This Sermon was written by and published for Rosalyn J :
Something to Prove > Something to Give
Today I was struck with a notion. It began with the question “why do I want to become a Knight?” More specifically, what do I have to offer to the community? My first response was that “this is a natural progression. Apprentices become Knights. That’s how it works”. Then I had to search a little deeper. “Why do I want to be a Jedi?” The answer was different on May 3, 2012, when I joined the Temple in anger and with something to prove.
My quest to become a Jedi revolved around me getting accolades from others, beating the odds as an individual with a disability and getting a bit of respect from a community of people with the same beliefs that I was learning to accept at the time. Previously that void had been filled by my church, which I had fallen out of favor with because of what I perceived to be a lack of respect on their part for the work I had done for the kingdom for six years. That was my main reason. In any case, to get those accolades and to get that respect I felt I needed to fit into the “Jedi mold” (whatever that is) so I set about trying to find the right “Jedi mold” (there are as many variations as there are people on the path) and trying to fit in it.
I have a physical disability which for a long time has hurt my pride. Sometimes I have this fantasy that if I can just “do” enough, I will be accepted. I will be “normal”. I couldn’t ride a bike like other children, and I seriously considered having my legs broken and realigned so that I might be able to. I couldn’t join the armed services, and that weighed pretty heavy on me as well. I actually was miserable for quite some time because it wasn’t really about serving my country, but proving to the world that I wasn’t some second class human being.
For a long time the right “Jedi mold” to me was one in which Jedi’s were individuals with considerable physical and metaphysical prowess. I was basing my entire philosophy on what little I had seen of the movies by that point as well as a few individuals within the community that seemed very concerned about overall health and fitness as well as using the Force. I knew immediately that that was the type of training that I wanted. Why? Because that meant I would be powerful and worthy of respect. I wouldn’t be normal, but I would be the right kind of different. The sort of “different” people look up to rather than look down upon.
Slowly but surely, with the training I am receiving here, I am letting go of my old preconceived notions about myself, about others, and about Jedi. But the progress is very slow. Rightfully so as I have been holding on to these things for a very long time. Saturday or Sunday of last week Maitre asked me a question: “Why are you trying to improve yourself?” to which I answered “huh?” several times. It bears mentioning here because the answer is, if I want to be truthful, that I don’t feel like the self I am is good enough. Might as well put it out in the open. The next question then becomes “what would be better?” I could give you a laundry list but the fact is that I have picked those items from other people. So then, to truly be “better” I have to cease to be myself and instead become a conglomeration of several hundred other people.
But I digress.
The fact is, my motives for becoming a Jedi Knight have changed. I no longer have something to prove. I still in some sense crave the respect that the title bestows, but not with as much relish, not with as much desire as I did a few years ago. I no longer believe that Jedi are individuals with physical and metaphysical prowess alone. I want to become a Jedi Knight because I believe in what Jedi Knights do. Jedi Knights do not simply teach apprentices or teach the world. Jedi Knights have gone through a process of (re) discovery that makes them an excellent role model and teacher. Jedi Knights do not teach skills, do not make or try to make copies of themselves. We learn from 15 what a Jedi Knight ought to be like and from 3and 10 and others what he ought to teach like. In the end the Jedi Knights that we are, are simply ourselves. We are ourselves when we can stop thinking about improvement, stop thinking about competition, stop thinking about role models and aspirations. When we can let the mud clear and see our reflection in the pool unimpeded and live with it and like it and work within it.
So then, we needn’t “make” any sort of progress. We needn’t try to do it. Progress will make us, if that makes sense. So my goal in becoming a Jedi Knight is be the guide that helps others see that truth.