MTFBWY

May the Force be with you – Han Solo

 

Every Fourth of May the world celebrates Star Wars Day. The date is taken from the catchphrase “May the Fourth be with you” a play on the famous line “May the Force be with you” first heard in Star Wars in 1977. It immediately captured the imagination of millions of people. Two years later and Margaret Thatcher won the UK  elections on May 4th , 1979 becoming the countries first female Prime Minister. The Conservative “Tory” party took out a front page notice in the London Evening News congratulating her victory with “May the Fourth be with you, Maggie congratulations”. I remember the day well….Anyway, the line stuck and it re-appeared until the date was immortalized as “Star Wars Day”.

Most people would give you a weird look if you were to say “May the Force be with you” on any other day. In the Star Wars universe it has a magical and holy ring to it. The Force is real, it permeates everything. The Universe is the Force. The statement affirms that primary truth, that the Force resides in all life. The Force is then with you always but when someone says it, it reminds you and brings you back to the moment, to a glimpse of who and what you truly are.

In the 12 Step movement we are reminded that no one ever loses the divine spark within them. We choose only to shut it out or throw a barrier between us and our Higher Power. The flame is never fully extinguished. If you believe in God you will know that the divine never leaves you, for God resides within, without and in all creation. As conscious human beings with free will we only choose to believe or imagine that we are utterly bereft and forsaken in the dark. We never truly are, there is always a candle in the dark, a way out.

What we had in addiction was a choice to express that spark that resides within and finally embrace life.

 

Remember the Force will be with you. Always. – Obi-wan Kenobi

 

I have to laugh when I see people on Social Media wishing each other the catch phrase “May the Fourth be with you”. It’s all for fun of course. The date is a good one to celebrate the fictional universe that Lucas created more than 40 years ago and we continue to enjoy today.

I don’t often wish anyone “May the Force be with you” I’m not a religious person but I can’t deny the power of those words even if they are attached to a story that is entirely fictional. When I was in the Middle East I heard people say Shalom and Salem. Both words mean Peace. They are used as everyday greetings but also as a wish that peace may be on your soul. One word can soften a look of suspicion or potential animosity in a stranger when you offer him or her the word Salem…Peace.  One greeting can make all the difference.

So “May the Force be with you” on this day, the Fourth of May and all days. May it bring you peace, happiness, serenity and peace. May you find your inner Jedi (and Child) not just for one day but for all days.

Resurrection

Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force.” – Yoda

He who surrenders hope, surrenders life.” – The Clone Wars “Alter of Mortis”.

 

The Resurrection of the Christ from the dead is the very foundation on which the Christian faith is built. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross and then he rose again and walked among his followers for forty days before ascending to heaven. The symbolism of the story is that Jesus, as a manifestation of the divine, died like a common man. Jesus then descended to hell carrying the sins of the world and then arose on the third day defeating death and redeeming the world. This is the salvation of the resurrection.

From a metaphysical perspective I see the story of the resurrection as a parable which is intended to remind us that death is not final. Yes all things die but life always follows death. The circle of life is continuous and death is a part of that. But life always triumphs over death.

I also believe that the story of the resurrection is to remind us that in life we must let the old parts of ourselves die in order to renew ourselves. We must be willing to let go and suffer in doing so if it allows us to grow.

No one’s ever really gone” – Luke Skywalker

 

The Rise of Skywalker

“The Rise of Skywalker” is an interesting title for the last episode of Star Wars. In “The Last Jedi” we saw Luke Skywalker “die” on the Island of Ahch-To. In the final scenes Luke vanishes symbolizing his transcendence from the flesh to the living Force. Yoda, Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin all transcended to the Force. They were resurrected not in a physical sense but there continued consciousness in the Force defeated mortality by becoming immortal.

Will Luke now “rise” from the dead in the last episode? Will he be more than a Force Ghost? What of Lela? Will the laws of the Force be utterly upended and Darth Sidious also released from the shackles of death?

I believe you will bring balance to the Force. That you will defeat your demons and bring balance to the Force” – Qui Gonn Jinn

 

Resurrected

The Star Wars mythology uses the theme of resurrection in the saga. Obi-wan Kenobi was clearly struck down by Vader in the original movie. The Jedi Master deftly parried Vader’s Lightsaber before opening himself to the fatal blow. At first it seemed like suicide but soon the true purpose of Obi-wan Kenobi’s death was revealed. Yoda also returned to aid Luke Skywalker after he had died in the flesh. Qui-Gon Jinn also appeared to Anakin and tried to guide him.

Villains also return in Star Wars. Darth Maul struck down by the apprentice Obi-wan Kenobi somehow survived and returned decades later insane with a lust for revenge. Cade Bane the unscrupulous Bounty Hunter and perennial anti-hero was rumored killed in a duel but I have no doubt we may see him again in a future series of the Clone Wars.

 

“Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to create life… The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” – Darth Sidious

 

The Return of the Sith

Can the Sith defy death and resurrect themselves? Sidious was destroyed in “Return of the Jedi”, killed at the hands of his apprentice Darth Vader. What if the essence of Darth Sidious was preserved within the dark side of the Force? Like his Master Darth Plagueis had he mastered the secret to cheating death?

Luke said in the teaser that no one’s ever really gone does this allude to Palpatine? Lucas may have been planning the resurrection of Darth Sidious since the “Return of the Jedi”. One of the alternate endings of the first trilogy was the conversion of Luke to the dark side with the defeat of the Sith Lord. Lucas however decided on a happy ending.

Having the resurrection of the Sith and the return of Palpatine as the end to the “Rise of Skywalker” may keep the circle of the mythology turning. If the Dark Side rises once again in the galaxy we must wait for another “chosen one” to end it and restore balance to the Force fulfilling the ancient prophecy.

The second coming so to speak…

 

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

 

Rise

Whether you believe in the story of the resurrection of Christ or not depends on your religious leanings. In reality people who die do not rise again unless the person was in fact not dead. This is why the story of “The Rise of Christ” is so important to Christians and underpins the basis of their religion. The resurrection of Christ provides proof of the divinity of Jesus as the son of God and eternal savoir of the world. Christians believe that the crucifixion and resurrection were prophesied to happen in the Old Testament.

I believe that the story of the resurrection is to remind us that we have a choice. We can choose to find purpose and meaning in life and strive to be a better version of our self every day or we can capitulate to a nihilistic existence and reject any meaning in life. We can choose the Light Side or the Dark Side.

The story of the crucifixion and resurrection is one of reaching redemption and meaning by going through suffering. In life we must take up our cross and bear it. Redemption comes through suffering. Like pruning dead branches, we shed parts of our old lives. The process can be painful but we emerge renewed.

The celebration of Easter is one of rebirth and renewal as well as hope. Becoming sober is like being born again, a resurrection from an existence that was neither being wholly alive or completely dead. Addicts are caught in twilight between two worlds. Eventually we are forced to choose between the two. That choice is to let the old life die and the new life arise or not. We can stay down or rise up resurrected and renewed. I choose life. What do you choose?

Ashes

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.” – Obi-wan sensing the destruction of Alderaan “A New Hope”

“No one’s ever really gone” – Luke Skywalker “
The Rise of Skywalker”

In the more than half century I have been on this planet I have always noticed change in the world around me. In 1977 Star Wars was released and climate scientists claimed the world was entering another ice age. This year the ninth and final episode of Star Wars is being released and the world is warming. Everywhere I look I see change and one thing replacing another. Ashes and memories remain.

Star Wars is one of those things that has changed and evolved over the years. The teaser for the last installment of the last trilogy of Star Wars has been released. “The Rise of Skywalker” is the final act in a mythology that has been loved for more than forty years. The teaser is a welcome distraction from the chaos that seems to be pervasive in the world at present. I also feel sad because Disney has stated that it has decided to enter a hiatus with Star Wars. Many herald the “Rise of Skywalker” as the end to the saga. Many fans will now have to struggle with further change and loosen their attachments. Even Star Wars has to end someday.

“It matters which side we choose. Even if there will never be more light than darkness” – Qui-Gon Jinn


Burning Temples

While I write this the fires at the Notre Dame Cathedral are smoldering. I spent much time in Paris and admired the cathedral more for its longevity than its religious symbolism. I can’t help but take notice and feel emotion of loss and regret. Why? Distraction, impermanence and attachments all lead to suffering. Lately we have seen a lot of suffering in the world. Why should I feel nostalgia for something that will soon be rebuilt and perhaps in better condition than before? It’s just a building of stone and wood after all.

Many Jews lament the loss of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and that memory runs at the heart of the long running Israeli-Arab conflict . The destruction of the Temple of Artemis by the Greek arsonist Herostatus for notoriety is also still remembered and gave rise to the term “Herostratic fame”. Many of the worlds greatest shrines are built over the ruins and ashes of destroyed places of worship, including Notre Dame.

In Star Wars Jedi Temples across the Galaxy were destroyed by the Empire. The Great Temple on Coruscant, built on the ruins of a Sith Temple, fell and became the seat of power to the Emperor Palpatine. The Temple that Luke Skywalker built was destroyed in revenge by his own Nephew. As I contemplated the Notre Dame engulfed in flames I wondered how the Jedi who survived Order 66 felt about the loss their Temple on Coruscant after thousands of years. Did they care? The Jedi who survived put their emotions aside and continued to resist the Empire.

I remembered how I reacted to the Planet Alderaan being destroyed in the original Star Wars release in 1977. The theater reacted in horror and awe. Princess Leia, possibly the greatest Force sensitive ever, reacted to the destruction of her home in true Jedi fashion.

So why should concern myself with the loss of an old stone building? Change and impermanence is nature.

 

Old for New

Is a vintage car that has been continuously restored for decades with new panels and engine parts the same car as the one which was originally built? Will the rebuilt Notre Dame be the same as the one which was constructed 850 years ago? Much of the structure of the building has been replaced over the centuries during renovations and to think it is the same and original structure would be incorrect. Notre Dame has been on fire before.

The Spartans kept a Tireme, a battle vessel which had fought in the Persian Wars, for centuries to remind them of the glorious victory. Over time the Tireme was completely replaced and not a fiber of its wood remained from the original vessel. Has the Tireme then not been completely replaced? Is it nothing more than a physical memory, a mere replica of the original? When it was finally destroyed did they lament an object that no had longer existed in the first place?

 

Boiling Frogs

People are attached to objects and to the “way things are”. Because change can happen so gradually we often fail to notice until we sit down and contemplate it (see Negative Visualization). When something happens that is confronting and transformative we are shaken and reminded of impermanence. It hurts badly. The death of a loved one, the mortality of our own flesh, sudden illness, the loss of a treasured possession and the sweeping change of events that shape human society are constant reminders of impermanence and our own human fragility.

The fable of the boiling Frog reminds us that we can tolerate and accept change in our environment gradually but not suddenly. This can be detrimental as it leaves us blind to reality.

The premise goes that if you place a frog in a pot of boiling water it will immediately try to jump out because the shock is too sudden and survival instincts kick in. If the frog is placed in a pot of tepid water and allowed to slowly boil it will remain in place until eventually it dies.

The premise is false, at least for Frogs that is. Humans fall for it all the time. Amphibians are more receptive to changes in their environment than humans. Biologists use frogs as “canaries in a coal mine” as an indicator of ecological damage from climate change, pollution and habitat destruction. Frogs will move or die when conditions become adverse. Humans tend to react when things become unbearable. Rather than adjust to warning signs we miss or ignore them and slowly boil in our own ignorance.


“I’ve seen what I become… and I cannot let that happen.”
– Anakin Skywalker on seeing a vision of his role in the destruction of Alderaan

Gone Forever

In the time it takes me to write this sentence 38 acres (15 hectares) of rain forest were removed permanently somewhere in the world, never to regrow in human time scales. Did anyone notice? Because deforestation is progressive like a slow spreading cancer we barely notice until the “frog in the rain forest” vanishes. The “canary” is in trouble but the world has its eyes elsewhere. 21 children under five died of starvation and preventable illness in the time it took me to write this paragraph. No one noticed that either. Unlike frogs in a slowly boiling pot of water we are sleep walking to our collective destiny.

Yet we lament and donate a billion dollars to a Cathedral owned by one of the richest institutions in the world. Palpatine would be cackling in delight. Jesus would be appalled.

 


Wake Up

I know something of the “boiling frog” principle. My career as an alcoholic was time spent in a pot of slowly boiling water. Alcoholism is a progressive disease, changes creep in to our persona as our character slowly morphs. All the clear warnings are ignored. Eventually a slippery slope evolves and we are carried away. For many the spiraling free fall is terminal. For the rest of us there is the chance of recovery and redemption. Having been through the wringer and spat out finally humbled, we are wiser for it.

The Boiling Frog is a metaphor warning people to never be complacent and to be mindful of the consequence immediate and long-term of gradual change. This includes our own decisions and behaviors. We can’t allow sudden and catastrophic events to spur us in to action alone. These events can be a late sign or distracting from the real problems. We must be constantly vigilante to gradual change and question it.

 

Think again

Distraction is a modern day problem. Humans are becoming less attentive and aware despite the greatest accessibility and wealth of information available in history. We are becoming more reactive. As a result civilization is literally the frog in the slowly boiling pot of information. We tend not to see the forest for the trees and we feed from media misinformation like pigs at a trough rarely questioning what we are being fed. The digital noise is incredible and distraction has become a postmodern drug, to our collective detriment. Information is in abundance yet wisdom is scare.

Distraction is dangerous for an Alcoholic. It leads to unruly emotions and bad decisions. In recovery we are taught the “think think think” mantra as a way to pause and center our attention when we become distracted by thoughts or things that trigger us. We think our way out of a drink by being aware of what we are doing, about to do or have done. We have become wiser as a result.


Distracting Injuries

I kneel next to the patient and start a rapid initial assessment. “Hello can you hear me?”, “Can you tell me what happened”. “My arm… it hurts” comes the pained reply in short breaths. This means the airway is open and the patient is breathing. Eyes open means level of consciousness acceptable for now. Move on to a rapid trauma assessment. There’s a tear in a sleeve and a bone is protruding from it. The radial bone has fractured clean and there’s not much blood. The injury is not pretty and draws my attention. The patient groans. I begin to create a padded bandage to place around the bone before immobilizing with a splint and tell the EMT to get an IV set up so I can manage the pain. The watching on instructor stops me.

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“I’m doing my trauma assessment and treating as I go”

“Are you sure that’s the most serious problem he’s got?” she points her chin that the arm.

I look at the patient, again and think hard, his breathing is shallow, lips are blue, he’s pale and he is not really with it anymore.

I take a quick blood pressure and pulse, the instructor tells me its “80/40” and “140 but feeble”

Bloody hell he’s in shock! I need to move! my mind races.

I bare his chest and there is a large smudge of moulage that would indicate the massive bruise from a sudden and catastrophic impact of a chest with a steering column during a head on collision.

I auscultate his chest with my stethoscope.

“Breath sound absent on the left side. You see a unilateral rise in the chest and tracheal deviation” the Instructor says

“Patient has a tension pneumothorax and is going in to shock, probably internal injuries” I say feebly feeling sick.

“And….?” she is getting impatient, prodding me.

“Treat the tension pneumothorax with needle decompression, manage shock, priority 1, treat on route to Hospital” I respond.

“Crack on” she smirks and moves to the next Paramedic student working on his patient in this motor vehicle accident scenario.

My patient winks at me and grins “Gotcha!”.

Damn! I think to myself. Rookie mistake, distracting injuries!


Accept, Adapt, Act

One of the strengths of a Jedi is that she is adaptive to change and never rests on her laurels. The Jedi must be ready to modify her behavior with changing circumstances and be ready to adapt quickly as the situation remains in flux. Distractions are recognized and filtered out. Small tell-tale signs are considered, nothing is ignored. Her life may depend on it.

A Jedi holds no attachments and quickly accepts loss even when it is painful and final. Without reservation the Jedi accepts the impermanence of all things. All that is belongs to the Force anyway and returns to it. Everything that is will one day cease to exist in physical form. Nothingness is the only true reality.

Princess Leia quickly accepted the loss of her home Planet, Alderaan, when it was destroyed by the Death Star. The loss of her friends, family and the home she loved were felt but it did not break her resolve to resist Vader. As tragic as it was for Leia she did not let it compromise the Rebel mission to destroy the Death Star and save countless other lives in the Galaxy. Luke also felt the loss of Obi-wan Kenobi and expressed his remorse openly but accepted it. Ironically Obi-wan was still with him and had not died. The Force is constant and does not change.

 

 

“Nothing is lost where the Force dwells, and the Force is everywhere.” – Obi-wan Kenobi


Ashes in the Mouth

When the Notre Dame was burning I was shocked and saddened at seeing the images on the screen unfold. Then I put it in to perspective. No lives were lost, the event was likely an unfortunate accident. Paris has endured far worse. It’s a building and can be rebuilt. Do we allow the impermanence of things to upturn our lives when they are taken from us suddenly? Do we allow ourselves to be distracted by small scale events that we would normally ignore if they weren’t beamed to us live via the internet while remaining oblivious to the creeping destruction of our planet, injustices and starving children?

It suddenly struck me that the loss of the Notre Dame was not the problem. The real problem is that people (myself included) have trouble accepting change. We are afraid of the sudden demise of things that are familiar, safe, secure and solid because our lives are fragile in comparison. Humans are insecure. If great monuments and institutions can fall what chance do we have? We start to sense chaos, the darkness crowds in and with it our anxieties and most base fears emerge.

The Buddhist Monk Ajahn Chah one day held up a tea cup “To me this cup is already broken. Because I know its fate, I can enjoy it fully here and now. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.” The lesson here is to enjoy what life offers but to accept it without excessive remorse when it is gone. Uncertainty, randomness, impermanence and loss is a part of life and we must accept that if we are to have serenity.

All temples eventually crumble to dust. Do we grasp at our attachment to things that only carry the meaning that we give them? A church does not contain God. The Force is everywhere and most of all it resides within us all. Let nothing distract us from that.

Remember; accept the impermanence of things, loosen your attachments and avoid being distracted from what’s really important.

 

Λόγος

Λόγος: Logos (reason / meaning)

 

“I want to be a Jedi, like my Father” – Luke Skywalker to Obi-wan Kenobi “A New Hope”

 

“Being a Jedi is a hard life” – Qui-Gon Jinn to Anakin Skywalker “The Phantom Menace”

 

Is being Jedi an occupation, a job, an avocation, a lifestyle or a discipline? Can someone really call themselves a Jedi or claim the title of Master? Is being sober a lifestyle choice, a path, an avocation? Is it an actual job for some? Do we seek meaning in the things that we do or do the things that we do give our lives meaning? Do we give our lives meaning or the other way round? Are we nothing more the total sum of our existence at any given moment? Are you merely your job, possessions, responsibilities, car, where you live, your clothes and the image you put on for others or something more?

When Luke saw the bodies of his Uncle and Aunt and the smoking ruins of his home on Tatooine he knew that everything had changed. There was only one thing to do. Luke’s destiny was to become a Jedi and his actions from that moment would resound across the Galaxy. Being a Jedi was his calling, his purpose and the meaning he gave his life. Luke embraced his destiny. Being a Jedi was more than a Job it was the very essence of Luke, his purpose and calling.

Anakin was rescued from slavery. Anakin was a mere boy when he met Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-wan Kenobi. Because Anakin was special he was taken from his home and mother to become a type of Galactic “Janissary” and serve the Jedi Order for life.

From the day he was born Anakin knew Fear, now he would learn to be a Jedi. Being Jedi was not what Anakin really wanted. A conflict between his heart’s desire and his duty raged relentlessly within Anakin. The imbalance tore him apart. Anakin was meant to be the “chosen one” but how could he? That’s what others wanted, not him. Anakin could not save himself let alone those he cared for. Eventually Anakin turned against the very people that bought him out of slavery and he destroyed everything in his path.

Luke found meaning as a Jedi. Anakin failed as a Jedi because he found no meaning in it other than the mission at hand. Anakin was never meant to be a Jedi.

 

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”  – Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

Fight Club

Recently I read “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk it remains the defining novel of my Generation. A “Catcher in the Rye” of Gen X. The story got me thinking about things. In many ways “Fight Club” is also a meditation for those in recovery from alcoholism. We lived in an illusion that was self imposed. We knew that that our lives were a shambolic prison. Like the Narrator we sought “something different”.

In the Fight Club the narrator is attempting to escape the hollow materialistic and hedonistic world he is bound to as a mindless consumer and wage slave. The Narrator is completely unsatisfied with his life and finds no meaning it any part of it. In his insomnia induced psychosis the Narrator creates an alter ego, Tyler Durden, the man he wishes to be. Tyler Durden is contemptuous of society and wants to destroy it and create a nihilistic utopia from its ashes. The consequences of letting Tyler in to his life are devastating for the Narrator.

The “Fight Club” is a call to our inner primordial self, a place where one can be completely unfettered. My alcoholic self was my alter ego, a personal Tyler Durden who eventually took over every aspect of my life. Like the Narrator I became hateful and I wanted to fight everyone and everything. In some ways it was a bliss, a refuge from the mediocrity and meaningless of living in the modern world. Complete abandon. In my aggression I thought I was enlightened. Booze set me free but like Tyler’s persona in the story it was nothing but a delusion, an escape from reality. I was riddled with angst.

Tyler forced the Narrator to end himself but in doing so he ended Tyler. The Narrator emerged a new person, a transcendent version of himself. He awoke to reality at last. My Alcoholic self tried to destroy me and I found my Higher Power and also emerged stronger for it. I also awoke to reality, not a utopia full of rainbows and unicorns but a cold hard slap in your face reality. It was pure relief.

 

Today is the sort of day where the sun only comes up to humiliate you.”  – Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

A Living

I work for a living. Since I left school I have worked first to provide for myself and then to support others. In many ways my purpose in life has always been to work. In the absence of alcohol my career took precedence. Work became a surrogate for booze in sobriety. Often my career came at the expense of things that matter more. Now I realize I am not made to work. I do not live to work, I work to live.

We put so much emotional investment in to defining and shaping our identity. One of the first things people ask is “what do you do (for a living)? Your answer will usually set the impression that people will have of you. Their profession defines who they are and your work defines you if not something else you spend a lot of time doing.

Meaning and status are vital for the human need of social acceptance. People need to know where they reside within the social hierarchy and what their purpose within it is. A profession, career, work provides all of these things. Those who are happy in their work and find meaning and purpose in their position are more likely to have positive emotions. Those who are dissatisfied with their position, their work and their status are more likely to carry negative emotions. Those that find themselves in an existence that conflicts with their inner purpose are conflicted within themselves.

 

“This is your life and it’s ending one moment at a time.”  – Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

 

Lobsters

Having status within the hierarchy is a human need rooted in a biological imperative that is hundreds of millions of years old. We have evolved to seek to climb the hierarchy and when we arrive at our potential we guard it against threats and defend our position from attack. This same behaviour is noted in every social animal from Humans to Wolves to Lobsters. Jordan Peterson in his seminal work “12 Rules for Life” talks a lot about Lobsters and describes this human need for self actualization in detail and how much of our emotional health and well being is tied to our social standing and our work.

The Human need for existential meaning goes beyond the need for a place within the social hierarchy or as Peterson call it the “Dominance Hierarchy”. We are more than Lobsters. Humans most of all yearn for meaning and seek purpose in their lives.

Even in the midst of calamity and tragedy a meaning to one’s suffering can be derived. This fundamental truth of human nature kept the Vienna Psychologist Viktor Frankl alive during his darkest years of captivity in the Nazi concentration camps. Because he deeply believed that he could define meaning from his suffering.

Commander James Stockdale spent seven years in a North Vietnamese prison suffering torture and the worst of deprivations but yet came out of it morally and spiritually intact. Despite the years lost, Stockdale claimed that the experience was life transforming. They found meaning through their experience and survived against the odds.

“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet.”  ― Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

Finding Meaning

Viktor Frankl relates in his book “Man’s search for Meaning” the story of a leading Viennese Doctor who arrested by the Gestapo began to proclaim his many credentials and qualifications. Showing the Nazi Officer his papers the Doctor emphasized his point that he was a man of great esteem and standing in the community. The German Officer took up all the papers and tore them up stating “Here this is all you are now! You are nothing!”.

The Doctor striped of his suit, his identity, dignity and privileged position in society died soon after in Auschwitz. The Doctor lost the will to live as he could find no meaning and purpose in life. In the Hanoi Hilton the communists did the same to their American prisoners and those who abandoned hope and lost meaning in the experience and purpose to their lives soon succumbed.

Those who shared the same experience but accepted it as an opportunity to find a deeper meaning and purpose survived and even thrived. They may have been beaten, tortured, starved and constantly humiliated but they kept possession of their mind and inner self. The Jailers could break their bodies but not their spirits. The prisoners had something that their tormentors could not take away; their will to meaning.

 

“If I could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could I wake up as a different person?”
– Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

 

Logos

Frankl went on to publish his treatise on “Logotherapy” a therapy based on the “will to meaning”. The fundamental truth that people seek meaning in their lives to survive and grow. Self actualization through meaning is the leading motivator in a person’s life. Inner conflict and negative emotions are assured when an individual fails to find a sense of meaning in their life or when it is frustrated. It can also result when a person is forced in a direction that conflicts with his inner purpose, like Anakin.

Logotherapy was the result of Frankl’s experience in the camps and came together from scraps of paper that he kept hidden within his prison uniform. Commander Stockdale finished his career in the US Navy and contested the US presidential elections. The experience of his internment never stopped him from achieving his goals and made him a better person.

 

“The lower you fall, the higher you’ll fly.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

 

 

Trudging On

I work for a living. I have a career. One day I will stop working but life will not stop. Hopefully I will be able to retire to books and gardening. Perhaps there will be Grandchildren. In time the memory of my working years and the importance I placed on my position, education and career will fade. They call this retirement.

Tomorrow I could also get a call from my employer telling me that I have been made redundant. Like anyone else I could find myself on the street without position, status, money or a home. I could remain unemployed for months or even years and fall in to destitution. Would this loss of security and upending of my plans for a long career diminish me as a person? Am I my job, position, the model of car I drive, the clothes I wear and the house I call home? Do these things have any more meaning than what I give them?

 

“I’m breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions, because only through destroying myself can I discover the greater power of my spirit.”Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

Down but never Out

Although I’m ashamed of many things that I did as an Alcoholic in active abuse I have to concede that I’m glad I went through that and came out sober. Those years taught me a lot about my self. I had to fall to Earth to fly higher than before.

My career has provided a certain degree of financial security and pride in my abilities but it is my recovery that has and still gives my life real meaning. If I lose everything I can still choose to be sober. I can still find purpose and meaning in a Higher Power. Although they are all important, I am not my position, my status, education, property, relationships and I am certainly not my job.

 

“Look up at the stars and you’re gone.”Chuck Palahniuk,“Fight Club”

Be You

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I work for a living and I don’t work to live. I have to remind myself to loosen any attachments I have to my job, position, status, property or relationships. Any of these things could end at any time. A bad day could trip me up and find me back to drinking.

Being Jedi has meaning. Frankl said that the meaning of life is to find meaning and purpose in it even on the darkest of days. We have to start by taking responsibility for ourselves and for others. Jordan Peterson was also right in suggesting we should always stand up straight with our shoulders back. Tyler Durden ultimately had it wrong. The Jedi Order was definitely wrong about Anakin.

I have to be like Frankl or Stockdale and accept that the winds of fate may not blow in my favor but they will blow me somewhere. I should know they will and be prepared for that. That is the nature of Logos. I may call myself many things in this life, I will be many things but I am and always will be a recovered Alcoholic in training. That’s where I find meaning and purpose every day.

 

I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, “Fight Club”

Hate

Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Yoda

“Strike me in anger and I will always be with you” – Luke Skywalker

 

Hatred is a powerful emotion. Unlike anger which is a transitory emotion eventually burning out, hatred will endure the test of time and be as potent as the day it rose. I have personally seen and felt the results of ethnic and religious hatred that had lay buried beneath the surface for generations simmering but never extinguished finally exploding into life. Entire communities wiped out, former neighbors and friends turned enemies ready to slaughter each other with impunity.

Hatred flows in the blood. Hate is a living thing; it is passed on like a curse from one generation to the next. Endless wars and bloodshed are fueled by Hatred.

More than a quarter of a century ago I went to my Father’s homeland. The country was tearing itself apart in an orgy of ethnic and religious hatred that shocked the world. In that beautiful country I was surrounded by people who hated “them” and wanted to see “them” suffer a cruel fate. I belonged to an ethnic group that had a historic vendetta against another group who shared the same language, history and culture but had been at war for centuries.

Standing there none of it made sense to me. It seemed insane. I began to question the war and my own motives. Rather than take up arms I decided not to add to the insanity seeking instead to work with Aid groups. I could not find any animosity or hatred in me for an entire people based on their ethnicity.

 

Affliction

People do cruel and obscene things to each other out of Hate. Sometimes these acts are done without a hint of anger or pride. Hatred is justification enough for torture, murder, rape, genocide. The very emotion removes all humanity and commonality with the object of ones hatred. To Hate is to separate.

Wrath, the ultimate manifestation of Hatred is considered a deadly sin because of its raw and total destructiveness that eventually and utterly consumes itself to oblivion.

Hatred is a uniquely human emotion. There is no other creature in existence that knows hate. Animals will display anger, aversion, fear and aggression but never deep rooted hate waiting to spring in to acts. Why is that? What is the possible evolutionary advantage of being capable of and having the potential for Hate?

Why do I still feel resentment, righteous indignation and  sometimes even hate towards others?

 

You have hate, you have anger, but you don’t use them.” – Count Dooku

 

 

With Extreme Prejudice

In the Army they taught us to “Hate” the enemy, whoever they decided it was at the time. The reason was simple. Killing another human being is much easier if you hate them. You will no longer see the enemy as a fellow human being who shares the same hopes, fears and dreams as you filtered through the lens of hate.

In the course of the training the Hate grows. You learn to hate the instructors and senior ranks because they treat you with cruelty and contempt. In turn you turn that Hate on others. Eventually war gives you an outlet and a target for that hate. Aggression and a willingness to do violence are multiplied through hate.

People are not naturally primed to kill. Killing is not in our nature. The mental and spiritual barriers that prevents a human from killing another is broken down by Hate. A person might kill out of the pure instinctual drive to survive or in a fit of rage where all sense and reason is momentarily lost. Hatred, on the other hand, provides the “sense” and the “reason” for committing the worst of atrocities.

I Hate You!” – Anakin

I Loved You!” – Obi-wan Kenobi

 

 

Consumed

Anakin was driven to the Dark Side through the hatred that grew within him like some insidious tumor. The fire of Mustufar ravaged his body but hatred utterly consumed his soul.

Anakin’s Grandson, Kylo Ren, suffered the same affliction. Ren’s hatred was so deep that he became a psychopath. Hatred had driven Luke to almost kill his nephew Ben Solo. Believing himself entitled to Justice Kylo Ren derived sadistic pleasure and satisfaction in hunting and murdering those who had been close to him, who had hurt him. Hatred spurned him on but as it grew deeper it consumed him.

Anakin driven to insanity and complete loss of identity with his transformation to Vader suffered deeply. Vader was tortured physically, mentally and spiritually with every breath. The Hatred was complete and transmutated itself into raw power. The Dark Side. Vader no longer hated anyone or anything other than himself and his Master. In Vader lay no festering ordinary hatred. There was only a will to control all that is within a closed fist of absolute power. All of Vader’s intent was directed there.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” – Martin Luther King

 

The Insanity

Alcoholism leads to Hatred. An alcoholic not only feels regret, remorse and disgust at their behavior but also deep seated Hate. The Hate can be all consuming. Our disease, other people and especially the self are all objects of our Hate. Refusing to take blame for our condition we lay it on others and our resentment turns to Hate. I wanted to hurt others when my hate grew so big but most of all I wanted to hurt myself. There is absolutely no logic or reason to it, but to the alcoholic is makes perfect sense.

In short it’s a form of insanity.

A man can feel both love and hate in his heart and still function. Alcohol distorts everything. The sufferer will love and hate more passionately but in a way that seems unreal. The disease afflicts our view of the world and twists emotions in such a way that we no longer resemble the person we once were. Nothing is normal and everything is to excess.

 

“Darkness is a lower energy than light, and when you bring light to the presence of darkness you don’t have to warn it, you don’t have to tell it that it has to get away. It can’t survive. Light dissolves darkness. And so does love dissolve hate and so does joy dissolve sadness and so does faith dissolve doubt and so on” – Wayne Dyer

 

 

Water

Recently a friend told me about the “memory of water”. The controversial theory is that water retains a memory of what resided within it. Water will also store the vibrational energy of emotions directed towards it. The idea sounds fanciful and experiments which have attempted to demonstrate the theory have been unable to be replicated using scientific method.

As a believer in the Force I have to agree that every action, word, thought and emotion carries potential energy. Hate and Love each carry energy. One is dark and the other is light. Love fosters and upholds life while Hate brings war and destruction. Both emotions have consequences.

I attempted to replicate the experiment at home to test the memory of water. Every morning for the first week I woke up and filled my mind with negative thoughts. Suitably wrapped in a foul mood I approached a glass of water on my desk and said the following words; “I hate you! Die! Kill! War!”. I poured all of my malice and anger in to the glass and walked away. Strangely enough the rest of the day did not go well for me. I repeated this every day for a week. By the end of it I was tired and edgy.

I allowed two weeks to pass and poured a new glass of water. This time I paused on awakening to fill my mind with positive thoughts. I approached the glass of water brimming with optimism and said to it “Love, Peace, Calm”. This I repeated every day for a week and sure enough my week went better than during the previous experiment.

What was the final outcome of the experiment? The first glass of water seemed discolored and tasted tepid and stale at the end of the week. It was unpleasant to drink and I felt slightly nauseous afterwards. The second glass of water exposed to loving emotions was fresh and tasted good. I felt no ill effects. As compelling as it seemed it was also inconclusive.

Obviously my experiment was not undertaken using scientific rigor. Any number of variables could have affected the outcome. The fact remain however that if we go through life carrying negative emotions such as Hate it does affects our mental and physical health. In turn Hate cascades in to every aspect of our lives, affecting our relationships and our potential. Hate literally poisons life.

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” – Martin Luther King

 

Power of Love

As children we learn to Love before we learn to Hate. Within our true self resides unbounded Love. That is why when we carry Hate we know that it is not who we are. It feels unnatural and heavy like a sickness within us. The feeling of “righteous indignation” and anger it gives us is shallow and leaves us feeling hollow and in conflict with who we truly are.

When we open our eyes to the illusion of Hate, it becomes exposed for what it is. Hate is a wall that separates us completely from our inner divine more than any emotion. Hate separates us from our true nature and from other people. Like a cancer it grows and ultimately it destroys us from the inside out. If you strike with hatred in your heart it will stay with you forever like a dark stain.

Love conquers Hate. It was an act of Love that redeemed and saved Anakin from his living hell. Love stayed Luke’s hand from inflicting a fatal blow on Ben Solo. Luke invited Kylo Ren to strike him down but warned him to do so with Hate would afflict him forever. Perhaps Love will be the final act which will save Kylo Ren and bring order to the Force.

 

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule” – Buddha

 

I’m done with Hate and you should be too. Hate begets hate. Love begets love. Meditate on that.

Hope

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

The Eternal Cycle

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

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

 

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

 

 

A Daily Reprieve

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A New Hope

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

A Promise of spring

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

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

 

Look at this day,

For it is life,

The very life of life.

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

For yesterday is but a dream,

And tomorrow is only a vision,

But today, well lived,

Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore to this day.

Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

– Kalidasa

Changed

You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting” – Shmi Skywalker, The Phantom Menace.

 

Do people truly change? I was once told a leopard never changes its spots. Do we then remain essentially the same person our entire lives only modifying our behaviors and ideas? Is permanent and complete transformation even possible? Despite walking the Jedi Path and being sober, have I changed?

I used to think a certain way. My actions conformed to my thoughts. Today I think a different way and my actions still conform to my thoughts. What changed?

I used to be a practicing alcoholic now I’m just an alcoholic. I removed the booze and opened myself up to change. . I’m still the same man but I have changed. People can change.

 

Who we are never changes, who we think we are does.” – The Clone Wars “Bounty”

 

Saul of Tarsus said “we are changed by the renewing of our minds”. You also hear people say “people don’t change”. Which actually means people can but won’t change. Mohammed Ali said “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” This is true.  Fear, complacency and rigidity are the things that prevent change and stifle growth.

Change can be hard. For some it’s almost an impossible proposition. We all want to change for the better but find the effort too great. Sometimes it’s easier to stick with what we know and stay in our comfort zone. For an alcoholic seeking a way out, change is the only proposition. We are compelled to reflect, learn, modify, adapt and change.

 

None of the stories people tell about me can change who I really am.” – Luke Skywalker

 

Has the last six years of sobriety taught me much? Am I better person? Are things really different now? Have I really changed? Can I be pleased with that progress? Has the effort paid off?

I’m sober now. Seven years ago I wasn’t. Does this make me a better person? I’m not really sure. Perhaps in certain ways I am a better man. In other ways perhaps I have replaced one obsession for another, one fault for another. Sometimes we are blind to our own faults especially when we believe our lives are virtuous.

At times I catch myself falling into old habits and patterns of thought. I still feel resentment, anger and fear. They are echoes of the past. Shades of the person I once was are still there in the background. I look in the mirror and see the same eyes I’ve always seen. My hands bear the same scars. They are the same hands that have carried a rifle, held a new born baby, treated wounds, loved and grasped at a bottle. Only now my hands are steady and my eyes do not betray the fear that once gripped at my soul.

So perhaps I am the same person today but different. I’m just someone trying to stay sober. Thinking about change and doing life in your head does not lead to change, changed thinking and behavior does.

 

Obi-Wan. Now there’s a name I’ve not heard in a long, long time. A long time” – Obi-wan Kenobi

 

Obi-wan Kenobi is the eternal archetype in the Star Wars mythology. Kenobi is compelling because while he changes over the years from a young Padawan to an aged Jedi Master he remains essentially the same character. Despite a lifetime of war, tragedy, loss, defeat, exile and isolation Kenobi remains the same man. Kenobi had a dry sense of humor and a sarcastic wit yet he was also humble and sensitive. At times audacious, headstrong and defiant Kenobi was the calm in the storm and rarely lost his cool or moral compass. While Anakin could show outbursts of emotion and impulsiveness, Kenobi was patient, objective and cautious in his approach. The Jedi Master developed tact and a measured countenance seeking diplomacy before the Lightsaber as the preferred solution.

Kenobi could be described as Stoic but not stoic. He was bold and cunning yet conservative and reliable. Wiley yet honest. The affection he felt for others was real yet it did not blind him to his duty. Duty also did not excuse him from doing what he knew was right. Kenobi was sworn to the Jedi Order but did not blindly and rigidly follow orders. Remaining true to self, Kenobi never compromised on his principles but was prepared to bend the rules when necessary.

When we first met Obi-wan Kenobi in a “New Hope” he was the mysterious Hermit living in the harsh and hostile wilderness of Tatooine. The “crazy old Ben” was seen as an eccentric loner, a wizard who avoided others. This old man survived on his own and seemed to be tolerated and feared by the “Sand People” who lived in the desert preying off travelers and settlers. Obi-wan Kenobi was older but remained the same Jedi with the same character we met in the prequels. Still there was something different; Kenobi was a deeply changed man. Kenobi was scarred by the past but he was also at peace with the past and his destiny. A life of pain, loss and suffering had bought him to final acceptance and a place of peace and serenity.

 

 

Disobedience is a demand for change.” – The Clone Wars “Tipping Points”

 

Change is constant. When I arise tomorrow I will not be the same person as the man who went to bed the night before. A man never steps in to the same river twice. Leopards do change though their spots remain the same. So change is inevitable and we only guide that change to an extent. The world also changes us. Life changes you. Your thinking changes you.

The neural pathways in your brain are constantly reorganizing themselves in response to change. A “renewing of the mind” can lead to a healthy life, spiritually, physically and mentally. How you go about changing your thinking and thus your inner world is up to you. Religion, spirituality, philosophy, meditation, mindfulness based therapies and counselling are all different paths. They won’t change your outer world but they will change how you think. As your inner world changes so gradually will your circumstances change.

 

If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

 

Real change happens inwardly. We literally renew ourselves by the changing of our minds. We are made to change and adapt and continuously learn. How we perceive the world and frame our reality is everything. That perception will change with time. The way we saw things then are not how we see them tomorrow.

Change is inevitable. You can submissively go with the flow or you can swim against it screaming and be dragged. The third option is to direct how you change despite the changes around you. Have the courage to change what you can, the serenity to accept what you cannot and the wisdom to know the difference. You steer your own path. You become the change you want to see in the world. This starts by caring for yourself.

 

Further Reading: Change

Fate

Your destiny lies with me, Skywalker. Obi-Wan knew this to be true.” – Darth Vader

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

 

Do you believe in Fate? Is your life predetermined? Does Karma ultimately decide your existence and ultimate destination? Is life completely random? Does self will and chance ultimately decide the winds of fortune? Are we like leaves blowing in the wind with no predetermined outcome? Is our mere presence the random and accidental products of evolution and the sum effect of all events from the big bang to the beat of a butterfly’s wings?

 

What of the universe? Is there purpose in the order and chaos of the cosmos? Does the universe rush aimlessly to nowhere or is it a tapestry of design and destiny? Is all that is a divine cosmic symphony of the spheres in perfect order, purpose and fate? Or is creation a mad spontaneous event taking billions of years to run its course before finally reaching a state of complete entropy.

 

“God Grant me the Serenity”

 

 

Fated

Christian doctrine tells us that God created all things in perfect order. Our fate is decided by our actions in this life. God gave us free will. The price of free will was separation from the divine (God’s Grace) and an existence in sin. We are free but cursed at the same time. Despite this we are assured of God’s merciful providence.

Eastern religions and philosophies take a slightly different view. We are not born sinners but inherit a Karmic destiny from previous existence. Life is suffering. Every thought and action we have at this moment has a Karmic consequence potentially keeping us in Saṃsāra longer. We are condemned to live out an eternity of lives until we can sow enough good Karma and finally achieve “nothingness” through enlightenment. The goal is freedom from this cycle of mundane and painful physical existence.

Some pagans believed in neither good nor evil. All that is was created by the Gods who reveal themselves through the Forces of nature, in the plants and animals and in our very being. Being creations of the Gods we were thus fated to them and their whims and desires. We could try to please the Gods for favor to make our lives easier and to reward us in the hereafter but ultimately our fate was decided from the moment we were born. If a warrior died on the battlefield it was Fate. Providence decided who won and whether the dead made it to Valhalla.

 

“To accept the things I cannot change”

 

 

The Chosen One

To be Jedi is to believe in the existence of some omnipresent Force. Faith supposes that The Force transcends space and time. It takes no form yet it permeates everything and gives life. All belongs to the Force, all is the Force. We can’t prove it exists yet we have faith that it does.

Star Wars makes frequent use of prophecy in the mythology. There was the “one who would bring balance to the Force” prophecy of the “Chosen One”. To fulfill prophecy one must believe in Fate. No matter what happens a prophecy must be fulfilled in order to exist. One cannot make a prophecy and then retract it. Does this mean that Jedi believed in Fate?

In the Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker used free will when he followed his destiny and made the decision to follow Obi-wan Kenobi. When Luke landed on Dagobah he had a sense of familiarity and destiny, fate. Later he dreams his friends are in trouble and uses his free will to leave against Yoda’s advice.  Confronting Vader Luke is presented with a glimpse of his fate and offered a new destiny. All Luke had to do was accept it or jump. He chose the later. Fate is not fated entirely.

 

“The Courage to change the things I can”

 

 

Cursed

To an alcoholic who has descended to the deepest levels of despair it must feel like fate. I know it did for me at times. My childhood had been miserable. Father was an alcoholic. Depression, suicide and tragedy seemed to run in the family. Why should my fate be any different? I was condemned to a life of misery and alcoholic despair and no amount of hope could change that. For a long time I had no desire to bring anyone in to that circle, in to what seemed like a curse.

Fate need not be our end. We have more power over our lives than we know. To surrender to a concept of Fate is to deny ourselves the opportunity and responsibility to take charge of our lives.

Fate does exist; we are all fated to die. Some of us will die sooner than others. There is no escaping illness, the death of loved one’s, grave disappointments and loss. No amount of money, power, fame, youth, good looks, intelligence and physical prowess will change that. All these things are transient and impermanent. They will all eventually fade to non-existence. This does not mean we do not have free will or power over our destiny.

 

And the Wisdom to Know the Difference

 

 

 

No Fate

You still have self will while you live. Your reasoned choices are your own. No one can control your mind unless you allow them. The Fate that awaits you is not decided. The end game is the sum of everything and the complex interplay of all that touches life known and unknown. Through that rich tapestry runs the golden thread of self will.

I cannot say if a Higher Power, providence, has a hand in any of this. But I do believe that faith has more power in my life than fate. Faith puts me in the driver’s seat because faith without work is dead. There is no waiting around for fate to happen. Being Jedi means taking control and using reason and free will with faith in an outcome. You can choose to drink, to drug, or you can choose to stay clean and sober. One decision, one act can change everything, forever. Make your choice and leave the rest to providence.

Don’t surrender to fate, have faith. Never forget that.

Pride

 

Sometimes we must let go of our pride and do what is requested of us.” – Anakin Skywalker

 

Heart of the Sith

Pride it is said belongs to the “Sith”. Pride is a fault, a flaw and a vice to be avoided by the Jedi. In the real world the word “Pride” is often maligned by society. People say to have pride is to not have humility.

We are warned about the perils of pride from childhood and throughout life. Often times the consequences of pride are laid bare as a warning to others. Pride has led to the decline and fall of world leaders, celebrities and sports stars in recent times. Empires throughout history have risen and fallen, built and then laid desolate by pride.

 

Hubris

Hubris is excessive Pride. In Greek Mythology an act of hubris was for a mere mortal to defy the Gods or assume one’s self better than they. This would ultimately lead to the fall of the perpetrator of hubris. Odysseus was guilty of hubris on many occasions. The hero was waylaid by the God Poseidon for his hubris. Icarus in his hubris forged wings from wax and fell to his death for flying too close to the sun.

The story of the Arch Angel Lucifer and his fall from Heaven is the greatest reminder in mythology of the consequence of hubris. The Bible and the Koran are full of warnings against angering God through hubris. Star Wars is another mythology where hubris is the ruin of many.

 

Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” – Darth Vader

 

Sweet Poison

Pride is poison to the Alcoholic. I know it kept me in strife for decades and almost ruined me completely. Pride keeps us in denial and chained to addiction. Without surrendering pride and embracing humility there is little chance of recovery. We are best advised to avoid pride at all costs. Pride after all is a manifestation of the Ego and leads to despair.

Somewhere along the line the words “pride” and “hubris” have become conflated. Pride is the worst of the seven deadly sins and the root of all others. Let us not forget that pride can be both a balm and a bane. Pride can be both good and bad. Pride has a Dark Side and a Light Side.

 

There is no hubris, there is pride” – Author (acknowledgments to the Jedi Code)

 

Pride by Nature

At the same time we admonish pride as a personal trait we also see it as a virtue behind causes. Pride is the word that has been used widely by the LBGTQ community in their efforts to seek tolerance and acceptance. Minority and disadvantaged groups in the United States and many other countries rise them selves up behind a banner of pride. Black Pride remains a driving force behind the civil rights movement. People of all types are encouraged to be proud of their heritage, their culture and identity.

Pride is at the heart of human nature. Pride serves an evolutionary purpose and is a part of the human make up. The emotion is uniquely human. Humans are motivated by pride to compete, climb the hierarchy, develop, reproduce and succeed. In evolutionary terms, pride carries a clear advantage.

Children develop a sense of pride before they can crawl. Have you ever seen the pure joy and raw pride in a baby who has taken her first step? Try taking a spoon from her when she’s trying to feed herself.

Pride is therefore necessary for human growth. Without pride a person cannot expect to achieve self sufficiency, self reliance and resilience. Pride is essential for learning.  I would argue that the sentiment “before the fall comes pride” may be correct some of the time but it is not an absolute. We all need the right amount (and the right type) of pride.

 

 Original image property of Lucas Films

Proud

In the book “Pride: the secret of success” by Jessica Tracey (2016). The author claims that research in psychology makes a strong case that pride is at the heart of success. The greatest artists, inventors, discoverers and innovators have been driven by a sense of pride in their ability to overcome a challenge and achieve their dreams. Steve Jobs, Sir Edmund Hilary, Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, ML King, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart and Charles Darwin were all driven by pride.

People may dispute that pride had anything to do with the worlds greatest figures and their accomplishments. Principal and a yearning for justice were at play, not pride. But what if Rosa Parks had swallowed her pride and surrendered her seat on that bus in Alabama? What if Darwin had listened to his critics and abandoned or renounced his work? Pride fuels the emotions that govern principle and justice. Civilization and society was built by pride.

Having pride means you care about how others see and how you see yourself. Pride confers that you want the respect that you deserve and seek to be admired. We are motivated to work harder and to strive for excellence through pride.

 

The path to the Dark Side is paved with good intentions” – L. Christopher Bird

 

Pride and Prejudice

In Star Wars a young Luke Skywalker and Rey both share the same character traits of impatience and determination. Each has pride and a good measure of it. Where pride leads to accomplishment, hubris leading from impatience, cocksureness and overconfidence has the opposite effect. Hubris led Luke to depart Dagobah against the advice of Yoda. Perhaps hubris led Rey to attack Luke and hurriedly leave Ahch-To after she had learned the truth of Skywalker’s dark secret.

Luke Skywalker tells a shocked Rey in “The Last Jedi” that arrogance and hubris led to the fall of the first Jedi Order. Rey cannot believe it yet soon after her own pride forces her to make rash decisions that almost end in disaster.

Alone on his Island, Luke has grown older but seemingly not much wiser. A sort of hubris clouds his willingness to see things as they are. Luke has become obstinate, cantankerous and arrogant. False pride disguised as crippling guilt keeps Luke from claiming his destiny and transforming tragedy in to victory. It was also hubris that drove Anakin throughout his career as a Jedi Knight. Once that excessive pride was expressed as hatred and a desire to control others Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side was assured.

Pride was also used for good in Star Wars. The Jedi Order served the Republic with pride. The Clone Army prided itself on discipline, teamwork and courage; all facets of pride. The Rebellion was sparked by a desire for freedom and justice. Pride kept the Rebels in the fight despite many setbacks. Luke Skywalker rebuilt the Jedi Temple out of pride of its former glory. The Jedi Order was restored because of pride.

 

And in my hubris, I thought I could train him (Ben Solo); I could pass on my strengths” – Luke Skywalker

 

 

Conquer Pride

So the Jedi tenet that pride is to be avoided as a vice of the “Sith” is partially misguided. The “Sith” bask in hubris. Their hubris was the feeling of arrogance over others and the contempt that they felt for those they considered “inferior”. The “Sith” sought only to control and dominate. Power feeds pride. This is not the type of pride we want.

Jedi Philosophy suggests that we should “conquer pride”. The precept encourages us to assess our motives continuously. Are our intentions sincere? Do our actions lead to positive outcomes? Right action follows right intent.

We are not asked to reject pride as a useful emotion but to not let it rule us. We use pride to serve us and others only. Pride should never control our motives or control our actions alone. Pride should be used to improve, build and create never to denigrate, destroy and harm. There should always be a stop check on our pride to avoid it becoming hubris.

Pride can push us to cheat, lie, to be disingenuous and take advantage of others. We can be motivated to climb the ladder through pride but also to climb over others. Pride can cause us to be boastful, gloating, obstinate, inflexible, conceited and arrogant. In alcoholics it manifests as rampant self will, self seeking and selfishness. We should seek to conquer pride.

 

My powers have doubled since the last time we fought, Dooku!” – Anakin Skywalker

Good! Twice the pride, double the fall!” – Count Dooku

 

 

Red Flags

Pride is most harmful when it clouds our judgement and directs our actions in a way that fails to consider primary and secondary consequences. For example, during an argument your pride may be dented and as a result you resort to anger and lash out. Feeling foolish and resentful you may decide to further take matters in your own hand by getting drunk. This leads to more problems and arguments. The cycle continues. This is a typical pattern of behaviour I displayed in alcoholism. Where my pride had been hurt I reacted in ways that only made things worse, not better.

We are warned in recovery of the dangers of pride. Pride taken in the accomplishment of sobriety can back fire. Hubris caused my Father to relapse in to final and fatal active alcoholism. Hubris can be the rug that is pulled from under us. We cannot take credit for being sober. The credit goes to whatever Higher Power we chose. At the same time there is nothing wrong in feeling pride in the fruits of our labor and the progress we have made in our lives. They key is to temper our pride with a sense of humility and gratitude.

 

Great Kid! Don’t get cocky” – Han Solo

 

 

Get over yourself

Bill W in his essay on emotional sobriety confesses that hubris led him to feeling intense resentments and bouts of depression. The new lease on life and a renewed sense of purpose recovery gave him had the side effect of inflating his own pride. With growing fame in the movement his pride soon turned to hubris and then he was in trouble. When he realized that he could not control others it came as a shock and resentment set in sending him on a downward slide. By realizing and admitting this fault Bill W was able to “Let Go” of the need to control others and focus on what he could control; his own reasoned choices.

Recovery is not possible without pride. Pride is an essential ingredient in staying sober and clean. We can stay humble but also have pride in the knowledge that we have recovered. Whether a Higher Power, the Force or God gave us the strength to stay on the path or not does not mean we cannot be proud of where we have come. As long as we “don’t get cocky” we can have pride in that.

 

If you strip away the myth and look at their deeds, the legacy of the Jedi is failure. Hypocrisy, hubris.” – Luke Skywalker

 

 

A Paradox

Recovery is a journey that often presents paradoxes that confound at first but then explain themselves with time. The way to salvation is through surrender, giving away means we get to keep, the greatest conquerors conquer only themselves, humility leads to pride are examples. Virtues such as courage, wisdom, justice and moderation all require a measure of pride.

Pride is the root of all sins but it is also the root of all virtues. Pride is behind the self reassurance and confidence that we need to find our purpose, chase dreams and find success. Without a measure of pride the self belief  needed to see success and the self discipline required to carry out the work to the end is less likely to flourish. When people say “take pride in your self and in your work” they are not telling us to show hubris, but care. Ultimately how you use pride and whether it uses you is a choice.

There is nothing wrong in having pride if you can resist hubris. Use pride to inspire, drive and motivate you to success. Do not be ashamed if you are proud of your accomplishments, identity, character and virtues. If these things matter to you having pride in them will only add their value and give you greater purpose in life.

Be Proud, Be Jedi.

The 12 Step Jedi

This New Year I decided to review how far I have come on the Jedi Path and was struck with an inspiration to rewrite the 12 Steps as it may have served the Jedi. In doing so I realized that the 12 Steps can be a azimuth, a sign post that guides us on the Jedi Path leading to realization of the Jedi Code in our lives. Here are the 12 Steps of the Jedi Path to recovery as I see them. I hope this can serve others in their own journey. The 12 Step Jedi.

 

 The 12 Steps 

 

 

Step 1: Became aware that we suffer and have fallen prey to the insanity of the Dark Side through alcoholism and addiction.

 

Darth Vader was never completely lost to the Dark Side. No one ever really is. Shards of the past, brief glimpses of who and what he was reminded Darth Vader that deep within him still resided Anakin Skywalker. In the fan film “Shards of the Past” Darth Vader still dreams of his former life and his love. Without that thin reed of love that still shone like a feeble light in the darkness there would never have been final redemption for Anakin.

The first stage of recovery is admission that we have a major problem. As humans we all suffer. The cause of all suffering is grasping attachment. Alcoholism is a form of unbridled attachment and ego run riot. To a sane and healthy person, the alcoholic appears quite insane.  Through admission we see it too. Only through admission can we learn to let go of our attachments and start a process of ego deflation. Recovery starts with accepting that there is a problem but there is also still a way out.

 

 

Step 2: Came to believe in the Force. We realized that the Light Side is the Jedi Path to redemption and recovery.

 

Step 2 calls for us to become willing to believe that a Higher Power can restore us to sanity. It is up to each individual to decide their own Higher Power. As Jedi we reject the Dark Side and turn to the Force. Being luminous beings in human form there is still the spark of the divine within us. It can never be completely extinguished. We come from the Force and ultimately return to it as we belong to it. No matter how deep we sunk in depravity or despair we are never gone beyond all hope. The Force is always within reach if we are willing to come back to the Light.

 

 

Step 3: Became willing to accept the Jedi Path and surrendered our lives to the Force.

 

Obi-wan Kenobi asked Luke to trust in the Force, to use it. Yoda also reminded Luke that our lives ultimately belong to the Force. Our lives are granted by the Force in trust. The act of surrender to the Force empowers. All we have to do is surrender ourselves to the Force and put our trust there. We turn over our problems to that Higher Power and stop trying to run the show.

The Force is a life line. We accept the thin reed that is offered and we pull out selves out of the hell we have made for ourselves. The problems that we had are no longer ours, we have turned them over. They now belong to that Higher Power, we call the Force. Liberated of the burden we can walk free at last. On dry ground we have landed on the Jedi Path and only need to take one step after the other in our new life.

 

 

 Step 4: Willing to confront our inner Dark Side we entered our personal Dark Side Cave without fear or hesitation.

 

The “Dark Side Cave” on Dagobah in “The Empire” was a metaphor for the unspoken Demons that reside within. Our fears, anxieties, resentments, grief and anger reside within that. The “Cave” hides our secrets and the darker recesses of our psyche. In order to conquer our Dark Side and start healing we need to confront it. As Luke entered the Gnarled Tree and encountered his Dark Side, so must we. Failing to do so allows our fears and failings to persist dragging us down. Our previous self remains hidden only, covered over by a thin veneer. In time it will emerge stronger than ever unless it is exposed and dragged in to the Light. This we do by looking squarely in to the mirror. We bare open our soul. By making a full, searching and honest inventory of all of our wrongs and faults we invite our Dark Side out to play. Nothing is left out. We must be brutal in our self honesty and pull back the curtains to see what we truly were.

 

 

Step 5: Emerging from the Dark Side Cave anew we admitting our past wrongs and faults to ourselves, to another and to the Force.

 

Luke Skywalker confronted his Dark Side in the Cave on Dagobah. Anakin also came face to face with his Dark Side in the “Clone Wars: Ghosts of Mortis”. Yoda was tested by his Dark Side in the “Clone Wars: Destiny”. In all of these confrontations good ultimately prevailed. Each of the Jedi was able to overcome the “darker sides of their nature”. It is unlikely that we will have a psychic battle with our own Dark Side as depicted in Star Wars however we can begin to grapple with it by taking full responsibility for every action we ever committed through confession and disclosure. It is not enough for us to admit it to ourselves and the Force only. We must also admit our past and our faults to another. Someone we can confide and trust in who is willing to listen to our story in a non-judgmental way will allow us to be free of the guilt and shame at last. We can at last become right with the Force and start to bring balance and peace in to our lives.

 

 

Step 6: We then became willing to let go of our past wrongs and faults.

 

The “Dark Side Cave” showed Luke his manifested darkest fears. The Cave acted as a reflection of the mind only. Luke came out of the Cave still ignorant of his legacy and his own attachments. Only our attachments to our faults prevent us from moving forward. We must be willing to let go of them. If we know we have an anger problem we start by deciding “I’m no longer going to be angry”. Where Fear of change is holding us back we decide “I’m not going to be scared anymore”. Our lives have been a dishonest facade so we make the decision to be honest.

The serenity prayer asks that we have the serenity to accept the things we cannot change and the courage to change the things that we can. Understanding the dichotomy of control is important. There are things outside of our control and other things to which we have partial control. These “externals” demand our attention and energy but frustrate us when they fail to conform to our view. What truly matters is what resides within us; our reasoned choice. We can control how we act and what we say. It is within our reasoned choice to “let go” of our past wrongs, our faults and failings as we perceive them.

The decision to do so remains with us. No one can change us only we can decide to change ourselves. As the saying goes “Be the change you want to see”.

 

 

Step 7: We finally let go of our past wrongs and faults leaving them behind.

 

In “The Empire” Luke Skywalker struggles with his identity and purpose. Luke wants to be a Jedi and is impatient, obstinate and angry. There is much he needs to learn. In between the time he is rescued on Cloud City to the opening scenes in “Return of the Jedi” something has changed in Luke. Gone is the reckless and impulsive youth. The boy has become a Jedi.

Step 7 is acting out our new lives. There is no miracle. Change is simply the product of intent and action. If we struggle with change “we fake it till we make it”. Being Jedi is a verb. A Jedi is measured by their actions and the virtues they demonstrate every day. Being sober is not only abstaining from alcohol but exercising principles in our lives. We stop being the person we were and start being the person we want to be. In order to be that person we must let go of the behaviors and thinking that used to define us and start applying principles and virtues in to our lives.

 

 

Step 8: We made a list of those we had harmed in the past and became willing to make amends.

 

Star Wars is replete with examples where the past has caught up with its characters. Darth Maul finally confronted Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine after decades of hunting him down to extract the revenge he demanded. Obi-Wan spent years in hiding until his past caught up with him again in “A New Hope” and he was finally ready to meet his destiny on the Death Star. Darth Vader, a twisted and tortured slave of the Emperor, finally found redemption and reconciled with his son. Luke Skywalker alone on Ahch-To with his painful memories, hiding a dark secret, finally finds the will to meet the evil he has helped create and find his own final redemption. By digging in to our past we not only confront our faults and failings we also find the courage to face those we have harmed so that we may at once set matters right and also find redemption.

Our past lives made a huge impact on others as well as ourselves. If we are honest we have to admit that there are more people who were harmed by our behaviours than we know. We cannot make amends for every wrong ever done but we can try to make things right where we can. In making a list we must once again be honest and thorough. Our list may include those who we have grievances with. By adding them to the list we accept that we have to ignore the fault that others carry, we are only interested in making things right as far as we are concerned. To that extent we must be willing to forgive others and especially ourselves.

 

 

Step 9: We made amends to those we had harmed except when to do so would injure them or others. Where we have been harmed by others, we forgive. We also made self amends and forgave ourselves.

 

Dealing with amends in real life is a little different and may not be as drastic as these events in Star Wars. Sometimes it is not possible to find all those we have harmed. Making amends for past actions known and unknown may also cause greater harm than good. A person we have harmed may no longer be alive. They may not be interested in our amends. Sound judgement is required when deciding to approach someone with amends. The key is to act with sincere intent and reason. Where we have been harmed we must be prepared to forgive and let go of the pain and resentment. In doing so we walk away with a clear conscience. We should not forgot that the person on the top of our amends list is ourselves.

Never forget that the best way to make amends for the past, is not to try to change it. Nothing can change the past. Amends are best served by living our new life with principle and purpose. In doing so we can avoid the need to make amends in the future by living right today.

 

 

Step 10: Training daily we sought to always improve ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually. When we made mistakes we admitted them immediately and made amends if possible.

 

Being Jedi is a process of continuous improvement. We do not compare ourselves to others to make ourselves feel lesser or better. Our goal is only to improve daily to become better versions of ourselves. Training requires a concerted and ongoing process with a goal of progress not perfection. In order to develop physically, mentally and spiritually we must be prepared to apply right effort. A Jedi will seek to train body, heart, mind and soul. The “How” is left to the individual.

On the journey we must accept that mistakes will be made. There is no perfect path and errors provide lessons if we are honest about them. Every mistake should be seen as an opportunity to learn. Expect to stumble but be prepared to quickly rectify and make amends and keep moving forward. Never stop growing.

 

 

Step 11: Meditating daily we sought to increase our Knowledge of the Force so that it might lead to realization of Peace, Harmony and Serenity in our lives and in the lives of others.

 

The Jedi Code is an ideal. Perfect practice is a myth. Achieving enlightenment is not what we are after. The goal is to progress one day at a time, one moment at a time. Through little steps and incremental gains we begin to realize our goals. Through self-betterment we in turn make the world a better place. Daily meditation should be an integral part of Jedi practice. Through meditation we come to greater  self-realization and knowledge. The benefits of meditation flow into all aspects of our lives.

 

 

Step 12: Having learned to live as a Jedi as a result of these Steps we continued to apply the Jedi Code in all aspects of our lives putting our own life and home in order first. Seeking world betterment through self betterment we continued to walk the Path. On our journey we supported others and helped those who sought our aid where we could.

 

The focus of our efforts should always be centered on ourselves in the beginning. As we recover we being to extend our focus outward to others. We get our own home in order first and look after those close to us. In time we can extend our focus out further in to the community, nation and world.

Ultimately we are in a better position to help those in need being always mindful that to render aid and provide support can come with intended and unintended consequences. Where help is sought we do only what we are capable of doing and aim to help others to help themselves.

As we walk the Jedi Path we grow stronger physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The changes come gradually and we may not notice them but others will. When we come to full understanding we are living the 12 Steps and reflect the Jedi Code in every word, thought and action. Then we can truly call ourselves Jedi.

 

 

The Jedi Code

There is no emotion, there is peace.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

There is no death, there is the Force

 

 

Note:

Alcoholics Anonymous (3rd Edition) suggests that the 12 Steps be a guide only. The founders of the 12 Step movement promised that those who practiced the Steps could achieve “contended sobriety” if they were honest with themselves and others. Without honest work and rigorous honesty the chances of success were mediocre at best; “half measures avail us nothing”. The 12 Steps were never intended to be dogma that needed to be followed religiously in order to be considered “on the beam” with any chance of staying sober.

Many in the movement contend that the original 12 Steps are perfect in their form and should not be changed or amended in any way. Several forms have emerged over the years depending on the groups that have branched off AA (NA, CA, OLGA etc.)  as well as versions that reflect the religiosity or secularism of the group.

Therefore I wish to apologize to anyone reading this modified 12 Steps who may be offended. I treat this as no joke. My intent is not to suggest a change to the 12 Steps but to present them in a way that may service the Jedi Community and perhaps others. The 12 Steps can be used to help us better understand and then realize the Jedi Code.

 

Happy New Year and MTFBWY