Not God

“It’s against my programming to impersonate a deity.” – C-3PO, “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”

In the Star Wars fiction, computers were fitted with a safe guard that prevented them realizing singularity and attaining a God Complex. Imagine C-3PO with a God complex. Scary. Now imagine an alcoholic with one. Its as bad.

As a drunk I did not believe so much in God as I acted as if I was one. I had to be able to control people, places and things and I didn’t get my way I would get resentful and angry.

The God Problem

Many of my friends and associates are Atheists and very few, if any, are religious. Spirituality is not something that is openly discussed. The God topic is something to be avoided.

I was also unsure of where I stood with the whole “God” thing for many years. As a child I had rejected the notion of an all powerful Deity as suggested by my religious teachers in Catholic school. Quick to detect hypocrisy I rebelled and refused to attend Church or any of its ceremonies.

Along the way I adopted a sort of agnosticism that grudgingly conceded I may be right or I may be wrong about it. I kept the “reserve” card handy in my back pocket just in case. Sort of like an emergency hip flask in case I needed a shot of “God” when things really got bad. Seems most people only turn to God when they have no other options available.

Alcohol becomes a surrogate to God for many alcoholics. For other people it might be money, sex, work, ambition, power, family or nationalism. The one overwhelming and dominant factor in your life can become “God like”. Religion in its self is not “God” unless you happen to be religious. In that case your chosen religion becomes central to your life and value system and “God” becomes central to that. For me Ego and Booze was “God” over the years. If there was a redeeming God it certainly felt it had abandoned me.

Rationalizing HP

When I found my recovery I found a “Higher Power”. I knew intuitively that it was there, in me and everywhere. The problem was I could not define it or even conceptualize it. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to visualize and rationalize my “Higher Power”. The word, “God” did not sound right. I mean after all, wasn’t “God” the deity which had made me feel like a worthless sinner in Father Duffy’s Bible study class. Confused, I entered in to a period that swayed between elated Faith to stinging doubt and back again.

My mistake was trying to rationalize something that cannot be rationalized. I am a scientist after all. My background is critical inquiry. I ask questions and I investigate and in order to arrive at a judgement about a thing I seek evidence and where there is no conclusive evidence I experiment. Failing that I simply turn to Philosophy and think it through. You can’t “think” or “quantify” the spiritual through.

Obviously what was required was a complete departure from all previous concepts. I chose to cast aside all ideas and notions I had about “God”. Whether they had sprung up during my early recovery or were religious relics of my childhood I decided to let them all go. I decided to “Let Go and Let God” and just let things happen as they would. At last I stopped trying to run the show and control everything. I started to attain Emotional Sobriety.

The important thing is that I was accepting a spiritual basis in to my life. I didn’t need to do anything more than accept that willingly and have Faith. This is the true meaning of surrender.

Dodging God

The easy thing for many is to dodge the “Higher Power” aspect of the Steps. Many in the Jedi community I have come to know over the last three years also choose to either ignore the concept of the Force or avoid discussion about it. They feel that the Philosophy has no room for a spiritual aspect let alone some “hokey religion” called Jediism.

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.” – Han Solo ‘Episode 4: A New Hope”.

Open Mind

No matter what your view is, most can agree that an individual’s spirituality is a personal choice. Some people choose a religion and lead a pious life, others are far more secular. Working among scientists I find that many are atheists, some are “moderate” in views and others are militant emulating Richard Dawkins. I would suggest that having an “open mind” is the hall mark of a Scientist and a Jedi.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8)

If there is one lesson I have learned after the years in recovery it is I am not God. Yes I am a spiritual being having a human experience; I am an aspect of the Divine, a part of the whole. I believe that the Force is everywhere, it flows through this plane and the next and that I am part of it and shall reunite with it when I die. However I am not God.

Death

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

Jedi do not fear death in the fiction as they know that the material plane is only one dimension of existence, that in time all life returns to the Force as all life belongs to the Force. Even as Yoda dies in the “Return of the Jedi” his body vanishes supposedly transcending to the Force.

Yoda struggles through his final breaths to pass on a final lesson to Luke Skywalker. Throughout the movies we are reminded of the continuity of existence after the death of the physical and in the “Return of the Jedi” as Anakin, Obi-wan Kenobi and Yoda appear before Luke Skywalker in their ethereal forms we get a sense of peace and hope that even in death, love endures.

To Live is to Accept Dying

Why do we fear death? I was terrified of death and sought escape and succour in a bottle knowing that by doing so was a slow death. I’ve heard that alcoholics are not afraid of dying but fear only the long slow death of alcoholism, yet they drink despite this fear so strong is the compulsion.

With recovery we begin to see the sunlight through the clouds and with time the fear of death is replaced by renewed hope and a sense of love for life and compassion for others. We begin to love ourselves again and express true love for others especially those that we have harmed through our actions. We begin to reconcile ourselves with God “as we understand him” and put together a plan of action to make amends and rid ourselves of our character defects and weaknesses.

Fear of death leaves us entirely after having got so close to death in the past, close enough to feel its presence in the early hours of the morning. We have faced our fears of some unknown thing that clawed at our being, we are no strangers to it and come to realize that death is also a part of life. It is not death that causes us fear, we only fear the thought of dying.

“We do not fear death; we fear the thought of death” – Seneca

The Circle of Life

Do we not begin dying at the point of birth? Our lives are simply a biological struggle to offset death long enough to ensure that our genetic make-up is passed on to the next generation.  Our descendants grant us a type of physical immortality that will one day invariably fade as does the very memory of our existence.

Perhaps, it is the fear of being forgotten that strikes at the heart of most people; that their short life will have little meaning in years, decades and centuries and that those they leave behind will eventually also die, turn to dust and be forgotten. Most of us prefer not to ponder such things until we arrive at our middle years, mostly in shock at how quickly the years have passed, deciding to make the most of our remaining years and “really live”. Does any of this matter?

The end of the Road?

Depending on your view of the Force and belief around life after death you may have decided that life does not end with our final breath but continues “on the other side of the veil” in the afterlife. Conversely you may take the view that one a person dies that is it, they are no more and will not care whether they are remembered or mourned or not. As they are dead and completely oblivious to anything as much as a lump of wood is.

It is the right of the living to mourn the dead and to remember them. Whether a person transcends to the spiritual plane or simply becomes nothing with brain death should make no difference to the departed. With death comes the end of the ego and also the end of Fear. The great mystery and hope for all is whether Love transcends death as in Star Wars, I believe it does.

Twilight is upon me, and night must fall. That is the way of things, the way of the force” – Yoda

I have felt the brush of death and know within me that death is not to be feared, it is the destination for all and a part of nature. We can all hope for a long and happy life but we should also be prepared for a good death and how we choose to face our ultimate and final destination is also within our power.