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Institute for Jedi Realist Studies Newsletter February 2016
It looks like it will take a little longer to make this newsletter consistently monthly. Based on activity I don't believe I'm the only person finding 2016 to be a tad busy! Personally my family moved into a house, my daughter turned one (so we had lots of visitors), and David aka Phoenix moved in with us. Talk about an exciting start to the year! Whether your life has been busy for enjoyable or challenging reasons, you have the choice to experience it in a productive way. How will you create the rest of 2016?
One option is to join us at the Jedi Gathering Aug 4-7 in Oregon IL. Myself, Phoenix, and Connor will be undergoing our knighthood trials there, as well as teaching seminars. There's plenty of fun to be had as well. Will you join us? http://www.jedifederation.org/
Finally, stop by the forums and join in on any of the new threads. We've been making a concerted effort to increase the number of posts to give you something new to think about each day. Start your day with the gratitude thread or ponder the daily quotes. Add your own. Help us build the Institute and change the world!
The articles below come from threads on the forum, asking everyone to share their advice for newer Jedi, how the Jedi path has impacted their life, and what it means to be a Jedi in real life. What can you share?
How to be a Real Life Jedi: The Beginner's Guide
Step 1: Pull Out Your Plastic Lightsabers It's no mystery that one of the things that may have driven you to find if "Real" Jedi exist is the amazing tool known as a lightsaber. As kids (or kids at heart) we probably have pulled out plastic lightsaber at some point in our lives. We may have dueled our parents in the dark with glowing plastic swords, trying to save our actual dog named Princess from the villainous Darth Vader (Er, Father)...wait. No one else did that?
While we may not have real life lightsabers, we do include martial arts and sparring as something of a fun pursuit as Jedi Realists. We don't have a true need or function for a laser sword today, but honing muscle strength, flexibility and being able to learn self-defense are all essentials skills that have emerged from playing with swords.
Step 2: Lift the Car with your Mind One of the most awe-inspiring moments in Star Wars movie history was watching Jedi Master Yoda lift a X-Wing Star fighter out of a swamp. He didn't do it with physical strength, but with a reliance on something bigger than him, in a energy field known as the Force. This has led to countless spoofs, attempts and contemplation on what really is the Force. Obi-Wan Kenobi, in A New Hope, describes the Force as: "The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."
While we may not be able to lift a car with our minds, many of us have pursued what the Force may actually be like in our lives, and how we can interact with it from day to day. For many, this is done with energy work, meditation, and similar practices. While we may not (yet) be able to perform acts of telekinesis or heightened physical abilities, the ability to center and focus, to be in touch with something larger than yourself, and committing to an energy that is bigger than all of us has daily applications. Learning these techniques and applying them into normal life situations is what sets us apart as Jedi Realists.
Step 3: Wear Jedi Robes Sure, I'll wait. Go ahead and don your $50 Jedi costume that you bought last year for Halloween. Maybe you have an even fancier one that you wear to Comic-Con? The Jedi Robes were based on many real-world monastic traditions and are seen as the iconic garb of Jedi. In the Star Wars Universe, these robes first came about based on how people used to travel thousands of years ago. It allowed them to blend in with their environment and be able to sneak around with out being detected. Eventually, it evolved as the Jedi Order official uniform.
In the real world, we hardly wear Jedi Robes (disappointing, I know). We do wear them for ceremonies and special occasions, but they are not required to be a Jedi Realist. In fact, many of us don't have or require special uniforms. And that's OK. As realists, we work within what is normal to wear in society so that we can function best. We don't need to make audacious statements with robes and hoods, we don't need to call attention to ourselves. Learning skills that can be applied to every day situations like survival, first aide, and emergency preparedness is more important than trying to remember if you ironed your robes for the day.
Step 4: Become a symbol of Peace Ok, now this one is actually the closest similarity between Jedi Fiction and Jedi Realists. We both strive to better our communities around us and help those in need. We actively seek to be a symbol of peace. While, in a humorous fashion, I have explained we don't run around in robes and lightsabers; I hope you understand that these are not the things that MAKE a Jedi. What makes a Jedi is the desire to continually grow spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally; not JUST for one's own benefit, but the benefit of the galaxy (or Earth) as a whole.
As you can see, many of the things in the Star Wars Universe inspired real life that may not be exactly how things were done in the movies. That's what sets us apart as Jedi Realists. Sure, we'd love to have lightsabers or lift things with our minds, or travel distant galaxies; but instead, we take those inspirations and draw on them and use the lessons to apply to our daily life. We do this to better ourselves and the community around us. That's how to become a true real life Jedi.
So you're new to the Jedi life? Awesome. Those first few steps on the Path are an exciting, rewarding, magical time. Some of these earliest teachings you pick up in the next few minutes, or hours, or days will be the foundation that gives shape and structure to the warrior you will become.
If I can share a couple of ideas from my own experience:
1. Keep an open mind. People come to the Jedi Path from all walks of life: religious, not religious, liberal, conservative, blue-collar, white-collar, and from nations all over the world. Not surprisingly, we don't always universally agree on everything. But you can learn from everyone, if you get past the labels and the dogma. Take what works for you, no matter the source. Adapt what you have to so that it fits your own Path.
2. Be patient. The Jedi Path is a life-long one. There will be times when it feels like you're not making any progress at all. Then tomorrow you may have an immediate spiritual breakthrough. Accept both kinds of days as they come. As long as you keep taking steps, the progress will be there, whether you can see it or not.
It's okay to set goals. Wanna make it to Knighthood in five years? I will be right beside you cheering you on. Just remember that your goals are still just steps along the Path, and year six comes after that.
3. You know more than you think you do. The reason the mythology of Star Wars and the Jedi were so successful and popular is because they were drawn from spiritual traditions that are as old as civilization itself. The reason the Jedi Path appeals to so many of us is the same: we are dealing with universal truths that have been part of human life for thousands of years, that have been left behind in our microwavable climate-controlled modern society. If you're drawn to the Path, it's because you've felt that resonance within you. Listen to it. Feel the truth of it. As you train and study, you're going to come across some things that might be completely outside your existing frame of reference. Expand your frame, and listen to your intuition. Feel the truth of it. Your spirit knows these truths, even if no one's ever given your mind the words before.
You know, it's so cliche that I never say it, but maybe if you're new, you need to hear it: The Force will be with you, always.