Animus

Courage begins by trusting oneself.” – The Clone Wars

 

An Expression

In France people often the use the word “Courage” or “Bonne Courage” to encourage a friend or an acquaintance that is facing a challenge large or small. It is not a word which is used in the English language as an informal expression of one’s hope that another will succeed or prevail. We will rarely hear someone say to another “Be Brave” or “Have Courage” as if we were saying “Good Luck” or “Have a nice Day”. In France it is used often and is meant to remind one of the virtues of courage and its universal application in all aspects of life. It is a reminder that self trust is the root of courage.

 

A Virtue

Courage was considered by the Stoics as one of the most important virtues that a person could attain. Along with wisdom, justice and temperance (self-control), courage was considered essential to living a good life. Perhaps with the adoption of the Stoic philosophy by the Romans and its eventual influence on Christianity the virtue of courage became embedded in the Romantic languages such as French.

 

Heart

The Latin word for courage is “cor” which roughly translates to “heart”. When people say, “He had the heart of a Lion” they mean he had courage which was exemplary. More than courage, the person had “heart”. “Heart” often refers to the inner resolve and spirit of a person which courage is a part of. A person may have the courage to face a fight and enter a ring to face an adversary but “heart” keeps him in the fight even when the odds are stacked against him. The person is not being reckless or suicidal; the person has the self trust to carry on past any fears and doubts.

 

Nihil tam acerbum est in quo non æquus animus solatium inveniat”

“There is nothing so disagreeable, that a patient mind can not find some solace for it”. – Seneca the Younger

 

Animus

The Latin word “Animus” was used to describe something more than “heart”. Animus roughly translated to the virtues of spirit, mind and courage. Animus entails the development of human mind, body and spirit and the transcendence of the human consciousness to higher levels.

Carl Jung believed that the masculine Animus and the feminine Anima are part of the collective unconscious in humans, transcending the personal psyche. Jung believed that humans evolved along a trajectory which culminates at transcendence, the expression of the rational soul. Seneca also described Animus to mean the rational soul expressed as the reasoned mind.

 

Anti-Ego

At the highest level Animus is the antithesis of the ego. The Ancient Greeks and Romans recognized that the ego was the greatest challenge that people faced. The root of all fears and doubts stem from the ego. The ego overrides reason and better judgement.

Cor (Heart) is needed to overcome that fear and arrive at a state of Animus which breaks us free from the grip of the ego. By finding Animus we overcome the barriers that we have built to stop us getting where we want to go.

 

Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it” – Mark Twain

 

Warrior Spirit

The Ancient Greeks and Romans considered Animus to be exemplified by the “warrior spirit” of duty, sacrifice, loyalty, honor and courage. When a warrior died in battle they had achieved the greatest feat for their nation. The Ancients believed that a warrior slain on the battlefield held an esteemed place in the underworld of the dead.

Even today we revere and honor our fallen heroes and use words such as courage, bravery and selflessness to describe them. Soldiers still use the slogan “Until Valhalla” in reference to the glory assigned to fighting with spirit and dying with honor. They are not fanatics, they trust themselves and their comrades beside them.

 

The Seeker

The purpose of the “Heroes Journey” is for the one “called to adventure” to find their internal Animus by overcoming the trials and challenges that stand before them. By venturing in to the dark and the unknown one arrives at light and knowledge. By sinking in to despair one finds hope. Through defeats and disappointments one finds the strength to overcome and the will to continue on to victory. The story has been told and retold through the myths and stories of the ages. We see it clearly in the saga of Star Wars. These stories inspire us.

 

“Bonus animus in mala re, dimidium est mali”

Courage in danger is half the battle.” – Plautus

 

Resolve

You do not need to be a hero on a life and death mission to discover your own Animus. I once thought the only way to truly test myself and find honor was by going to war. One does not need to do either to live a good and meaningful life. Life will test our courage and strength in many ways. It may be as simple as practicing principles even when others push the boundaries and provoke us. Staying sober is a daily and sometimes hourly test of resolve. We can express Animus in everything we do.

 

Bonne Courage

The French regularly say “Bonne Courage” as an offering of support to someone who is facing a challenge or difficult time. It is an odd expression to the English ear but it makes perfect sense. What the French are saying is much more than “Bonne Chance – Good Luck”. “Courage” is a reminder that everyone has an inner and sacred Animus that resides within. If one has the self trust to find heart and dig deep enough they will find it there and it will give them all the strength they need to prevail.

 

Gratus animus est una virtus non solum maxima, sed etiam mater virtutum onmium reliquarum

A courageous heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

The High Ground

 

Art of War

In War the advantage of the high ground is constantly sought out. Seizing and holding high ground is often critical in a military campaign. One only needs to look to history to show how choosing to defend a higher position has resulted in a decisive victory. Federal forces under General Meade defeated the Confederacy at Gettysburg by holding the high ground. Napoleon was able to defeat the Prussians at Jena by attacking in flanking maneuver from a higher position.

The advantage gave both Meade and Napoleon a better view of the battlefield and further reach for their artillery, it also made life harder for the enemy. The Vietminh were able to over run the besieged garrison at Diem Bien Phu during the Indochina War by attacking from and holding the mountains that surrounded the valley in which the French were “ensconced” and subjected to months of withering assaults until they cracked. The Mujahideen in Afghanistan managed to wage a war against the Soviets and Afghan national army by drawing them in to the mountains where they held the advantage with guerrilla tactics and American weapons. The contemporary version of the Mujahideen, the Taliban, today uses the same tactics against their former allies, the Americans.

 

Camp in high places, facing the sun. Do not climb heights in order to fight” – Sun Tzu

 

Sun Tzu in the Art of War advises that military commanders should always seek to use the high ground to their advantage. This ideal has come to be used not only in military planning but also in business decision making. Companies that secure the high ground in the field of innovation, use of technology and adopting modern and ethical approaches to business such as diversity, sustainability and a proactive safety culture will often hold a competitive advantage and an adaptable culture. Inflexible companies that refuse to adapt to change or are sluggish in their attempts to keep up and innovate are left behind and out competed.

 

A Battle Ground

Holding the high ground in a tactical sense however does not always make sense. In small units the high ground is avoided unless it is a defensive position. Normally a good commander will read the terrain and use it to the best advantage. On patrol we would often lay up on high ground at night. Before dawn we would silently break camp and withdraw to a position that offered better protection and a means of escape. The tactic also was designed to throw off an enemy planning to attack at dawn.

Patrol commanders would take in to consideration factors such as observation, concealment, and means of escape and avenues of attack; sometimes the high ground is the last place you wanted to be. The advantage of air power and use of drones however has removed some of the advantage of being a militia or guerrilla force ensconced in the mountains as the current war in Afghanistan has shown.

 

A Word Weapon

An often used term is “moral high ground”. In society we see it a lot in arguments. It is a weapon used by both sides of a debate. For example, both pro-life and abortion advocates believe they have a “moral high ground” on the issue of abortion. The same applies with the euthanasia and same sex marriage debate in many countries.In the military the assimilation of females in to combat roles and the acceptance of LGBT divided the population in and out of uniform. Both sides claimed the “moral high ground”.

Progressive movements will often claim the High Ground in these social issues. Very often the term “moral high ground” is also used to excuse violence or intimidation in the name of a contentious issue. Claiming the moral high ground does not mean that an argument is correct unless you are a Sophist.  It also does not justify the use of violence. Unfortunately violence is still used as the power of advantage rests with the side that holds the high ground.

 

Remember back to your early teachings. “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.” Even the Jedi.” – Chancellor Palpatine

 

A Point of View

In the Star Wars sage the Jedi often claimed the moral high ground in their campaigns both military and political. Mace Windu and Qui-Gon Jinn were often predisposed to blur the lines of ethical conduct in order to advance the cause of the Jedi. The argument often put forward by the Jedi was that the use of deception, betrayal and subterfuge was in the interests of the Republic and for the “common good”. The morality and ethics of such actions were tenuous at best. This fact was not lost on Palpatine who ironically often used and played the Jedi for his own nefarious ends.

We often hear such lines being used in the real world. Companies use it when they lay off hundreds of staff for the “common good”. When our government takes us to war they do it in the “national interest”. They use the moral high ground to place legitimacy over an irrational argument. Much later we are left wondering how it could have happened. The real question should be “what is the moral high ground”? Who defines it? Is it valid?

 

Good is a point of view, Anakin. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power.” – Chancellor Palpatine

The false High Ground

Anakin had been in many fights over the years and many of these battles had seen him and his opponents seek to take advantage of higher positions. Whether on foot using a light sabre or in a fighter Anakin always vied to take the higher ground by out maneuvering and outwitting his opponents.

Confronting Ob-wan Kenobi on the lava flows of Mustafa, Anakin was faced with a dilemma and sought to counter it with a reckless move that almost cost him his life. Obi-wan had the high ground and offered Anakin the chance to surrender and live. Metaphorically speaking, Obi-wan also held the “moral high ground”. By confronting Anakin he was not only attempting to stop the rise of the Sith and the fall of the Jedi Order, he was also trying to save his friend. Both seemed to be noble causes in the context of what we believe. The outcome however was that Obi-wan Kenobi was unable to accomplish either of these objectives.

 

Casualties of War

Taking the moral high ground has pit falls. It can blind us to the “bigger picture”. We take one view and refuse to consider alternatives or opposing arguments. Very often a deep seated “righteousness” pervades an opinion. It does not matter if it is right or wrong, true or false, the only thing that matters is that it is must prevail. Objectivity followed by honesty is often the first casualties on the fight for the “moral high ground”. Arrogance is a flaw that often develops in the belief that a view is superior to all others.


The Higher Objective

Have the high ground means being better able to view the landscape and appreciate the situation for what it is. From a higher vantage we can look down at people or we can help them up to stand beside us. The goal should not to be to hold the moral high ground in order to defeat or belittle others. The goal should be to take that person to the higher vantage point so that they can see the truth for themselves.

Being recovered means we can place a high value on sobriety and clean living. We can also value virtues in ourselves and others such as honesty, humility, benevolence and selflessness. Although we are better we do not act better than others.

Being sober does not give me the right to take a moral high ground at the expense of others especially if I consider my history. No one has the right to take a moral view and consider others lesser than themselves because they fail to make the grade. It would be wrong for me to judge an alcoholic who is desperate and hopeless; I was near enough there once myself. It may be easy to judge a homeless person pan handing in the street who looks young enough and fit enough to be working but it would be wrong. We cannot know what fate put him there. Some of us have hit the skids before and know the bite of poverty and acute apathy. A few of us have slept rough, begged for booze and money or searched for food in rubbish bins.

 

Falling Down

We should always be mindful before taking the High Ground. The fall from our lofty tower might be great when our views are laid bare as false. Having strong opinions on matters can make us feel potent and powerful but they also leave us open to scrutiny and judgment by others. When we are forced to defend our position we can find that our argument does not hold and our defenses have major weaknesses. We fight to hold the high ground and we lose ground. As our defenses crumble so do our firmly held beliefs and with them our self esteem and confidence.

 

It’s over Anakin, I have the high ground” – Obi-wan Kenobi

In that dramatic scene on Mustafa, Obi-wan tells Anakin it is over. Filled with hate and rage, Anakin attempts to leap over Obi-wan and out flank him. The move is a fatal one and Obi-wan’s light sabre flashes and catches Anakin mid air amputating both his legs. Anakin rolls away and comes to rest by a lava flow his skin badly seared by the heat soon bursts in to flames. He screams in anguish, pain and rage.

 

Surrender the Higher Ground

In the end it did not matter who had the high ground on Mustafa. Anakin was reconstructed as Darth Vader and Darth Sidious assumed the role of Emperor. The Jedi Order was destroyed but for few survivors and a scattered rebellion emerged from the ruins of the Republic. Over the decades of war that followed both sides would claim the moral high ground in their struggle over the other. Obi-wan exiled and alone with his memories might have pondered the merit of his beliefs and questioned whether they had been firmly placed on high ground after all.

The idea of a moral high ground is based on what society values. Our parents, friends, teachers, religious instructors and leader, elected leaders and peers all help form our moral views. We hold on to them and build our fortress upon their foundation. How often do we question them, how often do we ask if they are right?

The first thing to ask is “what are my moral high grounds”. The next thing to ask is whether attaching ourselves to an inflexible view point helps or hinders our cause. Would it be better to loosen the bonds of opinion slightly and to critically assess them? Instead of focusing on the failings of others should we not be looking at our own faults? Where there is conflict and hate do we assign blame on the others only or do we also look at the part that we have played? Is there room for compromise and mediation, can common ground be found? Sometimes it can, sometimes it cannot but by engaging in dialogue there is always a chance of a spark of understanding to emerge. The only way to find out is to walk down from the high ground across no mans land and speak with the enemy. The way to peace and forgiveness may be to surrender the High Ground.

The best conversation is rare. Society seems to have agreed to treat fictions as realities, and realities as fictions; and the simple lover of truth, especially if on very high grounds, as a religious or intellectual seeker, finds himself a stranger and alien.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Dark Side

Jedi believe that there is a dark side but refuse to dwell on it.

Jedi believe that the dark side exists, but refuse to dwell on it, or follow it, or use it in any way. The dark side is a negative energy, also known as the ‘negative power’ or ‘dark energy’. The dark side is considered to be evil, negative, the opposite of good, and is never to be followed or used by the Jedi.

“The 33 Traits of a Jedi”

Good and Evil

In reality nothing is inherently “good” or “evil” there is only the preferred and the non-preferred. Opposites do exist however at the spiritual or metaphysical level. The opposite of Love is Hate and the Opposite of Faith is Fear. All emotions come from a place of Love or from a root of Fear. The Ego creates Fear while the Divine self only knows Love.

In nature there is no “Evil” only indifference. There is no physical source of the human perspectives of “Light” or “Darkness”  in the Universe. The cosmos is entirely indifferent to our existence. Spend a second in outer space without a space suit and that cold harsh reality becomes quickly apparent.

There are two sides to the dimension of the Force and the duality of “Light” and “Dark” polar opposites. One is physical, the absence of light results in dark and the absence of heat is cold. The other is metaphysical or spiritual and is a question of belief. One could say that Fear is the absence of Faith and Hell is the absence of Love.

Dark Side is Ego

My view of the Force is that it is the source and destination of all. It cannot be described in words. The Force is the non-duality of reality and the source of all creation. The sum of the parts and the each of the parts all contain the Force. Life is expressed in the Force.

The Dark side is purely a Human construct, it does not otherwise exist. The source of the “Dark Side” is the Ego. It is made by the Ego. Without the Ego the Dark Side does not exist as it does not represent who we truly are. The Ego keeps us in separation from our Divine truth and in fear. Fear is the tool it uses to keep us there. As previously stated all “negative” emotions are rooted in Fear. The source of all resistance, conflict, denial and competition is Fear.

Negative Emotions

Emotions such as anger, shame, anxiety, melancholy, arrogance, guilt, doubt, distrust and envy are examples of “negative” states of mind which are generally non-preferred.  All such emotions are felt as “suffering” and are derived from attachments of the Ego.  Such states could be called “shades of the Dark Side”.  Extreme and forceful emotions such as rage and hate could be called expressions of the Dark Side. These raw emotions have the potential to be destructive and rarely serve.

“Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.” – Yoda “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”.

The statement reminds us to be mindful of our negative emotions. To be human is to have an Ego and to have an Ego is to carry the burden of emotions. In some people there is the capacity to suppress or mask emotions. In rare people there is a heightened state of consciousness which transcends base emotions and replaces them with higher order emotions such as abiding love and joy. These people are said to be “enlightened”. Ordinary emotions are however human and each person chooses how they respond to passing emotions particularly those we refer to as “negative” such as fear, anger and hate. Do we rule our emotions or do we rule them?

Evil is an Opinion

I personally do not believe in a “Dark Side” as depicted in Star Wars anymore than I believe in a place of eternal suffering as depicted in the mainstream religions called Hell. Hell is a choice we make for ourselves through the consequence of our decisions and actions. There is no eternal pit of fire for damned souls other than a metaphorical one.

I do believe however that each person has the capacity to do evil. By evil I mean something that is contrary to both nature and moral virtues common in all societies historical and contemporary. An evil act is usually obvious to the observer but not always apparent to the perpetrator. One only need to search their conscience to decide whether an act is evil or not.

People will also differ in their definition of evil based on religious or cultural mores. For example, some people consider abortion to be evil while others view it as an individual right. The same applies to euthanasia or capital punishment. No person is inherently evil any more than a person is born hating someone.

People do “evil” things, some people may be so mentally disturbed that they appear “evil” and even act evil. Psychopaths and megalomaniac generally fall in to this category. However even the most vile criminal who is sane of mind will be able to articulate the rationale and justification for their heinous crimes. The will to commit evil will rarely ever figure in their decision to murder, rape or molest.

The Sith

The Sith never said that they were evil, quite the contrary the Sith believed they were acting in accordance with their beliefs and to the benefit of law and order, the greater good.

Once more the Sith will rule the galaxy, and we shall have peace. – Darth Sidious

You will find many occasions in the Star Wars saga (Canon and Legends) where the Jedi could be contrived as being the “bad guys”. As a matter of fact many Star systems sought to breakaway from the Republic and viewed the Jedi as an autocracy as bad as the Sith.

you‘re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Anakin embraced his raw emotions of anger, hatred and fear. He used pain to grow stronger and become one with the Dark Side of the Force. The Sith believed that such emotions that we view as “negative” were actually a source of power. The philosophy advocated the attainment and ascendancy of power at the expense of inferior sentient beings. Evolution applies the same principle without effort, through natural selection. Is it right or is it wrong? That depends on your point of view.

The question is whether Anakin’s conversion served him in the long term. Considering what he lost by turning to the Dark Side and becoming Darth Vader the verdict would be that he suffered.

Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad wrote about a man’s personal journey in the “Heart of Darkness”. The story was brilliantly adapted in to the movie Apocalypse Now. Sometimes the Dark Side does overcome what Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature”.

“Because there’s a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.” – General Gorman “Apocalypse Now”.

I have  seen some of what humans are capable of in the name of country, ethnicity, religion and race. There is a “Dark Side” to human nature. If Hell exists it is in places right now like Darfur, Syria and Yemen.  I have seen it in East Africa and Bosnia. We are essentially animals struggling for survival at their basest nature. Politics, patriotism and religion is nothing more than mind trick to incite people to war and keep us in separation. The Ego also pushes the limits of what a rational person would consider acceptable under any circumstances.

Everyone still has a choice though. We do not have to resort to emotions that make us act in ways we will later regret. We do not need to fall victim to our own personal “Dark Side”. To do so leads to suffering.

Never Forget

In my descent to my own “Dark Side” of alcoholic “Rock Bottom” I was filled with fear and loathing. The wold was a dark place void of all hope, the shrieks of madness and despair echoed within its walls. Nothing less than a complete deflation of the Ego allowed me to emerge and start a journey of recovery.

The “Dark Side” is something that exists in all of us, it is part of our Ego, not some sort of Force that builds and coalesces into energy we can shoot from our finger tips. My Dark Side of alcoholism still resides within me like some twisted beast tethered by a rope, it sits there in silence, watching and waiting for a chance to come out. I know it and it knows me. A cold wind blows and a chill runs down my spine as if I have been brushed by the Dark Side. I can hear it laugh and rage within me. Better not to dwell on it but I never forget that it is there.

Power

“Don’t you see? We don’t have to run away anymore! I am more powerful than the Chancellor, I… I can overthrow him! And together, you and I can rule the galaxy! Make things the way we want them to be!” – Anakin Skywalker “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”.

There is a saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Think of the number of Dictators in history who have ascended to absolute power through the power of the people and ultimately bought nothing but war, hardship and death. The most well known despots and dictators came from humble beginnings. Saddam Hussein was born to a family of shepherds from a Village near Tikrit. Hitler was born in a modest household in rural Austria and as a young man fought his Father constantly over his dreams to become an artist. Stalin lived in an impoverished household, his father an alcoholic cobbler.

In Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker was born in to slavery and remained in bondage until he was taken by Qui-Gon Jinn and bought to Coruscant to train as a Jedi. What marks each of these personalities is a burning passion to control and to shape not only their destiny but the destiny of those around them. At the root of that Passion was a deep seated Fear.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton

Power Corrupts

People respond to power as they respond to fear. As a species we are social animals who gravitate to strong leaders who advance the needs of the group. Leaders are often selected for their qualities such as hard work, dedication, compassion and loyalty, their ability to derive the best out of the group.  Leaders also rise to power through cunning, subterfuge and ruthlessness, they promise people what they want and say the right things, they remove obstacles one by one. The manner in which some of the most vile Dictators ascended to power reflects their temperament and self will.

Power is always dangerous. Power attracts the worst and corrupts the best” – Edward Abbey

The tendency to put one’s own needs above others regardless of the consequences is the hallmark of a narcissist. Where the person is able to satisfy their needs at great expense to others and do so with impunity and without regard to that suffering is the markings of a psychopath. They do not know empathy, though they pretend to. The similarity between both personality types is that these individuals may appear outwardly normal and even successful in business, government, political or military service. They only care for themselves and their own desires though they may convince others, including loved one’s, of the opposite. They can be charming, funny, intelligent and sharp as a knife and yet within them resides something so compellingly dark and cold that it shudders the very soul. Give them absolute power and they will embrace it like a Bride taken to the grave.

Nearly all mean can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power” – Lincoln

The illusion of Control

Alcoholics have some things in common, in abuse priorities are skewed. Getting “tight” usually comes before most other affairs in order of priority and if it doesn’t we are usually working on the next opportunity. Where booze is considered we tend to have a complete lack of consideration for the needs of others. This can be painful to realize and we may deny it but then we remember the number of times we failed to make commitments to our families and friends when alcohol became involved. We spent our time and money on booze when it should have been for the family.

We tend to get hostile to those who suggest we might have a problem and when drunk we could resort to violence if the supply was cut off. When it seemed that others were trying to intervene or impede our drinking we became paranoid. We were certain people spoke bad things about us and plotted behind our backs, we became paranoid. We concealed our booze and drunk in hiding. Lying became second nature. Attempts were made to control people, place and things, we had to run the show and bend others to our will. When they failed to comply we became dark and sometimes we did and said things we later regretted.

Dance with the Devil and she will never let you go” – Sicilian Saying

Paranoia, narcissism bordering on psychopathic tendencies and rampant self obsession seems to describe some of the behaviors we exhibited. Sort of sounds a bit like a Dictator doesn’t it? I can imagine that our loved ones and Friends did not like that side of us and suffered as a result of our excesses.

Powerfully Recovered

Being sane and normal to the extent where we stop acting like a complete “POS” requires a fairly significant deflation of the Ego. All of the characters listed above went out true to character. Their Ego’s refused to accept the truth. Saddam was never humbled in his cell and was defiant to his last breath as he was hung by a cheering crowd of sectarian rivals. Hitler as mad as ever ordered his people to lay down their lives for him before he took the cowards way instead of defending Berlin. Choosing suicide Hitler took a capsule of cyanide and blew his brains out. Stalin died believing Russia loved him yet he was hated and feared to such an extent Khrushchev removed all effigies and statues of him.

In a symbol of a descent in to a person spiritual hell, Anakin burned in terrible agony on the lava flows of Mustafa as Obi-Wan looked on in pity and despair. As he burned and clung on to life, the hatred consumed him utterly. Anakin was finally redeemed by Luke in an act which symbolized the power of forgiveness and Love.

Those that recover after hitting “Rock Bottom” know the power of redemption, forgiveness and Love. That power saved over lives and restored us to sanity and health. Through forgiveness, humility, empathy, honesty and Love we become Powerfully Recovered.

 

The Power of Love

I was in South Africa in 1994 and witnessed one of the most extraordinary events in modern times. This was the first free and fair election in South Africa’s history. On April 27 the Nation voted in the first Black President in a country that had been staunchly Apartheid only four years before. I was there because I thought the country would “Balkanize” and erupt in to bloodshed, tribal fighting and war. I wanted to take photos and see what happened. There was no way war was not going to happen as “TIA-This is Africa”.

Many of the people I spoke to feared that Mandela would bring a Dictatorship to South Africa far worse than White Rule. Would he take his revenge for the extra-judicial murders, the brutal police and Army actions and his 27 year prison sentence? Would he confiscate property and return land to dispossessed tribes and kick out the whites? No one was sure what he would do, thousands of people left the country fearing the worst.

Civil War seemed certain. The tension and fear in South Africa was palpable and everyone braced for the coming storm though many dared to hope. Then the most amazing thing happened on April 28…absolutely nothing. That morning  the sun rose to a new flag and a new Democracy, there were no sirens or gun shots or smoke. In my hotel room I could hear birds singing and children laughing outside. As I lay on a bed in a cheap hotel room in downtown Durban, my throat parched and mind in torment from another hangover, I lit a cigarette and realized; this was the sound of Peace. I was a bit shocked and confused, not knowing what to do next.

 

Truth and Reconciliation

Mandela later opened the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and all of the crimes and atrocities that had been committed by all sides during the decades of Apartheid were laid bare. No one was thrown in prison and everyone was pardoned of their crimes. The only condition was complete and rigorous honesty. With the truth out, people were able to grieve, forgive and embrace and move on. Everyone had been a victim and the scars ran deep but there was a dream that the country could live as one, no longer divided along the lines of race and ethnicity.

This is why Mandela is seen as one of the greatest leaders in History. It was not a strong masculine presence or a commanding voice and great speeches that marked him as a great leader. It was his presence and his actions. Mandela had a calming effect on people and a kind word for all. Bafana had a deep love for his country, compassion for all its people and the ability to forgive and embrace those who had tortured and jailed him. Africa is full of tragic stories, South Africa was at last a shining beacon of hope in a troubled world.

Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world” – Nelson Mandela

Power can corrupt those that desire it above all else. Power can also be used for the good of all. Marcus Aurelius was a Stoic first and the Emperor of Rome second, he considered all people in and outside the Empire to be fellow citizens of the world. Power was a responsibility, not an entitlement or excuse for abuse.

Aurelius  believed that it was in the nature of all humans from the lowly peasant, to soldier to the Emperor to work together for the common good. That an Emperor should first serve the people and protect them. It is irony that his son Commodus would end up being one of the most despotic and violent Dictators since Nero and ultimately precipitate the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Leaders like Mandela and Marcus Aurelius remind us that Power can also be based on Love.  One can still be powerful, caring  and humble at the same time.

Fear

Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

This was a prophetic line and one which reverberated through the entire Star Wars Saga . Yoda’s words revealed the destiny of a single child who was to ultimately change the course of history and have a resounding impact on an entire galaxy of trillions of sentient beings. The wisdom also shows us the path that can lead us back to despair. Our own journey to the Dark Side begins with fear.

Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with Fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself” – ACIM

Fear is the polar opposite of Faith. Only Fear can eclipse Love. It was Fear which drives the wedge of separation between who we truly are and our divine source. It is Fear that keeps us in that illusion of separation. The Ego thrives on Fear and validates itself there in the human expressions of anger and hate. Fear, Anger and Hate are the harbinger of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse; Conquest, War, Famine, and Death. Every negative expression of human emotion and each of the seven deadly sins finds its source in Fear.

Every single negative emotion and action has its root in Fear. Fear is Suffering, the very essence of the Dark Side. The need to resist, attack, impose, possess and control all come from Fear. Fear controls us in so many ways and forms the basis of the Ego. Without Fear there is no Ego as it removes the filter between our false and true selves. To live in separation is to exist in Fear.

 Facing Fear

Besides your recognizing that thoughts are never idle, salvation requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war; either love or fear.” – ACIM

Fear kept me in alcoholism for decades and controlled every aspect of my life, every decision. The Fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of change and fear of the truth defined who I was. For me it was “F#*k everything and Run”. In recovery we make our way out of the dark and we begin to realize that Fear is nothing but an illusion which the Ego uses to keep us from self-realisation.

In recovery we learn to face our Fears and facing them they vanish one after the other. We realize that we have been held captive by something we empowered with our own minds. Like the children’s tale of an imaginary beast that lives in the Forest in order to keep them from straying, our Ego creates a beast and the more we resist it or try to run, the larger it grows until it consumes us. Through non-resistance we are able to confront our Fears and face them down, what appears to be real soon fades and vanishes.

All healing is essentially release from Fear” – ACIM

We become free of Fear, we really had nothing to Fear in the first place other than Fear itself. Fear really is “False Evidence Appearing Real”.

Destiny

In “The Clone Wars: Destiny”, Yoda meets the manifestation of his Dark Side. The creature harbors all of Yoda’s Fears and Doubts and tries to attack and kill the Jedi Master. Yoda fights for his life but the more he struggles the stronger the entity becomes. Realizing the truth Yoda confronts the Dark figure and draws it to him. No longer afraid Yoda looks in to the face of his Dark Side and releases it, banishing the entity to oblivion. The Force Priestess Serenity arrives and reveals that the entity was nothing more than a manifestation of the mind, it never existed.

Observe and Let Go

In the “Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle teaches that within us all exists a light that we can use to illuminate anything we Fear. I doubted this and realizing that Doubt is the cousin of Fear I began to explore. One day I felt a strong sense of Fear and foreboding hit me that was overwhelming. It took me to the edge of sanity and I knew that unless I did something I would lose my grip and drink again. I resisted and fought the sensation and the Fear grew stronger. Somewhere in my mind I realized it didn’t have to be like this, I was giving in to Fear. I remembered the “Power of Now” and used my own inner light.

“To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness.” —Eckhart Tolle

This is how it works. Observe your Fear to overcome it. Imagine that Fear to be inside, a dark mass where the core is. Now imagine a strong glowing light growing brighter and brighter in your mind. Watch that glowing white light fill you entire body and illuminate the “Dark Mass” of Fear within you. Observe without judgment, with equanimity and without resistance. As Fear recedes from the light, embrace it and let it go. I imagine this as the Force negating Fear.

Your Fears have no Power over you no more than the Dark Side had any Power over Yoda. Luke faced his Dark Side on Dagobah also an illusion of Fear. Anakin let himself fall victim to something that was not real, his own Fears. This led to immense anger and then hate, the very fuel and oxygen needed for the dark Side to consume him. Our Fears do not own us unless we let it.

 Natural Fear

In some situations Fear is a healthy response. For example if confronted with a threat to life the Fear emotion is a normal. Natural Fear is used to elicit a “fight”, “freeze” or “flight” physiological and behavioural response in the face of Danger. The Jedi were trained, like Soldiers and Emergency workers in the real world to harness that Fear in to mindful actions and responses. Anxiety, fear of the unknown and the imagined is Ego-Fear and it is not real and not rational. Therefore there is no need for the emotional suffering we put ourselves through. It is important that we know the difference between Real Fear and Irrational Fear.

The greatest insanity of all is to submit to Fear. The greatest act one can do is free oneself from Fear. Love is the only thing which can truly overcomes Fear. Choose Love not Fear.

He who has escaped all fear of future pain has found his way to present peace. Place then, your future in the Hands of God.” – ACIM

Speak

The ability to speak does not make you intelligent” – Qui-Gon Jinn “Episode 1: The Phantom Menace”

Jar Jar Binks was one of the most annoying characters created by George Lucas in the prequels. Many Star Wars fans cringe at the Gungan buffoon and derided the prequels for introducing him. Jar Jar Binks is actually like a lot of people we meet and not all of them act that way when they are drunk though they may at times sound like him. They are usually drawing a lot of attention their way and speaking a lot without actually saying anything useful.

How often do we kick ourselves after we have said something better left unsaid. We often catch ourselves too late. It would be better to think before speaking. There are also times when we wish we had said something but we didn’t. Not speaking up also seems at times as bad as saying the wrong things at the wrong times.

Silence

Silence is a virtue or so we are told. The teachers in my catholic school would remind us often that children are seen and not heard. Silence was imposed and voicing an opinion was discouraged. I have discovered that often the greatest wisdom comes from the mouth of a child. Plain truth belies innocence. One should always speak their truth quietly and clearly. Listen to your kids or Grand kids often.

Learning when to speak and when to keep silence is an art. We all want to be heard. Sometimes we are not given the chance. The loudest and most assertive speakers generally get the floor. Passive and quiet people are usually not heard above the din.

The Power of Quiet

I’ve usually found the loud, gregarious and boorish types who insist on being heard above others have the least to say. The ability to speak does not always imply intelligence. In our society it seems that the most vocal and the loudest get the most airplay time. There is nothing wrong with that as it is a sign of open discourse which keeps Democracy alive. This is true as long as others are not silenced and forgotten. The loud and arrogant have a right to be heard but so do the quiet and humble.

Usually the quiet types are the ones we need to listen to. Their silence might not hide ignorance but a reluctance to speak. They may also know that saving your voice for when it’s required is often the best approach. You see them in the back of the room at meetings. They are also the silent person at work and the quiet achiever in the team. When they speak up I usually listen intently. The quiet ones usually have something I often lack; diplomacy, wisdom and tact.

“[The Spartans] conceal their wisdom, and pretend to be blockheads, so that they may seem to be superior only because of their prowess in battle … This is how you may know that I am speaking the truth and that the Spartans are the best educated in philosophy and speaking: if you talk to any ordinary Spartan, he seems to be stupid, but eventually, like an expert marksman, he shoots in some brief remark that proves you to be only a child”. – Plato

Who would’ve thought the Spartans were the silent types? Many guys I met who were Special Forces Operators were quiet and unassuming but also sharp as a tack. The mark of a true warrior. A lot of people mistake being quiet for being weak, often a big mistake! The guys you met in a Bar who were loud and telling war stories were usually from rear units or had never served. Big mouths are usually compensating for some deficiency.

Speak Up!

Francis Bacon said that “silence is the virtue of fools”; this is true for those who remain silent when they should have spoken up.  Never remain silent when to do so would be an injustice. If we speak up and learn that despite what is apparent we are wrong then we can make amends. It is too late after something wrong happens that we could have otherwise prevented by raising our voice. It often stuns me when I learn that an accident has happened in the workplace and I hear someone say “I could see that was going to happen”. My first question is “Why didn’t you say anything?” . We all have a responsibility to speak up when it is required.

The fictional Jedi by nature were not gregarious, they were assertive and they did speak up when it was required. They did however speak mindfully; they measured their approach and considered their words particularly over delicate matters. The Jedi used tact and diplomacy. Words were not wasted. They said a lot in few words.

Listen Up!

We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” –Zeno of Citium

Being a good listener is also a virtue. When we speak we are moving from the known to the known. Listening takes us from the unknown to the known, we learn something. Then in order to communicate effectively one must actively listen and respond being mindful of what we say and how we say it. Language is only partially verbal; body language, facial expressions, eye contact, hand motions, tone and the most subtle cues often communicate more than words. By listening actively we are communicating.

Women in particular are expert at picking cues and know when a guy is not listening. So for the sake of serenity, Listen!

A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.” –Wilson Mizner

Meesa throw it all together

Knowing how to listen and when to speak and when to hold tongue is an exercise in self discipline and mindfulness. As an alcoholic I often feel compelled to allow my emotions to drive my tongue. It takes real presence of mind to catch myself. A speech injected with anger or resentment may get an impact but it is one we learn to regret later. Angry or yelling we don’t hear anything, not even ourselves making a mess of things. In recovery we learn that anger and resentment does not serve us. To throw anger at others through our words makes us feel worse not better.

“”First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.” – Epictetus

Jar Jar Binks eventually made it to the Galactic Senate and despite his clumsiness with words and actions still proved to be a worthy ally up until the fall of the Republic. The fact that he became a politician seems a parody of our own society where sometimes the politician with the biggest mouth ends up in the highest office. We should still be willing to give those people the benefit of the doubt when they say things that are less than intelligent. After all many of us said things that we wish we hadn’t and expected the same courtesy from others.

Love

“Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi’s life. So you might say, that we are encouraged to love” – Anakin “Episode II: Attack of the Clones”.

One Word

Of all the words in existence the the word used to mean “Love” carries the most meaning to people.

What is Love? What does it mean? Countless songs, poems and stories have been written about it. Most of us intuitively know it but few can articulate in words what it is even to themselves. We know how it feels and we also know that Love comes in different flavors.

The Fictional Jedi were forbidden to love another in the ordinary sense. They were in fact expected to Love all sentient beings. The key role of the Jedi was service to others. Buddhism carries the same precept called “Loving Kindness” (Mettā). A Buddhist seeking enlightenment does so for the benefit of all sentients, so that they may be released from samsara, the eternal karmic cycle of life and death. Enlightenment is not sought for the benefit of the Bodhisattva but for all to ease suffering (Dukkha). Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi demonstrated a similar commitment when they abandoned the “crude matter” of their bodies and surrendered their souls, bringing balance to the Force.

The goal of Jedi Philosophy is to provide the path for people seeking to improve themselves. We realize that the way to achieve fulfillment and happiness is through service to others. Selfless service and giving of self requires Love not love.

World betterment through self betterment” – Kevin Trout “The Jedi Circle”

Love and love

Love with a capital “L” is unconditional Love. It is the Love that transcends personal concerns and the Ego. Love is all embracing, liberating, all forgiving, all encompassing, omnipotent and omnipresent. It binds all of creation together. It atones completely and sets free. All life is an expression of the Force. Love is the Force.

The Love of a mother for her child, the love of sacrificing one’s life for another, the love between comrades in arms and the deep and enduring love between two people that transcends the physical and life. That is unconditional Love.

Are you allowed to love? I thought that was forbidden for a Jedi.” – Padme Amidala “Episode II: Attack of the Clones”

When Padmé Amidala challenged Anakin on his capacity to Love another she was right but she was also wrong. Anakin could not attach to carnal love but he could express unconditional Love.

Love with a lower case “l” is called ordinary love. It binds, controls and fears loss. Jealousy is harbored in ordinary love and grasping attachment keeps it moored there. Ordinary love cannot sail, it is not free and it is controlled by the Ego.

Love as Suffering

It was the ordinary love that destroyed Anakin. The attachment and fear of losing Padme, his wife and the anger that burned in him was exploited by the Dark Lord. Unconditional Love would have allowed Anakin to set Padme free and defeat Darth Sidious. Instead he chose to control something that cannot be controlled and lost it all.

Anakin also loved Obi-Wan Kenobi like a Father. Perhaps because he never had a Father and had lost his mother Anakin grasped at anything that gave him meaning. It was a need that consumed him and others. As an Orphan myself I can appreciate the pain, fear and anger, the grasping attachment.

Why do I get the feeling you’re going to be the death of me?” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Don’t say that Master… You’re the closest thing I have to a father… I love you. I don’t want to cause you pain. ” – Anakin “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith”

Obi-Wan Kenobi also loved Anakin but he was able to fight him because of that Love. I can only surmise that Obi-Wan’s pity and compassion for what little remained of his friend prevented him from slaying Anakin on the lava flows of Mustafa. Anakin was dead already and only Darth Vader remained. Obi-Wan felt unconditional Love for what was left of his beloved friend and could not take Life in such a way no matter how twisted and evil it was.

In the fight between Love and Hate, Love will prevail.

In the final confrontation between Luke and Darth Vader on the Death Star II it was unconditional Love that reunites Father and Son and destroyed the Dark Lord. Love does conquer all.

False Love

Alcoholism was the Dark Side in my life. Love was a word I used but it was not real. We may feel what we believe is Love but it is only an object that we desire and grasp on to. Love that is grasped and bound cannot breath and it cannot last.

“I can’t live without you”, “I need you”, “You complete me, I’m nothing without you”, “You belong to me”, “I hurt you because I love you” were the kinds of words I used. In reality I only loved myself and the bottle. I would choose booze over the feelings of others. Love in thought does not match Love in action.

We weep at love lost because it was never about the other person but what we wanted and were attached to. Addiction does not allow unconditional Love to flow. It stifles it.

If you love someone, set them free.” – Richard Bach

Love sets Free

I found Unconditional Love in the most unexpected place. In the mental and psychic black hold of “Rock Bottom” I imagined myself dying in suffering, self pity and self hate. I called for help and my Higher Power saved me and set me free from my addiction. It was unconditional Love that bought me back to sanity and in to recovery.

The feeling glowed within me for days. I felt like I had the deepest Love for all things. Every rock, tree and animal I saw, every person I passed I felt unconditional Love for. I believe I had transcended to another dimension of existence. At the fundamental level we are spiritual beings having a human experience and we are all made of unconditional Love.

In the rooms you feel compassion and Love for the fellow suffering alcoholic. You feel it when you see those that suffer. It is not pity, it is unconditional Love. Our Ego is the only filter, the only limitation to that pure Love.

In recovery we learn who we were, who we are and who we will likely be if we stay on the beam. Love like spiritually is a personal journey. We can seek advice on affairs of the heart but it is up to each of us how to use our intrinsic capacity to love. Love is who you are so you can’t go wrong.

I believe that Love never dies. We take it with us. The ego dies and so does ordinary love but Love with a capital L is eternal.

Love, not time, heals all wounds” – Anonymous

Science

If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play.” Yoda, “Shatterpoint”

Science is based on proposition and the testing of a hypothesis. Experimentation is used to arrive at a statistically significant determination that a hypothesis is correct or incorrect. The best Scientists will try to reject a hypothesis and disprove a theory rather than default to a bias. They will try to prove themselves wrong no matter how important their theory is to them.

There are two types of Scientist in my experience. The first is those that undertake research to arrive at the truth. They want to understand the world as it is without the influence of any bias. Unbiased Scientists test their theories and accept when they are wrong.

The other type of Scientist will invest personal bias in their theories and adjust or interpret results accordingly to arrive at a conclusion. Such Scientists rarely welcome debate or criticism of their findings. You will find them in the halls of academia guarding their beliefs jealously and deriding any idea that challenges theirs. They are inflexible and they stymie the growth of scientific endeavor and the open exchange of ideas.

Truth of the Matter

No matter how you try to change it, the truth remains the truth. If you conduct an experiment and everything you do is correct but the outcome is the opposite of what is expected then that is the truth. The truth is not what you would make it. We have to accept the truth in order to recover.

The definition of insanity is to do something over and over again with the same outcome and expect something different. After trying an experiment a number of times in the same way with no change in conditions or parameters one should arrive at the same result. There may be some variation but when you do the math the result is still significant.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results“: Albert Einstein.

Despite a background in Science I was never good at exercising Scientific method in my own life. I would try the same things over and over and expect the same outcome only to be proved wrong again and again. Of course this flies in the face of logic but then who every said that logic applies when it comes to Alcohol.

Let me list some of the experiments I tried to drink normally:

  1. Stick to Light Beer only: Failed
  2. Drink only when eating: Failed
  3. Add water to wine: Failed
  4. Stop at three drinks: Failed
  5. Pace Drinking, have one, wait an hour and have another: Failed
  6. Not drink at all at a Party: Failed
  7. Empty the house of alcohol: Failed
  8. Exercise more often, start a health kick: Failed
  9. Swear off: Failed
  10. Seek help from a Psychologist: Failed
  11. Isolate myself from alcohol and everyone else: Failed
  12. Accept my alcoholism and Surrender my addiction: Worked

Whatever works

Only the last method worked. I tried it once but unlike the others there was no need to go back to the experimental design and manipulate parameters and variables. My hypothesis “an active program of recovery based on spiritual principles leads to sustained abstinence” worked. It still does.

Everything else I was doing before that? There was nothing wrong with any of it. Under certain conditions they will work in some cases. For me, they didn’t so I had to take a radical depart and think outside the realm of normal science. I had to reject my bias and accept that in my case only a spiritual solution could work. I tried it and much to my surprise and delight it did work.

Yoda summed it up very well. Everything you are doing in your life might seem right; there may be nothing wrong with it. But is it working for you? Does it serve? Will making one change, doing one thing differently make all the difference in the world? Perhaps we should consider a different solution instead of being stuck in our own paradigm and rejecting the alternatives.

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” – Herbert Spencer

Temptation

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

There is a saying in AA that while you are in a meeting your addiction is the Beast in the parking lot doing push ups. It’s a sad fact that the disease of alcoholism is for life. A true Alcoholic may be recovered but is never cured. One may be sober for a while and be doing well in recovery and gain the confidence to try a little “controlled drinking”. Then there’s temptation. The Beast is always seeking a way, it is a subtle and cunning foe.

Russian roulette

Controlled drinking may work for a while; it may even work for months. I know I’ve tried it. After a while I started to get confident and cocky. Thinking that I had beaten the old Dog I would let my hair down and next thing I know I’m as drunk as ever. My confidence deflated and my ego badly bruised I would “swear off” again for a few weeks until the next time.

We all know that the only effective way of staying sober is to abstain completely. There is no room for a drink. Not even one. We can try but the disease of alcoholism is unpredictable. With one drink we may be away on a massive binge or we may find that it was easy to stop at one. There is no certainty and for me the game is akin to Russian roulette.

Temptation

Temptation is our disease doing Jedi Mind Tricks with our head. Rationalization is the other weapon it uses. We can literally hear our disease trying to lull us in to a false sense of security. A drop of the guard and next thing we are staring at a glass full of Bourbon wondering how the hell we got there. The crazy thing we never even know how we arrived at that point. It goes something like this:

“Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk it couldn’t hurt me on a full stomach.” (Big Book Chapter 3, p.38).

That is how subtle alcohol is. The man in the story had his loaded glass of milk and then another and another. This led to more drinks and eventually an asylum.

Temptation is “looking at the dark side”. Every time I walk past a bar or a liquor store I feel something within me stir. When I feel my anger rise and darkness falls over me as my judgment becomes clouded by resentment and fear I can hear my addiction laughing. Lonely, tired, depressed, anxious, frustrated or even hungry I can sense that my defenses are down and my addiction is stirred.

Times like these you need to do anything, pray, workout, call a sponsor, meditate, scream, anything but pour a drink.

 The Beast

In my early recovery I visualized my addiction as some sort of creature, a Beast if you will. I had cast a light on it by turning my life over to a Higher Power. My addiction retreated to a dark place and there it screamed and cursed. It promised it would have me again as it always had in the past. It would come back and make me pay. There was the knot of withdrawal in my stomach and I imagined it was my addiction beating against the bars of it’s cage. I have the keys, I could let it out. I dare not.

My addiction is still there and it always will be. It is mostly silent now but it waits patiently. The disease does not know time, it does not care how long I abstain for or how strong I think my recovery is. It only needs one slip and it’s out of the cage. It will be there till I die or it will carry me to the grave. I hold the key, I decide.

Every time I look in that dark place it is there and it looks back and it grins.

Freedom

I will never forget the night sitting on a train I watched my Father Play poker with a stranger as they drank whisky. I watched my father lose one round after the other until he was broke. The man who had emptied my father’s wallet asked “have you got anything left to wager”?  My father nodded in my direction and said drunkenly “the Boy”.  The man nodded and said “OK”. They played their hand and my Father won and soon had most of his money back. It seemed like his luck had returned, I’m still undecided about mine. Who wagers Freedom?

Alcoholics do.

I was around 7 years of age when I experienced that and would soon find myself in a religious orphanage where my view of Christianity would forever be blighted by my experience. Later in State care I would learn the meaning of class, rank and status. The event that played out on the train may have been a joke to scare me or it was as it seemed; it remained with me till now more than 40 years later and forever changed my perception of my Father and what it means to be Free.

Anakin Skywalker was a slave as was his mother. The distinction obviously affected Anakin in his younger years and later as a Jedi Knight as he struggled with his identity and his past. Anakin then became a slave to his guilt, his anger and his hate until he became a slave to the Dark Side and was lost to it.

Slave to Self

I was never a Slave in the normal sense of the world but I was a slave to my addiction and to my Fears. The things that keep us down and in bondage are very often of our own making. I had the key, in fact the door was always open. I just chose never to take it and kept myself a slave for decades after that moment on the Train.

Surrendering is the key to Freedom. By turning over my drinking problem and then my fears, anger, anxieties and resentments to the Force I was setting myself Free. The paradox of surrender is a powerful one and it does not need a spiritual source. All it needs is willingness.

We all have within us an inherent desire to be Free. Not only free from oppression and fear but free from our own negative and self defeating emotions. We want to be Free from our darker side and our past. The key to Freedom is in our hands. Set yourself Free Now.