The Shadow

Luke, trust your feelings – Obi-Wan Kenobi

When you look at the dark side, careful you must be. For the dark side looks back.” – Yoda

 

We are each made up of three distinct aspects. There is the Shadow, the Watcher and the Persona. The part of me which I know best and which presents to others is the persona. The Shadow is what lurks beneath the surface of my consciousness and my ego. It is the Dark Side of the psyche, the inner beast. The Watcher is the unseen observer, the inner pilot which comes from the Force. Today I would like to talk about the Shadow.

 

This meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one’s own shadow. The shadow is a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well. But one must learn to know oneself in order to know who one is….” – Carl Jung

 

Ahuyuasca

A friend of mine recently came back from Peru where he had attended an Ahuyuasca retreat*. Over a period of three days he participated in ceremonies where he took a brew made from the Ahuyuasca plant. The plant is a potent psychedelic drug. Users can attest to profound life changing experiences under its influence.

 

My friend was curious and being a veteran of recent wars he had deep seated issues he wanted to confront and resolve. Depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, self doubt, suicidal thoughts and PTSD clouded his existence as it does with many other veterans.

 

During one of the ceremonies my friend came face to face with his Dark Side. Decades of repressed emotions were revealed and released. Spiraling deep in to a dark abyss his whole being was made apparent in all its millions of facets. All of the guilt, self doubt, the anguish and pain he held within, all the buried memories were revealed to him in a swirling sea that stretched to eternity. The vision was tangible and alive. It was terrible and wonderful at the same time.

 

“….For what comes after the door is, surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad…..” – Carl Jung

 

In that swirling chaos of his subconscious my friend found that he could let go of all that held him back and find peace at last if he chose. His past, present and future became as one. All time was now. Every place was now. Separation and duality did not exist. In that dimension he realized the illusion of self for what it is.

 

The effect the experience had on him was cathartic and complete. My friend had had nothing less than a deep spiritual experience.  I was drawn to this story because it sounded like the spiritual experience that had placed me on the road to sobriety. I had also met my Shadow. The difference was I didn’t take Ahuyuasca then but had fallen into a deep psychic rift leading to a mental and spiritual personal hell which I came back from as if reborn.

 

“….It is the world of water…..where I am indivisibly this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me” – Carl Jung

 

 

 

The Beast

Carl Jung wrote about the Shadow. Jung stated that every person has a Shadow, a Dark Side, which is always present. Some of us keep it buried deep within our psyche and never know of it. Others allow it to bubble to the surface and manifest on occasion but maintain control or keep it buried much of the time. Fewer people are dominated by the Shadow. Very few people are even acquainted with their Shadow. It is the repressed morass of everything we don’t want to know about ourselves. The conscious Ego refuses to acknowledge the Shadow at all.

 

The Shadow is like the creature that lurked in garbage compactor of the Death Star; hidden and insidious yet indifferent. The Cave on Dagobah was a symbol of the intrinsic Shadow. A place best avoided. The Shadow is in us but we’d rather not know about it.

 

The Shadow is not necessarily evil. To label anything evil or malign is convenient but not always accurate. No person is inherently evil but the capacity to do terrible things resides in all of us. The Shadow of the psyche plays a hand in that. At the same time the Shadow can also have positive aspects such as risk taking and competitiveness. It can also be entirely unknown to us and have us act in ways that baffle us and those around us. You may not notice your own Shadow but others do and they’ll rarely be up front with you about it. Likewise you will see it in others. You will project your own shadow on others and find fault there.

 

There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless.” – Plato “The Republic”

 

 

Primal

We all have an inner moral compass. Much of our personal views and morality is based on societal norms and the influence of our family and friends. It is often said that a person who is “well raised” will display moral virtues even under the most testing conditions. Yet, a sense of morality is also built in to our psyche. We intuitively know right from wrong. Children are naturally empathetic and caring. An infant that is deprived of affection and human touch will fail to grow and likely die. To be human is to be more than just a product of our environment. There is a blend of nature and nurture in everyone.

 

Yet the Shadow resides within us all. Jung said it extends all the way to Hell. It is part of our nature and buried in the recesses of our psyche to levels you cannot imagine. The Shadow pulls at our sleeve and appeals to the Darker Side of our nature and manifests as aggression, selfishness and greed. There is an evolutionary advantage to that. After all as humans we are driven to compete, dominate and consume. Without that drive our species would not have evolved, prevailed and ultimately populated the Earth.

 

At the same time coexistence and cooperation has been a requisite for survival and mutual benefit. There remains a duality in Humans, a Yin and Yang derived from millions of years of evolution. But like it or not everyone is a loaded gun. You, I and everyone are capable of good, bad and even terrible things.

 

Everyone carries a shadow and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is” – Carl Jung

 

 

Archetypes

In Mythology there is usually a Hero and a Villain. Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero with a Thousand Faces” reminds us of this timeless formula. George Lucas based Star Wars on Campbell’s “Heroes Journey”.

 

We meet the Shadow in Star Wars. There are Heroes and Villains of course but none of the characters act always as expected. Some of the heroes are less than heroic and some of the villains also show redeeming virtues at times. Real life is no different. In reality we are both Hero and Villain in our own life story.

 

The “Heroes Journey” calls the protagonist to face his Shadow, overcome it and come out better from the experience. Along his Journey the Hero can also be a Villain and an Anti-Hero. This doesn’t only make for a good tale but it also develops character and provides an important lesson which is the purpose of myth.

 

Han Solo, Asajj Ventress, Boba Fett, Cade Bane, Lando Carlissian, Mace Windu, Quinlan Vos and Qui-Gon Jinn were neither all Hero nor all Villains. Each of the characters displayed attributes both good and bad. They were complex individuals who acted for reasons that seemed correct to them at the time. The Empire was not entirely bad either nor was the Republic entirely good. The Shadow was in everything. That is one of the gems of Lucas’s creation.

 

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

 

 

Living with the Shadow

The Skywalker family seemed utterly cursed. Anakin of course was haunted his entire life by the Shadow of Vader. Leia struggled with her own inner Demons. There was the perpetual conflict in Leia between a responsibility to her family and to her position. Luke was torn by his own inner doubts. On Dagobah he came face to face with his Dark Side in the Cave, a crucial part of his training. Luke confronted it again, for real, as his rage took decades later and he almost killed his nephew. Kylo Ren equally infected saw beauty and purpose in a nihilistic pursuit of power.

 

Yoda summoned his Shadow and overcame it allowing him to unify with the Force. Obi-wan Kenobi also invited his Shadow “out to play” and let it cut him down thus releasing him to also unify with the Force,

 

The best way to deal with your Dark Side is to face it, know it and accept it. Ignoring the Shadow does not work. Trying to kill the Shadow is impossible. We Alcoholics are often warned of the danger of the Ego. The Ego we are reminded has a tendency to become inflated. In time we lose our humility to Ego and allow ourselves to be led astray. In fact the much maligned Ego is not all bad. It is essential to our persona as long as we don’t let it get away from us. The Shadow on the over hand is the overlooked enemy if we let it dominate and control us.

 

“It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognize the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both” – Robert Louise Stephenson (Author of “Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde”)

 

Source: Star Wars (Luca Films)

 

Jeckyll and Hyde

Someone once told me that alcohol does nothing more than bring the real persona to the fore. That scared me because it meant that I was not a nice person. It also meant that I did not know myself at all.

 

If you knew me sober and then met me when I was drunk you would no longer know me. You would be confronted by a personality completely different to the individual you had previously met. The act of taking a drink had chemically altered my brain. After a single drink I was no longer the same person. One drink would lead to more drinks and the transformation would progress.

 

Eventually I would no longer resemble my sober self more than a passing physical resemblance. I resembled the duality of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde. Drunk I was as base, antisocial and destructive as Mr Hyde.

 

Eventually the Shadow began to take over my persona entirely.

 

“Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

 

 

Three Steps

Look deep in to the soul of an Alcoholic in the later stage of addiction and you will see the Shadow staring back. The person you see is now the Shadow having completely taken over the person’s psyche. It is frightening if you pause to think about it. Even the Ego has been muted and forced down. The Ego needs the body to survive and won’t endanger it willingly. The Shadow does not care.

 

What remains in the late stage Alcoholic is the manifestation of something primal, desperate and nihilist. There is utter selfishness, anger, rage, self pity, self loathing, denial, indifference, resentment, grief and more than anything an urge that must be fulfilled at any cost. This is the Shadow. The only way out of the Shadow is through a spiritual cure.

 

In order to break from my Shadow I had to confront it through admission of my Alcoholism. My disease showed itself to me in all its detail. I saw clearly the harm I had caused to myself and others. I saw the past and the future laid out before me. The present moment stood still and I knew that I was on the edge of a great chasm.

My Shadow was laid bare before me. It was like I was detached from my body looking down at me and seeing myself for who I was for the first time. At that moment I turned to a Higher Power and asked it to take my burden. I became willing to let go without regret or reservation. In that moment I knew the shackles had been removed. I was free.

 

“In these ways, the personal shadow reinforces, encourages, and becomes dependent upon the addictive behavior to express itself, to have any existence in the light outside of the closet, the attic, and the basement where it has been locked up and hidden for so long.” – David Schoen “The War of the Gods in Addiction”.

 

 

The Journey

What I meant by a spiritual cure is not Divine Intervention but Faith in a Higher Power. The road to recovery for me had only begun at that moment. In order to express Faith I had to work. Self discipline and tenacity was necessary. Constant and honest introspection was required. I completed my personal inventory and admitted my faults and litany of wrongs to another and to my Higher Power. Little by little my Shadow began to dissipate becoming less black and dense. The spiritual burden I carried became lighter. I began to know myself more in weeks than I had in decades.

 

The process never ends. Daily introspection is required. Admit faults without hesitation. Seek to make amends where appropriate. Make a daily inventory and meditate on the Shadow often. Review, adapt, modify and improve continuously. Knowledge accumulates and wisdom follows.

 

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” – Carl Jung

 

 

 

Integrate

Once you acknowledge and accept that life is suffering and you suffer you can begin to dissect the reasons why. It will come as no surprise to discover that much of our own suffering comes from our own choices. Many of those choices will be contrary to your stated principles, values and virtues. An Alcoholic must at last confront the Shadow which afflicts his life and struggle to overcome it. Only by accepting that reality and seeing things as they really are do we stand a chance. Paradoxically healing comes from integrating the Shadow in to our consciousness.

 

We must constantly question the paradigm we find ourselves in. Does it represent reality or a projection of your own psyche? We must also decide what our values are and the virtues we wish to demonstrate. Are your thoughts, habits and actions objective and in congruence with those stated principles, values and virtues?

 

A Jedi constantly questions his or her reality. A Jedi trusts her feelings because she knows they are valid. Jedi are never satisfied with appearances alone and delve deeper to uncover the truth discarding what is false or redundant. Jedi practices such as meditation, physical training, mindfulness, awareness, objective inquiry and self discipline all serve to keep a Jedi in reality. Cooperation, diplomacy, reasoned discourse and respect for others creates an environment incongruent to the Shadow. Jedi strive to uphold the Code.

 

Light repels shadows and only barriers that we construct with our own minds create them. Light offers clarity through knowledge while the Shadow conceals the truth. A Jedi is simply someone who knows who they are both good and bad, warts and all. They know and accept the Shadow and fully and mindfully integrate it.

 

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”  – Carl Gustav Jung

 

 

Being you

My friend found answers in his quest for knowledge through Ahuyuasca. In reality all he did was confront his Shadow and fully integrate it in to his being. This he did through acceptance and surrender to the experience. As a result all of the repressed memories and emotions he carried were released. From there he was able to walk away from the experience a free man at least for a time.

 

Isn’t freedom from suffering what we all seek?  Is it enough to confront the Shadow? Is a spiritual experience alone enough to reach self actualization and lasting serenity?

 

The attainment of virtue, clarity of purpose and wisdom should be the pillars we seek in life. This is the highway on the journey to enlightenment. By confronting the Shadow we come face to face with our Dark Side and knowing it we can better know ourselves. Knowing ourselves we can then begin to lighten the shadow and express what we repress. We invite our repressed feelings out to play. We integrate our Shadow in a constructive way rather than leave it buried deep within our psyche.

 

All our lives we are conditioned to be and act a certain way. We repress and hide aspects of ourselves that we refuse to acknowledge. Our persona is a mirror of what family, friends and society wants from us. The Shadow retains the hidden morass of repressed memories and emotions like the refuse and the beast in the garbage compactor on the Death Star. Embrace the aspects of the shadow that serve. Be you entirely not a second rate version, a mere shadow of yourself.

 

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.” – Carl Jung

 

 

*Authors Note: I do not personally endorse or recommend the use of Ahuyuasca or any other psychedelic drug without the full supervision of a competent practicing psychiatrist. There are many retreats in South America and elsewhere that offer Ahuyuasca ceremonies. Readers who are considering traveling to a retreat and using the drug should fully research the topic beforehand and seek medical advice prior to proceeding with the experience.

 

Further Reading

Related article on Star Wars.com: https://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-in-mythology-the-shadow

Jung, C.G. (1969). Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious [sic], Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 9 (Part 1), Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-09761-9

The Dark Side

Jedi believe that there is a dark side but refuse to dwell on it.

Jedi believe that the dark side exists, but refuse to dwell on it, or follow it, or use it in any way. The dark side is a negative energy, also known as the ‘negative power’ or ‘dark energy’. The dark side is considered to be evil, negative, the opposite of good, and is never to be followed or used by the Jedi.

“The 33 Traits of a Jedi”

Good and Evil

In reality nothing is inherently “good” or “evil” there is only the preferred and the non-preferred. Opposites do exist however at the spiritual or metaphysical level. The opposite of Love is Hate and the Opposite of Faith is Fear. All emotions come from a place of Love or from a root of Fear. The Ego creates Fear while the Divine self only knows Love.

In nature there is no “Evil” only indifference. There is no physical source of the human perspectives of “Light” or “Darkness”  in the Universe. The cosmos is entirely indifferent to our existence. Spend a second in outer space without a space suit and that cold harsh reality becomes quickly apparent.

There are two sides to the dimension of the Force and the duality of “Light” and “Dark” polar opposites. One is physical, the absence of light results in dark and the absence of heat is cold. The other is metaphysical or spiritual and is a question of belief. One could say that Fear is the absence of Faith and Hell is the absence of Love.

Dark Side is Ego

My view of the Force is that it is the source and destination of all. It cannot be described in words. The Force is the non-duality of reality and the source of all creation. The sum of the parts and the each of the parts all contain the Force. Life is expressed in the Force.

The Dark side is purely a Human construct, it does not otherwise exist. The source of the “Dark Side” is the Ego. It is made by the Ego. Without the Ego the Dark Side does not exist as it does not represent who we truly are. The Ego keeps us in separation from our Divine truth and in fear. Fear is the tool it uses to keep us there. As previously stated all “negative” emotions are rooted in Fear. The source of all resistance, conflict, denial and competition is Fear.

Negative Emotions

Emotions such as anger, shame, anxiety, melancholy, arrogance, guilt, doubt, distrust and envy are examples of “negative” states of mind which are generally non-preferred.  All such emotions are felt as “suffering” and are derived from attachments of the Ego.  Such states could be called “shades of the Dark Side”.  Extreme and forceful emotions such as rage and hate could be called expressions of the Dark Side. These raw emotions have the potential to be destructive and rarely serve.

“Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.” – Yoda “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”.

The statement reminds us to be mindful of our negative emotions. To be human is to have an Ego and to have an Ego is to carry the burden of emotions. In some people there is the capacity to suppress or mask emotions. In rare people there is a heightened state of consciousness which transcends base emotions and replaces them with higher order emotions such as abiding love and joy. These people are said to be “enlightened”. Ordinary emotions are however human and each person chooses how they respond to passing emotions particularly those we refer to as “negative” such as fear, anger and hate. Do we rule our emotions or do we rule them?

Evil is an Opinion

I personally do not believe in a “Dark Side” as depicted in Star Wars anymore than I believe in a place of eternal suffering as depicted in the mainstream religions called Hell. Hell is a choice we make for ourselves through the consequence of our decisions and actions. There is no eternal pit of fire for damned souls other than a metaphorical one.

I do believe however that each person has the capacity to do evil. By evil I mean something that is contrary to both nature and moral virtues common in all societies historical and contemporary. An evil act is usually obvious to the observer but not always apparent to the perpetrator. One only need to search their conscience to decide whether an act is evil or not.

People will also differ in their definition of evil based on religious or cultural mores. For example, some people consider abortion to be evil while others view it as an individual right. The same applies to euthanasia or capital punishment. No person is inherently evil any more than a person is born hating someone.

People do “evil” things, some people may be so mentally disturbed that they appear “evil” and even act evil. Psychopaths and megalomaniac generally fall in to this category. However even the most vile criminal who is sane of mind will be able to articulate the rationale and justification for their heinous crimes. The will to commit evil will rarely ever figure in their decision to murder, rape or molest.

The Sith

The Sith never said that they were evil, quite the contrary the Sith believed they were acting in accordance with their beliefs and to the benefit of law and order, the greater good.

Once more the Sith will rule the galaxy, and we shall have peace. – Darth Sidious

You will find many occasions in the Star Wars saga (Canon and Legends) where the Jedi could be contrived as being the “bad guys”. As a matter of fact many Star systems sought to breakaway from the Republic and viewed the Jedi as an autocracy as bad as the Sith.

you‘re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Anakin embraced his raw emotions of anger, hatred and fear. He used pain to grow stronger and become one with the Dark Side of the Force. The Sith believed that such emotions that we view as “negative” were actually a source of power. The philosophy advocated the attainment and ascendancy of power at the expense of inferior sentient beings. Evolution applies the same principle without effort, through natural selection. Is it right or is it wrong? That depends on your point of view.

The question is whether Anakin’s conversion served him in the long term. Considering what he lost by turning to the Dark Side and becoming Darth Vader the verdict would be that he suffered.

Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad wrote about a man’s personal journey in the “Heart of Darkness”. The story was brilliantly adapted in to the movie Apocalypse Now. Sometimes the Dark Side does overcome what Lincoln called the “better angels of our nature”.

“Because there’s a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.” – General Gorman “Apocalypse Now”.

I have  seen some of what humans are capable of in the name of country, ethnicity, religion and race. There is a “Dark Side” to human nature. If Hell exists it is in places right now like Darfur, Syria and Yemen.  I have seen it in East Africa and Bosnia. We are essentially animals struggling for survival at their basest nature. Politics, patriotism and religion is nothing more than mind trick to incite people to war and keep us in separation. The Ego also pushes the limits of what a rational person would consider acceptable under any circumstances.

Everyone still has a choice though. We do not have to resort to emotions that make us act in ways we will later regret. We do not need to fall victim to our own personal “Dark Side”. To do so leads to suffering.

Never Forget

In my descent to my own “Dark Side” of alcoholic “Rock Bottom” I was filled with fear and loathing. The wold was a dark place void of all hope, the shrieks of madness and despair echoed within its walls. Nothing less than a complete deflation of the Ego allowed me to emerge and start a journey of recovery.

The “Dark Side” is something that exists in all of us, it is part of our Ego, not some sort of Force that builds and coalesces into energy we can shoot from our finger tips. My Dark Side of alcoholism still resides within me like some twisted beast tethered by a rope, it sits there in silence, watching and waiting for a chance to come out. I know it and it knows me. A cold wind blows and a chill runs down my spine as if I have been brushed by the Dark Side. I can hear it laugh and rage within me. Better not to dwell on it but I never forget that it is there.

Fear

Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Yoda, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

This was a prophetic line and one which reverberated through the entire Star Wars Saga . Yoda’s words revealed the destiny of a single child who was to ultimately change the course of history and have a resounding impact on an entire galaxy of trillions of sentient beings. The wisdom also shows us the path that can lead us back to despair. Our own journey to the Dark Side begins with fear.

Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with Fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself” – ACIM

Fear is the polar opposite of Faith. Only Fear can eclipse Love. It was Fear which drives the wedge of separation between who we truly are and our divine source. It is Fear that keeps us in that illusion of separation. The Ego thrives on Fear and validates itself there in the human expressions of anger and hate. Fear, Anger and Hate are the harbinger of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse; Conquest, War, Famine, and Death. Every negative expression of human emotion and each of the seven deadly sins finds its source in Fear.

Every single negative emotion and action has its root in Fear. Fear is Suffering, the very essence of the Dark Side. The need to resist, attack, impose, possess and control all come from Fear. Fear controls us in so many ways and forms the basis of the Ego. Without Fear there is no Ego as it removes the filter between our false and true selves. To live in separation is to exist in Fear.

 Facing Fear

Besides your recognizing that thoughts are never idle, salvation requires that you also recognize that every thought you have brings either peace or war; either love or fear.” – ACIM

Fear kept me in alcoholism for decades and controlled every aspect of my life, every decision. The Fear of rejection, fear of loss, fear of change and fear of the truth defined who I was. For me it was “F#*k everything and Run”. In recovery we make our way out of the dark and we begin to realize that Fear is nothing but an illusion which the Ego uses to keep us from self-realisation.

In recovery we learn to face our Fears and facing them they vanish one after the other. We realize that we have been held captive by something we empowered with our own minds. Like the children’s tale of an imaginary beast that lives in the Forest in order to keep them from straying, our Ego creates a beast and the more we resist it or try to run, the larger it grows until it consumes us. Through non-resistance we are able to confront our Fears and face them down, what appears to be real soon fades and vanishes.

All healing is essentially release from Fear” – ACIM

We become free of Fear, we really had nothing to Fear in the first place other than Fear itself. Fear really is “False Evidence Appearing Real”.

Destiny

In “The Clone Wars: Destiny”, Yoda meets the manifestation of his Dark Side. The creature harbors all of Yoda’s Fears and Doubts and tries to attack and kill the Jedi Master. Yoda fights for his life but the more he struggles the stronger the entity becomes. Realizing the truth Yoda confronts the Dark figure and draws it to him. No longer afraid Yoda looks in to the face of his Dark Side and releases it, banishing the entity to oblivion. The Force Priestess Serenity arrives and reveals that the entity was nothing more than a manifestation of the mind, it never existed.

Observe and Let Go

In the “Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle teaches that within us all exists a light that we can use to illuminate anything we Fear. I doubted this and realizing that Doubt is the cousin of Fear I began to explore. One day I felt a strong sense of Fear and foreboding hit me that was overwhelming. It took me to the edge of sanity and I knew that unless I did something I would lose my grip and drink again. I resisted and fought the sensation and the Fear grew stronger. Somewhere in my mind I realized it didn’t have to be like this, I was giving in to Fear. I remembered the “Power of Now” and used my own inner light.

“To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness.” —Eckhart Tolle

This is how it works. Observe your Fear to overcome it. Imagine that Fear to be inside, a dark mass where the core is. Now imagine a strong glowing light growing brighter and brighter in your mind. Watch that glowing white light fill you entire body and illuminate the “Dark Mass” of Fear within you. Observe without judgment, with equanimity and without resistance. As Fear recedes from the light, embrace it and let it go. I imagine this as the Force negating Fear.

Your Fears have no Power over you no more than the Dark Side had any Power over Yoda. Luke faced his Dark Side on Dagobah also an illusion of Fear. Anakin let himself fall victim to something that was not real, his own Fears. This led to immense anger and then hate, the very fuel and oxygen needed for the dark Side to consume him. Our Fears do not own us unless we let it.

 Natural Fear

In some situations Fear is a healthy response. For example if confronted with a threat to life the Fear emotion is a normal. Natural Fear is used to elicit a “fight”, “freeze” or “flight” physiological and behavioural response in the face of Danger. The Jedi were trained, like Soldiers and Emergency workers in the real world to harness that Fear in to mindful actions and responses. Anxiety, fear of the unknown and the imagined is Ego-Fear and it is not real and not rational. Therefore there is no need for the emotional suffering we put ourselves through. It is important that we know the difference between Real Fear and Irrational Fear.

The greatest insanity of all is to submit to Fear. The greatest act one can do is free oneself from Fear. Love is the only thing which can truly overcomes Fear. Choose Love not Fear.

He who has escaped all fear of future pain has found his way to present peace. Place then, your future in the Hands of God.” – ACIM

Temptation

When you look at the dark side, careful you must be … for the dark side looks back.” – Yoda

There is a saying in AA that while you are in a meeting your addiction is the Beast in the parking lot doing push ups. It’s a sad fact that the disease of alcoholism is for life. A true Alcoholic may be recovered but is never cured. One may be sober for a while and be doing well in recovery and gain the confidence to try a little “controlled drinking”. Then there’s temptation. The Beast is always seeking a way, it is a subtle and cunning foe.

Russian roulette

Controlled drinking may work for a while; it may even work for months. I know I’ve tried it. After a while I started to get confident and cocky. Thinking that I had beaten the old Dog I would let my hair down and next thing I know I’m as drunk as ever. My confidence deflated and my ego badly bruised I would “swear off” again for a few weeks until the next time.

We all know that the only effective way of staying sober is to abstain completely. There is no room for a drink. Not even one. We can try but the disease of alcoholism is unpredictable. With one drink we may be away on a massive binge or we may find that it was easy to stop at one. There is no certainty and for me the game is akin to Russian roulette.

Temptation

Temptation is our disease doing Jedi Mind Tricks with our head. Rationalization is the other weapon it uses. We can literally hear our disease trying to lull us in to a false sense of security. A drop of the guard and next thing we are staring at a glass full of Bourbon wondering how the hell we got there. The crazy thing we never even know how we arrived at that point. It goes something like this:

“Suddenly the thought crossed my mind that if I were to put an ounce of whiskey in my milk it couldn’t hurt me on a full stomach.” (Big Book Chapter 3, p.38).

That is how subtle alcohol is. The man in the story had his loaded glass of milk and then another and another. This led to more drinks and eventually an asylum.

Temptation is “looking at the dark side”. Every time I walk past a bar or a liquor store I feel something within me stir. When I feel my anger rise and darkness falls over me as my judgment becomes clouded by resentment and fear I can hear my addiction laughing. Lonely, tired, depressed, anxious, frustrated or even hungry I can sense that my defenses are down and my addiction is stirred.

Times like these you need to do anything, pray, workout, call a sponsor, meditate, scream, anything but pour a drink.

 The Beast

In my early recovery I visualized my addiction as some sort of creature, a Beast if you will. I had cast a light on it by turning my life over to a Higher Power. My addiction retreated to a dark place and there it screamed and cursed. It promised it would have me again as it always had in the past. It would come back and make me pay. There was the knot of withdrawal in my stomach and I imagined it was my addiction beating against the bars of it’s cage. I have the keys, I could let it out. I dare not.

My addiction is still there and it always will be. It is mostly silent now but it waits patiently. The disease does not know time, it does not care how long I abstain for or how strong I think my recovery is. It only needs one slip and it’s out of the cage. It will be there till I die or it will carry me to the grave. I hold the key, I decide.

Every time I look in that dark place it is there and it looks back and it grins.