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.

Jedi use the Force for good works

Jedi have special powers and are encouraged to learn the ways of the Force, and to use the Force, but only for good works like training, defense, knowledge, and helping others who are in need.

(33 Jedi Traits)

The Purpose

Every thing we learn has a purpose. We can use experience and knowledge to improve our lives if we choose. The only sin is to be given the benefit of knowledge and not to use it. Worse is to go against what we have been taught and what we know is right.

The purpose of Jedi Philosophy is to seek knowledge, learn and apply it real life. Philosophy should always be a practical as well as an intellectual pursuit. Wisdom is shared so that it may benefit others in some way. To keep that knowledge for ourselves and to never use it is a waste and also a disservice.

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.” – Lao Tzu

A River flows through

I have worked the 12 Steps now for five years. In comparison to many others it is a short amount of time. My time on the Jedi path has been even less. I have only started to grasp the concepts and lessons that I have learned on this journey. There is still much to learn. I view both as a life journey with no end point.

Faith without Works is Dead” – James 2:24-26

All the knowledge and experience that we attain is useless unless we try to share it in some way through works. We can help others. There are people only starting out on their journey and others who are seeking answers we can provide. Service comes in many forms.

If we can offer something that can help point someone in the right direction then it is worth it. A lake fed by a river that goes no where soon becomes stagnant. A lake that flows on remains vital. We only get to keep what we give away.

“Always pass on what you have learned.” – Yoda

Responsibility

The price of knowledge is responsibility. That responsibility extends to how we use the knowledge and skills we have learned and to what purpose. Do we use our training purely for selfish reasons or do we improve ourselves ultimately for the betterment of others?

One of the greatest misconceptions about military training is the idea that it produces “trained killers”. This is sometimes extended to people who train in martial arts. The belief being that some students will use their acquired skills for nefarious reasons. That martial training somehow glorifies and encourages violence. Certainly there are exceptions but they are rare. In my experience such personalities are quickly shown the door.

We should always remember that we bear a responsibility to use our skills and knowledge for Good Works. Whether the outcomes of our efforts are beneficial or adverse, we should always take ownership and responsibility for our actions.

Whatever happens, take responsibility” – Tony Robbins

 

Motives

In Buddhism the precept of Right Motive is paramount. An adherent seeking training towards eventual enlightenment does so to alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings not just her own. It is meant be selfless action.

We must ask ourselves what our motives are. Why am I doing this? For what purpose? Do I really want to change for the better or am I attached to some fantasy? Am I prepared to do the work and put in the effort or just pretend and coast along.

We can only judge our own motives and decide if they are right.

A moral being is one who is capable of reflecting on his past actions and their motives – of approving of some and disapproving of others.” – Charles Darwin

Right Effort

We only get out what we put in. Consistent application of practices and principles will get results and half measures will avail us nothing. In recovery I have found this to be true. Anything worth doing must be done consistently and with the necessary effort.

In recovery we sometimes see others lapse back in to active addiction. We see it as a loss but we never condemn the person. Any of us could fall at any moment, we cannot be sure that our sobriety is bullet proof. We can have all the tools and all the knowledge at our disposal and years of experience but still come undone. Never grow too arrogant or cock-sure.

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Humility

As we improve ourselves and get better our self-confidence grows. We should never use that as an excuse to become arrogant or place ourselves above others. Remaining humble while retaining a healthy degree of self esteem is a virtue.

One does not need to boast and brag about their achievements. We can be inwardly proud of what we have achieved without succumbing to pride. One should never forget why they decided to start the journey in the first place. Was it for self improvement or was to prove themselves to others?

Humility is not thinking less of your self, just thinking of you self less” – CS Lewis

Live your own Life

You should only stop drinking for yourself and no one else” was the first thing someone told me at a 12 Step meeting. I had said that I was getting sober for my family so that I could be a better person for them. The lesson was important. I had made a decision to quit drinking before in order to please others and I had always failed.

It was only when I decided that it had to be my choice alone that I started to get it. No one could do this but me. Our purpose is our own and from that should flow benefits that cascade to others.  Through self betterment comes world betterment. Always get yourself sorted out before you try to save the world.

Don’t let others dictate your life. Take advice and wisdom but make your own choices.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

Timing is everything

With the purge of the Jedi following Order 66 the survivors fled in to exile. Rather than seeking to retaliate immediately and lead a counter attack on the Empire, the Jedi withdrew and let the rebellion take it’s own course. The Jedi chose a path of non-intervention realizing that their time was not at hand and they would need to wait to re-emerge and restore balance to the Force. After 900 years Yoda had the wisdom to accept the turn of events and not to allow self interest to make matters worse.

Sometimes the best strategy is to do nothing but wait. Life is not a race. We do not have to rush to achieve our goals. At times we are forced to make a major life changing decision. We must always ask ourselves; “am I ready for that”. The Force will let us now when we are.

A couple of years ago I was offered a Management role and looking at the scope I decided to turn it down for the simple reason that I did not feel ready to accept that level of responsibility. I put off a lot of things over the years and fortunately they were wise decisions.

In exile Yoda and Obi-wan Kenobi dived in to their studies and training. Their knowledge of the Force expanded as did their connection with it. When the time came they played a pivotal role in the future of the Galaxy. Deciding not to act can be as important as choosing when to as Yoda revealed to Luke Skywalker on Dagobah.

Decide you must how to serve them best. If you leave now, help them you could, but you will destroy all for which they have fought and suffered.” – Yoda

Keep Improving

We should never stop learning. Even the most experienced Veteran can learn something new. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Keep seeking and never box yourself in to some dogma that enforces one world view point rejecting all others.

Take what you need and leave the rest. With time comes improvement and change. Old ideas will be replaced by new. We should turn the soil of the mind over once in a while to keep ourselves open and fresh.

Accept criticism with grace and be ready to critique yourself. Always admit mistakes and work on improvement rather than on blame. Ask “how can I fix this” rather than “why did it happen”.

If evil be said of thee, and if it be true, correct thyself; if it be a lie, laugh at it.” – Epictetus

Keep Going

I don’t know how one is exactly meant to “Learn the ways of the Force”. The best way I can apply it is to regularly say “Let Go, Let God” and “Thy Will be done not mine”. These are affirmations to direct myself in to the moment where everything happens. We can only do our best every day to be the person we want to be. Turn the outcomes to a Higher Power, the Force. Let the Force work through you.

We can continue to look at where we are lacking  and make adjustments there. We can review our daily practices of being Jedi and assess where work need to be done. When others request help, we give it within our capacity. We can treat people as we expect to be treated. Commit to our principles always and without compromise.

There are things we can control and many more things we cannot. Always focus on where your control resides and accept that a lot of mistakes will be made along the way. Being Jedi is all about the little every day acts. It is about the mundane and the mediocre as much as it is about the big and important things. It is also about falling down but getting up and trudging on.

You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead.” – George Lucas

Be True to Thyself

Every one of us must decide what their “Good Works” is. We must all decide how we spend each day and what we want out of life. People generally know what they must do to live a good life. Some of us face a tension between where we want to be going and where we seem to be heading. Remember, you are the Master of your own vessel, the Pilot of your own ship. Take it where you want to go and be true to thyself first.

MTFBWY

To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man” – Shakespeare

Jedi can feel the Force

Jedi are Force sensitive people, and are experts at feeling energy. Our senses and our scattered minds can block us from feeling the Force, but it’s always there. Jedi are equally sensitive to dark energy or negative energy, and know how to avoid it and to protect themselves from it.

(33 Jedi Traits)

The fictional Jedi were indeed experts at feeling energy. Due to a strong connection to the Force they were able sense when things were not right. For example Jedi were usually able to detect a trap before they walked in to one. They were also able to identify those that carried a lot of negative energy and were particularly sensitive to the Dark Side.

In the spiritual traditions and religions of the world there are many examples of Prophets, Saints, Mystics and Sages who were extremely sensitive to the Divine source. They were able to commune with that source through prayer and contemplation.

 

Like attracts Like

The old adage “birds of a feather flock together” rings true. People are generally drawn to like minded people. In almost any social setting people will naturally gravitate towards people who are similar in outlook and interests. People also unconsciously gravitate to people who have the same or a higher vibrational energy than themselves. Vibrational energy is a word used to describe positive energy; a person’s overall  state of being. A person that has lower vibrational energy is essentially denser; they have lower physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being than a person with higher vibrational energy.

A person with low vibrational energy usually feels it and their life may reflect it too. For example they may suffer poor health, emotional turmoil and a string of unfortunate events. Like energy attracts energy. If we surround ourselves with negative people and allow ourselves to be drawn in to poor choices our vibrational energy starts to drop and our life starts to suffer. The only way out of the situation is to change our surroundings and the people we associate with. Being surrounded by positive and motivated people tends to brush off on us. Our thoughts, words and actions largely determine our vibration. We make our own reality.

 

Good Apples Bad Apples

I have worked in many different jobs and have found that while one place may be similar to the next they can be worlds apart in atmosphere. If the people are positive the energy is infectious and the workplace is happy and productive. In negative work environments with poor morale and low energy the atmosphere can be stale and it weighs you down. These workplaces are generally less safe and have lower productivity and higher turnover. The people there are what make it positive or negative. Have you ever noticed that horrible places to work attract low quality candidates or never retain staff while great places to work keep their people longer and are far more happy and profitable?

In the Army I had one Platoon leader that did not tolerate “trouble makers”. He realized that one bad apple bringing dissent and negativity could infect the entire unit in no time and lower morale. Any sign of it and he stamped it out or ejected the cause. The Officer knew that on Operations such an element was a liability to team effectiveness and mission success.

 

Rising Up

Becoming sober I soon started to come out of a state of low vibration. Without even realizing it I was growing distant from the people and places that I had been close to during active abuse. As my life changed so did my interests. Old associations dropped off either because I no longer resembled them or I decided I did not want that influence in my recovery. I stopped wanting to go to bars and pubs preferring the outdoors and the company of sober people instead. My energy level was rising and it naturally sought out like energy.

Always be mindful of the people you choose to associate with and the places you frequent. Soon they become you. If a person makes you feel bad about yourself you had to ask if the relationship is worth it or whether you are better off without them.

If you hang around the barbershop, you’re bound to get a haircut.” – Unknown

Social Media

Social media is another domain through which negativity seems to flow unfettered in to our lives. Before we were able to choose who to allow in to our lives, now through the power of the internet we allow complete strangers to affect us. The stories of online harassment, trolling and bullying are alarming. Many people live in fear and despair at the online hostility they receive. Some take their own lives.

Almost every time I visit Social Media I am confronted by news which is designed to elicit a negative response from an audience, usually fear or rage. Hate is ubiquitous and the forum promotes it as a form of distraction or entertainment.  Always avoid places, people and situations that are negative and likely to drag you down if you can. Otherwise find ways to observe without judgement and objectively, this of course can be very hard when confronted with images of tragedy and injustice that demand our attention and ire.

 

Self Talk

Every thought, word and action that we have has an impact on our reality. If I think that I won’t be able to do something, I’m probably right. If I think I can achieve it, I’m probably right. There is truth in the old saying that a fight is already won or lost even before the fighter enters the ring. Physical prowess and fighting skills aside, mental attitude is everything. If a Fighter enters the ring in doubt and has failed in the mental game the odd are he will lose the bout. This is why competitive Fighters like Connor McGregor win fights, they believe themselves in to winning. They make it happen by training hard, sticking to a program and making sure their head is in the right space all of the time.

We all have bad days. There are times when life really sucks and it is a struggle to get out of bed. Lately I’ve been feeling this way. I’ve wondered what’s the point to all this? I look at my family, career, appearance, life and I start to convince myself that it is all lacking. I begin to wallow in self pity and embrace the early chill of depression. This is a red flag for me, something we in the program call a HALT moment. I have to confront my negativity and defeatist self talk and allow it to quietly exit. There is no need to grapple with it. I know fighting it will only make it stronger. Acknowledge your feeling and let them go with affection.

“Never saw a wild thing sorry for itself” – DH Lawrence

Gratitude

Now with negativity gone I fortify myself with a short prayer and I list five things to be grateful about. Gratitude leads to grace as we focus on what we have rather than the things we don’t. We realize that everything our negative thoughts were saying are false. I have a career, family, health and a life many people would envy. Gratitude dispels self pity. Another way to raise energy is through random acts of kindness. Move the focus from self to others and suddenly the little you seem to have is the surplus you can share.

 

Diet

Some foods lift our energy. It is important to know which foods affect our moods and energy levels. Processed foods will not have as much benefit as raw foods with little to no additives and preservatives. I substantially reduced sugar in my diet a few months ago and besides losing a few pounds I have more energy than before.

Alcohol is not good for us, regardless of whether we are alcoholic or not. The medical profession is undecided about what a safe amount of alcohol is. Many are now moving to the “none is best” position. As an alcoholic I abstain and stick to water or coffee. Each person will determine the diet that best works for them as well as the type, intensity and frequency of exercise suited to their needs.

 

Practice Mindfulness and Mediation

Mindfulness we can practice anytime. Meditation is practiced by the Jedi and recommended by the 12 Steps as a daily exercise. At least 20 minutes a day is ideal but even 10 minutes still provides great health benefits and helps raise our vibrational energy.

 

Laugh Often

Life need not be so glum and serious. Enjoy a good comedy now and then. Have a joke with friends and take time out to have fun and act silly. We are all still children at heart. Let the child out to play sometimes. Spend time in nature if you can. Get away from the computer. Pets are wonderful companions and will raise your energy as well as give you unconditional love. Laugh a lot.

“Good humor is a virtue” – Aristotle

 

The Key

We are all sensitive to the Force. Some of us block out that flow of energy in to our lives by being self absorbed or distracted by material wealth or other superficial wants. There are many simple things that we can do to get in touch with our inner selves. We can recharge our emotional and spiritual batteries by doing simple things.

Positivity is largely a choice however whether we have low vibrational energy or high is largely dependent on what we expose ourselves to and our own frame of mind. We can surround ourselves with positive people or we can fall in with negative influences. Our thoughts can be mindful enough to know when we are succumbing to negative self talk. We can choose to avoid people and places that make us feel bad about ourselves. The key to the good life is in our hands.

Certain Jedi are stronger with the Force than others.

Jedi, in general, are individuals who are strong with the Force. The Force is with them. However, the Jedi believe that the Force is extra strong in certain Jedi, much more so than in others.

(The 33 Jedi Traits)

Have you ever met or known anyone who gave off a real energy? You could almost sense them as they walked in to the room. They seemed to have an aura, a presence about them which was tangible and powerful. Some people call it chi, prana or chakra energy. A strong vibrational energy seems to reside within these people, it is almost electric. Regardless whether there is some esoteric source of that energy, it is undeniable. I can think of recent great leaders who had a certain energy that drew people to them; Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Apple CEO Steve Jobs to name three. The Dalai Lama and Pope Francis also both have a strong human presence that lifts people and gives hope.

There is no doubt that one persons aura will differ to another persons. You can almost sense when someone close to you has low or high energy. A complete stranger passing in the street can give off a strong positive or a negative energy. You instinctively know when to avoid eye contact or cross over to the other side of the street. We sense “gut feel”, intuition, instinct, whatever you want to call it.  I believe when I was drinking my inner energy was extremely low, much lower than it is now. It’s not just appearance, there is something deeper than that, an aura.

Do people have an intrinsic energy field that envelopes them and flows within them along the chakras of the body? Is it the Force? Does the statement hold validity that some people are stronger with the Force than others? Do I need to be strong in the Force to call myself a Jedi? Can I cultivate my Force strong enough to be able to perform telekinesis, telepathy and foresight?

 

Force Sensitive

Having a “Force potential” was a requisite attribute for entry in to the Jedi Order in the Star Wars fiction. Jedi Knights were constantly scouting the galaxy for force sensitive children to recruit to the order. They became a type of Galactic Janissary. Often reluctantly they were given up by parents and removed from their home worlds. Younglings were taken to Coruscant to learn the ways of the Force. Qui-Gon Jinn found Anakin on Tatooine and realized the boys Force potential immediately. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda were all able to achieve immortality by unifying their consciousness with the Force. The Force was stronger in them than in other Jedi.

But what about people? What about the you and me?

Not long ago people were talking about Indigo Children. There was a belief that children born in this millennium might have stronger intelligence, intuition and psychic powers than previous generations. They would be more sensitive to the omnipresent spiritual energy pervading all. New age sites proclaimed that these children would herald in a new age of enlightenment. I will keep an open mind but I am yet to see evidence that the “iGeneration” is much different to Generation Y or Gen X other than an unhealthy relationship with mobile devices. This may seem cynical but where are the Indigo children now?

 

Intuition

Some people have extremely strong intuition. People can sense things, some more than others. Some people can sense when something bad has happened or is about to happen. They can feel “a disturbance in the Force”. Others seem to have a power of precognition of future events either in visions or in dreams.

I accept that there are many things which cannot be explained by science, at least not yet. There are people out there who have a gift that goes beyond a simple demanding presence or charisma, these people are psychic. People I know are like that and believe it or not it’s just one of those things they got without asking for it. There is no big deal about it, they just deal with it, good or bad.

 

The Medium

A few years ago I went to a public event held by a well known Medium. I was skeptical but my wife dragged me along because there were things going on in our house that seemed odd. She was convinced that we had a Haunting and wanted it to stop. Despite attempts to dismiss the “disturbances” or explain them in rational terms I had to admit much of it could not be explained.  I could no longer deny it. I recalled my time in Africa, the superstitions of the locals which I had ignored despite witnessing things that could not be easily explained. It was like jumping down the rabbit hole of the unknown, nothing made sense. Perhaps this famous Medium could provide answers. Reluctantly I agreed and bought tickets to the sell out event.

About 20 minutes in to the session the Medium looked our way and asked me if I knew a person by a certain name. I replied that I did and shifted in my chair uncomfortably looking for a place to hide as 300 pairs of eyes fell on me. The Medium then proceeded to tell me all about this person, my dead family members, events in my past that no one knew about and long held fears and doubts that had plagued me for life. In a not too subtle way he warned me about alcohol and said “you are perched on a wall and about to fall off”.  I listened with mute shock trying to understand how this was possible.

The Medium told me that I had come there today skeptical about the whole thing. I was there about “disturbances” in my house and told me what they were, who was causing them and when they would stop. He was 100% right about everything. Then he passed over me like a cloud and fell on to someone else in the crowd.

Two hours later I was sitting in the car still stunned by what had happened and trying to figure it out. Was my wife pulling some sort of twisted joke on me through some sort of elaborate set up? No, the Medium had said things she didn’t know about and had floored her with some statements about her family. Then it hit me, the simplest explanation was that this normal looking guy in a T-shirt and pair of jeans could talk to spirits. He was simply a Medium, someone sensitive enough to channel messages from the other side. The realization changed everything about the way I view the world and reality. About a week later I fell off the perch and started the descent in to another dimension of alcoholism. Everything that the Medium said would happen, happened.

 

Harness the Force

Seven years later and I have been sober for five years. I remember the disturbances in my home very well. If anything I had chosen to ignore them because I could not bear to accept a possibility that challenged my views. In sobriety I feel more in tune to my surroundings than ever before. Meditation provides further clarity. I can’t use Force powers to move objects but with exercise and martial arts training I find myself able to do things I thought were confined to a much younger version of myself. There is a burning life force in me now that was dim a few years ago.  Is this the “Force” though?

Perhaps being strong with the Force is like being psychic, you just have it like other people are naturally talented with music or maths. Think Mozart and Einstein. Does a “Force potential” reside only within a small percentage of the population or is it something that all people have but few ever come to realize? My feeling is that it is the latter. We are all born with “psychic” ability, we all carry the Force. Some of us are better at expressing it than others. Most people unconsciously suppress the abilities described in the “Indigo Children”. If it resides within us, hidden or latent then we have the ability to awaken the Force within. The choice is whether we want to and how we decide to harness the Force.

Sometimes things still happen in the house which more annoy us than worry us. There is an energy which is hard to define but it is there. Someone explained that people with strong intuitions are sensitive to psychic activity. I don’t know if I’m Force sensitive or whether I’ll be able to use the Force like a Jedi out the movies. I’m keeping an open mind. Fortunately an open mind is a great asset to have when one is recovering. Recovery has taught me one important lesson, the Force is definitely with me. I have no doubt about that.