“Observing the world around them, they saw two moons in the one sky—light Ashla and dark Bogan—and they understood the dual aspects to the Force, light and dark.” – Ketu
The “Reality principle” proposes that each person acting out the desires of the ego will do so without consideration of consequence. These impulses are held in check by societal norms and the boundaries imposed by acceptable behaviour. Most well-adjusted, normal people do not indulge their vices whenever the impulse strikes. They inherently understand the need for restraint under most circumstances because it has been conditioned into them since childhood.
The inverse is true for alcoholics. We maintain a different and distorted view of reality. Self-restraint is sometimes necessary to avoid trouble which may remove or inhibit access to alcohol but not for long. No amount of reason or rational thought will prevent the alcoholic from abuse. We will rationalize our insane behaviour to reflect a distorted view of reality. For alcoholics, the reality principle is cast aside as the need to satisfy addiction overrides everything else. This self-defeating strategy stems from the need to become whole and avoid feeling powerless.
The Sith encouraged immediate and unfettered gratification of desires, particularly the lust for power and control. The only reality which they saw was the reality of the ego run riot. Any constraint to that was seen as a threat that had to be destroyed. If societal norms were contrary to their own, it had to be forced to conform with their own. The natural order had to be bent to the will of the Sith. By their definition, the unfettered and relentless pursuit of power, the dominance of the Dark Side of the Force, was natural and imperative.
The lust for power, the need to overcome powerlessness drove the Sith. The very nature of the Sith was synonymous with desire and addiction. There was a Master and an Apprentice who was enslaved to the Master. The Apprentice desired to usurp the Master and take power from him. This is the nature of grasping attachment and desire, whether it is alcohol, drugs, fame, power, or wealth. One is the Master and one is the Slave. One becomes the other. The ego runs rampant and ultimately controls the self in a struggle for dominance in the attainment of what is desired.
Light is synonymous with truth and truth is reality. Darkness hides the truth and conceals reality. The Light is an expression of the divine and its expression as life. Darkness is an expression of death, destruction, and despair. One symbolizes recovery and the other is a slow death through abuse and addiction. Reality resides within a balance between the two.
“In light, there is a darkness and, in the darkness, a light. It is the way of us all. Be a prisoner of neither Bogan nor Ashla. Strive to live in balance.” ―Ketu
To recover is to strive to live in balance. Recovery is a rejection of what is unreal in our lives. Recovery is the embrace of reality over time. Sometimes the fog clears quickly, and the shroud of illusion is removed revealing the truth or who we are. Sometimes it takes years and decades. The ego is deflated in the process. The reality principle now becomes a guiding principle in our life not because of social pressure or acceptable behaviour but because our sanity and survival, both physical and spiritual, depend on it. We become aware that our sobriety is contingent on the daily maintenance of our spiritual condition.
The journey of Luke Skywalker is a story of recovery while the fall of Anakin is a story of descent into drunken lust for power. On his journey Luke learned to face the truth of who he was. Luke made choices that ultimately led to his own redemption and the redemption of the father. Doubts, fears, biases, and ignorance was cast aside as he chose the path of Light. Luke understood that true power resides in powerlessness and surrender when turned over to the Force. Through his struggles Luke was able to find balance in the Force between his own light and dark sides.
Anakin in comparison chose the path of the Dark Side even before he knew it and became blind to the truth. The years that led to his final fall were laden with the milestones of that slow but steady descent into darkness as he sought power to control others and life itself. Darth Vader had power and he wielded it at the will of the Emperor, but he was powerless and a slave to his master. In finally facing the truth laid before him by Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader was able to cast away his illusions and free himself from the cage he had made for himself.
Carl Jung wrote that “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism”. Sobriety requires that we maintain a healthy grasp on reality. That we do not unwittingly replace one addiction for another. Jung also wrote that “we stand in need of a reorientation, a metanoia”. This means a spiritual and a practical realignment of ideas. To succumb to evil results in evil but a desire to do good can also bring unforeseen and evil consequences. We should attach to neither. Recovery means recognizing that the Force exists in a perfect balance between light (Ashla) and dark (Bogan).
Being Jedi is facing the truth, accepting reality, and ultimately finding balance in our lives between our own inner Ashla and Bogan. Reality is immutable and tied to the truth. Illusions and misconceptions need to be removed to reveal what is real. Reality is impossible to ignore we can only choose to. For more than half of my life I walked a similar path as Anakin as I slowly descended into the despair of alcohol, wanting to be the master but only a slave to the addiction. In recovery I try to walk in the footsteps of Luke Skywalker, seeking only to bring balance to the Force that resides within. The road is long and hard, mistakes are made but it is the path to freedom and knowledge and therefore a life worth living.