The Jedi Paradigm
Over the last few weeks we have covered the 33 Traits of the Jedi as defined by some members of the Jedi community as being the key attributes and characteristics of those defined as Jedi.
In reality we should be careful not to blur the line between fantasy and reality or idealism with facts. This is the Jedi paradigm, the distinction between what is real and what belongs to the fiction and how that affects us.
Very often what is and what we would have are two different things. Finding sobriety has been an exercise in pragmatism as much as Faith. While we can have our heads in the clouds some of the time we should keep our feet planted on the ground as well. We should remain attached to an objective and rational view point that is balanced with our own belief system. We should be able to take what we need and leave the rest without problem.
The 33 Traits present two views which are often blurred and blended. The first is of the archetype Jedi as appears in the fiction. This is the individual who belongs to the Jedi Order and devotes herself to life long service. The fictional Jedi has a strong connection to the Force and years of training to fall back on. The Jedi’s connection to the Force is manifested through Force Powers and amazing aptitude with a Light Sabre and super human abilities. The life of a Jedi is ascetic, simple, studious, disciplined and mission orientated.
The second view is that of the real world Jedi. Some who follow Jedi philosophy take a literal view of the practice and attempt to model their life as close to the fictional archetypes as possible. They might be seen in public wearing hoods and they probably practice with replica light sabres. Fiction begins to blur with reality and intrude in to every day living.
Other “real world” Jedi take inspiration from the practical philosophy as presented by the hero archetypes and attempt to apply those principles and virtues in their day to day life but in a pragmatic and reasoned fashion. They may enjoy Star Wars but show no outward suggestion that they practice a Jedi inspired philosophy. These Pragmatists simply live quietly as Jedi and follow the path without display.
The Personal View
I’ve never been one for labels. They do not matter to me and I have trouble understanding people who become fixated with labels they assign to themselves. My goal has been about deriving some personal benefit from a practical philosophy for life.These benefits are physical, mental, emotional as well as spiritual.
The dogma of religion does not attract me but many of the spiritual aspects do. For example I see nothing wrong with meditation and contemplation and I practice both. There is also real benefit in service to others and in charity. Seeking solitude and occasionally fasting can also be beneficial. All religions place importance in these practices. The philosophy in religion can still be useful even if we disagree with the strict doctrine and some of the beliefs of organized religions on societal issues and science.
Jedi philosophy also provides a strong emphasis on personal health and fitness which is extremely important especially for the recovering addict. The being is a composite of body, mind and soul. Each element must be maintained to sustain the whole.
12 Steps, many Lessons
Recovery through the 12 Steps has taught me that I always have a choice. I can choose to pick up or not. Whether I do or not is ultimately up to me. If I choose to abstain there are ways I can maintain and build on my recovery.
The 12 Steps offers many suggestions that I am free to take or leave. Some I may choose to pick up and later put aside, others I may choose to ignore and try later on. Many people starting out on sobriety will have a problem with the concept of a “Higher Power”. There is no problem with that. The individual can come to her own conclusions and form her own personal concept of “God”. Some people might also choose to delay some of the harder steps such as inventorying faults or making amends to those they have harmed in the past. This is also alright but the importance of completing those steps and perhaps revisiting them again in the future should be emphasized.
Recovery is not a start and end point exercise; it is a way of life. The steps are not stumbling blocks unless we allow them to be. We use the steps to climb upward and onward.
Change is Scary
When I was drinking I contemplated a life without alcohol and it seemed impossible to me. It was also frightening. The idea of being a sober teetotaler raised an image of someone who was glum and boring and completely out of place and awkward. I thought “what a horrid way to live”.
Rather than sit down and consider the benefits of sustained sobriety I chose to ignore it thinking I could eventually take control of my life under my own terms. I also thought AA was some sort of cult that was full of desperate and weak willed derelict Alcoholics and criminals. Of course I was wrong on all counts and eventually I found myself clutching on to the 12 Steps like a ship wreck survivor who has found a piece of wreckage to hold on to. We should always keep an open mind and resist the temptation to dismiss an idea out of hand and without contemplation.
What we Hold on to
In life there are two views. There is the view that we hold and there is the truth. The sole purpose of a practical philosophy is to use it as a vehicle to help us find the truth and deal with the realities of life as they are presented. Along the way we pick up tools and practice to use them in a manner that best suits us. We never stop learning on this journey..
The 33 Traits offer an image of how a Jedi should be. It is neither right nor wrong; it is only the opinion of someone in the Jedi community which has been accepted by some but not all. I used it as a point of discussion because it resonated with me. There were many good “take homes” in the list of 33.
Regardless, If someone applies each of the 33 traits it does not necessarily make her a Jedi. For example, if she applies each of the Traits but also chooses to consistently act dishonestly in her interactions with others one could argue that it would be contrary to the Jedi principles of honesty and integrity. However if she consistently displayed principles and virtues consistent with being Jedi such as courage, humility, honesty, integrity, selflessness and self discipline but never practiced martial arts, picked up a light sabre or even had any belief in a spiritual principle such as the Force in my view she could still justifiably be considered Jedi.
No Jedi Stereotypes
There is no stereotype of a real world Jedi. The Jedi community is comprised of the young and old. It is represented by all races, and dozens of nationalities of many languages. People of all religious persuasions call themselves Jedi including Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists among others.
There are also secularists, atheists and humanists who follow the Jedi Path. Jedi are of all political sympathies, ideologies and opinions. The Jedi are of all genders and sexuality, they are also represented in the LGBT community. The diversity of the Jedi community is a microcosm of society. The wonderful thing is all those who call themselves Jedi share one abiding fact; we all know the Jedi Code and we all try to apply it in our lives. We are a global community who share a vision of a unified and peaceful world. A community of people who have found a common path to world betterment through self betterment.
No Alkie Stereotype
No less we cannot stereotype an alcoholic for they are as diverse. They are your neighbor, your Doctor, local, state and federal leaders and their staff, law makers and judges and lawyers, teachers and child care workers, the stay at home mum trying to keep it together, the struggling student at University, the street kid, the homeless guy who once had a prosperous life. They are anything but the typical stereotype we often imagine. I never thought I was one. Let us not forget that Carrie Fisher was an alcoholic who suffered.
Despite our differences we are united by a common purpose. We all want to quit drinking, we all want contented sobriety and we all want to be better people. There is no one cure for all of us and experience has shown that a cure does not exist. We can control our drinking and remove the compulsion but we are never cured of the disease. Millions of us exist in the world, all different but all the same.
A Fish Pond
Jedi Philosophy and the 12 Steps for me compliment each other well. Many aspects of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism and philosophies such as Stoicism have also provided me with the tools to cope and grow as a person. All of these traditions and schools of thoughts have similar threads and patterns that run through them.
I feel blessed because sobriety has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities. The chains of prejudice and ignorance are removed and I can benefit from the work and wisdom of others and hopefully provide something in return that is of value to others. We are free to choose our own path. We can take what we need and leave the rest. All of us are fish swimming in a very large pond.
That is the greatest gift of being Jedi and being Sober; knowing I’m not alone.