This Open Sermon was written by and published for : Edan
Walking your own path
*stands on soapbox*
About 10 years ago I joined a forum much like this one; a community of people joined together by similar values and the desire to learn. In fact it was more like two communities, joined together by virtue of sharing the same name; one theistic, one atheistic.
One reason that I loved going there at the time was the fact that every single person held the value that an individual must take charge of their own self exploration. That no-one can tell you what to believe. You would never hear discussion about what everyone should be, because everyone knew that we could not be the same in practicality, but we could be the same in essence.
Your self discovery, your self illumination, can only be done by you. People like our parents, our families, our communities, our culture, our media, will say to us things like 'you shouldn't believe that', 'you shouldn't go there', 'that's not what we raised you for'. And if we listen, then we follow the path they set for us, instead of the one we discover for ourselves.
There are some that believe that the Temple's inability to agree on the meaning of words as obvious as the 'Force' or 'Jedi' is a weakness, but I disagree. We can talk about the perfect Jedi, the perfect life, the perfect way of doing things, the perfect set of beliefs, but to me that doesn't sound like perfection, it sounds like automation. We here value life, but the way that translates for each of us is different, even though the essence is the same. I am very fond a quote by Quaker writer Ben Pink Dandelion, "We each make sense of our spiritual experience but we do not imagine that the way we understand the holy is necessarily right for anyone else."
I walk two paths, one here at the Temple as a Jedi, and one as something else elsewhere. Finally I have found a way of doing things that works for me. I realised I couldn't follow a deity I didn't truly believe in, so now I'm an atheist.
The idea of a Jedi church doesn't quite sit with me, but it doesn't matter. I don't have to be the perfect puzzle piece, because my differences have their own value.
I think this shows quite clearly in the way that apprentices and masters that are matched up are quite similar, and yet the training between masters can be entirely different. There is no value in us all being identical, because there is nothing to be learnt if we cannot explore new horizons opened up to us by others.
"But we make all novices do the same work" someone might say. True, but we don't tell them what to think. Love Watts? Great! Think the 'The Field' is ridiculous? Fine!
So if someone comes along and criticises your personal path of development, and tells you that you owe someone else's ideal your time, or that you aren't good enough if you aren't what they want, then tell them where to go. Even here, even at the Temple of the Jedi Order, this can happen. Walk YOUR path YOUR way.
*gets off soapbox*