Show Up, Do The Work
I first set upon the Jedi path nearly 15 years ago. A lot of that time, especially in the beginning, my training was on my own, outside of any Jedi communities. I would pop my head into online Jedi spaces from time to time, participate a little, find it either unfulfilling or downright toxic, and go train on my own again.
This all changed in 2014, 6 years ago from this writing, when I was introduced to the community California Jedi, and I took the step to meet another real-life Jedi face to face. After that, my training became both offline as I prefer, and with a supportive community. To be with others who are sincerely training with the same goals of you in mind – that by making ourselves better, we might be able to better the world. There was, of course, some variety in the community. But looking back I see now that there was one common trait between all the Jedi I know who had a sincere devotion to their path and showed growth as a Jedi. This trait is that they all show up and do the work.
A lot of the success in walking a Jedi Path comes down to the pillar of self-discipline. Though not self-discipline alone, but rather guided by knowledge, and strengthened with the Force. With these things in balance, one can show up and do the work. And believe me, there is work to be done.
The first work we must do as Jedi is shaping ourselves into the kind of Jedi we want to be. In order to begin the work, we must have knowledge of what being a Jedi means. On that first face to face meeting with another Jedi where among the things I learned were, that given the same starting point of the material from Star Wars, if one is committed to the Jedi Path and sticks with it, we all end up near the same place, affording for personal experience and the environment we find ourselves in. No one becomes a Jedi of quality by simply wishing to be one. It takes training and work to be a Jedi of quality, it does not happen on its own. And while shaping ourselves is the first step in the work of a Jedi, there comes a time when we will finally be ready to do work as a Jedi.
All Jedi of quality are training with one goal in mind, that being world-betterment through self-betterment. And while the first necessary work must focus on the self-betterment, but like the work of self-betterment, world-betterment does not happen on its own. Certainly, just being a good person can have a positive influence in your sphere of influence, but Jedi of quality know that easy efforts yield small rewards. It is because of this, that I have experienced time and time again, Jedi of quality doing things in “hard mode”. I have been fortunate enough to know a large handful of Jedi who seeks out the difficult tasks because those are the things that are most worth doing.
Changing the world is a big job, but any honest assessment of the world says that change must come. In fact, change is inevitable, and it is our task as Jedi to within our sphere of influence try to tilt the balance towards a just, more compassionate society, and I must admit from my viewpoint in the opening month of 2020 justice and compassion are in much shorter supply than what is needed.
To better the world, we must first have the knowledge of what systems are at work that prevents justice, which lessens the opportunities for compassionate action. And with this knowledge, we must first examine our own participation in such systems. For some of us we will find that we benefit from unjust systems, and those that do must use such privilege to the advantage of those that do not share it. So to be able to do this takes more self-betterment work. To be able to see clearly these systems at work that disadvantage others or even ourselves, and make sure we are not participating in the system’s work of an unjust society, but instead commit to working to tear down such structures so that we can work towards true equanimity for all people.
The work of self-betterment has no destination, it is continuous and ongoing for as long as you are going to be on the Jedi Path. Even when we are having a strong effect within our sphere of influence, we must never be satisfied with what we are doing as “good enough”. We must constantly take what works and make it better. We must evaluate if something we are doing or something we believe is not having a positive, beneficial effect, we must let of that thing. We must do self-examination and root out the things that are preventing us from being as good as we can be. If I can be frank, being able to unlearn might even be more important than the ability to learn. In my own personal journey, I have spent more than a decade actively unlearning toxic and oppressive behavior. This is a process that is still ongoing, as growing up in the society I live in, I could not help to learn early on these attitudes and prejudices which are at odds with a just and equanimous society. But this process is not going to happen on its own, I must show up and do the work if I am to move forward and to tip the balance a bit more towards justice and compassion.
Another part of showing up and doing the work is to look for things that are NOT being done. The tasks that are suited to your abilities and interests that you can take on and fill a previously vacant niche. This is the strength of a diverse community. With varied outlooks, experiences, and skill sets, the big picture stuff does not have to be handled by a single individual. A healthy community has the mutual support of its members. Each carrying the part of the load they are able to carry and supporting other members in areas that they need help. Being in a healthy Jedi community has done wonders for my training. The quality of a Jedi I am today is due in a large part to the community that has surrounded me and supported me in my journey. I would urge every Jedi reading this to seek out supportive and healthy Jedi communities, show up and do the work that needs doing in the community and just watch the quality of your training and your ability of a Jedi increase much more strongly than you could have done so on your own. Show up and do the work, and you will find the benefits of the Jedi Path can change the world for the better.