Hope

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” – Opening crawl 1981 Theatrical re-release of Star Wars

He who surrenders hope, surrenders life.”  – “Altar of Mortis, the Clone Wars”

 

March heralds the return of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. Trees begin to put out new shoots. Flowers begin to emerge. The sun seems to rise from a place of exile. Snow starts to melt and the days grow steadily longer and warmer.

Since our Pagan ancestors the return of spring has been celebrated and is the most holy time in the cycle of the seasons. The sun has risen, reborn and is ascending to beat back the darkness of winter.

Spring was a celebration of renewed hope and rebirth. The vernal equinox heralded a new year in the ancient Roman calendar and still does in many cultures. Epitaphs of the Goddess of winter were burned to purge the darkness and welcome the return of the life giving Sun. People dedicated themselves to cleaning and purification, a tradition that persists to the day.

The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is a symbol of victory of life over death and eternal hope. It is no accident that the Early Christian Romans chose spring to celebrate Easter as a time of renewal. Ostara, the ancient festival is still celebrated as the renewed promise of spring.

 

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created spring” – Bernard Williams

 

The Eternal Cycle

Life is an endless cycle that never ends. Birth eventually leads to death which is followed again by birth. Trees sprout leaves which crown the tree. Eventually the leaves brown and fall to the ground. In time so does the tree and another grows in its place. In the same way we are born, grow from children to adult, age and eventually succumb and return to the Force.

Everything is a cycle. Our planet turns on its axis as does the Galaxy. Stars explode in to life and eventually burn out. The cosmos turns in an endless arc to whatever end. One day our Universe will end and another will emerge to replace it. So is the nature of creation.

 

One should count each day a separate life.” – Seneca

 

 

A Daily Reprieve

Recovery is like a perennial spring day. Every day is a reprieve from a nightmare. Each morning we rise to greet the new day. We put our lives in to the hands of a Higher Power and commit to another sober day.

In the day and throughout our lives we will experience hope and fear, gain and loss, praise and blame, pleasure and pain, fame and dishonor. We wake up every morning and renew ourselves.

By surrendering our problems to a Higher Power we are reborn. In the beginning it felt as if the clouds had finally parted and the sun shone through in all its splendor. My soul seemed to be bathed in a golden light. The gloom which hung over my life seemed to lift. I was filled with a sense of hope. I felt as if I could see the end of the day without a drink. Everything would be OK. Just for today and tomorrow would look after its self. Everything was going to be fine.

Every day we have the opportunity to start fresh. Yesterday is done and there is no recall on the things we said or did. Tomorrow is no guarantee. All we have is today, this now, a new day. Recovery happens in 24 hour increments then so does life if we choose to live in the Now. We can still hope for a better tomorrow if we live right by whatever Higher Power we put our faith in.

There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” – Bernard Williams

 

 

A New Hope

From within the Star Wars mythology springs a tale of hope for the future against all odds. When it was originally released in the 1977 the movie was simply called “Star Wars”. George Lucas could not foresee the unbridled success of the film and had it renamed “Star Wars: A New Hope” for it’s re-release in 1981. The reason was marketing for the trilogy but the title was fitting.

“A New Hope” was chosen because the leading character, Luke Skywalker, was chosen for a greater destiny. Luke didn’t know what his purpose was and neither did audiences.

The hope for the future had been passed on to a new generation. A new star has risen and hope was renewed that the darkness which had befallen the Galaxy would be beaten back. When I saw it in 1977 as a 10 year old it also gave me hope.

In Star Wars, our heroes go through one trial after the other on their journeys. Eventually they reach redemption and where there was confusion, clarity, where there was despair, hope and where there was darkness, light. Anakin, Yoda, Kenobi, Luke and Leia all found the Force in the end. They found their perennial and eternal spring.

 

“Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive” – Pablo Neruda

 

 

A Promise of spring

Every new day is a promise. Each day is a check waiting to be honored. It is up to you how you spend it.

Every March is a reminder that light follows darkness and spring follows winter. The sun will always rise again renewing hope. All things are reborn and death is never final. Our Ancestors knew this inherently; they were part of nature and belonged to the Earth. We have lost conscious connection to the natural Force but it remains deep within us. Accept each day as a gift. Push your reset button and renew yourself. What better time to start than in the spring.

 

Look at this day,

For it is life,

The very life of life.

The realities and verities of existence, The bliss of growth, The splendour of action, The glory of Power.

For yesterday is but a dream,

And tomorrow is only a vision,

But today, well lived,

Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore to this day.

Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

– Kalidasa

Higher Power

It’s (The Force) an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

 

The God Question

What is God? Who do you imagine God to be? Do you believe in “God” or choose to reject the notion of a supernatural force? Would you consider yourself religious, spiritual, agnostic or atheist? Are your beliefs or non-beliefs categorized by a label? For example do you identify with a religion and call yourself Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan or other? Perhaps a blend of all of the above. Consider that there are Christians who also consider themselves Buddhist. Chrislam is also a growing religion in some countries.

Religion not your thing? Do you practice a personal spiritual path that is void of any religious doctrine and prefer to reconcile with your own view of “God” as you imagine it to be? Spirituality may also be a part of a philosophical world view that might be humanist in nature and may be non-theistic in nature. Then like many you may have long abandoned any notion of God or spirituality and take the hard and pragmatic view of new atheism.

 

“Close your eyes. Feel it. The light…it’s always been there. It will guide you.” – Maz Kanata

 

 

No Religion

For some reason the concept of a “Higher Power” or spiritual source in our lives has become taboo for open discussion. If we broach the subject in conversation we do so at times reluctantly or we skirt around the topic completely. Conscious not to offend or appear like some religious bore we prefer to avoid the topic. Certainly there are religious communities out there that congregate and worship together but to a large extent in the west organized religion is in decline. Depending on where you live and the people you associate with you may be rarely exposed to any formal religious ritual or gathering.

Slowly but surely the hall marks of religion are being removed from public places in the west. Christmas is being secularized and sanitized for mass public consumption. Schools in the west are down playing or removing the traditional aspects of the holidays to avoid alienating or offending people of non-Christian faiths or the growing number of atheist families. We live in a society that on one hand promotes multiculturalism but on the other hand is uncomfortable with outward displays of religious faith in the event that someone may be offended.

 

Sinner

I was taught in several catholic schools and was indoctrinated somewhat unwillingly in to the church. I also spent years in catholic “boys homes”. My experience was enough to question at a very young age the apparent hypocrisy between what was taught and what was being practiced. For example, Jesus taught living simply and frugally, of giving willingly to others and sharing with them. It struck me as some type of enlightened communism. The reality was far different. The church seemed to horde money and property for itself. The Brothers and Nuns seemed to eat quite well while us children were fed more humble offerings. We were taught to be kind, gentle and patient with others and yet were often subjected to capital punishment that often crossed the line between “discipline” and “abuse”. I was a product of original sin and therefore eternally a sinner.

By the time I was 11 I had a strong distrust for anyone wearing the accoutrements of religion. Despite this experience I always felt intuitively that there was something bigger than myself. It was not the sometimes angry, sometimes merciful God who had been taught in religious lessons. This was something else. It was like a deeper consciousness, an inner light and a mystery that transcended all existence. The notion could not be described but it felt like I had been born with it and that feeling never left me. It was only much later that I somehow made the connection that this might be the essence of what “God” is.

 

Remember the Force will be with you always.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

 

 

As “I” Define

In the 12 Steps we are asked simply to consider that there might be a “Higher Power” that can lift us out of addiction. Many people have a problem with this, because the word “God” is used. No definition of God is offered. We are asked to define our own “Higher Power” that makes sense to us.

When I contemplated “God”, I started to explore religion and seek answers there. While religion has much to offer I was missing the point, this was meant to be how “I” defined my “Higher Power”, not someone else. For the first time in my life I was given the keys to the Kingdom, I could go out there and decide for myself and that was fine.

Some people in the program choose a religious concept of “God” to define their Higher Power. Others look to nature and the natural order of things and realize that they are not the cent re of the universe but a small part of the whole. Those that struggle with or resist any spiritual concept explore other ideas such as a “Higher Self” that transcends the Ego. The fellowship itself might become the “Higher Power”. A group of people together is stronger than the individual. The whole point of the Higher Power is not to direct anyone to a set of beliefs but rather to introduce the alcoholic to the concept of surrender.

 

“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.” – Yoda

 

Letting Go

Surrender is a dirty word for some. In fact when I first heard the word it sounded like I had to roll over and submit. Childhood memories were rekindled. The opposite was true. By “surrender” we are saying “I’m not the center of the Universe”. We are learning the very essence of “letting go”.

At last we realize that trying to control people, places, things and our own lives has been a futile exercise that has gotten us nothing but grief. By turning it over to a “Higher Power”, we are letting go of the insane idea that we have total control of our lives. We learn to accept the things we cannot change and gain the courage to change the things we can. By surrendering we are breaking the shackles of our egocentric thinking. Call it whatever you want, religion, spirit or “Jedi Mind Trick” psychology. The only thing that matters is a fundamental change of thinking that deflates the ego and results in a positive change to our lives.

 

I am with the Force. The Force is with me” – Chirrut Îmwe

 

 

Force Aware

Real world Jedi are also diverse in their concept of the “Force”. There is no uniform definition. Some people compare the Force to Chi or Prana as depicted in the eastern philosophies. The Tao is often used as philosophical and spiritual reference for the Force. Those that adhere to Christianity, Judaism or Islam might see God in the “Force”. There are also Pagans and Animists and New Age Spiritualists who fill the Jedi community and apply their own principles to the Force.Atheists and Agnostic sometimes have a scientific explanation to the Force and use concepts such as the Higgs boson theory and quantum mechanics to explain it.

Few, if any, Jedi choose to ignore and reject the Force. We are Jedi; the Force is an indelible part of our philosophy. To be Jedi and to reject all notion of the Force is like a cloud trying to reject the sky or a fish rejecting the existence of water. We do not need to agree with anyone’s concept of the Force. The beauty of being Jedi is we can decide for ourselves what the Force is and what it means to our lives.

 

Smile

Lately I came across a definition of “God” in an annotated edition of the spiritual tome, “A course in Miracles”. I discovered it at random as I flicked through the pages. The words jumped out at me. I don’t know if I accept it as it is but if asked to articulate “God” in my own words, I will call it the “Force”.

I don’t have to do anything or be anyone or believe anything, it is up to me to take what I need and leave the rest. Everyone is free to do the same. If asked to explain the Force I can default to Obi-wan Kenobi’s definition of an energy field or I can simply smile. I don’t need to define the Force but I can feel it. In a smile we can feel the essence of Force within us, that’s what I believe.

God or source energy is the First Cause. This “Force” always was and always will be. This “Force” is everywhere and in everything. This “Force” cannot be lost or destroyed. This “Force” is constantly moving in, out and through form. Theologians call this “Force” God. Scientists currently choose to call this “Force” energy. Both define it the same way; Call it whatever makes you feel most comfortable”. – ACIM

Not God

“It’s against my programming to impersonate a deity.” – C-3PO, “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”

In the Star Wars fiction, computers were fitted with a safe guard that prevented them realizing singularity and attaining a God Complex. Imagine C-3PO with a God complex. Scary. Now imagine an alcoholic with one. Its as bad.

As a drunk I did not believe so much in God as I acted as if I was one. I had to be able to control people, places and things and I didn’t get my way I would get resentful and angry.

The God Problem

Many of my friends and associates are Atheists and very few, if any, are religious. Spirituality is not something that is openly discussed. The God topic is something to be avoided.

I was also unsure of where I stood with the whole “God” thing for many years. As a child I had rejected the notion of an all powerful Deity as suggested by my religious teachers in Catholic school. Quick to detect hypocrisy I rebelled and refused to attend Church or any of its ceremonies.

Along the way I adopted a sort of agnosticism that grudgingly conceded I may be right or I may be wrong about it. I kept the “reserve” card handy in my back pocket just in case. Sort of like an emergency hip flask in case I needed a shot of “God” when things really got bad. Seems most people only turn to God when they have no other options available.

Alcohol becomes a surrogate to God for many alcoholics. For other people it might be money, sex, work, ambition, power, family or nationalism. The one overwhelming and dominant factor in your life can become “God like”. Religion in its self is not “God” unless you happen to be religious. In that case your chosen religion becomes central to your life and value system and “God” becomes central to that. For me Ego and Booze was “God” over the years. If there was a redeeming God it certainly felt it had abandoned me.

Rationalizing HP

When I found my recovery I found a “Higher Power”. I knew intuitively that it was there, in me and everywhere. The problem was I could not define it or even conceptualize it. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to visualize and rationalize my “Higher Power”. The word, “God” did not sound right. I mean after all, wasn’t “God” the deity which had made me feel like a worthless sinner in Father Duffy’s Bible study class. Confused, I entered in to a period that swayed between elated Faith to stinging doubt and back again.

My mistake was trying to rationalize something that cannot be rationalized. I am a scientist after all. My background is critical inquiry. I ask questions and I investigate and in order to arrive at a judgement about a thing I seek evidence and where there is no conclusive evidence I experiment. Failing that I simply turn to Philosophy and think it through. You can’t “think” or “quantify” the spiritual through.

Obviously what was required was a complete departure from all previous concepts. I chose to cast aside all ideas and notions I had about “God”. Whether they had sprung up during my early recovery or were religious relics of my childhood I decided to let them all go. I decided to “Let Go and Let God” and just let things happen as they would. At last I stopped trying to run the show and control everything. I started to attain Emotional Sobriety.

The important thing is that I was accepting a spiritual basis in to my life. I didn’t need to do anything more than accept that willingly and have Faith. This is the true meaning of surrender.

Dodging God

The easy thing for many is to dodge the “Higher Power” aspect of the Steps. Many in the Jedi community I have come to know over the last three years also choose to either ignore the concept of the Force or avoid discussion about it. They feel that the Philosophy has no room for a spiritual aspect let alone some “hokey religion” called Jediism.

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” – Han Solo ‘Episode 4: A New Hope”.

Open Mind

No matter what your view is, most can agree that an individual’s spirituality is a personal choice. Some people choose a religion and lead a pious life, others are far more secular. Working among scientists I find that many are atheists, some are “moderate” in views and others are militant emulating Richard Dawkins. I would suggest that having an “open mind” is the hall mark of a Scientist and a Jedi.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8)

If there is one lesson I have learned after the years in recovery it is I am not God. Yes I am a spiritual being having a human experience; I am an aspect of the Divine, a part of the whole. I believe that the Force is everywhere, it flows through this plane and the next and that I am part of it and shall reunite with it when I die. However I am not God.