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.

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 are mindful of the Force

Jedi are always mindful of the Force.

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

 

The Daily Reprieve

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Soul Sickness

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

 

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

 

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

 

Illusion of Separation

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Waking Up

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Golden Key

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Do Prayer?

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

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

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

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

Jedi believe in destiny

Jedi don’t believe in coincidences, Jedi trust in the will of the Force and accept the fact that nothing happens by accident. Jedi believe in destiny, and that there is some method to what happens in the Universe. Things happen when they are meant to happen; there is perfection; nothing happens by accident. There is a ‘soul-plan’ for every person, but it’s hard to understand these things from our level.

(33 Jedi Traits)

Design or Accident

Is the Universe a product of intentional and intelligent design or is it simply the expression of natural laws? Does life have a  purpose or is it simply a random chance event, an aberration? Is there a destiny for all human beings, a type of Karma that has already been decided from past lives and a Divine will? Does determinism apply? What about time? Is it linear as we perceive it or circular? Do past event recur and have current events already played out? Is reality as it appears or an illusion? Are we divine being having a human experience or just evolved beings having no particular experience other than a mental one? Does the Force play a hand in our lives or are we all just here because of evolution and carry no inherent purpose at all?

For years Philosophy has grappled with these questions and come up with answers. Religion also provides answers on matters of life, death, after life and destiny. I was taught as a child that if I live a good life, say my prayers, follow the commandments and confess my sins I will go to heaven. Do the opposite and it is off to Hell.

I also learned that Buddhists believe in reincarnation and asked a Priest once if reincarnation and Karma were real. The reply I got was unsettling. Reincarnation did not exist and non-Christians were barred from Heaven. What of Dogs I asked surely they would join us in Heaven. I was assured they would not. My next question landed me in hot water; “Why then” I asked “Does the Bible say that all creatures are of God and will enter the Kingdom of Heaven”? I guess it was my destiny to let my mouth get me in to trouble.

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future..” – Yoda

No Fate

In the Terminator 2, Sarah Connor wrote “No Fate” on a table before she went to assassinate the man who would bring about the rise of the machines. It seemed that history and the future had been set and could not be changed but we know that is not always the case. The past cannot be changed but our destiny can, if we choose.

“If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-wan’s apprentice.” – Yoda

Anakin Skywalker seemed destined to fall to the Dark Side and become a Sith. Fate had played him a cruel hand and despite the efforts of Obi-wan Kenobi and the love of Padmé Amidala, Anakin could not be saved. Yoda seemed to think that Darth Vader was bound for eternity to Darth Sidious in perpetual suffering. That it was his destiny and would also be the destiny of Luke if he succumbed to his own dark emotions. We see in the “Return of the Jedi” that destiny can be changed.

“You cannot escape your destiny,” Obi-Wan tells Luke. “You must face Darth Vader again.”

“I can’t kill my own father,” Luke says, almost pleading.

“Then the emperor has already won.”

Luke chose not to destroy his Father; he cast his Lightsaber aside as well as his anger. Through forgiveness and compassion Luke released Anakin from his Karmic prison and destroyed the Dark Lord. Had Luke succumbed to his anger and killed Darth Vader he would have simply replaced him as an apprentice to Darth Sidious.

We not need follow a fateful path that leads to an unhappy end. We have the power in our hands to change our destiny and redeem ourselves. Life is not predetermined; we are not prisoners to some Fate.

 

Choose your Destiny

“If it pleases the Gods, so be it. They may well kill me, but they can’t hurt me” – Epictetus after Plato

A few years ago I stood teetering on a precipice and stumbled in to a dark chasm. At that moment I had a choice, my destiny had come to a fork in the road. I could continue down the path I had walked and probably continue to live a short life of fear and misery or I could grasp the hand of Faith and trust in a Higher Power to lead me down a higher path.

The choice I made finds me here today. Had I chosen the other way my life would probably be looking a lot different now. I have come to learn that Faith is not thinking “God” will protect us from the arrows of Fate but simply trusting in a process where we hand our lives over to a Higher Power and “Letting Go”. It worked for me.

Every moment we are tweaking our destiny. Each decision we make ripples through time carrying the residue of consequence. Karmic consequence is a natural law however we cannot know if Divine providence or a Cosmic Plan plays a part in our destiny. We cannot know if our actions will take us to some afterlife of bliss or burning souls.

If there is a Divine Plan and we each have a Soul Plan then it is up to us to trust the process and live out our lives as we feel best expresses the grandest version of ourselves. We cannot determine how the story will end. All we can do is play our part, accept what happens and exit the act when the time comes. Tolerance, flexibility and acceptance are also Jedi virtues, adherence to some doctrine of determinism is not.

 

Karma Sucks

“Karma’s a Bitch”, the guy who said it was partially hidden in shadow. The moon shone down on us and the surrounding desert was bathed in a pale light. I could see a mountain range beyond a wide plain of black volcanic rocks. Thorn trees dotted the landscape like tortured souls, bent and twisted. It was cold.

The man who spoke walked over and offered me a cigarette. I declined. My ears were ringing and I had a splitting headache. We were on guard duty, patrolling our Platoon harbor. The Platoon slept around us quietly snoring. Recon vehicles were parked in a circle like old west wagons. It was a “non-tactical” bivouac but smoking was still forbidden after a “black out” was ordered. My companion shrugged, put a smoke in his mouth and lit it in cupped hands. The cigarette flared and his face came in to view, dirty and stained with two day old camouflage paint starting to wear, stubble on his chin. His fingers were black from shooting. I could see him grinning broadly and eyeing me intently.

That day we had lost an Officer to a “friendly fire” incident. 81mm mortars were being fired in support of an assault platoon moving in to do a flanking attack on an enemy position. The mortar fire was intended to keep the enemies heads down. As soon as the platoon was in position they would give the signal and the mortar fire would be walked away from the enemy. The platoon would assault the position with small arms fire, grenades and shoulder fired rockets. Any fleeing enemy would be ambushed by another Platoon or get caught in the mortar fire depending on the direction they withdrew.

The problem was the order was somehow given to direct the mortars in to the path of the moving platoon. Two landed before someone realized the mistake and stopped the barrage. The Officer leading the assault took a piece of shrapnel and was currently fighting for his life. The irony was that this particular Officer was hated by everyone. Karma or bad luck had singled him out with an errant 81mm mortar. No one would miss him. My companion chuckled “Stupid Bastard had it coming anyway” he spat. I watched him wander away, rifle slung over shoulder, the smell of cigarette smoke lingering behind him.

There is no such thing as chance; and what seem to us merest accident springs from the deepest source of destiny” – Friedrich von Schiller

 

Fate is Fickle

I wondered about what he said. Was it Karma; a merest accident from the deepest source of destiny? The support platoon firing the mortars didn’t work with this Captain. They didn’t have to put up with his incompetence and decisions that made no sense and made everyone’s lives miserable. One of the Grunts had taken a fragment in the eye but was otherwise fine and had to be evacuated with the Officer. A few other guys had light wounds and were kept in the field. I personally felt it was poetic justice what had happened to the Captain but had divine fate played a hand?

A year later I ran in to the Captain. He was in my new Battalion. He had made a full recovery and was not only his old self, he was worse. The Brass had also decided to give him a medal and he was now a Major and on a career fast track. I thought of all the hundreds of miserable saps that he would command in the future. How many careers would he trample over to get his way. The accident had been a boon to his career. Yes, Karma really does suck.

Not long after I was court martialled and discharged for a drunken spree that included a pub crawl in four different countries and a run in with the police. I had been AWOL and it was not the first time. Karma strikes again.

Fate is a fickle bitch who dotes on irony.” – Glen Cook “The Black Company”

 

Breaking Samsara

Karma is an Eastern belief that differs to the “Heaven or Hell” coin toss of western religions. I say coin toss because some people still believe that masturbation will condemn a person to hell. I don’t believe that. Karma might suggest something different for that “sin”, like indifference. Hindus and Buddhists believe that we are in Samsara, a constant cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Where we end up in every life is largely decided by how we conducted ourselves in former lives.

We all have a chance to break that Karmic cycle by living virtuous lives or as the Buddhist suggest, taking the noble path. With more virtue and right living we get more Karma credits. Get enough and we are on our way to the end of Dukkha (suffering), we achieve a state of transcendence and arrive at “nothingness”. Simply put Karma means actions have consequences. We largely decide our own soul journey of endless lives through our actions. Determinism does not play a part.

 

No one gets out alive.

The weird thing is that every turn in my life which has seemingly appeared “bad” has turned out for the best. An unexpected life changing event occurs which sets us on a new trajectory. We end up in places and in situations we could never imagine. Sometimes fate appears to carry such design that we cannot help but wonder if we are exactly where we are meant to be despite the resistance we put up getting there. Is it fate or serendipity? Do we have a “Soul Plan”? Perhaps destiny, fate, free will and chance are all combined under some Cosmic Plan. We each have a destiny but it is ours to change it through Free Will.

Simple luck would explain a lot of injustices in the world. Perhaps someone is looking over us. God knows I should be dead fifty times over with some of the dumb shenanigans I have pulled over the years. Eventually my luck will run out.

One thing is for sure, I’m glad I was standing in the right place, at the right moment and was shielded from the blast by that Captain when the Mortar round hit. I like to think there was a reason for that.

“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.” – Wayne Dyer

Jedi can feel the Force

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

(33 Jedi Traits)

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

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

 

Like attracts Like

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

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

 

Good Apples Bad Apples

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

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

 

Rising Up

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

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

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

Social Media

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

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

 

Self Talk

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

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

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

Gratitude

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

 

Diet

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

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

 

Practice Mindfulness and Mediation

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

 

Laugh Often

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

“Good humor is a virtue” – Aristotle

 

The Key

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

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

Certain Jedi are stronger with the Force than others.

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

(The 33 Jedi Traits)

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

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

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

 

Force Sensitive

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

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

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

 

Intuition

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

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

 

The Medium

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

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

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

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

 

Harness the Force

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

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

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

Jedi serve the Living Force

Trait 3/33

Jedi serve the Living Force and never serve the dark side, in any way, shape or form. Jedi are serious about their service to the Force, and are not thrill seekers or adventure seekers. They are serious about following the Jedi teachings in their own lives, because the Jedi teachings lead to personal growth, and help them to be conscious of their connection to the Living Force, which is within.

(The 33 Jedi Traits)

This statement provides a number of key requirements to being considered a Jedi. One does not entertain the Dark Side, we take the path seriously, this is not a game but a way of life. Practiced consistently the Jedi Path will lead to spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health and well being. The Trait provides a point of reference for those embarking on the Jedi Path.

I could just as easily take this comment and apply it to the 12 Steps.“The only requirement is a desire to recover from alcoholism. This means abstaining from drinking. Treat the program seriously as to fail could mean relapse and insanity or death. Integrating the principles of recovery in to all personal affairs the 12 steps becomes a way of life. If practiced  consistently the principles will lead to recovery and personal and spiritual growth. Life will take on new meaning”. This has been true for me so far.

I serve the Living Force  when I apply the underpinning principle that my recovery is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition. That is, I serve the Force in the manner which I choose to live and be Jedi.

 

The Noble Way

The first two of 33 Traits identify the cause of suffering and the solution to our suffering. The Dark Side points to suffering and the Force reveals redemption. The statement “Jedi serve the living Force” means simply to live in accordance with our values every day. This Trait reveals the simple truth, that if we live in accordance with our principles we will grow as a person. To put this in to real world context let us consider the fundamental teachings of Buddhism the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Four Noble Truths teach us that we all suffer, our suffering is caused by our attachment to impermanent states and things. Freedom from attachment ultimately leads to freedom from suffering. The Noble Eightfold Path provides the road map that must be followed to free one’s self from suffering. This is achieved through application of virtues and temperance in our lives, cultivating self discipline and practicing mindfulness and meditation. The Eightfold Path consists of eight practices: right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation.

 

The Road Map

Being a real world Jedi does not mean that we must enter in to Monastic Life and take vows of service, poverty and chastity. Being a practicing Buddhist does not mean we have to either. Many people imagine the 12 Steps to be some sort of cult with secret handshakes and rigid dogma. It is nothing of the sort. Buddhism, the Jedi Path and 12 Step recovery are essentially personal paths that we follow on our own two feet.

All these paths have one thing in common. They all provide a road map that take different routes but all end up at essentially the same destination; freedom from suffering. If we have a map but do not embark on the journey or decide to head off road or  take another direction we will not arrive at the destination. If we stick to the road map and take our time but remain consistent in our practice we see progress and in time we get to where we are going.

Arriving at the destination we set off again seeking new milestones, new challenges. Over time we improve and become better. We leave behind ideas and things we have outgrown or no longer need. We pick up fresh ideas and tools along the way. This is the cycle of continuous improvement, an endless cycle of planning, doing, checking and correcting.

Our goal is progress not perfection as reality teaches us that perfection in life is an unattainable goal. We should only compare ourselves to who we were yesterday. Compare ourselves to others and we usually find ourselves lacking or we develop an arrogance that eventually trips us up.

 

An endless Journey

Metaphorically speaking recovery and the Jedi Path is a life journey there is no “Finish Line” that proclaims we have arrived. I can’t plod along for years and get to a point and say “I’m cured” and decide that’s it I can put all of this 12 Step stuff away, find my slippers and a bottle of Port. In short time I will be rudely awakened to the fact that I shouldn’t drink. I will soon be back where I started if not worse.

A philosophy for life is by definition “for life”, we live it day by day, one day at a time. We cultivate our practice and harvest the rewards as we move through life. By practicing this philosophy I serve the Force. Calling myself Jedi is optional. Doing so helps remind me constantly where I am headed and keeps me on track.

 

Keep at it

The beauty of the 12 Steps is that they never ever end. We can work them, work them some more and keep going. The Steps can be worked formally with a Sponsor or alone. The real work happens through the little things that we do every day.

The Jedi Path is no different. There are online courses that one can complete if they have the time and inclination. Some Jedi groups offer rank and hierarchy and knighthood ceremonies. A new documentary called “American Jedi” is to soon be released which reveals that side to the community. However anyone can be a Jedi if they commit to the Path and stick to it as a philosophy for life. It is a philosophy for life, not just a “in case of emergency” tool kit. We also only get out what we put in.

Ask yourself; “what can I do to improve myself today?”. If you are in a 12 Step program ask “what step am I on today and where do I need to work?”. Those who commit to the Jedi Path should also ask themselves “am I being true to the Jedi Code and which of the Jedi virtues and practices do I need to apply more effort?” . Keep climbing the stairs, go to work and serve the Force by being the best version of yourself that you can be.

The Force

Jedi believe in the Living Force.

Jedi believe in an invisible universal energy called ‘the Force’, also known as the ‘Living Force’, the ‘good side’, or the ‘light side’. The Force is a living spiritual presence that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds all the matter in the universe together. The Force is the soul of all living things; it exists everywhere. Jedi believe that Force allows people to have free will and choice, but that destiny also plays a part in their lives (33 Jedi Traits).

Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/jedi-teachings-to-live-by-95912

The Force Issue

No exploration of the Jedi Path can omit mention of the Force indefinitely. We can  avoid the “Force Issue” for so long. Eventually we must confront it and determine for ourselves, what the Force is and what our relationship to it is. The 12 Steps asks the recovering alcoholic to do the same thing in Step 2. Having admitted powerlessness over alcohol one must become willing to consider a spiritual foundation to their recovery. In the past we have tried self will and found ourselves falling short.

The spiritual commitment of simple belief requires for some a major departure from previous ideas. Many alcoholics have long abandoned any concept of God. They mistrust religion and view any mention of the spiritual with hostility or skepticism. The program is asking them to do the opposite, to consider and then believe in the concept of a Higher Power.

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” – Step 2

The same problem presents itself to the atheist or the agnostic looking at the Jedi Path. Many will feel that to accept some religious concept of the Force is to submit to dogma. For most this will be unacceptable and a deal breaker. The Jedi Path is palatable without a spiritual foundation but any mention of the Force is to be suppressed or ignored. Everyone is aware of the elephant in the room but no one is prepared to mention it. No one likes to be accused of following some “hokey religion”.

“Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels’ hidden fort-…” – Admiral Motti
[Vader makes a pinching motion and Motti starts choking]
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”Darth Vader

The Fictional Jedi obviously believed in the Force.  While dedicated to the Dark Side, Darth Vader still remained respectful of the eternal power of the Force. Through the Star War saga we get  mixed messages on what the Force is. Qui-Gon Jinn reveals that microscopic life forms called Midi-chlorians are the physical manifestations of the Force in all life. Obi-Wan Kenobi calls it a energy source that surrounds and penetrates all living things. In the real world we have to take a step back from the fictional portrayal of the Force and apply our own definition to it.

Personal HP

The 12 Steps provides a caveat to the alcoholic who is struggling with accepting the concept of God in to their lives. Step 2 and 3 suggests that we come to believe in a Higher Power as we define it. The word God is used several times in the 12 Steps but the intent is not to enforce any particular dogma or definition of God. Whatever Higher Power the person in recovery chooses is entirely up to them. It can be “Good Orderly Direction”, “Group of Drunks” or any other secular concept. Some alcoholics view the fellowship as their Higher Power, others conceive of something closer to nature or the state of existence and abiding Love. Others apply religious or spiritual beliefs.  I simply call it the Force and it works for me.

When I embarked on recovery I sought out a concept of a Higher Power that I was familiar with. Jesus appeared. In time my spirituality evolved as I read further and meditated. I explored spiritual paths and my concept of God evolved and changed in to something I could verbalize and then could not. At times I grappled to conceive of a God who resided outside of myself and failed. I began to ponder the notion that duality is an illusion and that all is one and one is all. During my search I discovered the “A Course in Miracles” and Kabbalah. Both provided me with answers but for me even more questions on this concept of one soul, one Force.

Things were starting to clear but not a lot. My focus seemed to be drawn to achieving some sort of spiritual transcendence. I wanted to achieve the spiritual experience I had felt on coming out of “Rock Bottom”. I wanted that state of elation and connection again. For that I was missing the point. None of it is about achieving enlightenment; it is about living a good life and being the best version of ourselves that we can be.

The Living Force

Does the Force exist? Do we need to define it? I don’ know. For some the definition of the Force as provided in the 33 Traits will be enough. I don’t think it matters that we can define exactly what the Force is. Ultimately it is up to each and every individual to determine what the Force or Higher Power is for themselves. A trap we can fall into is to spend all of our time chasing a rainbow.

In early recovery I was so keen to see the face of God and get spiritually high that I completely lost myself. It was immature and irrational and a surrogate for addiction. I had to be reminded that it is OK to have our heads in the clouds sometimes but we must keep our feet firmly placed on the ground. To simply believe in something is sometimes enough. Recovery, being Jedi, life happens in the here and now not in some attained spiritual state somewhere in the obscure future.

Can we agree that simply being ourselves is to honor life and therefore express the Force? By using the life that we have in the way that best suits ourselves is possibly our only purpose. That is the meaning of my Higher Power, the Force.

Believe in what you want to be believe. Call it whatever you want, conceive of it any way you want. If there is a God, she will not mind, if there is no God it does not matter. And May the Force be With You.

Miracles

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

Losing my Religion

In the past I never believed in the idea of miracles. My religious instructors in school taught that miracles happened to those that deserved them. God rewarded the righteous but punished sinners. To me this sounded unfair. My mother had died for reasons I did not understand but she had been a devout Catholic.

I and my siblings were placed in an orphanage and eventually separated. Our Father was absent and probably drunk somewhere. Perhaps we were all sinners. I was never certain what we had done to deserve it. They spoke of miracles as if they were dispensed to the favored. Try as you might there was no reaching that state of perfection. In Star Wars I still found a glimmer of Hope and a spark of the Force but in time that light went out too.

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

Bottled Miracle

A few years ago I would have scoffed at the mention of miracles in any form. The metaphysical and the spiritual were for chumps. They were cop outs for people who were too afraid to throw their lot in with one deity or another.  The only spirit I needed was in a bottle. A miracle was to be still standing at the end of a big night. I pinned providence on fortune and luck. Both seemed scarcer than real miracles.

If there was a Divine source in the Universe I was not part of his plan. A part of me suspected that there might be something. This I put down to the residue of a religious upbringing and perhaps wishful thinking. As a child I had prayed for miracles they had never happened. My ideas were firmly planted in reason based on a faith in science and all the obstinate arrogance of a self proclaimed agnostic. I flipped the bird at religion but avoided the unrelenting dogma of new atheism in the fear that they might be wrong. I settled on something that was loosely “F##K It” and nihilist in view. Whatever justified my current lifestyle was fine.

Stealing Miracles

Religion and goodwill was to be taken advantage of. Miracles could be things we got out of people. My Father cheated the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations out of food stamps and money for years. It all ended up on booze or on horses. I watched and learned. Yes, one could make small miracles happen. Things could appear out of nothing. You just have to take them.

In Israel I even tried convincing a Rabbi that I wanted to convert on spiritual grounds only to be laughed at and told my true motive for conversion was to remain in Israel. He had a point, I did enjoy the laid back hedonistic lifestyle of booze, drugs and sex on a Kibbutz.

Few people really are (Atheist) , for that means blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe originated in a cipher and aimlessly rushes nowhere.” – Alcoholics Anonymous p10

 

The Miracle of Faith

Living in recovery has taught me that every day miracles do exist. I think I am a proof that miracles do happen, even to reformed dirt bags like me. If I could count the number of reasons why I should not be here writing this it would convince even the most ardent skeptic.

Miracles need not be resounding symbolic miracles of the basket of never ending bread and fish variety. I have never seen the blind or lame healed by divine faith alone. There has never been a man walk on water or float on air in my experience. I have some seen some very weird and inexplicable things in my time but nothing like that.

My recovery and change in life since becoming sober to me is however a type of miracle. I look in the mirror and I see a miracle. Look at the sky, the tree standing in the back yard, the person in front of me. They are all miracles. The guy at a meeting who was ready to take his own life and is now recovered and happy and helping others is a miracle. This very existence, an accident of chance or a played out destiny, is all part of the miracle of creation. Love is testament to the existence of miracles.

But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize. A blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black curious eyes of a child, our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”-  Thich Nhat Hanh

Every Day Miracles

Every day is a witness to the miracle of life. We reside on a planet on the edge of a vast galaxy amidst billions of star systems and countless worlds. Our galaxy is one of billion of other galaxies within the known universe.

Cosmologists believe that an infinite number of universes exist. Mathematical evidence supports it. Dimensions and parallel universes that we are completely unaware of are before us. Time moves in a linear trajectory in our perception yet at the speed of light and quantum level becomes distorted and illogical.An electron can exist in two different places in the universe at the same time. Matter can move in time and space in ways that defy normal laws.

Our very physical existence is an illusion for we are essentially comprised of nothing. The atoms that make up all matter are nothing more than magnetic forces surrounding nuclei of mass which contains an incredible energy potential.  When I touch another I am touching empty space.  Yet we are connected to every other atom in the universe.

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

Those atoms form into complex relationships with others, more in number than the stars in the galaxy to form a human form. Within that form resides a consciousness able to define itself and peer to the stars and ponder its origin. Tell me that is not a miracle.

I know a lot of scientists, some are atheists but all agree in the incredible complexity and order of the universe. It appears in mathematical computations and scientific observation.  They also agree that as we reach beyond the frontiers of our knowledge we seem to be approaching a nexus. That point is where the spiritual and the scientific begin to reconcile and meet. If humanity can work towards the common good and avoid self destructing, we may reach that point and realize who we truly are and where we are going. We still know so little.

“We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.” – Alcoholics Anonymous p. 164

The Miracle

I don’t know what God is or even if one exists, at least in the conventional sense. For years I had doubted the existence of any type of Higher Power that could not be empirically defined by science and quantified. I scoffed at the mention of the metaphysical or the spiritual. Now I believe that there is a Higher Power in my life. We each define our own Higher Power. There is no right or wrong. Within each of us resides a power that is greater than ourselves. I choose to call that Higher Power, the Force.  There is no need to define it or explain it; I simply accept that it is and that it is with me always.

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

“If you knew who walks beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible.” – ACIM