems. I apply many of the virtues and traits that a fictional Jedi demonstrate to help me achieve my goals and overcome problems, but that is not the whole story. From this point I want to stress that I use the word Jedi as a verb, not a noun, therefore the goal is to be Jedi and to act as if not to necessarily become a Jedi Knight or to follow the Jedi Religion known as Jediism unless that happens to be your personal goal.

Jedi Philosophy is a practical way of life in which we apply effort and aim to improve every day through daily practices and study. I train myself mentally, physically and emotionally and through study; I practice meditation everyday in addition to applying mindfulness to everyday actions. Although not a prerequisite I train in a martial arts and foreign languages and treat everyday as an opportunity to learn new things.

Five years ago I was staring into a chasm, a void of my own making through years of alcohol abuse, dishonesty, resentment, selfishness and fear. I had hit rock bottom and knew that before me was death or insanity or both. At that moment I realized that I did have a choice, inside of me resided a Force, a light that had been all but extinguished. I chose to surrender to that Force and to admit and accept my addiction and then to turn it over and let it go.

I knew at that moment my problem with alcohol was gone, I was pulled back into the light by some unseen power. A peace and serenity I had never known before fell on me. I embarked on a life journey of self-discovery and growth laying all of my short comings and failings bare, I resolved to overcome them. Putting the past behind me, I chose to forgive myself and others and to let go of the past and to make amends where I had caused harm to others. I knew that humility and rigorous honesty were virtues to be embraced. In time as I progressed in my recovery, I felt my anger, resentment, fear, anxiety and selfishness fall away.

There were days when I faltered and nearly relapsed. At two years my recovery hit a rut which I could not seem to get past. I rediscovered Jedi Philosophy.  Jedi Philosophy breathed life into my recovery program and it has become my personal philosophy for life, through it I aim for progress, not perfection in all aspects of my life and choose to be a better version of myself every day.

The purpose of this Blog is to tell a story but also to share how I choose to be Jedi and how doing so has helped me achieve recovery from alcoholism and depression, rebuild my relationships, improve my self-esteem, advance my career, become a better husband, parent, friend and boss, achieve the highest level of physical fitness of my life and cultivate a true personal spiritual foundation that far transcends any religious training of my upbringing.

This is not a Star Wars fan web site or even a voice for the online Jedi community, this is simply a blog by someone who has adopted Jedi Philosophy as a way of life, in all aspects of his life and wishes to share that journey and what I have learned along the way. I hope that my story may help anyone, especially those that are seeking their own path or struggling with a childhood trauma and abuse, depression and substance abuse as I have. I invite you to consider a Philosophy for Life and to explore the merits of Jedi Philosophy as it applies to your life.

References:

  1. Ellis, Albert (2001). Overcoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and Behaviors: New Directions for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Prometheus Books.