Reliability is a word that is used in many different contexts. In engineering it can refer to the ability of a process, system or component to perform its required functions with little to no variability over a period of time. In research reliability can mean the quality and precision of data presented, the degree of certainty and variability derived from method used in an experiment.  Psychologists also use the word reliability to describe the validity of data measured from a population and the ability to replicate it in multiple tests.

Human reliability is the study of the capacity for human beings to perform without error in a particular role under different conditions. Pilots for example are screened for their ability to operate with reliability and without error. Reliability is also a word that we come to associate as a desirable trait in a person. Someone who is reliable is trustworthy, dependable and competent among other things.


A Reliable Mentor

If just one word can be used to describe a Jedi it would have to be reliable. Consider Obi-wan Kenobi or Yoda. Both Jedi Masters were loyal, dependable, trust worthy and committed to the Order and to their own values. Obi-wan was a reliable mentor to Anakin for years and then watched over Luke from his hideout on Tatooine. Obi-wan Kenobi’s reliability as a mentor extended beyond life as he continued to guide Luke after his transcendence to the Force.

Jedi could be agile and adaptable as the situation dictated but they were firm in their convictions and application of principle. They talked the talk and they walked the walk. The Jedi Code rejected killing for the sake of killing. A Jedi could not take another life unless it was in absolute necessity and in self defense. Being reliable also meant that the Jedi were predictable in their response. To the Sith this was a weakness and one which Darth Maul, Darth Sidious and Darth Vader all exploited in their individual battles with the Jedi.


No Reliance

Those that view reliability as a flaw are unlikely to follow through with commitments or be true to their word. Promises are broken, contracts are breached, debts are dishonored and decisions are changed on a whim without consideration of others. Lies are covered with lies and more lies to keep the ship afloat. I can describe the hallmarks of unreliability with some authority because they are those that denote an alcoholic personality. People in active alcoholic abuse are not only unreliable but they take advantage or exploit people that are reliable. The people who are the most trusted by the alcoholic are the people that are most harmed by his selfishness.

Over the years our actions reveal our twisted nature. People learn that they cannot rely on us any longer. We lose our jobs, friends start to abandon us and our partners leave with broken hearts.  Banks foreclose and debt collectors call in our debts. In the end we cannot not even rely on ourselves to manage our own lives any longer.

Through reliance in a Higher Power we begin to find our sanity. At some point we wake up and start to get honest with ourselves and regain our self respect. Gaining the confidence of others with time and effort we begin to appreciate the virtue of reliability in ourselves and in others. Our actions start to align with our values. We no longer view people’s trust as a weakness to be exploited or used but as a treasured gift.


 A Rare Virtue

Despite what the Sith thought, reliability is a virtue, not a weakness. Ralph Waldo Emerson lamented that to find a reliable friend was the hardest thing. Reliability seems to be the rarest of virtues. Perhaps that is why Obi-wan Kenobi is the archetype of the reliable mentor and guardian in the Star Wars saga. The lifelong commitment he puts in to protecting and teaching the “chosen one” marked him as the most reliable Jedi . In this universe and in this life how can we aspire to the same level of reliability as a person? What are the traits of a reliable person and what are the benefits?

  1. Commitment: Reliable people do what they say they will do.
  2. Honesty: Reliable people tell the truth, even when they would rather not. If we can’t deliver on a promise or commitment we should be upfront about it.
  3. Realistic: Reliable people don’t try to bend reality but tell it as it is. If a situation is bad, they call it bad but do not play the pessimist either.
  4. Humility: Reliable people don’t “big note” themselves nor do they put themselves down. Reliable people know where they stand in the world and do not need to be at the center of attention or above anyone.
  5. Team: Reliable people work as part of a team for a team rather than solely for their own personal advantage. They are ready to help.

What are the advantages of being reliable?

  1. Deeper relationships that are built on mutual trust and appreciation.
  2. Greater opportunities for work and business. Reliable people get known and are sought out by recruiters, employers and customers.
  3. More autonomy and independence in life as reliable people do not need to be constantly monitored and scrutinized by supervisors, partners and peers.
  4. More sleep. Being reliable means that we don’t have to lie awake at night in guilt or in worry about the things we did or said. Reliable people are more confident and happy as they know they have nothing to hide or excuse themselves for.
  5. Tolerance and simplicity because reliable people know that the world is a place of diverse views, opinions and people and they can live with that. Life becomes simpler and beset with less drama. Reliable people can achieve peace and equanimity that others only dream about.

Think of all the people you know who you would consider reliable and compare those to people you have known who were unreliable. The differences are pretty stark. To be Jedi is by nature to be reliable. By our very nature and through our conduct people will automatically see whether we are reliable or not. We may fool them once or twice, but I guarantee, you will not fool them for long.

Jedi believe in Service

Jedi believe in service to others, and are selfless

The path of the Jedi teaches us the importance of service. There is a lot of joy in serving others, and the Jedi believe in volunteerism and in service. Why? Because that’s the way of the Force; the Force is always giving, giving, giving without expecting anything back in return. The Jedi are like this too. Some of the practical benefits of serving others include diminishing egotistical thinking, removing energy blockages, increasing positive energy flow, and re-connecting us with other human beings


A Part of Us

Service to others is a fundamental part of being Jedi. Likewise, service is also integral to the 12 Steps. Both paths recognize the value in extending ourselves to others in selfless service. Service, giving to others is also a intrinsic human trait, we are wired to work together and to help each other.

A study by the University of British Columbia showed that Toddlers were happier giving to others than they were receiving. We feel it every time we do something for another person. It can be as simple as giving up your seat on a bus or holding a door open. It connects us to people. Likewise every time we plant a tree or help an animal we feel connected to our environment. Service put us in to the spiritual flow of the Universe, the Force.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35


One cannot keep what they do not pass on. We have an obligation and a responsibility to pass on what we have gained and to “pay it forward”. The flow of energy must be kept vital and the only way to truly improve is to get out of ourselves by putting the focus on others. Some of us provide a form of form of service as part of our jobs. Whether we serve customers, work in the military, security and law enforcement or emergency services the way we apply ourselves in our profession and how we treat people in carrying out our duties says a lot about ourselves.

Even though we get paid for the time and effort we put in, it is still service. Whether we take benefit from it will largely depend on our purpose and the meaning that we attach to the task. Some Policemen love their job, some don’t.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Mahatma Gandhi



Volunteerism is by definition unpaid and voluntary without reserve. There is real commitment. We donate our time and skills to a particular cause. Activism and advocacy are also forms of service which serve an important function in raising awareness and making important changes in society. The opportunities for service seem endless. There are countless causes one can involve themselves in.  If what we choose to do adds value to our lives and others, the direct benefits can extend beyond material, there are many intangibles as well.

What is the essence of life? To serve other and to do good” – Aristotle.

So what about Jedi? They served the Republic, they were guardians of peace. The purpose of the Jedi was to protect, defend and support citizens. Jedi were chosen for the path, they barely chose it. The Jedi were not paid for their efforts but they were rewarded in intangible ways. They were raised in to a meaningful existence and grew stronger in the ways of the Force for example. There was a mutual benefit.

The Jedi made mistakes of course but their intent was never selfish until the needs of individual Jedi became more important than the needs of the whole. The Jedi were not above reproach and neither are we. We are only human after all but we still have a choice.


Just Rewards

Why do it then if not for purely selfless reasons. Psychology Today lists a number of mental, physical and spiritual benefits in getting involved in the community and helping others:

  • Reduced stress and better stress management, we are able to better cope with life;
  • Appreciation and gratitude of what we have through better perspective taking;
  • Greater awareness of the world and the people in it;
  • Cultivated empathy, compassion and solidarity with others;
  • Provides greater life meaning and purpose of being.

Studies have also shown that volunteerism can improve overall contentment and happiness in people. Older volunteers have been shown to  extend life span in older people. The brain actually develops new pathways and neurons. Our brains respond better to selflessness and altruism than selfishness and meanness. It is an evolutionary trait which stems from the basic human need to belong and to care for others.


Motive is everything

Does selfless service truly exist? How often have we done something for others to make ourselves feel better or to gain some sort of reward or recognition? To give anonymously or with discretion with no selfish motives is different to giving with the intent of receiving some sort of recognition. Some religious people feel that if they donate money to the church or to worthy charities they will be rewarded for their generosity in the afterlife. Many students feel compelled, even forced to undertake “voluntary” community service in order to be accepted in to universities or to pass subjects.

Some people may recognize the intangible benefits of altruism such as working with the disabled or caring for injured animals, but not all will. Offenders will be awarded community service by a Judge. The hope is that service to others will help them adopt a change in attitude and reduce the likelihood of re-offending. The work may be beneficial but the person on “community service” may view it as a punishment rather than the privilege that it is. Is a large donation made by a multinational corporation sincere or a conceited form of self promotion?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” – Philippians 2:3-4


Bad Service

Years ago I did conservation volunteer work in South America and Africa and spent many months on a Kibbutz in Israel as a volunteer. These were important experiences and I went with the best intention however once there I soon fell in to bad habits. I took advantage of my hosts, avoided the worst jobs and would get so drunk is the evenings at the inevitable volunteer parties that I was too hungover to work. The experience soon turned in to an opportunity to indulge in all the excesses you would find on Spring Break in Cancun without the luxury.

In Israel I was politely asked to leave on one occasion and simply moved down the road to another place that was looking for volunteers. Many places seek volunteers because they need cheap or free labor and do take advantage. Some volunteers forget that they volunteered. They begin to question the entire experience seeking only to derive personal benefit.


Pay if Forward

Being in recovery has taught me how important service is as part of the 12 Steps. One alcoholic will help another through sponsorship or by taking on a role in meetings. The motivation is selfless but the work is done as much to maintain sobriety as it is to help others find or keep theirs.  Only service keeps the movement alive. The real world Jedi community also relies on people willing to give up their time, money and skills to keep the movement alive and growing. Most are anonymous and seek no recognition. Think of all the millions of people in the world right now quietly and selflessly serving others with no expectation of reward. They are Legion and bring light into an otherwise grey and cynical world.

Through service we begin to think more about others than ourselves. Getting out of our own self indulgence is a good way to avoid falling into the mental traps of self doubt and negative self talk. The point of service is not necessarily to serve without any direct benefit to ourselves. A mutual benefit can and should be derived. Service should make us feel good knowing that we’ve made a small difference. That simple pleasure can be its just reward it can also completely transform the way we see the world and others. It can transform the world.

You are the vehicle of change in this world. How will you pay it forward today?

Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world” – Howard Zinn

Jedi practice Martial Arts

Most Jedi know at least one form of martial arts or self-defense.

(33 Jedi Traits)

It goes without saying that the fictional Jedi were accomplished Martial Artists. One only has to remember the epic battles between Yoda and Count Dooku or Darth Sidious to appreciate the martial powers of the Jedi. Like the old Shaolin Kung Fu Monks harnessing chi, the Jedi could also harness the Force to aid them in self defense.

Most real world Jedi train in one form of martial arts or another, however while it is not a requirement it is encouraged for personal growth. The advantages are obvious; increased focus and attention, self discipline, agility, strength and coordination.

In addition martial arts provide practitioners with a form of self defense to use when needed. It is not about learning to beat someone up. In Martial Arts I have learned that the best form of self defense is not to get in to a fight in the first place. Martial arts provide a structured platform for emotional, physical and spiritual development.

Committing is Hard

Prior to getting sober the extent of my martial arts was the “hand to hand combat” taught in the Army and through general “bar room brawling”. I had tried to join various clubs. I figured that the self discipline, commitment and physical conditioning of Martial Arts would keep me out of bars and trouble.

Being an alcoholic is to be adverse to commitment, particularly when it gets in the way of discretionary drinking time. Consistency was never my thing. I showed up to training once or twice half drunk and had to be sent off the mats by disgusted instructors. In short time I would quit and move on.

Never look Back

Anything worth doing takes commitment and practice. We must dedicate our time and effort if we want results. I see recovery as similar to advancement in a martial arts discipline. We start off at white belt, completely new. The white belt is an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge and skills, not booze. Our training starts and we grapple with the basics and try to find our feet. We view the old timers with awe. They give us advice. We advance one small step at a time. Some people decide to quit. We stay.

As our confidence advances we move to Yellow and then Blue belts. Occasionally we stumble and fall over, we get knocked on to our ass but we get back up and keep going. More people disappear. We graduate to Green Belt, that’s a tough one. Still we learn more about recovery and ourselves we have been sober for years now. We start guiding others on their journey as we are becoming old timers too. We reach Brown Belt  and as we claim contented sobriety we become Black Belt. Having come so far, we never look back.

What I have learned

At three months sober I joined a  Martial Arts club and continue to train. Some nights I come home bruised and battered. My middle aged body feels like it has been hit by a bus. There are times when I don’t feel like going but I know that I’ll later regret it if I don’t. I know that every training session we go to we come out better not worse. In the time I have practiced I have learned some important lessons:

1. Anything is possible

Training has taught me that we don’t know what we are capable of until we try. We can sit at home and convince ourselves that we won’t be any good and make excuses. The other option is to just get out there and do it. You may surprise yourself.

2. Be Humble

As a younger alcoholic me I would go to a Dojo and end up getting laid out on the floor by another student. The problem was my Ego. I refused to leave it at the door. Being arrogant and cocky I needed to prove myself and when I stepped a little too far over the line I was quickly reminded by a senior rank to respect others. Martial Arts teaches respect and humility. We leave our Ego and problems at the door.

3. Learn from Mistakes

Some nights you learn new skills. Other nights you seem to have two left feet and cannot get it. To look silly is fine as long as we are trying our best it doesn’t matter. Even the most talented Martial Artist struggled at some point. Learn to embrace failure as a lesson. Keep trying.

4. Control Fear and Aggression

Training hurts and can be confronting. I have learned that it is OK to have fear and aggression but to channel it in the right way. Control of fear and aggression is a must in Martial Arts. For success in recovery it is imperative.

5. Pace yourself

Sparring teaches a Fighter strategy, pace and control. A two or three minute round does not sound like much until you step in to the ring. Getting control of breathing, pacing yourself and keeping presence of mind is essential to making it to the next round. Scenario drills also teaches all round awareness which is needed in real life confrontations on the street.

The beauty of Martial Arts is we can translate the skills and attitudes that are developed in to every aspect of our lives. Most who practice for years will tell you it has made them a better person mentally, physically and spiritually.

A way of Life

They say a Black Belt is a White Belt who never gave up. Some forms of Martial Arts view the Black Belt, or equivalent, as the start of a life as a martial artist. The training never ends, there is always more to learn. Being a vessel filled one must also pass on what one has learned and so the cycle continues. Martial arts is a metaphor for life.

We should view every day of our lives in a similar way. Some days we don’t feel like getting out of bed to face the day. Sometimes life smacks us around and we end the day physically and mentally exhausted and emotionally shattered. We somehow get through it “one day at a time”. Every challenge we face and get through makes us tougher and stronger.

Aim for your Black Belt, whatever it is. Know what you want to get out of life and go and get it. If you choose to take up Martial Arts, best of luck. My only regret is that I did not take it up seriously earlier and stick with it.

Practice what you Preach

“Prove your words by your deeds.” – Seneca the Younger

The only worth a philosophy has is whether it can be applied in life. If our philosophy can be applied then we should practice what we preach. A practical philosophy means not only knowing what must be done but actually doing it. Without practice, a philosophy is conceptual and not a tool. We can sit in a university café (or online forum) for hours and debate the merits of one philosophy over another. One can bring forward the moral and ethical strong points of their chosen philosophical flavor but unless they have practiced it in real life then there is nothing much to say.

We go to a doctor or psychiatrist if we are feeling physically or mentally unwell. A psychologist or therapist is visited for counseling. Some of us visit a Priest, Rabbi or Spiritual Advisor to help us grapple with problems or questions. Who these days goes to a Philosopher for advice on how to live in accordance with a particular philosophy? We do not live in ancient Greece or Rome where we can engage in conversation with Socrates, Epicurus, Zeno, Seneca or Epictetus. We will not find Stoics, Skeptics or Ascetics to confer with and take away a formula for living.  If I were to walk in to the Philosophy Department of the local University and ask a professor for some sage advice on how to manage my affairs, handle cravings or deal with emotions he would probably not be able to offer anything practical.

The Philosophers

The ancients had words of advice on all these matters. Today we have many philosophies to choose from. The libraries are full or books written by the classic, renaissance, contemporary and modern philosophers. One can easily create an account on an online forum and engage in debate on Philosophy. The Stoics hold an annual conference and a “Stoic Week”*. The event draws people from around the world in an online experiment on living like a Stoic for a week. I participate in the event and continue to apply many of the practices as part of my own Jedi training throughout the year. You only get out of philosophy what you put in.

I consider myself a student of Jedi Philosophy. This means not only do I read widely on Jedi Philosophy but I broaden my knowledge in others as well. I participate in online forums and read posts to understand what other followers of the Jedi path think and how they live their lives.  The fiction is also there to draw inspiration from. Jedi philosophy is a recent phenomena and an evolving trend. The focus of Jedi Philosophy is similar in many ways to the ancient schools of philosophy. Students are encouraged to study and question but most of all to practice what they have learned every day. The Fictional Jedi was all about action and deeds, not words.

Deeds not Words

This emphasis on a practical philosophy for life agrees with recovery from addiction. The 12 Steps is also all about action. By accepting our disease and embracing certain principles in to our life we embark on a program of recovery that requires action. Reading books, speaking to people and attending meetings is not enough. Recovery occurs outside of that, in the day to day things that we do. We commit to mapping our faults and doing something about them. Addressing the past and seeking to make amends. Action includes daily maintenance of our practice through meditation, prayer and study. Service to others is also a form of direct action that helps us.

It is the same for any philosophy. One can say they are a Stoic but yet live like a Hedonist and allow their emotions and desires to govern their every decision. We are judged by our actions not our words. I can not say I am Jedi if I am rude and obnoxious to people, dishonest in my dealings and commit illegal acts like theft or physical assault no matter what the reason. Would I be able to stand up in a meeting and tell people I follow the 12 Steps and the principles of honesty and humility if in fact I continue to drink when I’m not there?

You are the Master

We can argue and debate about how one should act and what one must do to live a “Good Life” however unless we do these things none of that matters. It is only a rhetorical practice. No one is watching us all the time but ourselves. If there is a “God” and it resides within then the old scripture which tells us “God knows all that we do” is true. It may not be some deity outside of us looking down but our own inner conscience. If I question whether I am consistent with my personal philosophy of life usually checking in with my heart reveals the truth. We can fool ourselves in to thinking that we are something but deep down we know we are faking it. We can be dishonest with others, but to be dishonest to our self is far worse.

If I am unsure of how I must think, speak or act in any given situation there is usually no sage standing by. There are books and forums but usually we must decide on how to proceed from advice given in general terms. We must also filter what works for our unique circumstances and what doesn’t. I know what my principles and values are; I know which virtues to practice when faced with challenges. My philosophy for life gives me that tool kit and I decide how to use apply the tools.  There is a general rule of thumb when we get stuck or are caught with our pants down; we can react and possibly go against our principles or we can stick to the basic rule that Marcus Aurelius set him self every day:

If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it

Jump In

The practice of Kabbalah teaches students to just go out and practice; “first do it, then understand”. Don’t get lost in the detail or the semantics just pick up the tools and get to work. Trying to learn everything there is to know before practicing means never practicing. One must simply jump in. I did not wait to read the Big Book and the 12×12 and a myriad of other literature before I decided to abstain from alcohol, I did that first and then read the books.

At the moment I am trying to learn the guitar. A part of me thinks that I will be able to learn simply by reading the books, understanding theory and watching some you-tube videos. Unless I pick up a guitar and play I will never learn. Philosophy is no different. Even mistakes are useful, in fact making mistakes is essential.

Go out and practice being the person you want to be. There is no need to be a Philosopher or even to have a firm philosophy of life. Simply be the person you want to be and the rest will fall in to place. Practice what you Preach.



A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.” – Yoda “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”.

The Noble Path

In the Noble Eight Fold Path of Buddhism the virtue of commitment is inferred twice. Right Resolve is the first practice and is the act of making a conscience decision and acting on it. This may mean renunciation of a former way of life and the acceptance of a new path. Old habits and modes of thought are put aside and replaced with a philosophy and system of belief.  The mendicant would be adopting a new way of life which would involve renunciation of property, family ties and romantic love.

The second practice is Right Effort, having accepted the new way of life and training, the mendicant then applies consistently the principles underpinning their practice. This may include meditation, mental discipline, physical training, study and devotion.

Right Resolve and Right Effort both demonstrate commitment.

Commitment was crucial to the Jedi. Right Resolve was taking the vow to enter the Jedi Order and accepting the Jedi Code as the tenet governing behavior. As the Jedi progressed through training their resolve was continuously tested. The Jedi Trials were used as rituals to assess the progress of the Jedi Padawan on their journey to Knighthood.

The Trials of Life

Trial of Skill, the Trial of Courage, the Trial of the Flesh, the Trial of Spirit, and the Trial of Insight were used to test the Jedi. In “The Empire Strikes Back” Luke Skywalker undergoes Jedi Trials before he leaves his training early to rescue his friends and confront Darth Vader.

Right Effort was applied throughout the life of a Jedi to the moment of death. Every thought, word and act of the Jedi was to be in accordance with the Jedi Code. Mindfulness in every aspect of life was applied. The effort  to achieve this would require great commitment and self discipline.

Commitment to a Philosophy of Life takes effort and resolve. Being Jedi is not easy. Applying valued principles from the Buddha, Jesus and the Stoics takes self discipline. I sometimes wonder if I’m not playing some joke on myself and then I remember that one of the virtues is  also humor.

“If you commit to philosophy, be prepared at once to be laughed at and made the butt of many snide remarks. “ – Epictetus, Enchiridion 20.

Effort is Rewarded

Commitment is also tested in the real world. Our resolve and effort in staying sober is tested daily. We are assessed by our loved one’s, our friends and our employers. In the Army some of the guys I served with applied to enter in to the elite special forces community. The selection courses they completed were in many ways like the Jedi trials. They were continuously tested for their physical, mental and emotional fitness, their ability to make decisions under pressure, their perseverance and resolve and ultimately their character was under the microscope.

Those who failed returned devastated. Those who passed were moved on through their training as SF Operators and rarely seen again. When they were encountered they seemed different and they were different, they were better versions of themselves. I stood in awe and respect at what they had achieved.

I now stand in awe at what I have achieved in the last few years of recovery. My life is “a daily reprieve” and I owe it to the “Grace of God”. My effort was only to hold up my end of the bargain and not pick up a drink. I also made the commitment of “drop the rock” through Steps 6 and 7 and let go of my character faults and live in accordance with my values. This takes effort. I know what it takes and when I encounter another recovering addict I know the pain they have gone through and I stand in awe and respect.

“I believe life is constantly testing us for our level of commitment, and life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who demonstrate a never-ending commitment to act until they achieve. This level of resolve can move mountains, but it must be constant and consistent. As simplistic as this may sound, it is still the common denominator separating those who live their dreams from those who live in regret” – Tony Robbins

One Day at a Time

Commitment starts at Step 1. The moment we admit our disease and powerlessness over our addiction is the moment we commit to taking the first step to claiming the power to recover. What does it take? Everything. Do you need Right Resolve and Right Effort? Everyday and “one day at a time”.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. – Corinthians 15:10

The commitment required to stay sober and to live a life of continuous self improvement is by its very nature a hard slog. We trudge along in our recovery, one step at a time, one moment at a time. In our way appear obstacles and pit falls. We go down and we get back up and we keep going. Sometimes our mind is screaming for us to stop, yet out hearts and something more powerful within us keeps us going. We keep going because to stop and to quit is to die.

Go Hard

Every day we are on selection. Everyday we are working for our special forces tab. We get up, we get through the day, we thank our Higher Power and we claim renewed strength to get through another day. It takes effort and commitment all day every day.

The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment…there is no abiding success without commitment” – Tony Robbins
Your only limit is the boundaries that you set yourself. You are far more powerful than you know and it shows with your commitment in everything that you do. Today when you get up, own the day, commit to that and gut it.
Hooah!” – Army Slogan