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 make self amends and forgive 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

 

Jedi Resilience

“Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things,” – Yoda

Over the last few weeks we have been looking at resilience. Ways in which we can build on our resilience have been explored. Strategies aimed at maintaining a level of emotional and spiritual resilience have been suggested. We have considered where we can help others achieve resilience in their own lives.

Anyone with a sustained level of sobriety after years of abuse and addiction has a high degree of resilience. Survivors by nature are resilient beings. They have endured life’s hardships and trials and grown because of it. Rather than allowing harsh experience and tragedy drag them down in to self-pity and despair they have emerged as stronger human beings.

Jedi are resilient. Like warriors they train themselves physically and mentally for combat. Jedi undergo trials that test them to the limits of their emotional, psychological and spiritual endurance. Strong in the Force they become resilient enough to serve others and fulfill their purpose in life. I have seen professional soldiers, paramedics and law enforcement officers who show a high degree of resilience for the same reason. Rigorous training, sacrifice, self-discipline and dedicated commitment to purpose.

 

Resilience Virtues

What are the marks of a resilient person? They are the same as someone with a high degree of emotional sobriety. Resilient people don’t pursue hardship but they are prepared for it. When faced with adversity they use the opportunity to improve themselves. Fear is conquered and transmuted to purpose and outcome. The resilient are not afraid of change and seek the “road less travelled” in their journeys.

Resilient people are realistic with themselves and with others. Self-honesty is seen as a high virtue. Resilient people understand and accept that the world owes them no favours. They make their own opportunities. As a result the resilient achieve a high degree of equanimity in life and a high level of awareness. They are prepared for almost anything and rarely taken by surprise. The resilient are equipped to help themselves and are prepared to help others where needed.

 

Practice make Progress

Patient practice leads to progress. Being aware that you only have what is within your control. You have reasoned choice and command of your rational mind. All is else that reside external to you may be your and then be taken away at any point. Use the tools provided. You will know you have made progress when all choices in life become either the preferred or the non-preferred indifferent. You accept what comes and goes with equanimity and grace.

The “eight worldly concerns” of desire and aversion no longer hold you. Material possessions no longer become a priority. The loss of wealth and possessions no longer upsets or angers. There is no delight in the praise of others or misery in their criticisms or condemnation. Reputation either good or bad is largely outside of your control as are your status and position. Fame and adulation do not concern us.

Happiness and sadness are transitory emotions that we accept as part of life. To fear the loss of happiness brings anxiety and suffering.  No amount of wishful thinking makes suffering go away. Practicing principles is the path to freedom from suffering. From principle springs virtue. The goals of the Jedi Code are realized; Serenity, peace, harmony, knowledge and the Force.

 

False Peaks

It’s not hard to imagine Jedi showing these traits.  Being Jedi is in fact all of these things. It is that simple. The example of the Jedi can provide an azimuth for us to follow. We can see the destination in the distance and move towards it.

Self-improvement however is like a mountain with many false peaks. We struggle up the slope, slipping backwards and stumbling forward sometimes. The peak appears before us and we haul ourselves toward it arriving in relief. With exasperation we realize that we have landed on a false peak and the slope continues before us climbing in to mist and the unknown.

I have climbed many mountains like that, literally and figuratively. The difference is that we only reach the summit of our mountain when we die. Self-improvement is a lifelong climb and at times a great struggle. Sometimes the path is easy and the sun shines through the clouds. At times the road is difficult with many slips, trips and falls.  Always be prepared for false peaks and never forget that life can sometimes resemble a game of chutes and ladders. We only truly arrive at the end of our life.

 

The Promises

When I first read the “Big Book” of AA I found a passage that spoke so loudly to me that I re-read it many times. The paragraph provides an image of what could be accomplished through living the 12 Steps and applying spiritual principles. I visualized myself being that person which the passage described. The description resembled something close to enlightenment. I searched further and found out that the passage is famous in the recovery community and is called the “12 Promises”.

  1. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
  2. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
  3. We will comprehend the word “serenity”.
  4. We will know peace.
  5. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
  6. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
  7. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
  8. Self-seeking shall slip away.
  9. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.
  10. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.
  11. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
  12. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

(Alcoholics Anonymous pg83-84)

Jedi serve the Living Force

Trait 3/33

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

(The 33 Jedi Traits)

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

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

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

 

The Noble Way

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

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

 

The Road Map

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

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

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

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

 

An endless Journey

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

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

 

Keep at it

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

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

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

Redemption

When Anakin had succumbed to his fears, anger and hate and fallen to the dark side the person that he was died. In his place rose Darth Vader, a dark shadow of his former self and a slave to the Dark Lord. In “Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi”, Darth Vader finally realizes who he truly is and finding the love for his son Luke, he turns on his Master, Darth Sidious. The redemption of Anakin was the final end of Darth Vader.

I’ll not leave you now. I’ve got to save you.” – Luke Skywalker

You already have.” – Anakin Skywalker

The Chains of Addiction

The fall of Anakin and the emergence of a twisted and tormented Darth Vader in the same body can be viewed as a metaphor for suffering and the slavery of addiction. How many people have we encountered in our lives who changed so utterly through addiction that they were barely recognizable? Family and friends no longer knew them and they no longer knew themselves.

The effects of drug and alcohol addiction carries an insidious toll on a person’s life and on their psyche. I became morally compromised and spiritually bankrupt through alcoholism though I did not see it at the time. The difference between who I had been and who I became was stark.

By destroying Darth Sidious and saving his son, the chains that had held Anakin in the form of Darth Vader finally came off. He  emerges from the dark place where he had been imprisoned and tortured for decades as a mere slave to fear, anger and hatred. As Anakin lies dying he atones for the past. He forgives and is forgiven and finds redemption at last. Anakin is set free and is reunited with the Force.

Inventory

Realizing the truth of who we are and what we have done through our alcoholism can be painful but it is also liberating. I remember one of the most emotional experiences I have ever had was completing my inventory in Step 4.  Admitting it to my Higher Power and sharing it with another in Step 5 was to finally free myself from the bondage of the past. I saw at last who I had been and the damage I had done to myself and others. There was another way and I could forgive myself and build a new life.

“Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

“Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

After sharing my story I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off. I was ready to change and I wanted to right the wrongs of the past. Filled with hope for the future I looked forward to making amends and claiming a sober life. The clouds parted and at last it felt as if a door had opened and I had passed through to a new dimension a free man.

Amends

Several years ago when I was still drinking I learned that my Father had passed away as a skid row drunk. He had been dry when I had last seen him 25 years earlier but we became estranged and I never spoke to him again. In time he became little more than a rumor. The news was that he moved around a lot and was back “on the sauce”.

Over the years I often wondered what I would say if we met again and whether I could forgive him. There had been anger for years for a miserable childhood. I  blamed my drinking and many of my troubles on him. There were so many faults I so despised in him that I had revealed in myself. Like Luke Skywalker I was in danger of falling to the Dark Side, like his Father and indeed in the end it had me.

When I learned that my Father had died my feelings were mixed. Part of me did not care, another part was sad and the last part was angry I had been robbed of an opportunity to tell him how he had ruined so many lives including my own. My reaction was to simply get drunk in response to the news. I was more like him than I dared admit.

Forgive

When I compiled my list of amends in Step 8 I placed my Father near the top of the list. The predicament of course was that he had died the previous year. I said a prayer and Forgave him and asked for forgiveness in return. With that I blessed his memory and made peace at last with a painful part of my life. Perhaps someday we will meet again on the other side of the veil where these things will no longer matter.

Forgiveness and making amends is one of the most powerful experiences that anyone in recovery can experience. The humility and compassion that we discover during the inventory and disclosure of our faults is further cultivated as we put aside resentment and pride and seek to atone for the past. We also begin to find redemption as Anakin did by seeking forgiveness and by forgiving others. Most of all we find the power to forgive ourselves and move on.

MTFBWY

Ben Kenobi, Buddha and Bill W

For over 40 years Star Wars has inspired and fired the imagination of millions of people around the world. The Jedi Order and the Force have given Star Wars fans the inspiration to create something that became bigger than themselves and enduring; a philosophy based on the Jedi.

A symbol of honor, dignity, wisdom, strength, humility, service and sacrifice, the Jedi represents to many a role model for how one can strive to live and achieve personal and spiritual growth. From its origins as a fan base and in role playing games the Jedi movement has evolved for over two decades into a spectrum of thoughts and beliefs that range from a modern philosophy to a neo-religion complete with dogma, ritual and rules.

The Philosophy

Today Jedi Philosophy provides the mainstream a way of thinking and living that respects personal beliefs and provides a path to world betterment through self betterment. Fiction has in this process inspired real action and change in people through a philosophy that draws on eastern and western traditions but is completely unique and requires no dogma, oaths or wearing of robes and demonstration of metaphysical powers or skill in light sabres. Anyone can be Jedi if they are willing to commit to action. The Jedi Philosophy has provided a connected and on-line generation an alternative to conventional religion.

Over the course of two decades the real life Jedi has been guided by the Jedi Code, five simple lines inspired by the Star Wars movies and books and then adapted by the modern Jedi Philosophy as described by Kevin Trout (2013):

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

The Jedi Code

The Jedi Code is the core of the Jedi Philosophy and the foundation for the Jedi Path as formed by the Jedi Circle. The code is a simple guide on how to view life and conduct one’s self on a daily basis in achieving one’s personal goals. Whether it is to perform better in academic, professional or sporting endeavours or even to achieve spiritual enlightenment, Jedi Philosophy can be used as a tool to achieve goals.

The Jedi Way is about letting go of one’s attachments and delusions and embracing reality and one’s true potential. The Jedi Code can inspire one to act in accordance with his or her values and principles and be one’s own judge on whether personal choices made and their outcomes reflect the Jedi goals of world betterment through self betterment, that is, helping others by helping one’s self, making a positive difference whatever it is and seeking a purpose greater than one’s self. For this reason Jedi Philosophy is all inclusive and can benefit anyone not just people in recovery or Star Wars fans.

The full article  “Ben Kenobi, Buddha and Bill W: 12 Step Jedi” can be read here.

 

Jedi for Life

A Practical Philosophy

Many people today are finding meaning and purpose in attaining a philosophy for life which is both practical and applicable to living in the modern world. Whether that philosophy is taken from the eastern traditions of Zen Buddhism or Taoism or is drawn from the ancient schools of Philosophy such as Stoicism or Epicureanism, people are finding benefit in applying their chosen philosophy through daily practices and principles that improve their lives and allow them to meet and overcome daily challenges.

Psychologists have demonstrated that people who commit to a personal philosophy of life consistently practice principles and demonstrate virtues that lead to personal satisfaction and physical and emotional well-being compared to people that have  no philosophy of life at all. The revolutionary psychologist Albert Ellis was inspired by classical Eastern and Western philosophies in developing rational emotive behavior therapy to help people with depression and addiction issues (Ellis, 2001).

Depression, anxiety, anger, fear and conflict are many of the common problems that we see in society today and often we suffer them ourselves much of it through our own fault. We would prefer to blame others, our circumstances, bad luck and society for our problems without looking at our own part in the mess we find ourselves in. Through rigorous self-honesty, acceptance and commitment, each of us can choose how we respond to our negative emotions and thereby how we empower them or not and the degree to which they afflict our lives. Each of us can decide how we want to live our lives and what virtues we wish to cultivate and how we choose to respond to life moment to moment. Training in a real world Philosophy can provide us with the knowledge and skills to achieve equanimity, objectivity and harmony with self and others.

Many people also find a sense of spirituality through their Philosophy and a realization of a higher purpose in their lives than simply living to achieve instant gratification, material gains, status and fame. They realize they are part of something greater than themselves and become aware of their connectivity to other human beings, to nature and the universe and life becomes more meaningful and joyful than they ever realized before. They realize their place in the world and the impermanent and transitory nature of life.

Without embracing the doctrines and dogma of organized religion, one can achieve a good life that is spiritual, meaningful and powerful through training in a Philosophy of Life. One can live each day mindfully and spend their life in the moment rather than in regret of the past or fear of the future. You can be emotionally resilient, physically fitter, more aware of your own needs and the needs of others and ultimately more contented and happy in your existence than you ever felt possible. Once you change yourself for the better you will find that people treat you better and so does life, the clouds part and you have the power and confidence to deal with life on life’s terms. You also become an inspiration to others and in some small way you make the world a better place.

I practice Jedi Philosophy as a Philosophy for Life, in other words I am not satisfied to simply cite the tenets and take an academic approach as many students of Philosophy do. To be Jedi is to live the Philosophy because it provides the answers and a formula for living that works for me. This does not mean that I consider myself a Jedi Knight or Master of the Star Wars fictional universe and wear robes and carry a Light Sabre, far from it. I am a regular guy and today enjoy Star Wars as much as the next guy but I do not consider myself a Star Wars Geek. Yet I am inspired by the virtues that mark a Jedi and I emulate them in my life.

My Story

I grew up with Star Wars from the age of ten when “The New Hope” hit cinemas exactly 40 years ago today on May 24, 1977. Like many other children growing up in that time I saw the epic as more than a movie, it was something more powerful. Luke Skywalker was a kid who like me seemed to have been given a rough hand in life but yet  had managed to overcome that and find within himself an incredible power to change not just his own destiny but the fate of an entire galaxy! Living in State and Foster Care at that time and coming from a broken home rife with abuse and alcoholism, Star Wars gave me a sense of hope and a place to escape. The Jedi also captured the imagination of an entire generation and continues to inspire a growing global community of fans and real world Jedi.

While much of Jedi Philosophy is inspired by the fictional Jedi I still live in the real world and deal with real world problems. I apply many of the virtues and traits that a fictional Jedi demonstrate to help me achieve my goals and overcome problems, but that is not the whole story. From this point I want to stress that I use the word Jedi as a verb, not a noun, therefore the goal is to be Jedi and to act as if not to necessarily become a Jedi Knight or to follow the Jedi Religion known as Jediism unless that happens to be your personal goal.

Jedi Philosophy is a practical way of life in which we apply effort and aim to improve every day through daily practices and study. I train myself mentally, physically and emotionally and through study; I practice meditation everyday in addition to applying mindfulness to everyday actions. Although not a prerequisite I train in a martial arts and foreign languages and treat everyday as an opportunity to learn new things.

Five years ago I was staring into a chasm, a void of my own making through years of alcohol abuse, dishonesty, resentment, selfishness and fear. I had hit rock bottom and knew that before me was death or insanity or both. At that moment I realized that I did have a choice, inside of me resided a Force, a light that had been all but extinguished. I chose to surrender to that Force and to admit and accept my addiction and then to turn it over and let it go.

I knew at that moment my problem with alcohol was gone, I was pulled back into the light by some unseen power. A peace and serenity I had never known before fell on me. I embarked on a life journey of self-discovery and growth laying all of my short comings and failings bare, I resolved to overcome them. Putting the past behind me, I chose to forgive myself and others and to let go of the past and to make amends where I had caused harm to others. I knew that humility and rigorous honesty were virtues to be embraced. In time as I progressed in my recovery, I felt my anger, resentment, fear, anxiety and selfishness fall away.

There were days when I faltered and nearly relapsed. At two years my recovery hit a rut which I could not seem to get past. I rediscovered Jedi Philosophy.  Jedi Philosophy breathed life into my recovery program and it has become my personal philosophy for life, through it I aim for progress, not perfection in all aspects of my life and choose to be a better version of myself every day.

The purpose of this Blog is to tell a story but also to share how I choose to be Jedi and how doing so has helped me achieve recovery from alcoholism and depression, rebuild my relationships, improve my self-esteem, advance my career, become a better husband, parent, friend and boss, achieve the highest level of physical fitness of my life and cultivate a true personal spiritual foundation that far transcends any religious training of my upbringing.

This is not a Star Wars fan web site or even a voice for the online Jedi community, this is simply a blog by someone who has adopted Jedi Philosophy as a way of life, in all aspects of his life and wishes to share that journey and what I have learned along the way. I hope that my story may help anyone, especially those that are seeking their own path or struggling with a childhood trauma and abuse, depression and substance abuse as I have. I invite you to consider a Philosophy for Life and to explore the merits of Jedi Philosophy as it applies to your life.

References:

  1. Ellis, Albert (2001). Overcoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and Behaviors: New Directions for Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Prometheus Books.