Several times throughout the previous sections, I have alluded to the notion of an emotional methodology, something we apply with regards to our approach to one’s internal psychological states and the outward expressions which result from that. Part of training as a Jedi Realist involves deliberately changing the way we perceive the world, and changing how we respond to various stimuli within our own environments. Much of this is achieved through the adoption of the methodology we have developed, that which this particular section will discuss in detail.
Methodologies of this type are very specific in nature, having a particular objective in mind and a certain approach outlined for practitioners to use in order to reach that final goal. In our case, the methodology forms the foundation of our training systems, since much of our training is devoted towards being able to think and act in a particular manner, appropriate to our beliefs in life energy and our consequential belief in the sanctity of life itself. Moreover, it is designed to help you become, as far as most of us are concerned, a better person, as well as a better Jedi. Those that decide to break off their training without completing it still often find benefit from certain aspects of the methodology which they have carried with them beyond their training.
You might be wondering, given how central the methodology itself is to our training systems, why I have not placed it as the first section of the training manual. The answer to that is quite simple: the emotional methodology has its own pre-requisites, things which must be learned before one can fully grasp the approach we use to reach a particular state of mind. It is, if you will, the second stage of one’s training, after basic understanding of the nature of life energy, and self-realisation. The two processes of Detachment and Mindfulness are generally taught in tandem with that, and thus come prior to the methodology itself, being part of the apparatus needed to fully grasp and apply it.
That observed, I should probably take a moment to explain why the methodology is positioned here, in the context of the overall training programme I have laid out in this book. We start, as you will know by now, with self-realisation. That is the stage where you simply learn about yourself: your behaviour, your approach to the world, the ways in which other people see you, and so on. We teach Mindfulness at this stage because that helps practitioners to come to an understanding of their motives: why they do the things that they do in their everyday lives. Detachment is taught so that they can step back and look at themselves from something of an outsider’s perspective, that they might observe their behaviour and actions and decide whether or not it is appropriate. It is, for all intents and purposes, the stage where you try to discover who you are.
With that in mind, you can move on to the next stage: changing who you are. This is not to say that everybody needs to fundamentally alter their natures to continue walking the Jedi path. Some are naturally that which others strive to be. We use Self-Realisation so that we can determine for ourselves what things are positive about ourselves and which things are negative, as well as to understand the way in which we respond to different things around us. What provokes a particular emotion? What attracts us? What repels us? What makes us go back instead of go forward? Once we understand that, we then come to the point whereby we can make a conscious effort to change these things, so that they are more in keeping with our ideal selves, the people we want to be.
For most of us, this is where we stop to learn more about the nature of the Jedi Realist – the type of person that many of us aspire to be. And we have reasoning for that, much of which you will already be aware of. At this stage, if we wish to approach life in that manner, we move on to training in the emotional methodology. If we do not, it is quite normal to turn away from training, having achieved what you set out to do to start with: to orient yourself into a position whereby you know what you want, or perhaps, where you know that you don’t want to train as a Jedi Realist. And this is perfectly fine and perfectly natural. For those that do, however, there’s a next step.
Once you know what a Jedi Realist is, you then have to work out how to get to that point. It takes time – years, in fact. Decades, in many cases. That’s nothing to be disheartened about, by the way. Most monumental changes in life take a good long time to get to. For this reason, we tend to throw students in at the deep end, so to speak, and get them started on the more complicated ideas (i.e. the emotional methodology) as soon as self-realisation has started (it would be ludicrous to say ‘finished’, since it is an ongoing process).
Before I go into those concepts which comprise the methodology itself, perhaps it might be appropriate to talk about the reasons we use this particular methodology. I realise in writing this that some might consider that to be a muddled way of doing it, since by this time you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about as far as the nature of the methodology goes. I understand that, but do bear with me. This will all make sense eventually.
Our methodology is based upon the assertion that, in all situations whereby external action is the result of emotional expression, there is the issue of subjectivity taking a sizable role in any decision-making process you may choose to employ, so that emotions inevitably affect the way in which a decision is made and put into effect. Although this is not to say that all such occurrences are negative in nature, when subjectivity of such an extent is brought into any process of deliberation, the possibility of potentially negative consequences resulting from the resulting actions increase, often to a level considered unacceptable, given our ethical values.
That said, it is not just subjectivity that we are concerned about, with regards to emotions. The act of making a decision can easily be influenced by emotions, true enough, but there is also the issue of how one acts and reacts within a situation in the direct physical sense. Acting purely on the dictates of emotion can be dangerous and inappropriate – that being a possibility, as opposed to the general rule. Emotions are, by their very nature, subjective, and thus are felt in different ways by different people and acted upon in different ways as well. As a result, what may affect you may not affect someone else in the same manner, if at all. So, when we act, we must do so either in a manner which takes this into account, or risk potentially harming either ourselves or other people simply because we were thinking only of how our emotions affected us in a situation, or perhaps not thinking at all.
Why is this a problem? Frankly, I would be surprised if anyone couldn’t see the issue with acting purely based on emotional concerns, but in the interests of keeping everyone on the same page, so to speak, I’ll address that anyway. Given our belief in the sanctity of life, to act in a manner whereby our actions could easily harm someone else would thus be to contradict our own fundamental beliefs. More than that, to act in that way is to do so bereft of one of humanity’s greatest gifts: that of reason. We have the ability to think for ourselves and to determine the best course of action based upon an understanding of the things around us. To cast that aside in favour of instinctive (and oftentimes uncontrolled) emotional stimuli-response is almost incomprehensible, given the circumstances.
I should note that it is more than probable that everyone has their own different reasons for why they approach a methodology such as this one, if they indeed have any at all. A good few of our number practise Jedi Realism simply because they feel it is the right path for them to take, while others come forward with a particular set of reasoning in mind. Regardless, I simply wished to outline some of the more common reasons with regards to our approach, since I’m never fully comfortable with just saying that this is what we have and everyone therefore abides by it. It is, to my mind, better that people understand why we do things as we do, so they can decide whether or not they agree with it.
Anyway, we oftentimes find it to be true that actions based on reflexive emotional responses are the result of a lack of understanding with regards to one’s stimuli-response mechanisms. Thus, many people tend to react when they feel an emotion before they’ve fully assimilated their reasons for doing so. This in itself is reflective of an incomplete awareness of their own emotional states. You will find that that is one of our primary reasons for using the process of self-realisation in our training programmes: the methodology itself is highly dependent upon a deeper understanding of emotional stimuli-response processes, as well of one’s personal desires, motives forces and personal abilities.
As has been previously noted, self-control results from self-understanding: once a person is aware of how they act and react under various circumstances, they can conscious work to change their behaviour. A person incapable of exercising a good level of self-control inevitably finds themselves victims to the compulsive nature of one’s own unregulated emotions, meaning that they cannot be held completely responsible for their actions resulting from an exercise of emotive forces. For Jedi Realists (as perhaps for most people), this is a completely unacceptable state of affairs, since we cannot act unthinkingly and without appropriate due consideration, at least not without potentially risking harm to others, thus acting contrary to our own moral standards.
Moreover, the simple idea of an emotive compulsion removes the element of free-will: the ability to choose and determine your own course of action in any circumstances. If you are angry and lack self-control, you will lash out at others or simply become frustrated to a point which cannot be sustained over the long-term without causing damage to yourself or others. If you are depressed or downcast, and lack an understanding of your own emotional states, you may find yourself unable (or even unwilling) to resolve that state of mind, and thus contemplate suicide or self-harm, or simply lack the motivation to get through the day. Regardless of which emotional state you choose for an example, it becomes clear that one must have the ability to exercise emotional control in order to live a healthy life.
Our methodology is, therefore, designed to help practitioners overcome many of the problems that we feel result from unrestrained emotional expression, primarily in order to allow us to act our own pro-life ideals. If we are driven to anger, for example, what happens if we strike out at others? If we are placed in a position where we can either save the life of a friend or the lives of several strangers, what are the consequences of succumbing to our subjective emotions? What happens to our pro-life ideals then?
Certainly it is true that our emotions also create these pro-life tendencies to which we adhere, or at the very least reinforce them. You can certainly arrive at pro-life conclusions through pure rational thought, but it helps to have those backed up by compassion and empathy, both of which result from emotion. That observed, even these emotions can create issues if appropriate reserve is not exercised. Consequently, we use our methodology to obtain a level of reasoning that exists independent of subjective concerns, that we might act with forethought so as to allow us to remain consistent with our ethical principles.
Moreover, an individual using the methodology strives to maintain balance in an emotional/psychological sense, to achieve a clearer state of mind and thus direct themselves to achieving objectivity while yet not compromising our ability to experience emotions and to learn from them. I cannot stress enough that appropriate practise of Jedi Realism requires emotion – we do not want our students to become un-emotional automatons! Nor do we wish them to act lacking the ability to reason objectively. As a result, our methodology is all about becoming internally balanced, using emotions and reasoning together, rather than favouring one over the other.
There are, however, other benefits to adopting our specific methodology. In order to apply the methodology, one must learn the values of patience and of tolerance, two states which are useful independent of our training as much as they are of value as part of that process. Patience allows for the existence of tolerance, in turn allowing us to understand and accept the beliefs and actions of others, even if those are not our own. Additionally, Detachment allows us to free those we engage in relationships with from the emotional burdens we unconsciously impose upon them, and Mindfulness allows us to comprehend the reasons for our behaviour towards other people, enabling us to alter that behaviour to make our relations more amicable.
As you can tell, there’s a lot to be gained from adopting a methodology like this one. The downside, of course, is simply the time and commitment required to adopt the particular state of mind sought by the methodology, as I will explain shortly. The benefits consequently serve as another part of our reasoning.
In terms of further reasoning, there is also a desire among many without our movement to expand or elaborate upon the mindset of the Jedi Order of Star Wars, since there are a huge number of misconceptions surrounding them (which often translate over to Jedi Realism, until we make people aware of the differences), and in the interests of appropriate practise, we use the methodology to correct these misconceptions as early as possible, so students can then go on to apply them as appropriate for our ideology. If you want an example, think about how people often consider Jedi to repress/suppress their emotions, rather than simply restraining their expression and applying detachment.
That, I believe, about covers most of the reasoning required to understand why we use our particular methodology. Of course, now it becomes appropriate to talk about the specific nature of the methodology itself, to give you a better understanding of just what I’m referring to.
Nature of the Methodology
Our Emotional Methodology relies heavily upon several key premises in order to function appropriately – these we hold as truisms, as you might expect, and thus are very much bound into the foundational fabric of our ideology. The first is the most simple and, perhaps, the most obvious: that emotions are entirely the purview of individual self-control and conscious will. Okay, maybe not so obvious, unless you’ve actually engaged in the process of self-realisation, or work with emotions on a regular basis. Allow me to explain this in terms of our overall views on personal independence and responsibility.
It should be understood, fundamentally, that everything we do has a reason for it being done. I’m not speaking of destiny or fate or of any of the many other pseudo-spiritual notions that accompany such an expression. I’m speaking instead of simple decision-making – that system whereby a person considers their options (which is not to say all options) and chooses the one that is right for them. Many of the decisions we make are, often as not, chosen subconsciously, or in such a manner that we’re not always consciously aware of such a choice being made. And therein lays the problem.
Subconscious decision-making exists, as far as I can see, on two levels: instinctive decisions - those made purely to protect the individual (for example, feeling the emotive desire to eat when hungry, this being different but interlinked with the physiological feeling of hunger) - and subconsciously subjective decisions – those made as a result of personal preferences or reactions that have become so ingrained within one’s psyche as to become reflexive.
Our primary observation of subconscious subjective decisions revolve almost entirely around emotional states – how one becomes angry if bothered or confronted; how one becomes defensive under mental or physical assault; how they become embarrassed over certain topics of discussion or actions, and so on. These come from the entrenchment of particular stimuli-response mechanisms: when Situation A occurs, Reaction B happens as a result. All very natural, of course.
However, there is a difference between the provocation of an emotion, thought or action and the persistence of such a thing. So, say you have been provoked to anger by external stimuli. It is only appropriate to feel angry as a result of that – it’s quite natural. However, choice comes into play when you determine whether or not to sustain that emotion. If you calm yourself down, you have made a decision not to. If you remain angry, it is by choice, whether you realise it or not. Emotions are naturally under our own conscious control. It is easy enough to exercise control over laughter, for example, but less simple to exercise that same restraint over anger or love, however. It is not true to say that all emotions can be handled with the same ease as each other.
Anyway, therein lays the crux of the matter, for us. If emotional states are something we can control or regulate, if you prefer, then it becomes a matter of a) being consciously aware of this, b) exercising sufficient awareness of ourselves to know what we are feeling and c) determine which emotional states to control, and which not to. Or, perhaps, to determine which emotions we want to sustain, and which we do not.
The second of our truisms revolves around the nature of these subconscious reactions. We realise that behaviour can be learned, and what can be learned can be unlearned. Thus, we are entirely capable of determining our own state of mind at any point in time. If one stimulus causes us to feel angry, or sad, or happy, we can determine why it does that, and thus consciously determine how to react to it. And over time, as we exercise such a reaction, it becomes ingrained within our subconscious minds, making it the reflexive reaction.
With this understanding, it becomes a matter of what kind of way we wish to approach the world – if we choose to foster anger, we will react naturally in that fashion to many things. If we wish to be constantly happy, it would be truly difficult to destroy our optimism and joy for life by any one action. And, of course, if we wish to be calm, relaxed and at peace, then we can achieve that and thus remain so amidst circumstances that would otherwise compromise our equanimity.
To achieve such a thing, we have to create what you might consider to be mental motor habits. For those unfamiliar with motor habits, they are particular movements of the body that have become reflexive through repetition. Anyone that has ever played a sport or practised a martial art will understand the principle – as you adopt a particular stance or move in a particular way, your body remembers the motion, so it becomes easier to repeat it over time, and eventually becomes reflexive. Likewise, this is true for the mind – if you think a certain way for prolonged periods of time, you can become predisposed to think in such a manner. The same is true for feelings.
Now we come upon our third premise: that all people have the ability to perform these changes consciously, if they desire to do so. This becomes reliant upon self-realisation, as you might expect, since in order to change one’s behaviour, one first has to know what it is. Likewise, they have to determine whether a particular aspect of their behaviour or actions is undesirable (the usual modus operandi for provoking change to be made) and then decide to change that behaviour in favour of a different one.
The fourth and final premise is also the most fundamental one, as far as the methodology is concerned: as certain thoughts and feelings become embedded within your mind, and become automatically reflexive, changes occur in what we call your default state of mind. This is essentially the one you will always fall back to, something that is essentially permanent and underlying, regardless of what emotions you might feel and express, or what affectations and facades you adopt. Call it your disposition, if you will.
As should be fairly obvious by now, it becomes possible to change this disposition as you change the way you feel, think and react to the environment around you. Consequently, you can choose what you wish your default state to be (which is simple enough), and then work your way towards obtaining it (that being the difficult part, or perhaps, the more prolonged aspect).
With these premises in mind, we can move onto the content of the Emotional Methodology, in terms of what we aim to achieve by using it. Once we’ve done that, I’ll then talk some more about the exercises and methods we use to actually achieve it. Sufficed to say, this was the easy part.
Using the premises I have already noted, we have to consider what they mean for Jedi Realists. You are probably already aware of several of our key principles with regards to our behaviour and approach to action. Firstly, that we tend to focus on moving towards a state of psychological objectivity, so that we can approach each situation lacking the bias of subjective concerns, thus enabling us to act in a manner that is appropriate both to our various ethical tenets and also to others in our environment.
If this particular notion sounds confusing, allow me to elaborate a little. Jedi Realism revolves around pro-life principles, partly because of our awareness of life energy and the natural interconnectivity of life, and also because of the understanding that individual actions have consequences that often do not remain isolated to that individual. Thus, our choices have effects on the lives of other people, and can easily infringe upon their own right to choose, and live as they want to. As a result, we feel it only appropriate (in line with our pro-life tendencies) to do what we can to limit the potential damage our actions can cause and, moving on from this, seek to benefit others by our actions.
Objectivity is not, however, something easily obtained. Indeed, some postulate that it is nigh impossible to reach a state of complete objectivity, given that humans are naturally subjective. It is part of what we are. That observed, we don’t believe that we cannot become objective – even if it is impossible to be completely objectivity, this is not to suggest that we cannot touch on such a state, even for a short time. Regardless of where you stand on the matter, that is the primary objective when using our emotional methodology.
So, what is it, exactly? Well, in order to reach a state of objectivity, or so we feel, one must do their best to step back from subjective concerns, most of which originate within human emotions. If we allow ourselves to exercise unfettered emotion, we have no chance of becoming objective, because those emotions and the subjective influences they carry will prevent it, intrinsically. However, this does not mean we must repress or banish our emotions – it is they wish give us our empathy, our compassion, our motivations and drives. So, as you can probably guess, we have to seek middle ground between the two extremes.
Emotions, as a rule, tend to be reactive in nature – they are provoked by some external or internal stimuli, which generate the sensation of the emotion, this in turn producing psychosomatic energy, eventually resulting in an expression of that emotion. And we experience these emotions in distinct forms – the blinding fury of one’s anger, the depths of sorrow, the exquisite height of joy, and so on. Each has a different form, a different function, and many different stimuli that provoke it. However, for this to be so, one of two things must be true:
That we are constantly feeling emotions, and that one distinct state simply changes to another
That we possess a neutral state, one from which we can then move towards any emotional state we choose
For our purposes, we tend to believe that the second of the two is true. The first is also true, I should note, but that varies from person to person. We could debate all day over which is true, but in terms of simple perspective, we should use the second one for now. I’ll explain this. Your disposition, that which is your ‘default’ state, the one you return to whenever not in the grip of any particular emotional state, this is the neutral state I’m speaking of. I should note that a neutral state in this context is not one existing outside of emotion – some people have optimism or happiness as their default state, others have anger or disdain. The reason it is neutral is because it remains consistent, and is not emotionally turbulent.
Given this particular perspective, we had to wonder: is it possible to maintain a default state of mind which was conducive to the state of objectivity? And the answer is, as you might expect, yes. For us, that state is the one called serenity: calm, tranquillity, peace, whatever synonym you prefer.
That, in essence, is the centrepiece of our Emotional Methodology – obtaining the state of Serenity. That might sound rather simple, but it’s really not. Surrounding it is an understanding of the premises and notions already mentioned, many of which sink in easily enough in the academic sense, but which require time to be perceived by the individual in context of themselves. We use Mindfulness and Detachment for just that purpose, I might add. Beyond that, there are many other techniques and ideas required in order to help maintain this state.
What is Serenity? I’ll take a moment to give you a definition. A serene individual is one who possesses a still mind, hence, one that is neither excited nor agitated, but is instead calm and relaxed – accepting of themselves and the environment around them. It is an external detachment of oneself, the ability to exist within a particular situation and to be able to see how your emotions might be provoked, and to witness your thoughts without automatically being bound to act upon them. It is, for all intents and purposes, the ability to perceive, to deliberate and to choose, all within the same instant.
As you can imagine, everywhere around us there are parts of our environment which act to provoke our emotions in some way – which is not to say that they do so deliberately, but rather than humans naturally react as such. Some things we fear, because they are dangerous. Some things we are drawn to, for they are beautiful. Some things repulse us, because they are not. Others drive us into anger, despair, happiness, amusement, and so on. How, you have to ask, is it possible to remain calm amidst such things?
The emotional methodology is not designed to prevent these emotions from being provoked, nor to reduce your appreciation both for your emotions and those things which trigger them. Rather, it simply offers you the ability to control what you feel, or perhaps, to control the way you react to what you feel. In essence, we aim to see to it that you have the option to understand how your emotions are provoked, what effect this has on you, and how you in turn react to them. And then to choose what you want.
More than that, though, the methodology is designed to create a very particular state of mind. As I have explained, we seek to moderate the excesses of emotion under circumstances whereby expressing them becomes inappropriate and/or dangerous. A person that cannot control their emotions is one that is ruled by them. And certain emotions have very little practical use for us, at least insofar as the same results can be achieved by different means. This is not to say that you should not endeavour to feel and enjoy all your emotions – what this means is that you should gain the ability to control the way those feelings are expressed once felt.
At least, this is true at the initial stages of the methodology, usually over the first few years, when a practitioner is still moving towards gaining control. Once they have an effective control, and have also managed to adopt the state of serenity, it then becomes a matter of continually using this system to allow it to become embedded within your mind, thus, to become the default.
When serenity becomes the default state of mind, the way you act and react becomes truly very different. It isn’t something particularly noticeable over the space of a day or two, but very much so over the course of months and years. A person who is serene is not one easily provoked to emotion – not in a negative way, since this simply means that they can step back from themselves, understanding what the stimuli around them can provoke, and then determine whether or not to allow it. If you can look at something hilariously amusing and feel calm, while yet leaving yourself open to amusement, then you are making progress. But to be constantly in that state is a far different story.
To a very great extent, a serene Jedi eventually ‘grows a thicker skin’, so to speak, and stops being dictated to by emotions – rather than having emotions reflexively provoked and permitted to break our equanimity, and certainly rather than emotions simply being acted on out of impulse, the Jedi gains the time and ability to determine what to feel, and thus, are able to manipulate their own emotional states as they choose. This also enables us to act as we choose – thus, giving the Jedi Realist an additional burden: the awareness of one’s personal responsibility. Anything you do is your responsibility, your fault. What happens to you, at least in the psychological sense, is something you chose, because you could prevent it if you wished.
Such is the nature of control.
I have to be certain to emphasise how difficult this process is to start, continue upon and complete. Indeed, some feel that it is impossible to ever become totally serene without becoming dehumanised in some way; others feel that it is not something that can be achieved in a single lifetime. And even if it can, there is always room for improvement – no Jedi should ever be complacent in their application of the methodology, for we can all be better Jedi, regardless of our level of training or practise.
But having spoken now of the nature of the Emotional Methodology, let me speak to the methods we use to obtain it, at least in the general sense. I could talk forever about the actual methods – there are far too many to ever be comprehensively listed and discussed, so I’m not going to try and be tiresome or over-ambitious by attempting such a thing. Instead, I shall take a look at the skeletal methodology, if you will: the bare bones that form the framework around which the totality is built.
Steps to obtaining the Methodology
You may very well find (and rightly so) that the process used to obtain the Emotional Methodology looks very similar to the way I have outlined my overall training programme in this manual. Guess what: that’s quite deliberate. Developing the mindset produced by the methodology is the key to Jedi Realist training – lacking it, one cannot be a Jedi in full, and can at most simply be an aspiring Jedi Realist. It provides the frame of mind necessary to think and act as a Jedi, and without it, those things can only be feigned, and will not be natural to you.
Thus, without that state of mind, all you can do is try to emulate a Jedi. You cannot actually be one. Some may find such a declaration a little harsh, but that is simply the truth of the matter. I cannot be responsible for whether or not anyone reading this finds it palatable.
As with the rest of the training programme, the methodology starts out with Self-Realisation. As I said earlier, it only becomes possible to change one’s nature once you are aware of it – otherwise, any changes that are made are the result either of external pressures made upon you, or of decisions made blindly, lacking the full awareness of yourself that is necessary to determine the consequences of any changes you make – or don’t make, in some cases. We encourage this simply because it is the most sensible course of action, the most responsible course: we could perhaps devise a training regimen that did not require it, but then there would always exist the need to rectify a mistake made, or a decision taken too lightly. Besides, the changes we make to ourselves will also inevitably have consequences for those around us – after all, they have to interact with you.
So, first comes the need to understand who you are, or perhaps, what things go together to make you the person that you are at the start of your training. What is it that makes you tick? Why do you go left rather than right? What motivates you? What does not? For this, we teach Mindfulness, that which goes alongside the overall process of Self-Realisation as a whole.
You must come to understand, once you have an idea of who you are at the time, what it is you want to do with that image – what would you like to change? What would you like to remain the same? Ironically, making those determinations is more difficult than actually making the changes themselves. Each little change you make might change the whole board dramatically and, then again, it might not. Thus, great care has to be taken to ensure that mistakes aren’t made which could jeopardise that which you endeavour to become.
Of course, when you come to make those changes, you need to know something else: how you react. What makes you livid with anger? What makes you embroiled in sadness? What makes you delirious with joy? And why is this? For this, we need Detachment.
You see, it is not sufficient simply to be aware that we are provoked: we must know how, and why. To do that, you need to step away from your emotions at times, to be able to witness them, almost as a spectator would, and not be influenced by them in the process, at least until you decide to do so. Mindfulness helps us to be aware of the when, and Detachment helps us learn the how and the why. With all this information in your hands, you can do something with it, and turn it into a force for change – carefully managed change, of course.
I have to mention, at this point, that this is why no student should ever train alone. I don’t mean in the direct physical sense, as one might train in a dojo. You can do that, if you wish. I mean that one should not train bereft of their fellow practitioners, whether students or teachers, advanced practitioners or recent ones. Dictating a particular pathway for change (chosen by the individual, of course) can be dangerous if others aren’t around to keep an eye on you, and if they cannot offer advice or even render assistance. Jedi are trained to work effectively on their own, but none of us exist in a vacuum. Please keep that in mind.
It helps, naturally, to have some idea of what you want before you continue the process of Self-Realisation beyond this point. Oftentimes, we call upon our notions of the ideal self to help us work this out, since this allows us to set realistic goals, as well as gives us something to measure ourselves against as we progress. Are we moving closer to that ideal, or further away? Does this need to be changed, or can it remain as it is? What compromises the path to that point? And so on.
For this reason, it becomes important to teach the nature of the Jedi before setting a student onto the path of Self Realisation, simply because it saves time later – most of us tend to perceive the Jedi as being our ideal – the perfect balance of self-control and emotion, one who can reason objectively one moment and yet return to subjectivity in the next. One who possesses moral strength, and the courage of those convictions that result from this. And so on. This is not to say that we should indoctrinate students to think of the Jedi as their ideal selves – it is to help them determine whether or not that is the case. After all, it would be pointless putting them on track towards something that they do not want to become. Thus, such a point is where they choose what they want, and then go to obtain it.
The rest of the training required for the methodology comes essentially from application of these things – understanding of what it is you want, combined with constant self-evaluation, to determine where you are at, along with the vigilant exercise of Detachment and Mindfulness to help you with this awareness at every step of the way.
However, that is not all that is required. Were that it quite that simple. Serenity itself is not an isolated state, lacking context. To reach it, you have to learn a great deal of other notions, techniques and values, each of which I shall briefly go over now, though they shall require far greater treatment as we go.
Patience is, without a doubt, one of the most important requirements. Detachment requires that you be able to step back from your own thoughts and emotions, as well as those of others, and this does require that you give yourself permission to take a moment to collect yourself, and to consider all those factors within your environment, as much as possible. If you exercise only impatience, detachment is impossible to achieve. Likewise, so is the Emotional Methodology.
More than that, a lack of patience is also perfect for provoking one to emotional extremes, particularly those of anger and frustration. These emotions are superb at breaking apart fragile equanimity, and these all compromise the desired state of serenity, thus being utterly counterproductive.
It also needs to be noted that patience is required for objectivity – hasty judgments made because of a lack of patience thus prevent you from seeing the whole environment, and hence allowing you to miss things that might perhaps affect your decision-making process, negatively so. Thus, you must learn to be patient.
It is, however, just fortunate that we use a particular training technique to achieve that, as well as to achieve Detachment, Mindfulness, a calm and clear state of mind, and the ability to keep oneself relaxed. And this technique is that of Meditation.
Although I shall discuss this in greater detail a little later on, Meditation is the state of actively focusing on a singular stimuli (be it a thought, a feeling, a sound, or any other sensation) and using that to calm ourselves, to centre our thoughts and focus them onto a singular path, almost in a state of relaxed hyperawareness. When we focus this way, we exist in that moment of time, remaining in the present – thus, we learn Mindfulness. By taking this moment to step away from our other concerns, we come to understand Detachment. And to learn to properly meditate, one must become patient. And so, as you can see, such a technique serves many functions.
I won’t consider this any further in this section – there is a separate section on Meditation, detailing theory, techniques and so on that is more appropriate to such discussion. For now, simply be aware that this is the point at which it is introduced into the training programme, at least as far as the Emotional Methodology should be concerned.
Slowly, we begin next to introduce the student to self-control – often by tapping into a single stimuli-response mechanism that they have (deliberately attempting to make them laugh, for example), and encouraging them to control it – not by suppressing the feeling, but instead trying for themselves the difference between the sensation of the emotion, the energy that generates, and the expression that oftentimes results in. Thus, someone that is amused might smile or laugh. If the student can retain their equanimity under those circumstances, they have obtained a measure of self-control. I also ought to note that more advanced practitioners (i.e. the teachers among our number) often spring such tests unannounced, and in such a manner that requires that the student both realise what is happening, while passing the test itself.
On a personal note, just let me reassure you – it’s all done with extremely good intent. It may be embarrassing or humiliating at the time, but that in itself should tell you something about whether or not you succeeded. The ideal response is to see what is being attempted and to respond to it with a calm and relaxed state of mind. Mindfulness and conscious exertion of one’s own willpower will be quite sufficient for success. It simply takes practice, and frankly, it’s better if Jedi do that to you, in controlled settings, than someone else does it and you react to it badly, in a way that could be potentially harmful, both to them and to you.
You should also be aware that attaining this state of mind comes in stages. It is not a sudden change, something that happens overnight after years of practice. Oftentimes, practitioners reach various points whereby they have made obvious progress, and this is also something we can measure. To reiterate an earlier point, this is why it becomes fundamental for any practitioner, advanced or brand new to the ideology, to train in concert with others, simply because we all need help to correct our mistakes early on. Eventually, you’ll be better able to perform a system of self-policing, but it is best not to fall into the trap of assuming you can manage on your own.
Likewise, be aware that there is no singular path for becoming a Jedi, especially as far as the Emotional Methodology is concerned. We all start out on the path as different people, yet all trying to achieve similar things – as a consequence, each person will need to take different steps to reach each particular stage in their development. Some will go faster, some slower – but speed is not an accurate measure of progress in this regard. What I have outlined thus far is the basic outline of how you get from A to C. What happens at B is dependent on which approach you prefer to use. When you come to this point, if you’re not sure what you need to do, there are plenty of people around that have been there before that are always happy to advise you – so don’t be afraid to turn to them for a little help.
It may have hit you that our methodology actually does have stages to it, despite the techniques and approaches used to get there. This is the inevitable result of approaching a similar ideal with the same basic foundations. Allow me to outline the general stages – and, again, note that this is a rough guide. I’d be most surprised (as would most practitioners) if your progress was quite so smooth. Sometimes you do need to go one step back to take two steps forward.
Initially, a new student will have only recently been introduced to Detachment, Mindfulness and the content of the methodology itself. Their consequential experience with these things will be limited, and the process of Self-Realisation will have only recently been initiated. As a result, we can’t expect them to instantly act the same way a more experienced practitioner might. And since this is a progressive system, you usually won’t make any dramatic leaps beyond gaining a little more insight at one moment than you had before.
Once the distinctions between emotional sensation, energy and expression have been made (this being fundamental to one’s progress), a practitioner will be encouraged to head towards a point where they are controlled the expression of their emotions, even if they feel that emotion most powerfully. As I’ve said, we often use the technique of deliberate emotional provocation to help in this – it gives the student time to adjust to the stimuli, and opportunity to test their own self-control. Alongside these arbitrary tests, we teach them how to deal with the energy of their emotions, in order to gain better control over the expressions that result. Thus, we use meditations, breathing exercises and focusing mediums and the like, mainly to accustom them to the sensation of serenity, even if for a moment.
That particular ‘taster’ is usually sufficient to help them understand how we reach that state more often – the techniques used are designed to be broken down in the reductionist state, so a practitioner can go step-by-step through them and determine how the end result is achieved. Eventually, they can work towards reaching that state unaided, but I’m skipping ahead a little.
Often enough, students often react to this by trying to channel their emotional energy into a positive expression – if angry, they will use that energy to work harder, and so on. This is fine as a midpoint, but it isn’t the final step, and not appropriate to be used over the long term. Generally, we observe that this is a good way of channelling emotional energy away from reflexive expressions, those which are caused unthinkingly (essentially, provoked instinctively by the emotion, such as lashing out when angry), but dangerous if the student sticks to this method – primarily because the distinction between sensation and expression become blurred, often to the point whereby students believe they can use the emotion, regardless of what it is. The danger here is obvious, I think.
Moving on from here comes the next stage: learning to retain equanimity under circumstances when emotion is provoked. For that, we can return to the earlier deliberate provocation exercise I referred to. Students need to learn that, rather than channelling that energy into action, we need to let it simply bleed off, into the environment around us. Not in a manner in which it is being forced, but rather by dealing with the emotional sensation itself, as opposed to the energy. Hence, a student has to learn calming techniques, so when they sense a stimuli likely to provoke an emotion, they automatically calm themselves and, thus, prevent the sudden leap in energy.
The problem there is that students risk the issue of preventing themselves from experiencing emotions in order to stop the energy. This is, as you can imagine, undesirable, so it is literally something taught as a stop-gap measure. Alongside it, we teach the third stage: disassociating emotional sensation from the psychosomatic build-up of energy it creates. To do that, you need to refer back to Detachment – a practitioner must allow themselves to experience emotion, but detach themselves sufficiently from it so that is not directly affecting their equanimity, almost as if observing it at a distance while still feeling the sensation as is natural. It is incredibly difficult to do, and usually requires conscious subjection to deliberate provocation – hence, the student is told beforehand that the intention of the exercise is to provoke them, rather than simply surprising them with a test.
The final stage, the point at which true serenity is achieved as a default state, is the point at which the calm equanimity that is, at first, adopted becomes instinctive – natural enough that you no longer need to force yourself to be calm, but simply are calm. Usually this is only determined as being the case when a person is surprised once more with the deliberate provocation training technique and can retain their serenity without conscious effort, with that calm instead being simple reflexive habit.
Make no mistake on this point, though – it is not to say that the practitioner cannot react emotionally if they so choose. The important point is that last part: that they have chosen to react, rather than done so purely out of reflex (in the manner of an uncontrolled stimulus-response). Once that has been achieved, the student can focus upon recognising objectivity – essentially, relaxing ego and the sense of self so that you are completely open to your own environment.
Inevitably, what we look for is to establish a balance between our subjective selves and the more objective world around us – hence, between reason and emotions, all the while keeping in mind that we must do so in a manner consistent with all of our various principles, thus requiring that we strike a very particular equilibrium. So, it is expected that new students will be more likely to be emotionally expressive than an advanced practitioner – not because they are more expressive, but simply because they lack the same level of self-control that allows them to choose serenity over emotion at will.
I hope this gives you an appropriate insight into the methodology. I will continue explaining how this works as I continue with the manual, for the techniques and principles that constitute the rest of Jedi Realism inevitably play a part in the Emotional Methodology, so you should gain a better understanding of this as you read further on.