Take a moment with me. Allow your mind to clear. Take a breath. Settle in. Breathe.
Picture the Force in your mind. See it. Feel it. Observe its qualities, your relationship with it. Give yourself permission to experience your vision of the Force utterly. Breathe it in. Move through it, with it. Take this moment to completely immerse in it.
Now, picture the Jedi Ideal, the perfect summation of what it is to be a Jedi, as you understand it. Hear this person’s voice. What do they say? Watch as they move through the world. See what they do. What are the qualities of this person? How did they become thus? Allow yourself a moment to peer deeply into the heart of this image.
So have I seen…
Hope or hypothesis, some experience, perhaps with just a dash of vanity – we all have our visions to guide us. And perhaps our visions have a great deal in common. And they fill our sight.
I draw your attention to the adage, “If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him.” It may seem harsh, or unreasoning, but I am offering a similar admonition.
The visions that guide us to the transcendent, to the ineffable, are approximations. They are awkward compasses at best, pointing the way in only the most general sense, as a lazy finger indicates the way forward. Please do not mistake them for anything else.
There is some utility to our visions, to be sure. They point the way, more or less, in the beginning. Left unexamined, they can lead us far off the mark. There may, if we are diligent and sincere, come a point when what we discover along the way cannot be reconciled with what we believed, what wethought, what we knew. It may not align with our preferences at all. We have all felt it. “Where I need to go, what I can see ahead, is not where I thought I would go.”
In that moment, the vision that served to guide us to our truth becomes an obstruction in the great inquiry. In that moment, when what showed the way now blocks it, the vision must go. It must be left behind. Whether you gently place it on the ground or cut it down without a backward glance is yours to decide, and I leave you to the particulars. But it must go.
What happens if I choose my vision of the Force over what I discover? Will I reject what I experience of the Jedi life because it does not comply with my dream? Many do, and they lead themselves astray. Consider the tragedy if you were to cleave to the lovingly rendered picture in your mind of this Force, closing yourself off to what you previously did not imagine. You would follow your own phantoms, taking leave of the world.
It was said by more sagacious minds than my own that, “When the map and the terrain do not agree, trust the terrain.” The map is no longer of use. The journeyer must then navigate the land directly.
I am a Jedi. I stand in awe of the Force and reside on the Path. But it is my Path that teaches me, it is the obstacles and the slow walk that show me. But even these words, “Jedi” and “Force” are just arrows, indicators of something greater.
I was guided to this place in my life by an image of the ineffable, by an image of the man I am meant to be. I am grateful for how far they have gotten me, but they need to grow as I do. And, one day, they will need to go. I will need to walk the Path with no guide, with only my heart, my wits, and the clear sight of what is right in front of me.
Remember that all of our metaphors, our symbols, are just ways of talking, ways of seeing some aspect of the transcendent. No finite name can enclose the infinite. Do not allow yourself to be bound to one metaphor any more than you would allow yourself to look at the face of a loved one from only one angle in only one light.
Someday, even these words, “Jedi” and “Force,” may get in the way. What then?
Can you treat your own notions as straw dogs?
Once upon a time, I was gifted with a map, sent to find someone that would love me. But the rendering on the map did not quite resemble the house I found, and the sketch did not quite resemble the one who cherished me. So I stared back at the map and kept walking…
The Force is with us. Thank you.