Archive for Light Side

solo-quoteIt has been quite a month since the last update.  As far as the book goes, I made great progress on the book for the two weeks following the last update.  However, up until yesterday I was at a difficult crossroads with the book that was resulting in an epic case of writer’s block.  It wasn’t so much that I didn’t know what to write but that I didn’tcelebration-keyart-wide-132889 know how to proceed.  I knew I needed more information to be presented but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to segue from one section to the next.  But, while trailing the wife while pushing the cart in the grocery store and practicing some mindful walking, the Force provided me the insight I needed in regards with how to continue and finish the chapter.  Maybe the writer’s block wasn’t such a bad thing as it gave me some time to watch all of the information coming from Star Wars Celebration Anaheim!

What a weekend SWCA was.  In an unprecedented technological display, 30 hours of SWCA were streamed across the holonet for the enjoyment of those of us who couldn’t attend.  What information did we get?  What did we see?  The new trailer for The Force Awakens was debuted and I must admit that I still get chills when watching it.  There were some bootleg video versions for the new stand-alone film Rogue One, now known as Star Wars fett-600x245Anthologies, to be found on the holonet if one looked hard enough, and that film also looks to be extremely exciting as well, even if one reaches the conclusion that there will be no Jedi in it.  We were introduced to the new characters, and through the trailers and the images the story is starting to slowly flesh itself out while still leaving enough unknown to help build the excitement.  Star Wars Battlefront also released new in-game footage which also looks very exciting, and with it being the new canon one can also determine that Boba Fett escaped the Sarlacc.  So much more information came from SWCA than one little paragraph here can cover.  With SWC8 announced for London next year, I am already looking into getting my vacation time in the middle of July to see if I can attend.vaderburnthelmet

That is it for now.  With less than 2 weeks to Star Wars Day I believe that the lack of writing for the last few weeks will prohibit me from meeting my self-imposed deadline.  So, instead of getting false hopes raised, just know that I am writing as quickly as I can to provide a great manual while still raising a family and holding a full-time job.  I can tell you that it will be complete before The Force Awakens is released, that I do know for sure.

May the Force be with you!

Greetings to all my fellow Jedi!  With a pot of Rootleaf Stew simmering on the stove top, I thought it appropriate to get a post in.  So, here is the March update!

First off, as you can see by the pictures attached, I had an opportunity to visit the Yoda Fountain.  If you are unfamiliar with the fountain below I have included an excerpt which I pulled from the 421st revision to the book, or was it the 501st or the 1,138th revision?  Needless to say, between all the adventures and additional revisions I am losing hope that the book will be completed in time for Celebration this year.  However, just past Celebration is Star Wars Day, so that is my new target.  If I get it done before then, I will consider that a big bonus.  I have made great progress towards completion in the last few weeks, plus I had some insightful inspiration occur to me while cooking my stew just a few minutes ago that I can’t wait to share with everyone.  Regardless, I have made what I consider to be the final revisions to the first 5 chapters (except for the new addition below) so I can now include them in proposals in an effort to get this book printed by a traditional publisher.

Now, to the Yoda Fountain.  This small excerpt is in a part of the book where I try to explain the following two questions.  Why Star Wars?  Why the Jedi?  I want to go through this at least one more time to possibly clean it up and revise it some more but I think this is pretty close to how it will appear in the book.  Enjoy!

But just in case all of those reasons were not enough to convince you of the need for heroes in general and specifically the Jedi, let me tell you a story about an experience I recently had.  It was just a short time ago in March of 2015 (it was on Pi day, to be exact) when I went on a pilgrimage to the Yoda Fountain.  For those that are unfamiliar, the Yoda Fountain is a 26 inch “life size” bronze statue of Yoda sitting atop a fountain in a small alcove at the entrance to Lucasfilm, which is located in the Presidio area of San Francisco and just a short distance from the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was a beautiful day in the Bay Area, with high cirrus clouds to diffuse the intensity of the midday sun.  My journey to the fountain involved a hike of over seven miles from the light rail station at the Civic Center of San Francisco.  I enjoyed my stroll through the neighborhoods of the City by the Bay even though the trip to the Presidio seemed to be entirely uphill.

Shortly after entering the Presidio area I found the statue after a little searching and took the obligatory tourist photos and selfie, but instead of the other tourists who came and quickly left, I stayed in the small courtyard for a little more than an hour.  While I was there I must have seen at least 100 people stop by and visit their favorite Dagobah resident.  They were ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, fans of all ages, ranging from a few months of age to some octogenarians.  They were of all ethnicities and races, and I personally heard Russian, French, German, and the Queen’s English being spoken.  And out of all of these diverse groups of people, all of them, without exception, began to smile when they rounded the corner and caught their first glimpse of Yoda standing atop his burbling fountain.  Their happiness was a palpable vibe that was joyous and overpowering, and you didn’t need to be a Jedi to feel and experience it.  People feel happy and secure and like they are a part of an order when they are around Yoda.  That is why we are drawn to the Jedi.

The recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have caused much public outrage and raised many questions.  I received this message from James last week:

Hey, I’m a college student and big fan of your blog. I hope things are coming together well for your book. I do miss your daily posts, especially the ones concerning recent events in the world. Right now in the news media the Brown and Garner cases are huge topics that are fueling a lot of debates concerning larger issues. With all of these different opinions and sides I find myself lost and uncertain. I was wondering what would a Jedi knight do in this situation? What stance would he take in this debate?

I gave James a quick answer, one that I could type out on my phone.  But I realized that I have had this discussion with my children as well and thought that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.  So I am going to expand upon my answer to James.

First off, these two deaths were completely avoidable.  Had both of these men complied with the police officer’s requests, they would have been arrested and had their day in court.  But they didn’t comply.  They both resisted arrest.  And in doing so the responding police officers did what they had been trained to do, they attempted to restrain these men and take them into custody.  Had I been in Brown’s or Garner’s shoes, I would have complied with the police officer’s demands and the incident wouldn’t have even been a blurb or a sound bite on the evening news.

Following these two unfortunate incidents, grand juries were formed to determine if any charges should be made against the officers.  In both cases, the officers were not charged with any criminal acts.  This caused outrage in the community, but the outrage is based upon a trial by media and not all of the facts.  Many years ago the police were very much a family that would try to protect one of their own.  But recently this has not been the case.  If you don’t believe me, ask a police officer in Internal Affairs how popular they are among their peers.  If Internal Affairs and an impartial grand jury didn’t find enough cause to take these officers to trial for their actions then I accept their decision.

That is my take on these two situations.  But before you crucify me, hear me out.  My take is based upon who I am.  I am a white male, a man who carries a badge and who is the son of a police officer as well.  I am not a black male.  I am not a member of a group that is treated so very differently than I am.  So I can understand how their actions, born of distrust and fear, would be very different than mine.  Remember this quote from Obi-Wan:

Luke, you are going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

My point of view is that the police are there to serve and to protect.  My point of view is that the police as an entity are a safe and secure group.  My point of view of the police is different than the point of view of other people.  And this isn’t just a difference between white and black.  It crosses gender, race, social, and economic lines.

Opinions and points of view are also being shaped and, dare I say, manipulated by local, national, and social media.  The news is being written and delivered in a way that attempts to polarize the community with anger and hatred and incite further protests and violence.  Instead of trying to heal this wound, relieve tension, and mend the community, it either causes cries of “police brutality” or “inner-city criminal”.  Social media does no better.  I see posts and pictures that are supposed to be funny, or to show the irony or hypocrisy of the actions of both sides.  But even if they do make you laugh, chuckle, or smile, those pictures are unconsciously trying to deepen and widen the divide that exists between both sides of this issue.

So, what is a Jedi to do?  What stance would a Jedi take in this debate?  In this situation your role as a Jedi is to act as a healer, mediator, and arbitrator, helping both sides come together.  How does one do this?  Keep reading.

First, you need to search your own feelings and be honest with yourself.  Are you choosing a side?  Don’t misunderstand me, the police need to be held to a higher standard because they are there to protect us.  They are to be Jedi themselves, whether they like Star Wars or not.  But a badge and a gun doesn’t give them the right to invade and violate your own rights.  If you do find yourself choosing one side or leaning to one side, spend some time meditating to try and understand the thoughts, views, opinions, and feelings of the other side.  By fostering this sense of empathy it will allow you to connect to both sides with compassion and help them meet in the middle.

Next, when given the opportunity try to act as as a mediator.  If a family member, friend, coworker, or a crowd on the street expresses an opinion that is indicative of a highly polarized view in either of these cases, try to understand where they are coming from and then help them release their anger by showing them that their own point of view, while not wrong, is clouding their judgement.  Talk to them, listen to them, let them know that you understand their point of view.  But then try to help them understand the opposing point of view.  You wil find that the majority of their issues are rooted in fear, and the same goes for the opposing viewoint as well.   Police officers are not killers intent on genocide and all people not of your race are not criminals and thugs.  Yes, there are bad cops and there are criminals, but we can’t stereotype and assume that all people of a certain group are.  There can be no trust when there is fear involved.  Instead, reach out and be a bridge between both sides.   When one can see both sides they can then meet in the middle.

Many will not listen to you, desperately clinging with attachment to their anger and hatred, but you will make an impression on a few.  Remember these words by Mother Teresa:

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.

Your empathy and compassion will open the hearts of others.  They will begin to understand interdepence, the understanding that there is a symbiosis and interaction between all people and events, and that what one does to another is the same as doing it to onself.  This will remove the fear, anger, and hatred, and replace it with love, trust, and understanding.  And then they too will act as you did, and an awakening will slowly happen across this country and eventually to the whole world.  It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

That is what I feel a Jedi would do.

I would like to thank Jamie for the question, and I would like to thank you for reading through this post.  I hope it inspires you to go out and make a difference.  Share your message and get the word out.  May the Force be with you!

This is a play on the quote by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet;

I think too many people are more concerned with the title of Jedi than by actually being a Jedi.  They seem to be more concerned with what the martial arts training and the lightsaber than the self-reflective and compassionate diplomat that are the hallmark of a true Jedi.

Instead of the Jedi we could be training as the medieval knight, the samurai, the ninja, or the Shaolin monk.  No matter what path you choose, however, you still end up at the same destination.  All paths up the mountain end at the summit.

Don’t get too wrapped up in calling yourself a Jedi.  That is an ironic statement to come from a website aiming to train you as a Modern Jedi Knight.  But the true paradox is that as you advance in your training as a Jedi you will associate it as “Jedi Training” less and less.  It really is training in being a good human and humanitarian.

Resilience

by Jetsi

Every Jedi will stumble and fall at least once in their lifetime.  We have plenty of examples of the movie Jedi, such as Anakin’s fall to the Dark side, Luke’s failure at the cave in The Empire Strikes Back and his attacks on Darth Vader and the Emperor aboard the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.

Never give up!

The stumbles can be internal, external, or both.  But the cause is the same, which is the ego getting in the way of channeling the Force through mindfulness.  Fear, anger, hatred, revenge, or physical hostility all come from the same location, the ego.

So what is the solution?  Continue to meditate and get used to being mindful so you can carry it over into your everyday activities.  When eating, eat.  When walking, walk.  Don’t cloud the Force with memories of the past or thoughts about the future.

Every Jedi will stumble and fall at least once in their lifetime.  The difference between the Jedi and the Sith?  The Sith remain fallen while the Jedi pick themselves back up.

So here I am, having completed my second month of playing Star Wars:  The Old Republic.  This will serve as a short continuation of a previous review.

I am still working on developing my Jedi Sentinel, currently at Level 48.  I have created four other characters as well that I am looking forward to playing, they are a smuggler, bounty hunter, trooper, and a dark Jedi.  I have been to the majority of the planets but I still have to see Corellia, Ilum, Drommund Kaas, and Korriban.

Quickly, my thoughts are still very positive.  I love the music and the immersive quality of the game.  The worlds are beautifully rendered and I am just enthralled with the developing main story line and all of the accommpanying side stories.

Here is what I am not so positive about.  The game play has become a little stale for me.  I am used to First Persson Shooters such as Star Wars;  Battlefront so I find myself a little bored when it comes to combat.  Ironically, I find the Jedi has too much combat to accomplish and it doesn’t follow the concept of violence as a last resort (however, I believe many would be bored if playing a Jedi who rarely fought).  It is hard to complete the Flashpoint and Heroic missions as they require a social group and many times I find myself on a planet with a player count in the single digits.

So as I prepare to finish the main story with my Jedi Sentinel I look forward to the stories still waiting to be discovered with my other characters.  The positive qualities of the game still heavily outweigh the negative qualities so I look forward to playing this game for many months to come.

Are you playing?  What are your thoughts on the game?

Should a Jedi be Vegan?

by Jetsi

A few weeks ago I did a review about The Book of Jedi by Dogen Elohim Altieri, and in this review he mentioned that Jedi should be Vegan/Vegetarian.  With a daughter who has recently decided to go Vegetarian on moral principles I thought I should look into this a little more.

Most Jedi who follow a Vegan (from this point on Vegan will refer to all forms of Vegetarians, including octo-lacto, etc.) diet do so because of the Jedi Code as re-written by Luke Skywalker that says that Jedi respct all life, in any form.  Vegans and I will agree that commercial food lots that hold their livestock in small pens and feed them an alien diet full of drugs are very disrepectful of animals.  However, people have spoken with their wallets and livestock raised humanely in large open fields and fed a native diet are now available in grocery stores at a small premium to conventionally raised meat.

So if the animals are being treated with respect while alive and throughout the butchering process I ask the question, is eating an animal a form of disrespect?  I say no.  It is a biological fact that the human body is designed to be fueled by animal products and my point is that it runs optimally on a diet that imitates the diet of the human race prior to the advent of the agricultural revolution (discussed here and here as the paleo/caveman/evolutionary/primal diet).  Like the story of the frog and the scorpion, it is in our nature to eat other animals so there is no disrespect in doing what we are designed to do.

So, what can we do as Jedi to respect the life of all of our food (remember, plants are alive as well!)?  The first thing you can do is buy the right food.  Buy organic and free range.  Buy your beef and bison grass-fed and finished.  Let your chicken not eat Vegan and live on a diet of bugs and larvae like they are meant to.

The second thing we can do is recognize the sacrifice the animal (or plant) has given to become our food.  Say grace if you are so inclined, or do like the Japanese do and say “Itadakimasu” (literally means “I will receive” but said in thanks prior to eating) or something equivalent.  Give thanks again when your meal is complete, to what you just consumed and to whoever created the meal for you (yes, you can thank yourself!).

The third thing we can do is be mindful while we eat.  Pay attention to the food as you put it into your mouth, truly taste it as you chew it and swallow it.  Do not sit in front of the TV, or the computer, or the iPad, or be on the phone while you eat.   Be here and now and enjoy.

You can still be a Vegan Jedi if you so desire.  Just be certain to do it smartly and get all of the nutritional components that you need.  However, don’t feel pressured to do so to live up to the Jedi Code.

Are you a Vegan Jedi now, thinking about it, or were you one in the past?  Let me know what you think!

One of our readers had posted a link to a Jedi training manual on our Facebook page a while back and I finally got around to reading it in its completion.  The Book of Jedi by Dogen Elohim Altieri is available as a free download, you can get it by clicking here.

So, what are my thoughts?  When I first started reading The Book of Jedi I was uninspired.  The content was just short little quips and quotes and I didn’t feel like I was learning anything from it that I didn’t already know .  At 78 pages in length I was worried that I would quickly finish the book and emerge none the wiser.

However, somewhere about half-way through the book the content definitely changed.  The PDF book actually started providing instruction, giving direction on real ways to harness the power of the Force instead of giving short, cryptic movie quotes.  The lessons are insightful and will definitely help you in your journey while the appendix takes up too much of the book to be an appendix, instead it should be its own chapter.

My final thoughts?  The book is available as a free download so you are only out an hour of your time to read it.  Even if it was horrible your investment wouldn’t be too large.  But I think you will get something out of reading the book.  The book offers unique insights into Jedi training and I believe you will emerge from your reading a better Jedi.  Go to the website and give it a download.

Have you already read The Book of Jedi?  What did you think?

Pull back your focus

by Jetsi

Have you ever noticed that all day long we spend an inordinate amount of time focused on one small spot?  The monitor you are reading this on, the screen of your smartphone or tablet computer, the television and game console all demand our attention to be brought on to one small area.  How can you be mindful when all of your focus is on a 3.5 inch digital screen that is held in your hand?  How can you be receptive to the Force when you don’t even notice the significantly-less-than-subtle things that surround you?  Could Attention Deficit Disorder actually be a symptom of our overattentive technological environment, a result of our inability to see “the big picture” and a lack of time with our natural environment (the Force, Mother Nature)?

Is this having any ill effects on us and the human race?  It sure is.  So what is a Modern Jedi to do?  I have been thinking about this for the past month or so and have tried to incorporate measures to remove my screen and focus fixation.

While going on walks, for example, I will find something on my walk that fits comfortably in the palm of my hand and won’t cause any problems if dropped, such as a small rock or pine cone.  Then, while walking and keeping my focus on the horizon in front of me, I gently throw the rock up in the air with one hand and catch it with the other hand.  The rock enters my field of vision but I don’t actively track it and I let my peripheral vision do the work.  When talking to someone I look directly into their eyes but I try to keep up with everything else I am seeing as well.  While watching television I also look through the window and the patio door that flank both sides of the screen and I do something similar while on my computer as well.

I just had a martial arts belt test earlier this week where I was surrounded by four assailants at the cardinal points and had to defend myself with a distancing kick as they came in.  Even though I successfully passed the test I can see that I still have work to do in expanding my focal area from a small point to my entire surrounding environment.

Have you noticed this fixation?  Have you done anything to try to correct it?  Do you have any ideas for other exercises that can be performed?  Let me know in the comments if you have anything to add as I believe this is an important problem that needs to be addressed and corrected as soon as possible.

More from Vader’s Fist

by Jetsi

Image courtesy of Jeremy Naylor DZ-2638