The Inner Child

A child stolen is a lost hope.” – Moral “Spheres of Influence” The Clone Wars

 

Truly wonderful the mind of a child is” – Yoda.

 

Let’s not kid ourselves; Star Wars is essentially for kids. I’m not ashamed to say that I like Star Wars and don’t mind being called a “big kid” because  I do. We go to the movies to escape reality for a while and to enjoy ourselves. Even to remember what it was like to be a child again.

 

As a ten year old I saw Star wars for the first time when it hit theatres in 1977. The experience was like indescribable. It blew away all expectations. My life was changed from that evening 42 years ago.

 

Ever since that I day I feel that same sense of wonder every time I sit down to watch the original trilogy. The nostalgia dented only by the re-mastering and editing that replaced the original cinematic version released in 1977. The movies belonged to my generation. Star Wars was made for us. It belonged to us.

 

We often tend to ignore how much of a child is still in all of us.”  – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, “On Death and Dying”

 

 

Kids Stuff

Children still enjoy Star Wars of course. The prequels  entertained the millennial generation and the current trilogy has been made for the current generation of kids. Let no one tell you otherwise, Star Wars is meant for the kids first and the rest of us critical or adoring adults second.

 

The way we view Star Wars even differs between generations some times. In “How I met you Mother”, Barney comes to the conclusion that a girl he is seeing is much younger than he because she loves the Ewoks. Barney reasons that because he was a kid when Star Wars first came out and a teenager when “Return of the Jedi” screened in 1983 the Ewoks to him were annoying at best. The Ewoks were cute and adorable and made for the kids. If Barney’s girl fiend loved Ewoks, he reasoned, she would have to be up to ten years his junior. This also annoyed Barney, he could not be with someone who loved Ewoks.  Who could not love Barney?

 

The Ewoks were annoying, I still find them mildly annoying but Star Wars is a modern fairy tale and while fairy tales have a moral they are also written for children or at least the inner child in all of us.

 

The Ewok LineHow I met your Mother

 

Blessings

Children are a blessing. My life changed when I had kids. All of the sudden there was more than just my self to live for. I was responsible for another human being that was powerless in every way and utterly reliant on me. This is a revelation that only a parent can describe. In one sense it is amazing beyond words and in another it is utterly terrifying. Your mortality is revealed as is your human vulnerabilities. Every selfish act becomes shockingly apparent. There is no hiding from the truth. You have the most important job on the planet to fulfil.

 

For me it was not enough. I loved my kids of course and tried my best however alcohol was more important to me. There were nights when I drank secretly in the study while my wife and kids slept completely oblivious to the fact that I was drunk. If they needed me in the middle of the night I would probably be incapable of caring for them.

 

Thank God for their mother who truly looked after their every need and never drunk. I can only imagine what would have happened if they had been left alone in my care. Who was the bigger child in all of that I wonder. It is my biggest shame as an alcoholic. A Father is meant to protect his kids and put them first always.

 

We did not come into this world loathing ourselves or wishing to numb or feelings. As small children, we operated from a place of wonder, curiosity, spontaneity and creativity.” – Christopher Dines, “Drug Addiction Recovery: The Mindful Way”

 

 

Memories

I recall being a child. I remember Star Wars and a lot of other cool things that happened. There are also plenty of memories of a drunken Father, my mother’s bitter tears and despair at a husband who put money for food in to his drinking and stayed out for days and nights. One day I saw my mother taken in an ambulance and that’s the last time I saw her before I saw her lowered in to the ground in a coffin.

 

The years that followed were not childlike in any normal sense of the word. There were orphanages, homes and hostels, abuse from care givers and intermittently my drunken father would appear. No wonder I hated the Ewoks when went to see “Return of the Jedi” at 16. They were lame and stupid and reminded me of everything I wanted to forget. The promise of Star Wars had failed me.  The inner child within me was smothered out, all but dead.

 

Alcoholism was the natural progression.

 

Oh Annie, you’ll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine” – Padme.

 

Growing Up

Its no wonder then that when I finally became sober I had to rekindle my long lost inner child. Not just the “big kid” that comes out to rough house with the kids and make a convincing go at playing dress ups at parties without feeling completely foolish. Also not the petulant and obstinate child I became when I was drinking. Playing the drunken idiot was also easy. The inner child is something different. It is something wonderful.

 

The inner child represents the strongest, the most ineluctable urge in every being, namely the urge to realize itself.” – Carl Jung

 

 

The Divine Child

If you could personify the divine I have no doubt it would appear as a wide eyed and amazed child, playful, curious and innocent. This inner child would be eager to learn and discover and create. She would have boundless energy, enthusiasm, optimism, empathy and compassion. Most of all, the child would have an imagination that knows no limits.

 

Now think Star Wars. Is Star Wars not for the inner child that resides within all of us? I would say that Lucas created Star Wars from his own inner child.

 

Carl Jung created the “divine child archetype”. Star Wars fans may recognise the young Anakin as the embodiment of the archetype in “The Phantom Menace”. Anakin was innocent and vulnerable but at the same time he was far beyond his years in so many ways. He could repair racing pods and knew his way around a ship. The boy had an amazing talent for racing pods and had the instincts of a survivor.

 

There was something compelling about Anakin which drew Qui-Gon Jinn to him. Anakin was a powerful force sensitive, incredibly intelligent while at the same time naive and easy to mould. At first sight he was an ideal candidate for Jedi training but something troubling loomed within him. Yet he appeared to be the “chosen one” foretold in prophecy.

 

“You open the gates of the soul to let the dark flood of chaos flow into your order and meaning. If you marry the ordered to the chaos you produce the divine child, the supreme meaning beyond meaning and meaninglessness.”  – Carl Jung

 

 

Supreme Meaning

Krishna, Jesus, Horus, Dažbog and Zoroaster were all divine children who were born under auspice circumstance to bring great change to the world. King Herod did all he could to stop the prophecy of the coming messiah by having all new born male babies slaughtered. Mary and Joseph forewarned fled to Egypt to keep Jesus safe. Demons plotted to kill the baby Zoroaster but failed.

 

Anakin was the Jungian “divine child” archetype of Star Wars.  Darth Sidous sought out the “chosen one”, Anakin, to either kill him or preferably bring him to the Dark Side. The new born twins Luke and Leia were secreted away in to hiding after Anakin’s fall. The truth kept from them until the prophecy could be fulfilled. The children were the hope for the future.

 

Yoda in essence was also a symbol of divine inner child manifest. Despite his 900 years of age he recognised the divinity in children and allowed his inner child to shine through before and after his transcendence to the Force. In exile that inner child was still alive in Yoda with all its wonder, wisdom, humour and optimism.

 

“In every adult there lurks a child and eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed, and calls for unceasing care, attention and education. That is part of the human personality which wants to develop and become whole.” – Carl Jung

 

 

 

Vulnerable

Yet the inner child is vulnerable. In “Revenge of the Sith”, Darth Sidious completed the conversion of Anakin through the slaughter of innocents at the Jedi Temple. The massacre of Younglings by Anakin is symbolic of the final destruction of the inner divine child. It is the loss of final hope and the future.

 

A society that forsakes its children has no future. A person who denies his inner child betrays his soul.

 

“I believe that there is a sacred child-like spirit in all of us (often referred to as our younger self or sacred inner child), one we can access and heal in recovery. We can gradually learn to integrate our youthful spirit into our everyday life. There is sweet sacredness when a person truly dedicates himself or herself to reclaiming his or her forgotten and abandoned inner child.” Christopher Dines, “Drug Addiction Recovery: The Mindful Way”.

 

 

Recovered

So it is with Alcoholism. The disease eventually all but snuffs out the inner child within us. That is a tragedy. In its place the shadow inner child emerges to fuel our addiction. The shadow child is the dark, spoilt, belligerent and selfish brat that clawed, kicked, screamed and berated us in active abuse.

 

Recovery heals the shadow child and restores the inner divine child. We learn that the divine child is a manifestation of the Higher Power within us. It has been all but snuffed out but a tiny glow remains in a sea of blackness. Soon that glow becomes a flame. For me it is the Force that burns within. With time it has grown brighter kindled by walking the 12 Steps.

 

I have had to grow up, perhaps for the first time in my life. The inner child has guided me along the journey and still does. To be Jedi is to allow the inner child to step forward and be heard.

 

“When you learn how to re-parent yourself, you will stop attempting to complete the past by setting up others to be your parents.”  –  John Bradshaw, “Homecoming: Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child”.

 

The Inner Child

The inner child is that small still voice. You will know it when:

  • A creative idea takes root in your mind and you feel excited about it.
  • You look up at the stars at night, witness a glorious sunset or wander through nature and feel awe, joy and a connectedness with creation.
  • That “kid like” excitement and abandon you get visiting a theme park and getting on rides.
  • The mystery and wonder that causes the heart to race and time to stand still when you get that first kiss.
  • The thirst for life and yearning to explore.
  • The feeling you get when the light in the theatre dims and everyone hushes as the 20th century Fox anthem plays and then the words “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away” appear and then fade  to  the loud crescendo of the opening note of the Star Wars musical score and title.

 

Listen to the Child when you are feeling down, it is also trying to tell you something when you feel;

  • Regret at abandoning an idea you was excited about.
  • Frustration at being denied your creativity.
  • Depression that comes with not being able to fully realize one’s self.
  • Grief over loss.

 

These are natural responses. It’s OK to be not OK.

 

Be a Kid

If you approach life with the eyes of a child you do so with the divine guiding you. The world suddenly reveals that there is still wonder and beauty in it. Despite the odds there is still hope for the future. People become inherently good despite their shortcomings. Life will not be all “Puppies and Kittens” but it does become easier. Our mind will seek to create rather than destroy, to flow with rather than resist and to accept rather than reject what life offers. Let life surprise you for certainly it will.

 

Learn from the wisdom of children take something from the insights like Yoda did.  No matter what happens allow your inner child to completely take over the next time you watch Star Wars. Learn to be a kid again. Ewoks or no Ewoks, I guarantee you will enjoy it.

 

Star Wars (Original release crawl 1977) Lucasfilm Ltd.

 

Further Reading

John Bradshaw; Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child. New York, NY: Bantam Books. 1990. ISBN 978-0-553-35389-1.

Third Man

 

Are you an angel”  – Anakin

 

Imagine being hopelessly lost in the desert. Walking for miles as the sun beats down.

The distant line of mountains seems to be now closer after days of walking in the blistering heat and nights spent huddled against the cold.

Eventually whatever water you had is gone. Thirst torments you and hunger gnaws at your belly.

You mutter to yourself mindless thoughts. Apparitions of strange figures come in waves of hallucinations at night.

You dream of water and hear voices in the wind. The sun rises and you greet it knowing you won’t see the end of the day.

Tears come to your eyes but they are dry, an attempt to cry is nothing more than a tortured croak.

You stagger and fall and blackness finds you. With eyes open you see the cosmos spiraling before you, all the planets and stars arc above.

You feel a presence, it bring you peace in the hour of death. It speaks to you and urges you on. You stumble as if in a dream.

The presence never leaves you it tells you everything will be alright and to keep going. You obey.

Voices come out of the dark, water, hands grip your shoulder and you see a face. Salvation has come.

 

“Who is the third who walks always beside you? When I count, there are only you and I together. But when I look ahead up the white road, there is always another one walking beside you” – T.S Elliot ” The Wasteland”.

 

Lost

There are countless stories that tell of the presence of an “other” when life was in peril. Shackleton recounts that such a presence was felt by his group as they wandered across the Antarctic wilderness held in the place between this life and the next.

 

I have no doubt that Providence guided us…it seemed to me there were four and not three.” – Sir Ernest Shackleton

 

Yossi Ghinsberg an Israeli backpacker who nearly died while lost in the Amazon jungle also recounted being led by a young girl who appeared to him just as he gave up hope. The experience left an indelible spiritual mark on him.

 

Frank Smyth the British climber attempted Mount Everest in 1933 failed and narrowly survived the descent. Later he recounted the welcome presence of another person who followed him during his ordeal. To him the guiding presence was real and it eliminated all loneliness and fear in him.

 

Soldiers in war, shipwreck survivors and castaways, people lost in the wilderness, survivors of natural disasters and terror attacks all recount experiencing the presence of a benevolent presence that helped them survive beyond their physical and mental limits. The presence gave them comfort and courage against the odds and this helped saved their lives. Psychologists call this phenomenon the “Third Man factor”.

 

An angel. I’ve heard the deep space pilots talk about them. They’re the most beautiful creatures in the universe” – Young Anakin to Queen Amidala “The Phantom Menace”

 

The Protector

Intense physical and mental duress can have a profound effect on the brain. No one knows for certain whether the “third person” is a hallucinogenic effect caused by the release of a burst of dopamine and possibly Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The effect of DMT is very similar to those reported by people who claim to have had a near death experience. In a recent study people who had had NDE’s reported experiences of spiritual transcendence similar to subjects who took DMT psychedelics like Ayuhuasca.

 

Is the “Third Person” effect simply a coping mechanism, a mental trick, a survival reflex triggered by a brain that knows it is dying? Some believe the “Third Person” a guardian angel that intervenes in the time of greatest physical, mental and spiritual anguish.  Does it matter whether the “Third Person” comes from deep within our psyche or is a manifestation of something divine if it leads to salvation?

 

The human psyche has a persona and an ego at the conscious level. Deeper in our subconscious resides our anima and animus. The shadow, the darker side of our nature also resides there. Why not also a guardian angel? The “Third man factor” is a protector and guide that resides deep within us all?

 

 “Death is just the beginning.” – “Destiny” The Clone Wars

Guardian Angels

The appearance of a spiritual guiding force in the time of great need is often used in fiction. In Gravity (2013) Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) visits Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) after he has floated away in space to his death. Kowalski speaks to Stone and urges her not to give up and helps her survive. The guiding spirits in “A Christmas Carol” transform Scrooge as they reveal his faults and show him a way to his own salvation.

 

Guardian Angels are nothing new. They appear to the prophets in the Old Testament. Jesus was said to have been visited by angels during his wandering in the wilderness and again as he suffered during the crucifixion. Guiding spirits occur in every culture; Zoroastrian, Chinese, Slavic, Aboriginal lore describes them as benevolent spirits who look over their human charges and keep them safe.

 

In Star Wars the Force Spirit is the ephemeral and benevolent presence that comforts and guides those it visits. In “Ghosts of Mortis” Anakin is visited by the “Force Ghost” of Qui-Gon Jinn who tells him he can bring balance to the force. Obi-wan Kenobi and Yoda are also visited by Qui-Gon Jinn. In “A New Hope” Luke is guided by the disembodied voice of Obi-wan Kenobi giving him the courage and presence of mind to complete his mission. At the end of “Return of the Jedi” Luke and Leia are visited by the Force Spirits of Yoda, Anakin and Obi-wan Kenobi. Luke himself becomes a powerful Force Spirit. In “The Last Jedi” his Force Spirit projected to Crait where he comforted Leia and confronted Kylo Ren.

 

    “Eternal life…

    “The ultimate goal of the Sith, yet they can never achieve it; it comes only through the release of self, not the exaltation of self. It comes through compassion, not greed. Love is the answer to the darkness.

    ―Yoda and Qui-Gon Jinn

 

NDE

I can’t say I have ever had a near death experience like Ernest Shakleton in Antarctica or Frank Smyth on Everest. I have been exhausted enough to hallucinate while in the army. I was on operations patrolling for days on end with little sleep. My thoughts were disordered and I knew that the visions and voices in my mind weren’t real. The “Third man factor” experience is described as lucid and ordered while hallucinations are dreamlike imaginings.

 

Some Alcoholics who have had spiritual experiences which directly resulted in sustained recovery report the presence of a guiding presence. Some describe this as a blinding light of love and compassion while others describe the visit of a man or a woman or a deceased love one. These spiritual experiences tend to happen at a moment of great spiritual, mental and physical torment.

 

I have had the “Rock Bottom” experience and while I did not see a presence I definitely felt it. The sensation was real and tangible in every way. I knew immediately that I had nothing to fear and that everything would be fine. The presence imbued a love and compassion that was transcendent and impossible to articulate. I felt at home. From that point I never have drunk again.

 

Fear is a disease; hope is its only cure.” –  “Blue Shadow Virus” The Clone Wars

 

Finding Hope

I read somewhere once that an atheist will deny the existence of God until the day he finds himself with nothing and is utterly alone, without hope and facing death. At the end of hope the atheist finds hope, not in changed fortune but in the presence of a spiritual force that guides him to salvation.

 

Very few people ever call on a “power greater than themselves” until the time they need it. Even an atheist faced with his own physical demise will ponder at the wonder of the cosmos and the symphony of creation. A part of them will wonder at the mystery and purpose of life. While denying someone else’s concept of God they might come to a deeper understanding of a divine truth.

 

The Force can be a source of strength when I need it. The Force can be a source of calm and serenity in times of turbulence. Understanding and patience can be the little inner voice that comes from the Force when confronted with difficult people and situations. It is the guiding and comforting presence when facing calamity. The Force can be the hand that guides you out of harms way, a candle in the dark that leads the way to the light.

 

Whatever your concept of God or a Higher Power might be the important thing is to realize that no one is ever truly alone. When you need the will to carry on past your imaginable limits, there is a power you can fall back on within you. All you need to do is accept the hand that’s offered.

 

Geiger, John (2009). The Third Man Factor. Toronto: Viking Canada.

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