What would Kenobi do?

Making up Legends

We often look to historical figures to guide us in how we should act and conduct our lives. Religious icons such as Prophets and Saints are often used as examples we can follow. Their stories are told so that others can take meaning of their work and emulate it some way. Historical and religious figures are raised on to a pedestal of greatness and perfection  Very often the person that is represented is not a true and accurate image of who that person was in reality. History becomes distorted over time and the accounts of some of the most revered figures are often disputed. Sometimes they were never recorded when the person was alive but afterwards. Historical figures essentially become legends based on a great deal of myth. Figures that had a resounding impact on the world; people that lived, breathed and were often martyred for their cause essentially become fictional characters in a story over time.

The reality of the who a person was and who they weren’t becomes insignificant in the light of the story. What is important is the story and the role that the character played within it. Whether it agrees with historical fact is irrelevant. Many nations and religions are built on this paradox of reality and fiction.

Star Wars is a work of fiction. There is no doubt about that. There was never a Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi or Luke Skywalker. The Star Wars saga is a complete fantasy based on the journey of the hero. It was written by a man who has turned his creation in to a global phenomenon spanning more than forty years and destined to continue to enthral and entertain hundreds of millions of people for decades to come. If anyone was to suggest in the beginning that the story might become the inspiration for a philosophy for life or a contemporary religion they would have probably been called mad. But that is the case and it is growing daily.

 

One’s Fantasy, One’s Faith

But why not? Religion is essentially based on myth and fantasy. Stories depicted in the religious texts of the main world religions are for the most part not historically verifiable. At the very least they may be loosely based on events that actually happened but distorted to such an extent over centuries that they became fiction. The religious figures, whose names are known by almost everyone, are depictions based on the descriptions of people who knew them and wrote accounts on their lives as they remembered it. Many of the stories were also written much later by people who never knew the characters involved. We cannot be sure that the icons who have influenced the world are real or based on pure myth no more factual than Star Wars.

If many of the world’s religions, beliefs and philosophies are based on myth than why would it seem so strange that people would look to a modern day space saga for inspiration? All the elements are there. There is the struggle between good and evil, light and dark. Characters which stand in almost biblical stature abound the Star Wars Universe. The Sith and Jedi present to great forces opposing each other. There is also the omnipresence of the Force which brings a strong spiritual essence adding hope and destiny to the story.

 

Knowing and not.

Recently I heard someone ask another person what they thought a particular religious figure would have done if faced with a situation that required  a lot of soul searching. The question struck me as odd as there is no way to know how that person would have acted in that situation or in any situation. All we have is an image, assumptions about a man who lived a long time ago and for which no reliable and historically verifiable accounts exist other than those written by men decades or centuries after he lived. For all intents the man, if he existed at all, may have been a very different character to the one depicted today. We just don’t know for sure.  Assumptions can be made on how he would have acted based on our personal beliefs and what we have been taught or read.

To a 12 Stepper one might ask, “What would have Bill W done”? Again, we can only surmise. Bill W was a complex character not without fault; he was human after all as were all of the Saints, Gurus and Prophets in all the religions of our world. No less, our most revered historical figures, philosophers and leaders, modern and ancient, were and are also human. They were exceptional but they also had faults. To surmise how they would apply principles in all circumstances is a rhetorical question; we can only imagine how they might of.

 

Kenobi

Call me a Geek or worse, I ask “What would Obi-wan Kenobi do” when presented with a problem. Go ahead and laugh but I have found a remarkable tool. Obi-wan Kenobi is entirely fictitious. The story of Obi-wan Kenobi has been largely told. We have a recorded history of his life from the time he was a young Padawan with Qui-Gon Jinn to the moment he was felled by his old apprentice and friend on the Death Star. Later we know Obi-wan as an ethereal figure who lives on after “death” and continues to mentor and guide Luke Skywalker in his quest to bring balance to the Force. There is nothing hidden about Obi-wan Kenobi. We know his character and unless future writers decide to distort and twist the persona in movies and books we have a fairly clear image of who he really “was”.

Unless a person is living under a rock or has no access to modern audio-visual entertainment they would have at least seen one of the Star Wars movies. Many people under the age of 60 are also more familiar with the Star Wars saga than they are with religious stories or doctrine. Whether this is a sign of the times or a complete accident, “Star Wars” may well one day be called the “greatest story ever told”. It seems that almost everyone knows or has at least has heard of Obi-wan Kenobi. Inspiration need not be drawn from someone who actually lived, it can be the idea of someone that didn’t.

 

What would you do?

If people are asked to describe Obi-wan Kenobi you will likely get words like “patient, calm, friendly, witty, intelligent, wise, reliable, loyal, astute and kind”. For me, Obi-wan Kenobi represents a good role model. The fact that he never existed does not matter. If we can relate to a character and find qualities and wisdom in that person worth emulating in our own lives then it should not matter whether the person existed or not. I’m glad Obi-wan Kenobi is a fictional character as history will never uncover facts which challenge my perception. The world is changing and the role models of the past are being swept away as history is revised to align with attitudes of the day. Rationality replaces dogma while extremism replaces wider tolerance. Obi-wan stands aside from all of that and provides a perfect role model for me. Even Disney can’t change that.

If on the other hand you are no fan of Obi-wan Kenobi you can also ask “What would Yoda do?”.  More importantly ask, “What should I do”.

MTFBWY

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

Jedi are Spiritual Seekers

Jedi believe in and are a part of the Jedi Order

The word ‘Jedi Order’ gives connotations that the Jedi Path was something like a religion in the Star Wars Universe. The pure and true meaning of the word religion comes from the Latin word “religio” which was derived from the Latin word “re-ligare” or “to reconnect.” The purpose of the Jedi teachings were “to reconnect” a Jedi to the Force. Actually, we are always connected to the Force, but we have lost our conscious awareness of this connection.

(33 Jedi Traits)

Religion?

One of the biggest misconceptions about Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is a religion or some sort of cult. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of people who come together with the sole purpose of quitting drinking, overcoming their addiction and finding contended sobriety. Similarly I have heard the Jedi path called a religion. To some people it is and there is indeed a campaign to have “Jediism” recognized as a religion. To most people however it is a philosophy for life, a formula for living that brings physical, mental, emotional and spiritual improvement in to their lives.

Whether someone considers themselves to belong to one Faith or another is entirely up to them. The beauty of the 12 Steps and the Jedi Path is that anyone can apply the philosophical teachings of both and practice them in their day to day lives. One need not have a religious background or even believe in God. Indeed there are Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Pagans and Wicca’s, Humanists, Agnostics and Atheists that are part of the 12 Step and Jedi movements. We believe that a religious conviction is not needed to benefit from the philosophy of personal improvement, self betterment and recovery.

 

Losing Religion

If someone was to ask me my “religious affiliation” I would respond “Jedi”. In fact I have listed it as such on census forms and on personal information. These days we rarely see that question appearing on documents. People increasingly are coy about their religion or default to the “NA” response preferring not to answer. Society is more secular. At the same time we are seeing an increase in religious extremism. Browse the news and you will be presented with human rights abuses and violence inflicted on others in the name of all faiths not just one.

The truth is I write Jedi not because I want to be different or I claim to be an ardent Star Wars fan who has taken it to the next level. I call myself Jedi because it best describes my own values and spiritual principles which I live.

Religion may have bought a lot of war, hatred and division in to the world but it has also introduced some wonderful and beautiful philosophies on how people can live in peace and harmony with others. I have found that there is so much in common between religions as there is so much in common between all people. The more the Jedi Path and 12 Steps has taught me the more I have come to realize that all the trouble in the world, all the strife, conflict and hate does not need to exist.

 

Take what you Need

I read the Holy Quran, the Bible, the Dhammapada and the Tao every day. Currently I am studying Kabbalah and the “A Course in Miracles” among other spiritual and esoteric texts. Besides that I consider myself a follower of Stoic philosophy and read the writings of the ancient sages and their contemporary counterparts as much as I can.

Recognizing the value of psychology I read books by Jung and Frankl as well as texts on CBT and ACT. None of this makes me an expert on any of the above. I am only a beginner on the Path. What it does provide me with is a rich world of knowledge and thought that I can use in my own way. There is so much to learn and I can take or leave whatever I want. There is no dogma to become tied down to. I take what I need and I leave the rest.

 

A Verb

Being Jedi is a verb, not a noun. I do not consider myself a Jedi but someone who takes inspiration from the fictional archetypes in the context of a practical philosophy. Apply real world ideas and philosophies that fill the gaps of what the Jedi represented in the fiction and you have a Philosophy. There is no hard dogma. I am not required to bow down to an effigy of the Force and pray to Yoda. In my view that would be ridiculous however I would not begrudge anyone who chose to do that. My goal is to be Jedi.

Similarly I recognize that the 12 steps were only ever suggested as a program, they were never mandated to Alcoholics as some form of dogma. The only requirement for membership was and is a desire to quit drinking. The promise is that the program had been tested and proved to work by many and if a person is willing to give the 12 Steps an honest go then they are sure to reap benefits.

There is no treating Bill W as some sort of saint or messiah as in some sort of sect or personality cult. Are there Big Book thumpers  and Step Troopers out there who would disagree with me? Certainly; there are extremists and puritans in every school, sect and religion. People who claim their way to be the only way. Some self proclaimed Jedi Masters are like that too.

Remember there are many people who are religious but not at all spiritual and there are many people who are very spiritual but non-religious. There are also many people who are neither. Some people like dogma, others don’t.

 

The Group

There is no Jedi Order and one never existed in reality. The closest semblance to a Jedi Council exists online. Most would be hard pressed to accept that one online Group or individual represents all people who follow the Jedi Path in one form or another.

Sometimes people lose sight of the forest for the trees. People get caught up in the trappings, the image and the labels. They want to call themselves something, they want a title and to belong to a discreet group. It is human nature to want to belong. We are drawn to the inner circle of the tribe where it is safe and secure.

 

Seek, it is there already

The truth is that all of us have our own individual needs. We are all seeking something. For many it is to reconnect with a spiritual source that has been missing from their lives. This is the case for many alcoholics in recovery. While we follow a path, many of us also seek to define our own higher power and purpose in life. Spirituality becomes a very personal journey that we must take alone; we do not need a Guru to take us there.

I used to consider myself a “Seeker”, now I know that that is not really the case. One only seeks something that is lost or hidden somewhere. The truth is that we are always connected to the Divine Source, whatever it is, the Force. There is no need to seek anything. We just have to be willing to be open to the possibility that something exists which is larger us. With that first step begins a journey of self discovery  and it never ends.