MTFBWY

May the Force be with you – Han Solo

 

Every Fourth of May the world celebrates Star Wars Day. The date is taken from the catchphrase “May the Fourth be with you” a play on the famous line “May the Force be with you” first heard in Star Wars in 1977. It immediately captured the imagination of millions of people. Two years later and Margaret Thatcher won the UK  elections on May 4th , 1979 becoming the countries first female Prime Minister. The Conservative “Tory” party took out a front page notice in the London Evening News congratulating her victory with “May the Fourth be with you, Maggie congratulations”. I remember the day well….Anyway, the line stuck and it re-appeared until the date was immortalized as “Star Wars Day”.

Most people would give you a weird look if you were to say “May the Force be with you” on any other day. In the Star Wars universe it has a magical and holy ring to it. The Force is real, it permeates everything. The Universe is the Force. The statement affirms that primary truth, that the Force resides in all life. The Force is then with you always but when someone says it, it reminds you and brings you back to the moment, to a glimpse of who and what you truly are.

In the 12 Step movement we are reminded that no one ever loses the divine spark within them. We choose only to shut it out or throw a barrier between us and our Higher Power. The flame is never fully extinguished. If you believe in God you will know that the divine never leaves you, for God resides within, without and in all creation. As conscious human beings with free will we only choose to believe or imagine that we are utterly bereft and forsaken in the dark. We never truly are, there is always a candle in the dark, a way out.

What we had in addiction was a choice to express that spark that resides within and finally embrace life.

 

Remember the Force will be with you. Always. – Obi-wan Kenobi

 

I have to laugh when I see people on Social Media wishing each other the catch phrase “May the Fourth be with you”. It’s all for fun of course. The date is a good one to celebrate the fictional universe that Lucas created more than 40 years ago and we continue to enjoy today.

I don’t often wish anyone “May the Force be with you” I’m not a religious person but I can’t deny the power of those words even if they are attached to a story that is entirely fictional. When I was in the Middle East I heard people say Shalom and Salem. Both words mean Peace. They are used as everyday greetings but also as a wish that peace may be on your soul. One word can soften a look of suspicion or potential animosity in a stranger when you offer him or her the word Salem…Peace.  One greeting can make all the difference.

So “May the Force be with you” on this day, the Fourth of May and all days. May it bring you peace, happiness, serenity and peace. May you find your inner Jedi (and Child) not just for one day but for all days.

Resurrection

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

He who surrenders hope, surrenders life.” – The Clone Wars “Alter of Mortis”.

 

The Resurrection of the Christ from the dead is the very foundation on which the Christian faith is built. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross and then he rose again and walked among his followers for forty days before ascending to heaven. The symbolism of the story is that Jesus, as a manifestation of the divine, died like a common man. Jesus then descended to hell carrying the sins of the world and then arose on the third day defeating death and redeeming the world. This is the salvation of the resurrection.

From a metaphysical perspective I see the story of the resurrection as a parable which is intended to remind us that death is not final. Yes all things die but life always follows death. The circle of life is continuous and death is a part of that. But life always triumphs over death.

I also believe that the story of the resurrection is to remind us that in life we must let the old parts of ourselves die in order to renew ourselves. We must be willing to let go and suffer in doing so if it allows us to grow.

No one’s ever really gone” – Luke Skywalker

 

The Rise of Skywalker

“The Rise of Skywalker” is an interesting title for the last episode of Star Wars. In “The Last Jedi” we saw Luke Skywalker “die” on the Island of Ahch-To. In the final scenes Luke vanishes symbolizing his transcendence from the flesh to the living Force. Yoda, Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin all transcended to the Force. They were resurrected not in a physical sense but there continued consciousness in the Force defeated mortality by becoming immortal.

Will Luke now “rise” from the dead in the last episode? Will he be more than a Force Ghost? What of Lela? Will the laws of the Force be utterly upended and Darth Sidious also released from the shackles of death?

I believe you will bring balance to the Force. That you will defeat your demons and bring balance to the Force” – Qui Gonn Jinn

 

Resurrected

The Star Wars mythology uses the theme of resurrection in the saga. Obi-wan Kenobi was clearly struck down by Vader in the original movie. The Jedi Master deftly parried Vader’s Lightsaber before opening himself to the fatal blow. At first it seemed like suicide but soon the true purpose of Obi-wan Kenobi’s death was revealed. Yoda also returned to aid Luke Skywalker after he had died in the flesh. Qui-Gon Jinn also appeared to Anakin and tried to guide him.

Villains also return in Star Wars. Darth Maul struck down by the apprentice Obi-wan Kenobi somehow survived and returned decades later insane with a lust for revenge. Cade Bane the unscrupulous Bounty Hunter and perennial anti-hero was rumored killed in a duel but I have no doubt we may see him again in a future series of the Clone Wars.

 

“Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to create life… The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” – Darth Sidious

 

The Return of the Sith

Can the Sith defy death and resurrect themselves? Sidious was destroyed in “Return of the Jedi”, killed at the hands of his apprentice Darth Vader. What if the essence of Darth Sidious was preserved within the dark side of the Force? Like his Master Darth Plagueis had he mastered the secret to cheating death?

Luke said in the teaser that no one’s ever really gone does this allude to Palpatine? Lucas may have been planning the resurrection of Darth Sidious since the “Return of the Jedi”. One of the alternate endings of the first trilogy was the conversion of Luke to the dark side with the defeat of the Sith Lord. Lucas however decided on a happy ending.

Having the resurrection of the Sith and the return of Palpatine as the end to the “Rise of Skywalker” may keep the circle of the mythology turning. If the Dark Side rises once again in the galaxy we must wait for another “chosen one” to end it and restore balance to the Force fulfilling the ancient prophecy.

The second coming so to speak…

 

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

 

Rise

Whether you believe in the story of the resurrection of Christ or not depends on your religious leanings. In reality people who die do not rise again unless the person was in fact not dead. This is why the story of “The Rise of Christ” is so important to Christians and underpins the basis of their religion. The resurrection of Christ provides proof of the divinity of Jesus as the son of God and eternal savoir of the world. Christians believe that the crucifixion and resurrection were prophesied to happen in the Old Testament.

I believe that the story of the resurrection is to remind us that we have a choice. We can choose to find purpose and meaning in life and strive to be a better version of our self every day or we can capitulate to a nihilistic existence and reject any meaning in life. We can choose the Light Side or the Dark Side.

The story of the crucifixion and resurrection is one of reaching redemption and meaning by going through suffering. In life we must take up our cross and bear it. Redemption comes through suffering. Like pruning dead branches, we shed parts of our old lives. The process can be painful but we emerge renewed.

The celebration of Easter is one of rebirth and renewal as well as hope. Becoming sober is like being born again, a resurrection from an existence that was neither being wholly alive or completely dead. Addicts are caught in twilight between two worlds. Eventually we are forced to choose between the two. That choice is to let the old life die and the new life arise or not. We can stay down or rise up resurrected and renewed. I choose life. What do you choose?

Ghosts

 

You have grown strong and powerful, just as I imagined.” – Qui-Gon Jinn’s Force Ghost appearing to Anakin (“Ghosts of Mortis”, The Clone Wars)

 

Ah, Skywalker. Missed you, have I” – Yoda’s Force Ghost appearing to Luke (The Last Jedi).

 

Ghosts exist. I believe they do because I’ve seen them. There was an apparition I saw as a child when I was kept at a Catholic Home for boys. I saw another in a home for wards of the state when I was twelve. On both occasions the figures seemed to pass completely oblivious to my presence. I was wide awake when I saw these apparitions and remember how the room was cold before and during. The first was a Nun in an old habit; she stood as if in prayer, her face was down, I blinked and she was gone. The second was a shadow of a man who seemed to drift like grey smoke across the room before vanishing.

I don’t remember being scared when I saw them. I was upset and deeply sad. The figures seemed to imbue a deep sense of melancholy. Perhaps they were real maybe they weren’t. In the orphanage we also played with Ouija boards and scared ourselves silly with our imaginations. The region in which the old children’s home was built had many Ghost stories. In such an environment it was easy to imagine what was not there.

 

 

Sensitive

Many years later I learned that my sister was sensitive and told me she had seen Ghosts her entire life. They didn’t scare her at all and never had.  To this day she practices as a psychic medium and has investigated Ghosts, Poltergeists and other phenomenon. Some of her “cases” have turned out to have a rational explanation. Others have been very strange. I’ve seen her bring a sense of relief to people who thought they were losing their minds. It’s amazing what a few words and some burning sage can do for a family’s sense of sanity.

When my daughter turned eight she began reporting that there were “others” in our house. I had to admit at the time I did find a few things odd. There were smells such as old pipe tobacco. Batteries would go flat in devices soon after being replaced. Objects would go missing and then reappear in odd places or not at all. Doors would open and curtains would move although there was not the slightest breeze. There were cold patches and sometimes the house just felt cold. I thought I saw shadows.

According to our daughter there was a boy she spoke to, a sad lady and a tall angry man whom were both silent. I asked her to draw them and she drew a boy with a white shirt, black trousers held up with braces. She drew a large happy smile on a wide face. In the bubble and stick fashion, she drew a thin woman with a long black dress that went to her neck. The man had a vest, a long mustache, a pipe and a large hat. The man had an angry face.

Of course I was skeptical. I had been trained to be. A degree in science demanded empirical evidence. I wanted to believe that such things were not really possible. The supernatural might be fanciful or hypothetical, but not indisputable. Without empirical evidence based on quantifiable data derived from replicable experimentation one could entertain that Ghosts might exist but still hold a healthy amount of skepticism.

 

 

Voices

We went to see a psychic medium that has a reputation of being anything but a charlatan. I was impressed the moment I saw him. For a start the man looked extremely fit and well groomed. Wearing smart jeans, a shirt and leather jacket he met us cordially. I was expecting some sort of facade and a bit of melodrama but this medium was just an every day guy. The sort of guy who barbecues on the weekend, goes to football matches and drinks beer.

Our Medium explained that he had been able to see Ghosts since he was a child and could get impressions from them sometime faint, sometime strong. Our visit would allow him to determine if there was anything attached to us “psychically”. Whether we were haunted or not.

We were instructed to keep our answers to questions as yes or no in order to reduce any suspicion of mentalism or “fishing for answers”. He also warned us we could go home empty handed if he failed to “channel” anything.

Without much effort he gave me a run down on my personal history, my dead parents, my fears and he pretty well told me without saying it aloud that I was alcoholic and headed for a fall. He told me that I was perched on a wall waiting to either topple to oblivion or fall in to the arms of safety and sanity. I could feel panic and denial welling inside of me. He sensed that and moved on.

Touching the right side of his head he told me that I had had a major operation and had actually been pushed “from the other side” to seek help when I’d started noticing symptoms instead of ignoring them. This floored me. It was true that I had had a tumor growing in my head. It was quite large and the specialist had told me if I had left it another month I would have probably suffered a stroke and died. The Medium said “second chance” with a blank face as if he was remembering something. I looked at him strangely, indeed I had seen the experience as a “second chance” at the time. The problem of course is that I had not embraced it and was soon drinking heavily again after a short pause.

 

 

Glimpses

The conversation turned to our house. The Medium would pause and sort of look up or to one side. Once or twice he seemed to not even to be there but in some sort of trance. We had not mentioned we had children but he told us that we had “entities” in our house and that our young daughter could see them and had interacted with a “child spirit”. Sensing our alarm he told us not to worry. The spirits were harmless and tied to the house or rather the land. The way we view time is not how time is. Reality is an illusion and sometimes, depending on things we don’t understand, our dimension touches the next.

This didn’t reassure us much and we asked about a cleansing to which he replied it could be done but not by him. He went on to say that the spirit who was “looking over me” when I was sick was my mother. He said that she was also “watching over” our children. Soon after a subtle change came over his face as if a curtain had come down and the Medium announced that the meeting was over.

It’s an understatement to say that I had trouble seeing the world the same way after that brief visit. Was it all real? Had I been played and fleeced out of my money? If it were true then everything I thought about reality was up for debate. My mind reeled and everywhere I looked I saw Ghosts hiding in shadows. I needed a stiff drink.

 

 

Smudging

A couple of weeks later I called my sister and she came over. I explained some of the events that had taken place but omitted our meeting with the Medium or any specific details. It was the middle of the day and she walked though the house pausing in our daughter’s room a little longer. Finally she reported that there was family tied to the house. The land the house sat on had been a farm. The farmer had been cruel to his family and had died in an accident. The woman and child had lived out their lives.

With sage in hand she walked from room to room, trailing smoke, inviting the entities to “go to the light”. I watched with fascination. Sure enough a peace seemed to fall over the house. It felt completely different. From that day there were no further “disturbances”. Whatever had been there was gone and I had to admit I was sort of sad about it. The house was clear but a dark shadow fell over me. I responded with alcohol.

 

 

“Second Chances”

As the Medium predicted my “second chance” soon ran out and I hit rock bottom. I realized when it happened what it meant. Ghosts of the past held me down. I felt myself sink in to a dark place and was utterly haunted. I could take my real “second chance” now and climb out to safety or I could fall to oblivion and never emerge. Doing so required a type of Faith and belief in something that cannot be proved through empirical science. By that stage, I already knew that. If anything the last few years had taught me was to keep an open mind, even if it meant accepting there is more than we can see and measure.

 

“No live organism can continue to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality” – The Haunting of Hill House

 

 

The Red Door

Recently I decided to watch the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House. I’ve always been a fan of psychological supernatural movies. There are few that rank as truly great. The Haunting (1963) and The Legend of Hell House (1973) are both timeless classics.

I have to admit that the new Netflix release of a retelling of Shirley Jackson’s Hill House story was excellent. The experience was not unlike jumping into some Rabbit Hole. Over ten episodes the series explores the dark inner psyche of a family haunted by events that occurred a quarter of a century earlier. Against the brooding backdrop of Hill House, a short and terrifying childhood summer is played out. There are secrets and the house  is calling them home.

The series was compelling and terrifying not so much for the Ghosts, which there are many, but because it was a reminder that people suffer the Ghosts of their pasts and fears. Eventually one must return to face them. Doors that are locked and contain sinister and dark secrets must be opened. Sometimes we must peer in to the dark recesses of our soul. In order to be free we must confront our darkest and most terrifying fears.

 

A ghost can be a lot of things. A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt. But, in my experience, most times they’re just what we want to see.” – The Haunting of Hill House

 

 

Force Ghosts

Why is it that the “Force Ghosts” of Star Wars aren’t scary? Even Casper the Friendly Ghost was a little creepy. The story goes that when Jesus first appeared to his disciples after the resurrection they were terrified to see him returned from the grave and walking among the living. Any manifestation of the dead is naturally disconcerting. Cultures demand that the dead stay dead. Ghosts are not welcome.

I’ve learned that Ghosts are not scary (unless we want them to be) but they are definitely not something you want to turn a corner and see standing there. So why is no one concerned with “Force Ghosts”? After all they have all the trade mark features of a Ghost. They shimmer, glow pale and appear out of nowhere and start dispensing practical philosophy, yet they comfort those they appear to. If Socrates were to appear again in Athens and start approaching people the city would lose its mind and try to evict him.

 

Dreams they’re like an ocean and the big dreams can spill out sometimes” – The Haunting of Hill House

 

 

Visions

“Force Ghosts” are a product of fiction obviously. The religious equivalent would be called “Visions”. Most people who have claimed to have had visions of Mary, Jesus, Saints or departed relatives reported feeling an overwhelming sense of love and peace. What causes these experiences is a matter for debate however there is no disputing the fact that visions have a lasting and often life changing effect on those who witness them.

“Force Ghosts” are the heavenly visitations to the Jedi. The “Force Ghosts” are the spiritual experiences that guide the Jedi from the edge of the Dark Side and back to the Light. The “Force Ghosts” appear because they are summoned in some way by those that need them and they change those they visit in profound ways.

 

Fear is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns…” – The Haunting of Hill House

 

“White Light”

Occasionally I run into people I haven’t seen since I got sober. They give me strange look. The comment I get is that I have changed and somehow different. They remark how fit and healthy I look but there is something else they can’t quite name, something intangible.

When people learn that I no longer drink they ask what bought it on. It’s very hard to explain “what happened” to anyone who has not hit rock bottom and had a spiritual experience. To try is to risk being labelled a religious nut. Its also hard to articulate to those that have had a similar experience. Words can’t really describe it. Whether it’s a “burning white light” experience or something that happens at a deeper level the end result is that there is no seeing the world the same way ever again. Everything changes.

The only way to describe what happened to is that in a flash I felt I was catapulted to an elevated level of consciousness. It felt as if I were inside of me but at the same time outside of me and looking down at me. I was had a clear vision of who I was at that moment and a vision of what I could become. I sat perched on a wall between heaven and hell. There was no doubt in my mind I could topple either way. At some deeper level I reached out to whatever spiritual source there was and grabbed the flimsy reed that was offered. I knew at that moment the ultimate truth; there is nothing to fear but fear itself and the fear was gone. So were the Ghosts.

 

“…But so, it seems, is love. Love is the relinquishment of logic the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it. But we cannot meet it halfway…” – The Haunting of Hill House

 

 

Impressions

I’ve learned that it is rarely the “Ghosts” of departed souls that haunt us. Certainly the memory of those who have passed will linger in mind and subconsciousness. It is not unusual for people to speak to the dearly departed, it’s normal. We can find solace and comfort feeling that not even death can separate us from those that we love.  More often it is an impression, a word, a thought or a memory that materializes like a phantom in our mind. We can see it clearly as if it were there in front of us. For a moment we are projected through time and place to that moment. Like a Ghost it begins to fade and then vanish. We are left with the feeling like you get when you come out of a dream. There was a truth, clarity and enlightenment in that moment and then it is gone beyond recall.

Perhaps that is what the “Force Ghosts” of Star Wars represent. They symbolize the resolving of inner conflict and the realization of a deeper truth or a moment of joy. At the moment when Luke feels the most vulnerable and has the greatest doubts born of fear and anguish he is centered and given courage and guidance by the vision and words of Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. In his happiness Luke also see’s his Father and his former mentors smiling down on him approvingly on Endor.

 

…Without it (Love), we cannot continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality” – The Haunting of Hill House

 

 

Believe or Not

Whether you believe in Ghosts or not and care for Ghost stories or not, all people are visited by Ghosts of some form. The very act of living allows them to permeate our lives in every way. I’m still visited by the Ghosts of my past but I don’t let them affect me. They serve as reminders of where I have come from. I acknowledge them and let them go. They appear and fade away and I know they are impressions. I sometimes speak to my dead relatives and ancestors. Perhaps they hear me, maybe they don’t. It comforts me the same way the apparition of Yoda and disembodied voice of Obi-wan Kenobi comforted Luke.

I also believe in Ghosts, the “active” type that stare out of windows in darkened houses, the “residual” Ghosts that play out their lives and deaths like some old movie reel on a constant loop. The “phenomena” Ghost Hunters seek out in cold and desolate places at the dead of night. Ghosts do exist, in our minds and in the world. I don’t doubt it for a second.

 

“Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House. And those who walk there walk together.” – Steven Crain “The Haunting of Hill House”

Build Resilience: Be Realistic

Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

One of the mistakes I made when starting this journey was aiming for perfection. I wanted perfect practice. My principles had to be applied consistently and without fault. I became a religious zealot and almost fanatical in my approach to my recovery. Of course I could only sustain that for a short period of time. I grew frustrated that I could not always get my own way. Resentment and anger followed. I had to learn to be realistic with myself. Recovery requires a “take it easy” approach of just following the process and doing the work. That process turned out to be the gentle Middle Path.

We have to be realistic with ourselves and others. We cannot expect things to always turn out as we plan. Flexibility is a trait of the resilient person. Change is going to happen and you can either resist and fight it or adapt and live with it. Those that are resilient choose the latter.

No one is asking that we like everything that happens to us. Things happen in my life that suck which I cannot change. I have a hard enough time changing myself so what luck am I going to have changing people or circumstances. My happiness and progress in life should be independent of these things. By taking a pragmatic and realistic view we are less likely to be disappointed and more likely to contemplate, accept, adapt and bounce back.

No one can force perfection but we can accept things as they are.

 

Realism

“These thorns are all that is true, life is suffering, suffering is life, be happy with the small things that come to you” – Johnny Clegg & Savuka “African Dream”

Most recovered alcoholics and addicts I have met are realistic people. They can’t afford not to be. They may have spiritual ideas and beliefs but their feet are planted firmly on the ground. Life has made us that way because we lived in an illusion for so long and suffered for it. Experience has taught us the concept of dukkha and samsara. Suffering is life and life is suffering. Good things do come sometimes by chance but mostly through our own efforts.

Objectivity is also a Real World Jedi trait. We take an objective view of reality. Evidence based scientific method with healthy skepticism is generally accepted by Jedi. At the same time we accept that sometimes science has it wrong or lacks the answers we seek. We also cannot know all of reality. There are unknown unknowns and known unknowns. Reality also exists outside of the box of time and space. This we call the Force.

 

What Is

“Your eyes can deceive you; don’t trust them.” – Obi-wan Kenobi

What exists, exists independent of our views and conceptual ideas. A rock exists with or without our consent. The world revolves, the seasons change, things are born and die, a tree falls in the forest whether we are there to experience it or not. The past is gone beyond recall, the future is nothing more than an illusion and all that truly exists is the Now. The Now is where reality happens. The Force exists in and through all things.

Our senses provide us with awareness of the physical world. At the same time our senses are not always right or are incapable of sensing all of reality. We therefore only sense so much. Something deep within us knows that there is more to reality than what we can see, hear, touch and taste. We all have intuition, a knowing and impressions. When we take a moment to absorb a painting, a work of music, a star filled sky, a sunrise or a newborn child, something spiritual stirs within us and we know that we are more than “crude matter”. Our consciousness is present in the moment. We get a sense of a grander reality and who we really are.

 

In a Galaxy Far Away

“The Force will be my guide” –  Je’daii Lanoree “Into the Void”

The Jedi understood the chaotic nature of reality. They appreciated the randomness and unpredictability of events. In order to achieve their purpose they sought to balance the Force within themselves. Emotions were kept in check but not repressed. Opinions mattered but were not accepted as absolute truth. Absolutes were rejected and ideas welcomed and judged by their merits and not by prejudice.

Behind the chaos of reality was the duality of the Force, the energies emitted by the light and dark sides of Ashla and Bogan. The goal of the Jedi was to seek balance within themselves through the Force. By achieving balance they could come closer to bringing balance and harmony to the galaxy.

Those that achieved balance with the Force were united with it. Through transmutation of the physical to the Force they became one with it and achieved enlightenment. This is the Star Wars depiction of transcendence to perfection. It may be fiction but it is inspired by eastern and western philosophies and traditions that we can use in our own spiritual journey.

 

 

The Middle Way

“The Middle Path is the way to Freedom– Rumi

Seeking perfect practice backfired for me. I realized early in my recovery and now in my journey that perfection is a mirage. As we move closer to our idea of perfection we see it begin to vanish or move. Frustration replaces optimism. Fear begins to replace Faith and if we are not careful despair can overcome hope. I had to take the Middle Path and face reality or I risked falling back in to abuse.

Every day I see idealism taking precedent over realism in our society. I have largely tried to distance myself from the toxicity of it on the news and in social media. Dogmatic extremes shouting down rational and reasoned discourse has become the norm in our polarized world. Everything is out of balance. Realism has taken a back seat to extremism and the first casualties in this war have been objectivity, tolerance and global resilience.

The Buddha reminded us that we should all strive for enlightenment for the sake of all living things. Suffering is universal but with the right choices, it is optional. The Eight Fold Path can validate the Four Noble Truths in our lives and lead us out of suffering. At the same time the Buddha admonished those that chose the hard road to perfection. One who seeks enlightenment for his own sake can never find it. The Middle Way gives us a reality check. We can’t hope to progress with no effort or through a fanatical approach. Both lead to more suffering.

 

Transcend

“Luminous beings are we. Not this crude matter” – Yoda

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Anakin and Luke Skywalker all transcended to the Force. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda lived the Middle Path and transcended effortlessly. Anakin and Luke realized the truth more dramatically but it was their final acceptance of reality and surrender to the Force that led to their transcendence and enlightenment. They also chose the Noble Middle Path.

All humans have the potential to become enlightened but very few ever reach that summit of consciousness. Progress not perfection is the key in whatever journey we choose. Forgiving yourself for your mistakes and blunders will build resilience and compassion not anger and resentment. Accept that in reality things will rarely if ever go exactly as planned. We can only control our impressions, thoughts and opinions. What is not in our control is the body, circumstances, other people, money, status and the future. The important thing is using what we have to move forward in the Now. Faith, heart and resilience behind reason may not lead us to perfection but it will take us in that direction.

MTFBWY

 

Further Reading

“The Middle Way: Faith Grounded in Reason” by The Dalai Lama

Jedi sense disturbance

32. Jedi can feel disturbances in the Force

If Jedi are mindful and are consciously connected to the Force, they can feel disturbances in the Force. Feeling Force disturbances usually happen after there has been some type of disaster, and/or a loss of life.

(33 Jedi Traits)
Did you ever get the feeling that something had happened to a friend or a loved one? For no reason they pop up in your mind and you just know. The nagging feeling in your gut that you should get an unusual lump checked out and it turns out to be the best thing you did for yourself and your family. These moments happen to most of us and we put them down to “gut feel”, “coincidence” or “luck”, when all we did is listen to that little voice we often ignore; the “sixth” sense.

 

Energy doesn’t lie. Keep sensing it, trusting it, letting it liberate you” – Judith Orloff

 

Remote Sensing

A few years ago I was sitting quietly and suddenly I was struck by an overpowering sense that my Father had died. I did not know why and there was no one I could call to find out but I just knew. A feeling or a sense had passed over me that was hard to shake. I was only able to confirm his passing some time afterwards as we had been estranged for many years. My Father had died a skid row drunk on the other side of the country around the time I sensed it. There is no explaining it in terms that make sense. Sensing loss or tragedy is something we feel deep within our consciousness.

Mothers have a deep physical, emotional and spiritual connection to their children. A young Mother will wake and instinctively know her child is in distress and rush to attend to her. How often have we heard stories of Mothers sensing their child close to them as he lies wounded or dying in a war zone thousands of miles away? The Mother feels the loss deep within her heart and soul.

 

The Web

People have a natural ability to sense when things are not right. We feel it in our gut. Sometimes we choose to ignore it, most of the time we cannot pin point the cause but it is undeniable and it is our deeper consciousness trying to tell us something. We are all connected to each other and to the world we live in, every event ripples across the web of life.

When a forest is cleared in the Amazon it has an impact on the world and we feel it. Call it sensing or a “disturbance in the Force”, it is nature’s way of letting us know that the web has been disturbed. Some of us are just more sensitive than others.

 

Angst

During the 90’s the word “angst” came in to popular use. Angst described an ill at ease generation that was deeply concerned about the world and the way society was headed. At the time my angst was conveniently smothered with lots of booze, dope and grunge. I just didn’t want to know. Today that unease is more poignant and tangible; many people would agree that the world feels like it is careening towards some catastrophe.

 

Swimming against the Tide

It is no illusion that the global environment is in trouble. The degradation is accelerating towards a point of no return. The global economy is controlled by a powerful and centralized elite that is geared towards siphoning the world’s wealth in to the hands of a tiny minority. Governments seem to be working against the interests of the people. Corporate influence and a military agenda drive Government policy. War seems to be a perpetual state.

Our food, water and medicines are becoming over priced, non-nutritious and toxic. Education is being hijacked by sociopolitical agendas and students are taught not to think or question the mainstream. The media fuels an atmosphere of distrust and division among the people. Society has become filled with hate, bigotry, intolerance and rage.

 

“”I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

 

If you sometimes feel like you are swimming against the tide and don’t feel a part of the system you are not alone. If there is unease in your stomach and you prefer to avoid news reports, that’s normal. What you are feeling is not imagination or irrational anxiety but an acute awareness that the world seems to be going to hell in a basket. There is a disturbance in the Force and some of us can feel it, we are the lucky ones.

The vast majority of people in the world are obsessed with non-issues, the latest fashion trends and mindless consumerism. Society is sleep walking to the edge of a great chasm completely unaware of the peril.

 

Pay Attention

Being sober and being Jedi has taught me to pay close attention to my surroundings and to use all of my senses. The Path has also taught me to “have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can”. The reality is there is little we can do outside of our own power to change the world. We can still make small changes and do our own part to try to make a better world. Much of that choice is in the way we conduct ourselves and how we respond to emotions.

If society were to collapse tomorrow how would we react? Would we panic and abandon our principles? Do we continue to hope for the best but train ourselves for the worst? Can we face the future with resolve and dignity or will we revert to base savagery to survive? No matter what happens we still have a choice in how we respond to the emotion of Fear. We can choose to be Jedi.

Jedi seek Enlightenment

Jedi train on Oneness or union with the Living Force.

The highest purpose of life is to train on becoming One with the Living Force. This is considered “Immortality”. Religions call it by different names like Enlightenment, Self-Realization, or God-Realization, but it’s the same thing.

(33 Jedi Traits)

 

One with the Force

Yoda, Anakin, Qui Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi all transcended to the Force. All four Jedi masters became the “luminous beings” that Yoda had described when he breathed his last words on Dagobah. The Jedi believed that all life was destined to return to the Force. The Force was the source of all life and what it gave was eventually returned to it. The Jedi also believed that certain individuals could achieve a state of enlightenment while alive; in death their living consciousness would survive and exist in eternity within the Force.

We call it enlightenment, transcendence, God realization and nirvana. These are only terms that attempt to describe a state of being that can not be articulated in few words. Enlightenment is a realization of the truth of who we truly are. Few humans ever come near to that point in their lives. The belief is that we all come to the realization at death with the loss of the physical body and the demise of the Ego. It takes death for us to realize our true spiritual nature.

 

The Spiritual Experience

One of the paths to enlightenment is through a life of suffering and a brush with death or a near death experience. While the co-author of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W, never claimed to be enlightened many people think he was. Bill W described his descent in to a personal hell, there he surrendered himself to “whatever God” there was and had a sudden and dramatic spiritual experience. The experience may have been the product of a hallucination or a dream but to Bill W it was very real. At that moment the burden of alcoholism was lifted from him and he never drank again. Bill W spent the remainder of his life with the sole purpose of trying to save the world “one drunk at a time”. Eckhart Tolle recounts a similar story in the “Power of Now”.

There are many stories of people who have had intense spiritual experiences. Some have been conscious and had a vision such as Bill W and many of the Christian saints. Others have returned from a near death experience and recounted incredible stories of meeting with spiritual beings and a Divine Light. The knowledge and raised consciousness which these individuals have gained has been utterly life transforming. Many people have ridiculed them and some have been persecuted, yet all have firmly refused to depart from the new purpose to which their experience has given them.

 

Many Paths

All of the spiritual traditions and religions speak of a path that leads to a union with the Divine. The Buddhists believe that some people may attain enlightenment quickly through a dramatic experience most adherents must dedicate their life to service, study and meditation to even come close. The Judaeo-Christian and Islamic faiths teach that unity with God comes through piety and submission to God and through charity to others. Hinduism teaches that solitude, asceticism and devotion brings enlightenment.

In all traditions, meditation and prayer is used to raise consciousness to a level that can open a channel to the Divine spirit. Sometimes those that have had little to no religious instruction can experience a spiritual experience that results in a higher state of consciousness.

 

Waking Up

Those that have had spiritual experience that presupposes transcendence to a higher state of consciousness all have similar personality changes:

  1. A sudden realization of a power greater than themselves;
  2. Loss of the fear of death;
  3. A renewed purpose in life which often includes service to others;
  4. Loss of interest in selfish pursuits and materialism.

Very often these people are unable to articulate in words what actually happened. The experience can be very sharp in the beginning but over time the effect starts to wear off. Eckhart Tolle and Bill W both had experiences of enlightenment. Over weeks and months they began to lose the spiritual glow but they were left with the ineffable effects of the experience which sent them on a completely different life trajectory.

When I hit my own rock bottom and experienced my own “spiritual experience” all of these things happened to me. Over time the drama of life started to crowd in again and the experience was no longer as sharp in my mind. There was a certain aspect that I have never lost however, a deep conviction that I am loved, I can do no wrong and that all is fundamentally well. Those who have had a similar experience often feel that and experience fundamental changes in their lives;

Our fear of death is also largely gone. Of course we don’t want to die but the thought of passing does not bother us as much anymore. We worry more about how our death might affect others. We also don’t care about material possessions so much anymore. The rampant consumerism prevalent in society and the constant noise of commerce leave us feeling empty. We no longer see meaning in objects; they have a utilitarian purpose and remain as possessions until they don’t. Attachment to people, place and things becomes loosened. Our love and affection for those that are close to us becomes more meaningful. We recognize them for the spiritual beings that they are and we begin to see ourselves more as a part of a whole rather than as individuals.

 

Like Lazarus

It can be hard to adjust to life after something so dramatic that we emerge somehow “reborn”. Our loved ones can sense the change and sometimes they are concerned by our radical personality change. Naturally our life goes through changes and some of the people who we call friends are no longer there for us. They too can sense that we are no longer the person they knew. Our soul purpose has moved on and they are no longer drawn to us.

The world becomes like a loose cloak and we at times no longer feel a part of it and yearn for transcendence. Rather than hide from mortality and the deeper questions of life and existence we contemplate on them. We enjoy our lives as much as we can but we also accept the impermanent nature of existence and the certainty of change and the finality of death.

Our experiences do not give us all the answers. At times we have self doubt and depression creeps in. We begin to feel guilty for the way we conducted ourselves in the past. Some days we feel that life has dealt us a cruel hand, we do not feel like normal people. In some ineffable way we continue to suffer and we ask “why”. There is nothing wrong in that, we are human and we are subject to human emotions.

If God lives in us then it is in our nature to feel sadness, grief, anguish, confusion and anger as well as joy, humor, affection, desire and love. The enlightened are not exempt from human emotions; Jesus wept and laughed as did Gautama Buddha. They too were human and made to suffer.

 

The Journey

I read somewhere that the 12 Steps are like the Noble Eight-fold Path of Buddhism. The way we live our lives on a daily basis forms our path to eventual enlightenment. In 12 step recovery we “work the steps” as much as a Bodhisattva follows the noble eight-fold path. Being Jedi is also about applying self discipline and doing our daily practices diligently. Whichever path we choose, it is a journey.

The Jedi had a direct path to enlightenment but it involved a series of trials. Yoda was sent by the ethereal presence of Qui-Gon Jinn to pass tests that exposed his weaknesses and fallibility but would ultimately open him to learn how to transcend his consciousness after death and become immortal. In the final test Yoda travels to the ancient home world of the Sith, Moraband, and there overcoming the final trial transcends to a state of enlightenment which opens him to learn the final secrets of the Force from Qui-Gon Jinn. Our path fortunately does not have to be as dramatic or even seek the same end.

Perhaps immortality in the afterlife exists perhaps it does not. All humans do have the capacity to achieve enlightenment, to “awaken” to the truth. There are many paths to get there. The intent of our journey should not be to achieve enlightenment but to simply live a life we can be content with in our final hour. How we get there is up to each of us.

 

 

The Promise

If we live our lives according to spiritual principles how would it look? Perhaps it would resemble the following 12 points. Each has worked for me;

  1. On a daily basis we seek to surrender our lives over to a Higher Power and a purpose greater than ourselves;
  2. Mindful of our thoughts, words and actions we conduct ourselves in accordance with our principles staying true to our values;
  3. Where we are wrong we promptly admit it seeking to make amends where we have faulted others;
  4. We seek to better ourselves and review our conduct on a daily basis seeking opportunities to improve;
  5. Where we find fault in our character we resolve to desist in any enabling behavior and we drop it before it becomes a habit;
  6. Our daily practice includes a healthy appreciation of ourselves and our lives. We remember to be grateful for the things we have and remember that we live sober on a day by day basis grace of our Higher Power;
  7. We try to live healthy, conscious of the food and drink we consume. Our bodies are a tool that we maintain within our physical limitations. When we are tired we rest and seek never to over fatigue ourselves physically or mentally;
  8. We never forget that our recovery is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition;
  9. Accepting that some things are in our control and others are not we seek to take action where we can and accept the outcomes as largely out of our hands. We put our faith in our Higher Power. Not all things will turn out as we desire but we should try to accept with equanimity and seek to improve where we can;
  10. Meditation and prayer are used not to force change but to change ourselves. We know that a higher state of consciousness is accessible to all with practice and focus;
  11. Seeking to move our focus from ourselves we offer our service to others and help where we are able. We never turn a person away when they come to us for help;
  12. Through study and interaction with others we continue to learn. We pass what we have learned on to others.

Always remember; you are loved, there is nothing to fear and you can do no wrong. We are one with the Force. Fundamentally all is well.

MTFBWY

Jedi seek Balance

Jedi believe that they need to bring balance to the Force within

Jedi believe that they need to bring balance to the Force within, and not wait around for a Chosen One to do it. If our minds are negative, then the Force flowing through us will seem negative too; our consciousness will seem negative and dark. If our minds are clear and wholesome, then the Force flowing through us will be clear and natural; we will be full of goodness and light. Jedi are responsible for balancing their own minds, so that their minds are clear, good, positive, wholesome, and stay on the light side; this will serve “to bring balance to the Force” within us so that the light side is dominant.

(33 Jedi Traits)

 

Purgatory

The years I spent in alcoholic abuse were a journey through purgatory. Not in the literal sense but at the emotional and spiritual level. Drinking was meant to lift my spirits and bring pleasure to my life. I wanted the memories of my past buried and thought that the escape offered by alcohol could provide that. I was wrong on many levels.

It has been said that we addiction is the misguided attempt to fill a spiritual void in our lives. We seek direction, meaning and fulfillment. In the beginning alcohol seems to provide that and eventually we find that it has led us deep into a dark forest. We either lose ourselves there or find a way out. The darkness takes us or we follow the light out.

 

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life” – Buddha

 

The Light and the Dark

Life is an experience that takes us along a wide spectrum of emotions between two extremes; Fear and Love. The natural order is one of opposites; Fear and Love, Joy and Sadness, Good and Evil. When we live in harmony our emotions exist but we choose how to engage and respond to them. We are not swayed by out emotions as much as we were in active abuse. We can know equanimity, peace and serenity.

 

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

 

Our emotions can resemble a boiling ocean under a dark and violent storm. We can be tossed about on the waves and pulled under by our emotions of fear and anger. We can also choose to stand like a like a lighthouse on a rock, solid and defiant against the howling wind and lashing waves. Our internal world can also resemble a serene pond disturbed only by the slightest breeze but otherwise calm. We can be the candle in the dark.

 

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Life is mostly perception. The color and tone of our emotions depend largely on ourselves, not others. No one and no thing does harm to us any more than the harm that we perceive. A serene pond can be calming to some but not to all. Some people live in a perpetual storm. They crave drama and turmoil in their lives and constantly seek it out, creating it in their lives and drag other in if they can. This only causes suffering.

 

Find you Own Light

We can seek inspiration and guidance from those we call Gurus and Sages but the way we decide to live out lives is up to each of us. To blindly follow a message can be as bad as not having direction. A spiritual path is a personal journey to one’s own answers. We are all very much the same but every person is also unique. There has never been a you as you are now and there never will be again. Each of us has our own path to walk. We should only look to others for guidance.

Being Jedi and living sober has not solved all of my problems and it certainly won’t exempt me from life’s difficulties. What the path has done has taught me I always have a choice. I command my own thoughts, words and actions. Do I allow emotions to toss me like a boat beaten by waves in a storm or do I create my own shelter from the storm? Am I the person who loses his mind when crisis strikes or do I stand firm and resolute in the face of adversity?

The path has also given me a philosophy for life. The greatest tool we have is our mind. Philosophy trains both the mind and the soul. The 12 steps remind us constantly to raise to action, to never be idle and to do good works. The Jedi Path pushes us to strive further and to reach the limits of our potential and then go further.

“What shall I find?” – Luke Skywalker

“Only what you take with you” – Yoda

 

 

The Light in Dagobah

In life we face trials like Luke did on Dagobah. We must be willing to confront our doubts and fears and resolve to conquer them. Only by healing ourselves and putting our own lives in order can we start to be of real service to others. There we find our true inner light.

Our goal is world betterment through self betterment. How do we get there? One step at a time, one day at a time and one act at a time. Life is a string of moments, how we decide to use those moments is up to us. We can let the light in or we can choose to shut ourselves of from it.

 

“‘May the Force be with you’ is charming but it’s not important. What’s important is that you become the Force – for yourself and perhaps for other people” – Harrison Ford

 

In all our affairs

“Bringing balance to the Force”  is not just being more mindful of our emotions and learning how to respond productively to them. Finding balance in all aspects of our lives is important for our well being. We may look after our spiritual health but at the same time neglect our own physical well being.

People work tirelessly to help others without expectation of reward and neglect their own needs. In time they begin to suffer ill health and mental fatigue and an emotional toll sets in. Saint Francis of Assisi was an example of a very spiritual man who died because of the extent to which he neglected himself to help others.

This week the world has remembered the Emergency Workers who responded to 911 and continue to suffer. We are blessed to be protected and served by people who sacrifice themselves but we should always also care for ourselves and keep a healthy balance in our lives.

We are only human. Each of us is being comprised of a physical body, a personality with emotions, an intellect and a deeper spiritual essence. One can focus on one aspect of their being without working on the others and soon find an imbalance. Eventually all aspects of our lives begin to suffer. Always seek balance in your life be it work, family life, recreation, service, study and rest. The Force will flow better that way.

 

The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.” – Euripides

 

Clear your Mind

Sit quietly and meditate on the moment. Allow you mind to go blank of thoughts. Be aware of every tremor and sensation within. Relax you body and take deep breaths and relax further. Allow emotions to gently fade.

Focus on the breath, the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe deeply. Let thoughts enter in like clouds, without struggle, without resistance. Some thoughts are light and others are dark. You can watch those clouds pass by and keep focus on the breath. Close your eyes and allow yourself to go in deeper….

Imagine a bight light deep within yourself. See it as a small candle surrounded by darkness. Watch as the light grows brighter pushing back the darkness. The light continues to grow brighter until your entire consciousness is consumed by it.  Open your eyes, how does the world look when you put yourself completely in the moment.

 

The Window

When I started writing this blog entry I was in a negative mental state. My mood was dark and I felt cold and distant to those around me. I felt that everything seemed pointless.  Despite my mood I knew that the feeling would pass. To wallow in my self pity and frustration is a form of self indulgence. Entertaining negative emotions closes us off from the Divine Source. It closes the shutters and draws the curtains on the light of the Force.

I dislike feeling that way. Stinking Thinking was the harbinger of some of my greatest drunks and biggest mistakes. Getting drunk now is out of the question, that has been handed over to a Higher Power. What I can do is choose to open the shutters of my heart.

I can open the window of my soul to a wide blue sky over a green meadow. The sun shines brightly and I can see the divine light of the Force in everything. I can feel that light filling my being. The dark clouds over my soul disperse and the Force touches me once more. I have regained my balance and dark thoughts are gone. The sea is calm once more, it has turned in to a calm pond bathed in soft light. The gentlest of ripples play across the surface as a light breeze passes. Everything is well.

We are the temple which houses a spark of the divine in each of us. Every moment we have a choice; do we shut the Force out or do we let it in?

Jedi and the Law of Attraction

Jedi believe in the law of attraction which is basically this: whatever you ask for, and firmly believe, you will receive. The Force will bring us whatever we continue to think about, even if we are unconscious of it. This makes it extremely important to always be aware and mindful about what we are thinking about, and what we are asking for.

(33 Jedi Traits)

Like Attracts Like

The esoteric Law of attraction states that like attracts like. If we think about something consistently we will move towards that state. Being preoccupied with an illness and thinking about the pain and suffering it causes only charges that state and as a result we remain sick or get sicker. Thinking about and meditating on recovery and health raises  our consciousness and tilts the scales toward that outcome. Having a negative disposition and attitude towards life leads to negative outcomes. Conversely being optimistic and positive about life leads to positive experience.

Life largely happens at the level of the mind. Our perception accounts for everything. This is not pseudoscience but a reality. If a person convinces themselves that they will fail in an endeavor they are more likely to as they have already given up on the cause. A person who approaches life with a “can do” attitude and visualizes success is more likely to succeed. If that person also allows for the possibility of failure and finds a silver lining in every dark cloud then they are more likely to absorb and accept life’s disappointments.

 

No Guarantees

I do not believe that simply thinking a lot about a thing and visualizing it will instantly bring my heart’s desire or my worst fears in to reality. All the “claiming” and “feeling” desired change through visualization will not see money, fast cars and success fall out of the sky on to my lap as if by a miracle. The universe is not a service provider, reality does not work that way. I am the author of my own destiny to an extent; only through framing a positive outlook and  working towards what I can achieve will I get there, “God willing”. There are no guarantees.

We do have a choice how we frame our thoughts however. Instead of thinking “I need more money” or “I’m sick of feeling like this” or “I hate my job” try framing it differently. Debt can be seen as an opportunity to review spending habits and start making wise choices, negative emotions can be replaced by positive impressions and unless we are being held against our will there is nothing stopping us from actively seeking the job we want rather than the job we feel stuck in.

An overweight person can sit on a couch all day. That person can have a strong desire to have a body that is fit and lean. The universe can be implored upon to provide that physique. This can be done with absolute conviction and belief consciously and subconsciously. The adherent can work at this repeatedly everyday without fail, constantly claiming that lean and fit body. Everyday on approaching the mirror that person can expect to see his hearts desire appear. The truth is unless that person gets off the couch and starts to eat better, live cleaner and takes up a program of physical exercise there is no chance in hell that he will ever achieve that desired state.

 

Never Give Up

A positive attitude and optimistic outlook can make all the difference in healing from an illness. Scientific studies have shown that cancer patients who are optimistic and relaxed about their treatment are more likely to recover. Everyone knows that stress is a killer and worrying about the things we cannot control does not make them better. A farmer cannot worry a drought away. Positive thoughts alone will unlikely result in rain. What the farmer can do is resist the urge to despair, continue to be positive even in the face of financial ruin and have faith that times will get better. I have seen a lot of people on the edge of despair who have waited another day and seen a miracle happen. Never give up.

Thinking about disease or poverty however does not necessarily bring them on as some New Thought advocates of the “Law of Attraction” suggest. Sometimes things happen to people for no reason other than “they do”.  People who are extremely positive about life and diligent with their health still get cancer. Some of these people die, others recover in large part because they have the mental fortitude and will to live. Some Farmers “drought proof” themselves as much as possible and have contingency plans but still go under.

How we deal with crisis when it happens is more important than how we seek to enrich our lives with material goods and a transitory illusion of happiness.

 

Stay Grounded

The Stoic practice of negative visualization is as effective as the idea of law of attraction. Negative visualization asks us to consider life without all the things we consider important. By imagining the loss of home and job, having our partner walk out or losing our freedom we not only appreciate these things more but we harden ourselves for life’s many heart breaks.  Pinning all of our hope on the “law of attraction” as the ultimate source of all of our hopes and desires can set us up for disappointment if we do not get what we want, when we want it.

We should be optimistic and hopeful and claim all the blessings we can in to our lives but we should also accept that life is a river of 10 000 joys and sorrows. We will shed many tears in our lives. It is worthwhile to take time to be grateful of things we do have. Want the things you have more than the things you don’t. Accept the things you cannot change.

 

Relationships

Consider your partner, if you have one, or someone close to you. Think about all their attributes that really annoy you. What are their habits that make you angry or downright indigent? How does that make you feel? How does that person appear to you when you think that way? I bet their faults are magnified.

Now consider their positive attributes, the things that you love about them. How does that make you feel? Does it create a completely different reaction in you? Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect person. Everyone has their faults and positives as we all do. We can try to coerce them to be something else but ultimately we can’t change them unless they want to change themselves.

Everyone has a mental image of the perfect partner. The Law of Attraction suggests that if we visualize being with that person eventually they will appear. The problem of course is that they may not. Even if a “perfect” person does appear eventually they lose their shine and present the inevitable flaws of being human. The person may not be “perfect” but he or she may in fact be “perfect” for the imperfect you.

 

Be Mindful of Toxic People

People of a certain disposition will always attract those that are similar. Negative and positive minded people attract like and so forth.  Being mindful of the people we associate with in real life and online is important. Surround yourself with people who share your values and abide to similar principles. Having common interests works to a certain extent but ultimately you want to surround yourself with like-minded individuals.

If a person you associate with is habitually negative or critical about life and other people, pessimistic in their outlook and attitudes then in time you are sure to absorb some of that. Negativity and pessimism can spread and affect every aspect of your life so it is best to avoid it as much as possible. This means avoiding people who are tainted with a habitually negative disposition.  Toxic relationships are a no-go and foul the body, mind and spirit. If in one, walk away.

 

Hitting Home Runs

Babe Ruth once said that he used to see himself scoring home runs before he did. It’s no secret that if we visualize something happening and accept it as a given it is more likely to happen. The odds are in our favor. Visualizing an outcome and charging it with emotion can bring it in to reality. This is going out and getting what you want with intent, the Universe is not necessarily adjusting itself to accommodate your whims but sometimes things have a strange way of playing out. I like to think the Force is watching my back.

As an example, you may really want a particular job or you have a keen interest in forming a relationship with a person you are attracted to. If that job is outside of our league or a more suitable candidate comes along we don’t get the job no matter how much we try to “will” it to happen. If the person we desire is simply not in to us then it is also not meant to be. You can flog a dead horse and persist or you can accept the outcomes as they are and move on.

Sometimes we move on and something strange happens; you land a better job and meet someone who suits you even better! Often things just have a way of working out not exactly as we planned but even better. The path may not be direct and there are many bumps along the way but eventually we seem to end up exactly where we were meant to. It feels like someone or something has put you there. Is it Serendipity or the Law of Attraction?

 

Bird in a Storm

I’m not saying that the “Law of Attraction” exists or does not exist. In my experience I sometimes end up in the place I hoped for and at times life has thrown some curve balls and dramatic changes which like a bird caught in a storm has thrown me on to foreign shores. I believe that life is a blend of destiny, serendipity and fate, over that we are still the author of our lives to such an extent we write the story within the context fate hands us. The more we put our focus on something, the more it becomes us.

I wanted to be sober for decades and “wanting” is all I got. When I finally decided to surrender my alcoholic problem to a Higher Power I was immediately catapulted on to a new life trajectory. The life I had wanted to live had always been there for me to take.  I simply chose not to embrace the spiritual changes needed to finally let go. By no longer fighting and forcing the issue I was finally able to make my dream a reality and free myself.

 

Through the Force. things you will see. Other Places. The future…the past. Old friends long gone.” – Yoda

Jedi believe in working together

Jedi work for mutual advantage or Symbiosis

Jedi try to live in harmony with those around them, and believe in mutual trust and respect.

(33 Jedi Traits)

Symbiosis is defined as a mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups. Symbiosis is the glue which holds systems together. The order behind the web. Symbiosis appears in nature; bees pollinate flowers, ants grow and harvest fungi, bacteria in our stomachs help process food and the African oxpecker removes ticks from the backs of large African animals. The cell mitochondria is the power house of the cell and is in fact the descendant of bacteria that took up residence in a larger bacteria. The outcome of this symbiotic event was the evolution of multi-cellular organisms and the explosion of complex life on the planet. We are the products of symbiosis.

In the Star Wars Universe the Midichlorians reside within the cells of sentient beings and act as physical medium which manifests and amplifies the Force. Without the host’s body the Midichlorians would not be able to survive and harness the Force. The Host is “rewarded” by being Force sensitive and is able, with guidance and training, able to wield incredible power. Symbiosis created the Jedi.

Life would be unable to persist without symbiosis. Our own Cosmos is an intricate system based on the complex symbiotic relationships of physical and metaphysical laws. The Universe is a story of symbiosis and harmony.

 

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together” – Desmond Tutu

 

Living Together

The Stoics believed that it was in the nature of people to work closely together and support each other. Civilization is based on the concept of mutual advantage. Society survives on a symbiotic system. Without it there would be no governance, no transport system, electrical and water distribution would not occur, communication networks would fail. Without symbiosis civilization could not exist, society would be unable to survive.

 

We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.” – Marcus Aurelius

No human can truly live in isolation. Each person is somehow dependent on others. We are all dependent on the continuation of a food supply, the provision of water and access to medical care. Some people find that they can minimize their interaction with society and even live “off grid” but that does not remove their part dependency on society. Survivalists stock food, equipment, fuel, clothing all produced by other people. If society did fall apart survivors would soon need to band together in groups for protection and survival. To be completely self-dependent would be almost impossible in such a world.

 

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

Hunter-gatherer groups that continue to exist despite the advance of modern technology and environmental destruction show the importance of symbiosis in the survival of the group. To be isolated from the group or cast in to the wilderness alone is a death sentence. People need people to survive. Mutual trust and respect is a natural outcome of that. Groups that lived intimately close to nature were harmonious. Nature provided for them and in return they looked after the provider. They relied on each other to survive and lived as large extended families rather than small discreet units.

 

Jedi Symbiosis

Some Jedi craved isolation but none truly sought to isolate. The Jedi understood the importance of mutual trust and respect. Working together toward a common purpose was the Jedi way. Because of their sensitivity, the Jedi could feel “disturbances” in the Force. They knew when a major calamity such as a massive loss or life had occurred. If the system was out of balance, its harmony disturbed the Jedi could feel it. The Force works off symbiosis, penetrating all things and flowing through them, connecting all that is. Life was precious to the Jedi as life contains the Force.

 

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened. – Obi-wan Kenobi

The Sith sought to control that natural relationship and direct it to their own purpose. Anakin wanted to change destiny by controlling the Force.  Doing so was contrary to the natural order of things. That desire led him to the Dark Side. Instead of becoming a ruler, Anakin became a servant.

 

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

In our own reality we see the effects of working against the system that supports us. Pollution, famine, drought, flooding, landslides, disease and war are some of the consequences. Humanity is in conflict with nature and with itself. As the system buckles under the strain we feel the consequences around us. Society also suffers and the principles of mutual trust and respect begin to erode. Hate, anger and conflict replaces cohesion and harmony.

 

Together we can rule the Galaxy” – Darth Vader

Jedi Community

Being a Real World Jedi is by nature being part of a community. That community may be largely online but it still relies on symbiosis to exist. Mutual respect and trust between its members is not only crucial for harmony but it is also essential for the survival of the community.

By nature the online world can be very hostile. Egos get inflated and people use the medium to spread disconnect and incite hatred. This only drives people away and erodes the community that supports us. By working together the movement and philosophy will spread. Disunity and disharmony will undermine the good work of many and ultimately destroy the Jedi community.

 

Sober Symbiosis

Being sober is also being part of a community. Recovery is a shared experience. As humans we search out support and understanding when we are in a bad way. Some of us isolate in our suffering but find solace in the group. A recovering alcoholic is perfectly placed to help another alcoholic through knowledge and personal experience. The relationship is symbiotic because both benefit from the interaction. The newcomer is helped on to the path of recovery and the person helping fortifies their own recovery by being of service.

In some ways being a recovering alcoholic feels like being part of an exclusive group. We are tied by the common bond of experience and circumstance. Some of us have been through the wringer so bad that we have the mark of a war veteran. We feel close because we can understand each other’s pain. People may disagree and get upset with each other at times, that’s normal.

All of us are cautious in our dealings particularly in the online world but at the same time there is a default mutual respect and trust for all. We treat others with the same level of courtesy, dignity and empathy we would expect for ourselves. The way I see it, anyone I meet has my respect and trust, whether they keep it or not depends entirely on them.

 

You can do what I cannot do. I can not do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things” – Mother Teresa

 

Work Together

We are all on a life raft, a chunk of rock hurtling through space on the edge of the Galaxy. We reside on an obscure blue planet in a back water of the neighborhood basking in the glow of a star approaching midlife. Our lives are protected from cold and indifferent space by a thin atmosphere. We are supported by a complex and fragile natural system which has existed with some variation and brief interruptions for hundreds of millions of years.

Thousands of millions of other people just like us share this chunk of rock. They have the same aspirations, the same dreams and hopes that we all do. We also share similar problems and the same fate. Each of us want to live, we want to grow and share. Despite the apparent differences there really is none but those we create in our own minds. Isn’t it time we began to embrace that reality and live in harmony and peace for the sake of all? Isn’t it time we began to work together to make a better world?

 

Together we can face any challenges as deep as the oceans and as high as the sky” – Sonia Gandhi

 

Jedi are mindful of the Force

Jedi are always mindful of the Force.

Our satisfaction comes from our personal connection to the Living Force; material things, fame and wealth don’t bring lasting peace, happiness, and satisfaction. Only our daily, and conscious connection to the Living Force brings lasting peace and happiness. If we lose the awareness of our connection to the Force, then we slowly lose our happiness

 

The Daily Reprieve

Recovery is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual  condition. I say this to myself almost every day and several times a day when things get hard. I say it because it is true. The spiritual foundation of our recovery should never be forgotten. Our connection to a Higher Power not only keeps un sober, it maintains our relationships and our well being.

I have found that to lose conscious contact with the Force even for a short time soon leads me in to self doubt, anxiety and depression. The loss of that connection begins to impact upon my attitude and confidence. My relationships start to strain and I find myself more negative and less happy. Soon after I can feel it affecting my physical health. I get worn down and start feeling sick.  When one part of our being is not well, the rest of the whole soon follows in the same direction.

If you be sick, your own thoughts make you sick” – Ben Jonson

 

Once I realize that I am the author of my own misfortune and have the power to adjust my own thinking and my own life I start to reconnect with the Force. This takes effort and self discipline. As a rule I take a daily Step 3; I acknowledge my Higher Power and the spiritual basis of my life and I surrender my will to that Force. If I am sincere and apply effort in exercising my spiritual principles I get through the day not only intact but in a better state than when I started.

“We are spiritual beings having a human experience” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 

Soul Sickness

Soul sickness is something we all feel. In the 12 Step Program we believe that soul sickness stems from a loss of faith in one’s self and in one’s Higher Power. Fear, anxiety, anger, depression and self pity are all normal responses to life. The problem is we often revert to these emotions even when there appears to be no reason. We may also invent our own crisis and talk ourselves in to feeling negative. Some days we awaken to dark clouds and we struggle to get through the day emotionally and mentally. We feel weaker and less motivated. Life loses its gloss. This is soul sickness, a temporary loss of connection with our Higher Power.

 

A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ” – John Steinbeck

 

In active abuse I all but extinguished my spirit. Anger, fear, resentment, obstinacy, self pity and arrogance all cast shadows over my life. Alcoholism eclipsed my connection to the divine and halted my spiritual and emotional growth for decades. It was only through a realization of my addiction and the surrender of my will to a Higher Power that I was able to awaken and experience what can only be described as a spiritual experience.

 

Illusion of Separation

The idea that our Higher Power has abandoned us or has broken contact is an illusion. We are always connected with our divine source, we can never not be. The Force does not choose to cut me off.  I simply forget that I am a child of the Force and that bond can never be broken. The choice is ours whether to maintain conscious contact or not.

 

I am one with the Force and the Force is with me” – Chirrut Imwe

We all live in an illusion of separation. Not just from our Divine Source but also from each other. Our ego creates a false reality that we are all separated and divided. This creates fear and conflict and a state of lack. We deny our spiritual legacy and choose to ignore who we truly are and where we have come from. Most of us are in a deep slumber, unable to awaken to the truth.

There is in most people a sense that there is “something more”, that we are more than “crude matter”. Fewer of us have began to awaken by walking the path and living our purpose. Meditation and good works has helped us awaken a little more. Some of us begin to see the nature of reality and the source of all creation. Fewer can and will achieve enlightenment in their lifetimes.

 

“The reason many people in our society are miserable, sick and highly stressed is because of an unhealthy attachment to things they have no control over” – Steve Maraboli

 

Waking Up

The spiritual author of “Dying to Wake Up”, Dr Rajiv Parti, was a respected MD and a very materialistic man who lived to use people and get things. Falling ill to pancreatic cancer he slipped in to drug addiction and depression. One day in 2010 he developed an acute infection and was rushed to hospital where he was put in to a coma and experienced a “near death experience”. That experience completely transformed him in every way astounding his family and colleagues.

Dr Parti encountered a fantastic realm and was presented with the truth of his life and was given a mission for his return to Earth. Rajiv Parti  writes that enlightenment is nothing more than the realization of one’s true nature. If Love is the creative Force of the universe than in essence our fundamental nature is Love. We are “luminous beings”.

 

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

 

We do not need to have an NDE to begin to realize the truth. At times though we do need something big to jolt us out of our false paradigm. For some people it is survival from a life threatening condition such as cancer. For others it can be spending time in solitude in the wilderness. I have met people who returned from war with a completely new appreciation for the sanctity of life and peace. These veterans were changed men and had seen something few us ever will. I simply spiralled in to my personal “rock bottom” as many alcoholic do. Through the grace of a Higher Power I was able to emerge from that dark place. I had seen the truth of what I was and the harm I had done. I knew what I had to do to survive and live my purpose.

 

Golden Key

The Golden Key is a technique I use. The method was developed by Emmet Fox during the height of the Great Depression. It is a strong spiritual and psychological tool which we can use to help us see past our perceived troubles and centre us. The Golden Key is used to reconnect us to our own chosen Higher Power. The exercise is simple and can be done at anytime and anywhere. Keep the Golden Key as your own.

 

If you are thinking about your difficulty, you are not thinking about God” – Emmet Fox

The Golden Key reveals the power of prayer. Using vital prayer, that is speaking with Higher Power, Force, Divine Source, Om, God should always be vital not a bunch of scripted words repeated over and over. Prayer comes from the heart, from the seat of the soul, a place deep within us. The intent is to consciously connect with our Divine Source. Doing so not only removes focus from our problems which energizes them and makes them solid and real in our mind it can ultimately resolve them at the mental and physical level.

Imagine having a head ache. The pain is distracting and gets worse the more we think about it. If we allow ourselves to relax and affirm that the headache is free to go, imagine a white light in our mind and watch the headache dissipate we will soon discover that all is left is a numb sensation where the headache was. Call it divine power or the power of mind, it does not matter, what matters is that it works. Try it on any problem big or small. Through surrender of our attachment to a problem we remove the energy which keeps it vital. A conflict cannot survive if we walk away from it and remove our input in to the energy.

  1. Stop thinking about the problem or the situation;
  2. Release any emotional tension, relax;
  3. Think about your Higher Power as you imagine it;
  4. Allow that thought to pervade all others, meditate on it.
  5. Claim through affirmation; a solution. Have faith that things will turn out for the best.

 

Do Prayer?

Obviously none of this absolves us from reality. If we have a problem at work or in the home we must do our duty. Prayer alone will not fix a leaking roof or stop the banks from seeking to foreclose if we file for bankruptcy. We can’t pray away the loss of a job due to a failing economy. We must act within our principles and refuse to make matters worse through our own thoughts, words and actions. Prayer does help however. Learning to communicate with our Divine Source at a level beyond basic words but with the heart and soul raises us to another level of consciousness.

You  must feel the Force flow around you, Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, yes even between the land and the ship” – Yoda

Harnessing the Force may not give us the power to move objects and perform super human feats like Yoda. The Golden Key and Prayer can however be used in much the same way to focus our spiritual and mental energy towards the change we want to make. True miracles happen at the mental level. Estranged families reunited, hopeless medical cases who prove their Doctors wrong, the addict given up for dead who recovers her life and turns tragedy in to victory are examples. All are miracles that happen at the level of the mind and spirit.

Resolve to address problems mindfully. Do not give it oxygen by feeding it negative energy. Complaining about your problems and airing grievances only energizes them further and makes them worse. By surrendering the problem over to a Higher Power that you conceive and then applying principles in any actions you take you are moving the problem to a solution. Be prepared to be surprised because sometimes things do work out in the most unexpected ways. What seems to be a loss or a crisis at the time can eventually reveal itself to be a blessing.