Published by admin on December 19, 2015

I was six and all I wanted was a lightsaber

STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

I was 6 years old. I remember getting my whole Universe blown to smithereens.

I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. Badly. (Yeah, I wasn’t cool enough yet to be Han Solo.) I wanted a lightsaber, and I was willing to give up a finger–but only my pinky–if only I could have one!

And… I still would!

I remember taking English with Mrs. Wiley at Seabreeze High School. We watched a whole series by Joseph Campbell, a mythologist, on Star Wars! It was called, “The Hero’s Journey.” Needless to say, it was one of the best weeks of my life!

Incidentally, I was lucky enough to meet Mr. Lucas in Marin, California years back while road-tripping across the country. I walked up to him and said, “Mr. Lucas, I just want to thank you for your work on Star Wars. It has made a huge impact on my life.”

His response: “Thanks a lot, kid.”

(Ok, he might not actually have said, kid, but his wry, Han Solo-esque smile pretty much implied it.)

As it turns out, the ideas contained in Campbell’s book, Hero with a Thousand Faces, had quite an impact on George Lucas as he worked on the scripts for Star Wars.

 

Fast-forward to English class:

I remember watching Campbell’s series in which he talked about a scene from Empire Strikes Back in which Luke must go down into the dark cavern to face whatever fears were waiting for him there.

Here’s the script:

Luke: There’s something not right here… I feel cold. Death. 

Yoda: That place… is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.

Luke: What’s in there? 

Yoda: Only what you take with you.

 

Then:

Yoda: Your weapons, you will not need them.

 

Here’s what interesting to me about this dialogue.

Imagine saying to your friend, near a dark alley way, late at night: There’s something not right here.

And your friend says, Awesome! You should go down there–by yourself!

WTF??! What kind of friend is that?

Yet, that’s just what the archetype of a hero does. Not only faces his or her fears–a hero actually walks towards them.

 

That’s nuts! It’s also ridiculously counter-intuitive. Human beings are made, biologically speaking, to seek pleasure and to avoid pain–not move towards it!

And without a doubt, going towards our fear means to create pain! Pain that would otherwise not exist in our lives.

Because that’s where the real growth happens! That’s where the GOLD is.

It doesn’t happen when everything is going great. It happens when we are challenged; when we have to dig deep and discover a part of ourselves that we didn’t know was there.

At some point, we all descend like Dante into a personal hell–but the hero does so willingly; to face our fears head-on. 

And that’s exactly what Campbell talks about.

LukeWhat’s in there? 

Yoda: Only what you take with you.

The implication, of course, is that there really isn’t anything to fear.

 

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate to partake in a shamanic voyage with the help of the Mother vine, Ayahuasca.

In this other-worldly dimension, all of my fears immediately came to the fore. To call it scary would be a ridiculous understatement. It was terrifying.

Anyways, one of the things that I was shown during this five-hour journey was the source of my fears: me.

My thoughts weren’t real. They were imagined. Yet, I was living as if they were real.

Fear is an illusion.

A very, very real illusion.

But an illusion, nonetheless.

YodaYour weapons, you will not need them.

Luke’s weapon was not going to help him in the cave. As we all know by now, when he used his lightsaber–naughty, naughty Luke!–he cuts off Vader’s head only to discover that Vader wasn’t real, and that underneath the helmet was his own face!!!

The question: what weapons do we use to protect ourselves from our imaginary fears?

DEFENSE MECHANISMS.

Essentially (Wiki): a defense mechanism is a coping technique that reduces anxiety arising from unacceptable or potentially harmful impulses; to manipulate, deny, or distort reality in order to defend against feelings of anxiety and unacceptable impulses to maintain one’s self-schema.

We use these defense mechanisms to protect ourselves!

From a survival standpoint, that’s a good thing. However, we don’t stop at survival in a literal sense. Any time our egos are threatened (which can be frequently), we pull out our deck of defense mechanisms and choose our favorite one. (Remind anyone of Dungeons & Dragons?)

Problem solved!

We have successfully avoided feelings of discomfort that would require us to rearrange our relationship to reality.

Whew. That was close!

We human beings hate change–above all else changing our minds.

 

Yoda is telling Luke (and all of us) to put down his weapons and be open to what is–not just his mind’s fearful interpretation thereof.

To take a step back, or 10, in order to see from a different vantage point.

Heroes walk towards their fears so they can live more truthfully in this world. To live, not by illusion, but by CREATION.

But in order to create, there must first be a blank canvass.

I’ll end with this story.

I did a silent meditation retreat in upstate New York at a Jewish retreat center called Elat Chayyim years ago.

One of the teachers compared our lives to those Christmas glass balls that have the snow-flakes and some reindeer or whatever going on inside of them.

You know the kind. When you shake it up, all the snow-flakes go flying and create this virtual whiteout, where you can’t see whatever is contained in the ball.

He said that most of us walk through life with minds like one of those Christmas balls that have just been stirred up; we can’t get a clear picture of reality (i.e., what’s real) because our thoughts are mucking up what’s really there.

A person who has learned to control his or her thoughts through meditation, however, has a mind like a Christmas ball that is unstirred. They can see reality (i.e., what’s actually there) because there is nothing distorting their view!

I ate this metaphor up when I first heard it.

Isn’t it true, though? Don’t we have so much self-talk going on, so many internal conversations, that it gets in the way of being with the people in our lives?

Sometimes, I catch myself in the shower having a totally unreal argument with someone that I’m mad at. I say what’s upset me. Then, I say whatever they’re going to say in return. Then, I really turn it up and go for the kill.

Crazy, we are! 

The Empire Strikes Back is really a story of Luke’s training to become a Jedi.

And, what is a Jedi?

A Jedi is someone who has liberated him or herself; someone who has quieted their mind enough to (more or less) lives in reality–and not by illusions.

And though some of Luke’s training was  physical (and, indeed, keeping the body strong is an important part of the hero’s journey), the real training was mental!

 

 

In the end of the day, that cave which we will all descend down into one day–whether willingly or kicking and screaming–is where we will confront ourselves.

We can choose to move towards it, a little each day, or we can be flung into  it against our will. Ultimately, the choice is ours.

The path of the hero is to do so willingly.

Be brave.

Laugh (at yourself) more.

Be a Jedi.

 

 

There is a little bit of Jedi in this post, too: https://alexobedblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/dating-broke-just-dont/

Or, for a totally light and fun post: I Found the Love of My Life and then She Blocked Me:

I Found the Love of My Life–and then She Blocked Me: a Post that was Supposed to be about Monogamy

 

Find more posts at www.alexobedblog.wordpress.com

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Contact: alexobed@gmail.com

Reference: View 15 common defense mechanisms here: http://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-defense-mechanisms/?all=1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Campbell#cave#courage#creation#defense mechanisms#ego#fear#Genesis#Han Solo#hero#illusion#Jedi#journey#life#lightsaber#love#Lucas#Luke#reality#Star Wars#the Force#tree of knowledge of good and evil#Vader#wisdom#Yoda

Comments

  1. Theresa Lim
    December 30, 2015 - 11:10 pm

    Perfect reading as we reflect on 2015. Hopefully more people will have the courage in 2016 to step into the discomfort and lean into their personal growth. Thanks!

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