Jedi are Spiritual Seekers

Jedi believe in and are a part of the Jedi Order

The word ‘Jedi Order’ gives connotations that the Jedi Path was something like a religion in the Star Wars Universe. The pure and true meaning of the word religion comes from the Latin word “religio” which was derived from the Latin word “re-ligare” or “to reconnect.” The purpose of the Jedi teachings were “to reconnect” a Jedi to the Force. Actually, we are always connected to the Force, but we have lost our conscious awareness of this connection.

(33 Jedi Traits)

Religion?

One of the biggest misconceptions about Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is a religion or some sort of cult. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of people who come together with the sole purpose of quitting drinking, overcoming their addiction and finding contended sobriety. Similarly I have heard the Jedi path called a religion. To some people it is and there is indeed a campaign to have “Jediism” recognized as a religion. To most people however it is a philosophy for life, a formula for living that brings physical, mental, emotional and spiritual improvement in to their lives.

Whether someone considers themselves to belong to one Faith or another is entirely up to them. The beauty of the 12 Steps and the Jedi Path is that anyone can apply the philosophical teachings of both and practice them in their day to day lives. One need not have a religious background or even believe in God. Indeed there are Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Pagans and Wicca’s, Humanists, Agnostics and Atheists that are part of the 12 Step and Jedi movements. We believe that a religious conviction is not needed to benefit from the philosophy of personal improvement, self betterment and recovery.

 

Losing Religion

If someone was to ask me my “religious affiliation” I would respond “Jedi”. In fact I have listed it as such on census forms and on personal information. These days we rarely see that question appearing on documents. People increasingly are coy about their religion or default to the “NA” response preferring not to answer. Society is more secular. At the same time we are seeing an increase in religious extremism. Browse the news and you will be presented with human rights abuses and violence inflicted on others in the name of all faiths not just one.

The truth is I write Jedi not because I want to be different or I claim to be an ardent Star Wars fan who has taken it to the next level. I call myself Jedi because it best describes my own values and spiritual principles which I live.

Religion may have bought a lot of war, hatred and division in to the world but it has also introduced some wonderful and beautiful philosophies on how people can live in peace and harmony with others. I have found that there is so much in common between religions as there is so much in common between all people. The more the Jedi Path and 12 Steps has taught me the more I have come to realize that all the trouble in the world, all the strife, conflict and hate does not need to exist.

 

Take what you Need

I read the Holy Quran, the Bible, the Dhammapada and the Tao every day. Currently I am studying Kabbalah and the “A Course in Miracles” among other spiritual and esoteric texts. Besides that I consider myself a follower of Stoic philosophy and read the writings of the ancient sages and their contemporary counterparts as much as I can.

Recognizing the value of psychology I read books by Jung and Frankl as well as texts on CBT and ACT. None of this makes me an expert on any of the above. I am only a beginner on the Path. What it does provide me with is a rich world of knowledge and thought that I can use in my own way. There is so much to learn and I can take or leave whatever I want. There is no dogma to become tied down to. I take what I need and I leave the rest.

 

A Verb

Being Jedi is a verb, not a noun. I do not consider myself a Jedi but someone who takes inspiration from the fictional archetypes in the context of a practical philosophy. Apply real world ideas and philosophies that fill the gaps of what the Jedi represented in the fiction and you have a Philosophy. There is no hard dogma. I am not required to bow down to an effigy of the Force and pray to Yoda. In my view that would be ridiculous however I would not begrudge anyone who chose to do that. My goal is to be Jedi.

Similarly I recognize that the 12 steps were only ever suggested as a program, they were never mandated to Alcoholics as some form of dogma. The only requirement for membership was and is a desire to quit drinking. The promise is that the program had been tested and proved to work by many and if a person is willing to give the 12 Steps an honest go then they are sure to reap benefits.

There is no treating Bill W as some sort of saint or messiah as in some sort of sect or personality cult. Are there Big Book thumpers  and Step Troopers out there who would disagree with me? Certainly; there are extremists and puritans in every school, sect and religion. People who claim their way to be the only way. Some self proclaimed Jedi Masters are like that too.

Remember there are many people who are religious but not at all spiritual and there are many people who are very spiritual but non-religious. There are also many people who are neither. Some people like dogma, others don’t.

 

The Group

There is no Jedi Order and one never existed in reality. The closest semblance to a Jedi Council exists online. Most would be hard pressed to accept that one online Group or individual represents all people who follow the Jedi Path in one form or another.

Sometimes people lose sight of the forest for the trees. People get caught up in the trappings, the image and the labels. They want to call themselves something, they want a title and to belong to a discreet group. It is human nature to want to belong. We are drawn to the inner circle of the tribe where it is safe and secure.

 

Seek, it is there already

The truth is that all of us have our own individual needs. We are all seeking something. For many it is to reconnect with a spiritual source that has been missing from their lives. This is the case for many alcoholics in recovery. While we follow a path, many of us also seek to define our own higher power and purpose in life. Spirituality becomes a very personal journey that we must take alone; we do not need a Guru to take us there.

I used to consider myself a “Seeker”, now I know that that is not really the case. One only seeks something that is lost or hidden somewhere. The truth is that we are always connected to the Divine Source, whatever it is, the Force. There is no need to seek anything. We just have to be willing to be open to the possibility that something exists which is larger us. With that first step begins a journey of self discovery  and it never ends.

The Force

Jedi believe in the Living Force.

Jedi believe in an invisible universal energy called ‘the Force’, also known as the ‘Living Force’, the ‘good side’, or the ‘light side’. The Force is a living spiritual presence that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds all the matter in the universe together. The Force is the soul of all living things; it exists everywhere. Jedi believe that Force allows people to have free will and choice, but that destiny also plays a part in their lives (33 Jedi Traits).

Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/jedi-teachings-to-live-by-95912

The Force Issue

No exploration of the Jedi Path can omit mention of the Force indefinitely. We can  avoid the “Force Issue” for so long. Eventually we must confront it and determine for ourselves, what the Force is and what our relationship to it is. The 12 Steps asks the recovering alcoholic to do the same thing in Step 2. Having admitted powerlessness over alcohol one must become willing to consider a spiritual foundation to their recovery. In the past we have tried self will and found ourselves falling short.

The spiritual commitment of simple belief requires for some a major departure from previous ideas. Many alcoholics have long abandoned any concept of God. They mistrust religion and view any mention of the spiritual with hostility or skepticism. The program is asking them to do the opposite, to consider and then believe in the concept of a Higher Power.

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” – Step 2

The same problem presents itself to the atheist or the agnostic looking at the Jedi Path. Many will feel that to accept some religious concept of the Force is to submit to dogma. For most this will be unacceptable and a deal breaker. The Jedi Path is palatable without a spiritual foundation but any mention of the Force is to be suppressed or ignored. Everyone is aware of the elephant in the room but no one is prepared to mention it. No one likes to be accused of following some “hokey religion”.

“Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels’ hidden fort-…” – Admiral Motti
[Vader makes a pinching motion and Motti starts choking]
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”Darth Vader

The Fictional Jedi obviously believed in the Force.  While dedicated to the Dark Side, Darth Vader still remained respectful of the eternal power of the Force. Through the Star War saga we get  mixed messages on what the Force is. Qui-Gon Jinn reveals that microscopic life forms called Midi-chlorians are the physical manifestations of the Force in all life. Obi-Wan Kenobi calls it a energy source that surrounds and penetrates all living things. In the real world we have to take a step back from the fictional portrayal of the Force and apply our own definition to it.

Personal HP

The 12 Steps provides a caveat to the alcoholic who is struggling with accepting the concept of God in to their lives. Step 2 and 3 suggests that we come to believe in a Higher Power as we define it. The word God is used several times in the 12 Steps but the intent is not to enforce any particular dogma or definition of God. Whatever Higher Power the person in recovery chooses is entirely up to them. It can be “Good Orderly Direction”, “Group of Drunks” or any other secular concept. Some alcoholics view the fellowship as their Higher Power, others conceive of something closer to nature or the state of existence and abiding Love. Others apply religious or spiritual beliefs.  I simply call it the Force and it works for me.

When I embarked on recovery I sought out a concept of a Higher Power that I was familiar with. Jesus appeared. In time my spirituality evolved as I read further and meditated. I explored spiritual paths and my concept of God evolved and changed in to something I could verbalize and then could not. At times I grappled to conceive of a God who resided outside of myself and failed. I began to ponder the notion that duality is an illusion and that all is one and one is all. During my search I discovered the “A Course in Miracles” and Kabbalah. Both provided me with answers but for me even more questions on this concept of one soul, one Force.

Things were starting to clear but not a lot. My focus seemed to be drawn to achieving some sort of spiritual transcendence. I wanted to achieve the spiritual experience I had felt on coming out of “Rock Bottom”. I wanted that state of elation and connection again. For that I was missing the point. None of it is about achieving enlightenment; it is about living a good life and being the best version of ourselves that we can be.

The Living Force

Does the Force exist? Do we need to define it? I don’ know. For some the definition of the Force as provided in the 33 Traits will be enough. I don’t think it matters that we can define exactly what the Force is. Ultimately it is up to each and every individual to determine what the Force or Higher Power is for themselves. A trap we can fall into is to spend all of our time chasing a rainbow.

In early recovery I was so keen to see the face of God and get spiritually high that I completely lost myself. It was immature and irrational and a surrogate for addiction. I had to be reminded that it is OK to have our heads in the clouds sometimes but we must keep our feet firmly placed on the ground. To simply believe in something is sometimes enough. Recovery, being Jedi, life happens in the here and now not in some attained spiritual state somewhere in the obscure future.

Can we agree that simply being ourselves is to honor life and therefore express the Force? By using the life that we have in the way that best suits ourselves is possibly our only purpose. That is the meaning of my Higher Power, the Force.

Believe in what you want to be believe. Call it whatever you want, conceive of it any way you want. If there is a God, she will not mind, if there is no God it does not matter. And May the Force be With You.

Miracles

Remember the Force will be with you always.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Losing my Religion

In the past I never believed in the idea of miracles. My religious instructors in school taught that miracles happened to those that deserved them. God rewarded the righteous but punished sinners. To me this sounded unfair. My mother had died for reasons I did not understand but she had been a devout Catholic.

I and my siblings were placed in an orphanage and eventually separated. Our Father was absent and probably drunk somewhere. Perhaps we were all sinners. I was never certain what we had done to deserve it. They spoke of miracles as if they were dispensed to the favored. Try as you might there was no reaching that state of perfection. In Star Wars I still found a glimmer of Hope and a spark of the Force but in time that light went out too.

For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.” – Yoda

Bottled Miracle

A few years ago I would have scoffed at the mention of miracles in any form. The metaphysical and the spiritual were for chumps. They were cop outs for people who were too afraid to throw their lot in with one deity or another.  The only spirit I needed was in a bottle. A miracle was to be still standing at the end of a big night. I pinned providence on fortune and luck. Both seemed scarcer than real miracles.

If there was a Divine source in the Universe I was not part of his plan. A part of me suspected that there might be something. This I put down to the residue of a religious upbringing and perhaps wishful thinking. As a child I had prayed for miracles they had never happened. My ideas were firmly planted in reason based on a faith in science and all the obstinate arrogance of a self proclaimed agnostic. I flipped the bird at religion but avoided the unrelenting dogma of new atheism in the fear that they might be wrong. I settled on something that was loosely “F##K It” and nihilist in view. Whatever justified my current lifestyle was fine.

Stealing Miracles

Religion and goodwill was to be taken advantage of. Miracles could be things we got out of people. My Father cheated the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations out of food stamps and money for years. It all ended up on booze or on horses. I watched and learned. Yes, one could make small miracles happen. Things could appear out of nothing. You just have to take them.

In Israel I even tried convincing a Rabbi that I wanted to convert on spiritual grounds only to be laughed at and told my true motive for conversion was to remain in Israel. He had a point, I did enjoy the laid back hedonistic lifestyle of booze, drugs and sex on a Kibbutz.

Few people really are (Atheist) , for that means blind faith in the strange proposition that this universe originated in a cipher and aimlessly rushes nowhere.” – Alcoholics Anonymous p10

 

The Miracle of Faith

Living in recovery has taught me that every day miracles do exist. I think I am a proof that miracles do happen, even to reformed dirt bags like me. If I could count the number of reasons why I should not be here writing this it would convince even the most ardent skeptic.

Miracles need not be resounding symbolic miracles of the basket of never ending bread and fish variety. I have never seen the blind or lame healed by divine faith alone. There has never been a man walk on water or float on air in my experience. I have some seen some very weird and inexplicable things in my time but nothing like that.

My recovery and change in life since becoming sober to me is however a type of miracle. I look in the mirror and I see a miracle. Look at the sky, the tree standing in the back yard, the person in front of me. They are all miracles. The guy at a meeting who was ready to take his own life and is now recovered and happy and helping others is a miracle. This very existence, an accident of chance or a played out destiny, is all part of the miracle of creation. Love is testament to the existence of miracles.

But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize. A blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black curious eyes of a child, our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”-  Thich Nhat Hanh

Every Day Miracles

Every day is a witness to the miracle of life. We reside on a planet on the edge of a vast galaxy amidst billions of star systems and countless worlds. Our galaxy is one of billion of other galaxies within the known universe.

Cosmologists believe that an infinite number of universes exist. Mathematical evidence supports it. Dimensions and parallel universes that we are completely unaware of are before us. Time moves in a linear trajectory in our perception yet at the speed of light and quantum level becomes distorted and illogical.An electron can exist in two different places in the universe at the same time. Matter can move in time and space in ways that defy normal laws.

Our very physical existence is an illusion for we are essentially comprised of nothing. The atoms that make up all matter are nothing more than magnetic forces surrounding nuclei of mass which contains an incredible energy potential.  When I touch another I am touching empty space.  Yet we are connected to every other atom in the universe.

It’s (The Force) an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Those atoms form into complex relationships with others, more in number than the stars in the galaxy to form a human form. Within that form resides a consciousness able to define itself and peer to the stars and ponder its origin. Tell me that is not a miracle.

I know a lot of scientists, some are atheists but all agree in the incredible complexity and order of the universe. It appears in mathematical computations and scientific observation.  They also agree that as we reach beyond the frontiers of our knowledge we seem to be approaching a nexus. That point is where the spiritual and the scientific begin to reconcile and meet. If humanity can work towards the common good and avoid self destructing, we may reach that point and realize who we truly are and where we are going. We still know so little.

“We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.” – Alcoholics Anonymous p. 164

The Miracle

I don’t know what God is or even if one exists, at least in the conventional sense. For years I had doubted the existence of any type of Higher Power that could not be empirically defined by science and quantified. I scoffed at the mention of the metaphysical or the spiritual. Now I believe that there is a Higher Power in my life. We each define our own Higher Power. There is no right or wrong. Within each of us resides a power that is greater than ourselves. I choose to call that Higher Power, the Force.  There is no need to define it or explain it; I simply accept that it is and that it is with me always.

“Close your eyes. Feel it. The light…it’s always been there. It will guide you.” – Maz Kanata

“If you knew who walks beside you on the way that you have chosen, fear would be impossible.” – ACIM