Intention

A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.” – Yoda

 

Symbols of Intent

The first thing most people imagine when they hear the word Jedi is Luke Skywalker or Obi-wan Kenobi with Light Saber in hand rushing towards an enemy as they deflect laser bolts. The image of the warrior is prominent in peoples mind. It is true that the fictional Jedi are armed with light Saber the same way Monks of the east and west were armed with staffs and martial arts to defend themselves. To imagine the Light Saber as a weapon of offense is an error in fact it was a symbol of the Jedi principle of protection and defense. The intent of the Light Saber is its power. It was only used as a weapon as a last resort and never in anger.

In “Return of the Jedi” Luke casts aside his Light Saber during the final confrontation with Darth Vader. The act is symbolic. Luke decided to cast his anger aside and find the love and compassion within him. It is the only way he can defeat Darth Sidious and redeem Vader.

In “The Last Jedi” the ageing Luke Skywalker takes the Light Saber offered to him by Rey after she has found him living as a Hermit on the hidden planet of Ahch-To. With comical irreverence Luke throws his old Light Saber behind his back.

For years Obi-wan Kenobi resided on Tatooine watching over Luke from a distance. Although he still had his Light Saber it was kept aside. Even in confronting the Sand People who had captured Luke Skywalker in “A New Hope”, Obi-wan Kenobi chose only to use the power of perception and his own voice in driving the Tuscan Raiders away in fear. The Light Saber is symbolic of the Jedi only if it used with Right Intent.

 

Lethal Intent

I’ve often heard the statement that firearms kill people. A gun can be used to kill a person however it is not the weapon itself that decides its end use. The intent to kill resides with the wielder. A sword can just as easily be beaten in to a plow than used as a weapon depending on the intention of the user.

Intention is therefore everything in the “why and how” we conduct our life. I can choose to own a Light Saber, a Gun or a Pit Bull Terrier.  The Light Saber replica won’t have much use but how I choose to manifest my intent with a gun and an “aggressive” breed of dog is entirely up to me. I can keep the gun locked away and hopefully never ever have to use it and I can train the Dog to be a loving pet; gentle with people and other animals. There is still an element of uncertainty based on what I have control over and what I don’t. The Dog may unexpectedly bite a child and the gun might be stolen and used in a crime.

 

Reasoned Intent

With every decision we make there is always an intent, a purpose. Why do we make the choices that we do? What is our intent? When I left High School and presented to an Army recruiter the first thing he asked me was “Why do you want to join the Army”? He said my response was important and it had to be honest. The answer revealed my true intention and whether I was going to stick my contract or wash out.

Likewise when I first approached the Jedi community and revealed I wanted to train in Jedi philosophy I was asked to spend some time thinking about “Why Jedi”. What was the intent of my choice? Would it sustain my practice past a few weeks or months? Did I realize it was an internal path and one I would have to keep largely to myself? I found that being able to reason rather than rationalize my intent before doing something was more likely to align it to who I am and want to be.

 

First things First

One of the most important questions I had to ask myself when I was drinking to excess was “Why am I doing this? What is the purpose?” There was no reasoned or even rationalized response. In the beginning the intent of my drinking had been to feel better within my self, to fill some emptiness inside. I wanted to be accepted and loved like everyone else and drinking seemed to promise a way into fellowship, confidence and acceptance.

Drinking could make me feel part of something bigger than myself and to be somebody who could be respected, admired and sought out. Of course this was all a mirage and I fell in to the trap and it took me to a dark place after all the illusions I had created began to fall away.  Something entirely different was revealed. An image that was unbearable to confront.

In the end, the intent of drinking was to satiate a need that could not be satisfied and to keep the beast within fed. It had become a cage. Realizing true intent was like lifting the veil that had shrouded the truth for years. I began to understand the true nature of my disease.

 

Failed Intent

All the times I had tried to quit or at least control my drinking in the past had eventually ended in relapse. In going on the “wagon” I had had good intentions but I could not follow it up with meaningful actions. My intent was also conditional on certain loop holes in thinking. Like small cracks in a dyke they eventually split open and allowed the entire structure to collapse in a flood of booze. Intention was moderated by rationalization. I figured I could still achieve my goal of sobriety with the odd loosening of the belt. This of course was a form of “False Intent”.

 

A Daily Reprieve

Where do your priorities lay? What is important to you? What matters most of all? In the beginning my intent was to simply get through the day without taking a drink. The next day could look after itself and the next day after that. My commitment was for 24 hours.

I would renew my intent every morning and claim the strength from my Higher Power to achieve that. At the end of the day I would review how things had gone and on turning off the light thank my Higher Power for another sober day. My goal was sustained and long-term sobriety and my dream was to realize serenity.

My intent was simply to claim a daily reprieve and stay sober one day at a time through application of certain virtues and principles. This was a form of “Right Intent”.

 

What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition” – Alcoholics Anonymous p85.

 

Right Intent

The second step and virtue on the Eight fold path of Buddhism is “Right Intent”. Intention is more than resolve. Through resolve we decide to do something but it is not enough on its own. We must have “Right Intent” in order to stay the course. For example would anyone who resolves to marry another person bother if they did not intend to give the marriage their utmost for as long as possible?

Resolve and Intent are two different things and of course they work in tandem. Both must stay as strong as the day we set off for the duration of the journey. Yes there are days when we stagger and fall but intent keeps us moving forward even when resolve falters. We strive for outcomes but must also accept what is in our control as well as what is outside of it.

Intent in Action

Intention is flawed if our intent is;

  • To draw something to ourselves for selfish gain; or
  • to force something away through ill will;
  • or to do harm to ourselves or others.

To counteract flawed intention one’s intention must;

  • Be based on renunciation. We must be willing to let go of the causes of our suffering. Desires and clinging attachments to people, places, things, circumstance and flawed ideas tightly held all lead to suffering as they are impermanent and transient. Addiction is a form of rampant attachment. Luke Skywalker casting his Light Saber aside was a renunciation of attachment to old strongly held beliefs.
  • derived from good will. When we do things we essentially seek to serve others before ourselves. In the recovery program personal benefit is derived by helping others struggling with their addictions. Caring for others is a corner stone of Faith and many philosophies including Jedi Philosophy.
  • inherently harmless. In the 12 Steps amends are sought to people whom we have harmed wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. The Hippocratic Oath compels Doctors to “primum non nocere”, first do no harm. Compassion is a Jedi trait.

Right intent is expressed through thought, word and actions. Therefore being mindful of intention is important. We should consider the impact of our thoughts, words and actions on self and others.  The potential consequences either immediate or delayed should be considered. We may do something with the best of intentions but not realize the consequences of our actions until much later. By contemplating our actions and looking beyond outward far beyond ourselves we become more mindful of the reach of our intent.

Always ask what your intent is and whether it serves or not.

 

The Jedi Method

The Jedi Method is a formula used to apply mindfulness in our actions. Our desire is for an outcome which aligns with our values. The method states:

 

Intent + Action = Outcome

 

If our Intent is right and our actions follow suit than there is a high likelihood, while never guaranteed, that outcome will agree with action and intent. Action and Intent is applied in a world in which we do not exercise supreme control over all external factors. We cannot foresee the future or account for every single possible variable. We only have what we control (Intent and Action).

  1. Ask yourself before committing to an action “Could this action lead to suffering?” If the answer is “yes” reconsider it after applying ethics and your personal value system to a decision.
  2. During the action ask “Is this action causing suffering?” if so, then reconsider the need to continue or make adjustments that correct the error.
  3. After the action consider “Will this action lead to suffering?” if so, then seek to remedy, learn from it and avoid repetition in the future.

We live in an imperfect system and everyone makes mistakes. All that one can reasonably expect is that we take due diligence in our actions. We are accountable and responsible for the choices we make. If our intent is challenged we can defend our actions with conviction and without hesitation.

We take charge of the things that we can control, work with what we can influence  and we willingly surrender the things over which we have no control.

 

Surrender at Last

A Light Saber can be a weapon or a door stop depending on the intent of the user. Perhaps Luke Skywalker had learned towards the end of his physical existence that the mind is far more powerful than a weapon. The Last Jedi decided he no longer needed his Light Saber even for the purpose of protection.

On the Planet of Crait Skywalker faced his old apprentice and nephew, Kylo Ren, who was bent on killing him. Luke showed that one can still achieve an outcome without reaching for a Light Saber or without even being there. Victory can be won with the mind.

Across the Galaxy on the Island Jedi Refuge of Ahch-To, Luke Skywalker awoke from his Force projection and surrendered himself to the Force. As he met his destiny the twin suns set over the ocean.

Intent is the key.

Our Intention creates our reality” – Wayne Dyer

Jedi have a mission in Life

Jedi are devoted to their mission in life.

Jedi are devoted to accomplishing their mission in life. Sometimes this requires great discipline, sacrifice, incredible focus, patience, inner strength, and a strong sense of duty for accomplishing the mission. But first, a Jedi must determine what his/her mission will be by deep soul searching and meditation. You determine and choose what your mission will be; you decide it for yourself. Then you prioritize or decide how important it is for you to accomplish your mission.

(33 Jedi Traits)

Life’s Purpose

If you were to ask anyone what their life mission was you would probably get blank stares or garbled responses. Most people would not have one. Sure they can convey their hopes and wants. They can describe their ideal life and include words such as “happy, wealthy and healthy”. This picture can include a comfortable existence in a nice home with a loving partner. Perhaps a family and pets to complete the dream. Does all of that really define who we are?

All of us want to feel validated and achieve a sense of self actualization. We want to feel valued and make a contribution. For many, their career is an important part of life. Your profession no matter how humble or high profile defines much of your life. We are remembered as much for our work life as we are in our family and personal life. Political leaders are remembered for their time in office, Actors for their acting and Musicians for their music. Is any of that our true purpose, our mission in life? What do you want to be your epitaph? What do you want to be remembered for?

Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” – Viktor E Frankl

 

Purpose and Plans

People can identify their aspirations and their desires easily enough. Career paths can be mapped out. We can set ourselves new year resolutions, specific goals and one year and five year plans. A financial advisor can draw a road map that takes us to comfortable early retirement with a generous income to age 90 (too bad if you live to 100). We can schedule our lives and set measurable goals. How many of us can actually define our mission in life, our purpose?

The company I work for has a mission statement. Most publicly listed companies do. Shareholders expect to see a mission statement in a company AGM document. They want to read what the company stands for and where it wants to take their money and hopefully make it grow. Read your companies Mission Statement if it has one. What does it say? More importantly what does it say about the company you work for?

From my very first day as an entrepreneur, I’ve felt the only mission worth pursuing in business is to make people’s lives better.” – Richard Branson

 

Don’t let others Dictate

To expect people to write a mission statement for their lives in 20 words or less might be seen as ludicrous. But is it? Conor McGregor the UFC champion has a personal mission statement along the lines of being the “greatest UFC fighter to have ever lived and who will ever live”. The statement is very bold as it assumes that no one will ever surpass his career and that he will continue to dominate the sport until retirement. McGregor knows he cannot control the sport and knows that someone may come along who will challenge him but he has the self belief and the confidence  to believe anything is possible. McGregor’s mission is to prove him right and his detractors wrong.

Conor McGregor’s philosophy is to train to win, all the time, no questions, no doubt. Losing is not in his vocabulary and he won’t let other dictate any different. McGregor refused to accept his defeat to Mayweather as a loss calling it a lesson instead. Love him or hate him, McGregor’s mission is to win. That mindset and approach to business has put him on Time’s list of most influential people in 2017 and made him a billion dollar brand name. There is a lesson to be learned in that.

 

Mission Success

The Jedi had a life mission to serve the Order in any way required. Anyone who has ever served in the military and law enforcement will understand the concept of duty and mission focus. Everything is geared towards ensuring mission success. Training and rehearsals are conducted. The right people are allocated tasks that best reflect their skill set and compliment the team effort. Objectives are set, equipment is obtained, tested and checked. Plans are reviewed and improved. Intel is checked and verified. Risks are identified and assessed. Controls are implemented and contingencies applied. The collective effort is dedicated towards achieving desired outcomes with minimal loss.

How does this apply to our personal lives? Consider that every day is a chance to progress towards success in our own mission in life. A practical philosophy for life is one of the tools we can use to help us achieve our mission, whatever we choose it to be. After all, being on a Path or having a personal philosophy for life is not much use unless it serves in some way.

Our mission in life may simply be to uphold our principles and apply virtues that we value at every opportunity. It may be as simple as getting through every day without succumbing to the temptation to drink. Taking care of our family may be our sole mission. We may choose a mission that is more personalized to what we want to achieve in our personal or professional life. That mission may be to achieve personal milestones such as academic, health, sporting or business success. It may be to help others or make a significant contribution to a cause you feel is important. Whatever it is only you can define it and make it happen.

 

To what service is my soul committed? Constantly ask yourself this and thoroughly examine yourself by seeing how you relate to that part called the ruling principle” – Marcus Aurelius

 

Mission Statement

My mission statement is simple; “Strive to be the best version of yourself everyday”. That’s it. Nothing fancy. I just have to act in accordance with my principles and commit on a daily basis.

Your own mission is yours and yours alone to embrace. In order to achieve your mission you must be 100% committed to it. To be even close to achieving the milestones on that mission you must be prepared to focus 80% of your energy or more towards it. This means dedication, commitment and sacrifice. It must also come with an unbeatable attitude. Without the correct mind set you may step in to the ring and last a couple of rounds but you will never win the fight or take the title. This formula applies to any type of mission in life. For me it is about sobriety and self improvement. Everything that I do somehow relates to my personal mission to become a better version of myself.

“Half measures availed us nothing” – Alcoholics Anonymous

Our Mission in life, our purpose need not be the stuff of legends. Luke Skywalker’s mission was to bring balance to the Force.  It was not a purpose he chose, it was thrust upon him by fate. Never the less his actions resounded across the entire Galaxy and changed countless lives. Our mission may not be as grand or predetermined as Skywalker’s but once we define what our mission in life is it can be still be significant in our lives and can also impact on others.

A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history” – Mahatma Gandhi

Define your Mission

Realizing our mission in life need not be difficult. Once we understand ourselves and know what our values are and commit to those a mission statement really only validates our purpose and takes it one step further. Grab a piece of paper and write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. What are my values?
  2. What are my core principles?
  3. What do I want my life to stand for?
  4. What are my unique qualities?
  5. What do I believe my purpose in life is?

Create a mission statement that reflects all of the above. Remember that we need not get it right the first time. In time it may change. Once you have a mission statement your purpose in life, whatever it is, becomes clearly defined.

A mission statement can be used as a constant reminder, a mantra for motivation and a defense against complacency and despair. Some days we question the point to everything and apathy can set it. Other days people will challenge your purpose and try to steer you away from it. Revisiting the questions above and thinking about your mission statement can serve as an anchor and a compass needle. Sometimes that is all you need to get up and keep fighting for another day.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”- Theodore Roosevelt

 

Purpose

Remain on purpose

Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda (Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)

In the scene in “The Empire Strikes Back”, Yoda was referring to purpose and single-minded intent when he advised Luke Skywalker on how he should not attempt to lift an X-Wing Fighter out of the swamp of Dagobah. The scene is a reminder of the power of the mind in achieving almost anything by simply focusing your intent and concentration on a given objective.

In life we often have the luxury to simply “try” at something, make an attempt and if it fails we can simply let it go and move on with the next thing. This is an acceptable and appropriate approach to most things in life and since childhood many of us would have heard the words of parents and coaches “Do the best you can” and “It’s not win or lose but how you play the game” and of course “Try your best”. As long as we try our best and give it our best shot we can be assured that the opportunity was not wasted whether we succeeded or failed.

In some cases it would be fair to say that “to try” is not good enough. For example would we be happy if we boarded a plane and the Pilot said he was going to “Try” to fly the plane and land at the destination? Would we be filled with confidence if before a major surgery our Doctor said he was going to “Try” to complete the operation without major complications? I would argue that in both cases the appropriate approach would be to go in with intent to succeed and a mindset that precluded failure as an option or not attempt it at all.

Jedi Philosophy requires that “We do or do not. There is no try” if we wish to succeed in its practice. A practical philosophy for life is not effective as a philosophy of life if we do not commit to its practice. One may simply “try” to apply a philosophy in their life and largely fail at the attempt, they are only really cheating themselves and missing out on the real benefits that consistent and disciplined application would bring.

Firstly we have to query our personal motivation for integrating Jedi Philosophy into our life. Determine whether it will work for you and commit to it if you want to honestly see if bring benefits. Any philosophy takes effort, energy and sacrifice to practice.

Jedi Philosophy if practiced diligently may not be as hard as say practicing Zen Buddhism and sitting for hours a day but it does still require self-discipline and dedication like anything else worth doing. If you simply “Try” to adopt some of the practices of being Jedi for a short period of time or do it inconsistently you will get some benefit but nowhere near someone who has adopted it as a way of life.

Focus, concentration and effort is the key. Someone who practices a musical instrument from time to time is not going to master it as fast as someone who practices diligently for an hour or more a day. The same goes with sports, martial arts, languages and behaviors.

Once I heard that it takes 1000 hours of practice and application to be proficient in something and 10,000 hours to master it. The point is, the more effort you apply to something, the more you get out. Tony Robbins was once asked how it was that he was such a great public speaker, his reply was “I just do it a lot”. Doing something for an hour a day will take a lot more commitment to do than one hour a week but it will lead to mastery quicker.

Ask yourself today, will you simply “try” to achieve what you set out to do  or will you give your tasks (and training) the mindfulness and purpose that it deserves? Will you give it the time that it deserves?