Musings on Chivalry

Reading through the Lecture section of the old Jedi Temple discussion forums, I found a submission in 2001 by Ainar of the Chivalric Code, attributed to the author Arinaga Yoshiakira. I have not been able to trace this writing back to that author, but I did find mention of something similar at an English teacher’s website … along with homework questions: The Code of Chivalry.

Many years later, it has found its way into the doctrines of the Temple of the Jedi Order as part of the 21 Maxims there.

I find it particularly interesting that the teacher mentions in her lesson that the chivalric code would have no real bearing on modern society. As I read through the knightly virtues listed, I can see only one that might need some revision to be appropriate for people of good will today, since few of us owe fealty to a lord … although most have some obligations to other forms of authority.

Jedi Code: Emotions

There is no emotion, there is peace.

The Jedi Code

The first line of the Jedi Code is one of the most difficult for new students to understand and accept. Stated as it is here (there are other formulations), it seems to argue that a Jedi should not have emotions. But as many Jedi teachers have written, this is a misunderstanding.

Human beings have emotions. That’s simply a part of being a healthy person, and Jedi value being healthy in mind, body, and spirit very, very much. To deny emotion and try to remove it from our lives would be a mistake. So what is the point to this line … the first line …. of one of the most iconic facets of the Star Wars mythos, one that has its foundation in both Samurai maxims and Stoic philosophy?

This line calls for reframing the relationship between a Jedi and their emotions. For so many people, their emotions are considered things outside of their control that not only seem to have a life of their own but that also color and frame the interpretation of events … and that call for specific actions and responses to events.

If someone is running late for an event because of traffic on the freeway, for instance, they think it is inevitable that they will become angry and maybe even honk their car horn or shout at people around them. They may even carry that anger with them through the day, letting it affect their responses to unrelated situations and people, getting even more angry at minor frustrations and blaming the traffic for making them angry and ruining their day.

Yet a Jedi would point out that the emotion did not come from the traffic. It came from within the person. At its most fundamental level, the emotion is an ephemeral chemical reaction in the brain in response to a challenging situation. And, ideally, a Jedi would recognize that momentary anger or frustration, acknowledge it, and then decide what to do. The emotion is not in charge of deciding what happens next; the Jedi is. Ideally, the next steps might be to do some deep breathing, mitigate the effects of being late (informing someone of the late arrival), and letting the frustration evaporate so that it does not bleed over to cause misunderstandings during the rest of the day.

But it is a big step to go from our society conditioning (“the traffic made me angry”) to managing our emotional life. The advice I hear from too many Jedi to “just be emotionally disciplined” comes from good intentions, I hope, but is not useful at the beginning of training. So, I have included an idea from Naya’s shamanic background (The Path to Anger) that I recommend you add to your training program, especially if you are already keeping a journal.

Recording your emotional responses and analyzing what might have evoked them is a good way to beginning to change your relationship with emotions and grow as a Jedi.

Environment for Life

It was inevitable, given the past few years, that I would read Morken’s lecture on the narrow band of conditions that support higher-order life on Earth on a day when we have so many natural disasters in the news.

The scope of the problem is mind-boggling. The challenge of reversing environmental damage is substantial. Much does need to be done at decision-making levels that are far above our scope of influence (although, if you live in a democracy, please make sure you vote!!). Yet, ultimately, much of the impact – and the lifestyle changes necessary – will be at the individual level.

Today, consider what you could do to reduce the number of natural resources you use or the waste that you contribute. Do one thing.

The Narrow Threshold by Morken

From the NOAA disaster events website:  https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/ showing increasing costs of disasters in the USA

An Exercise in Mindfulness

I hesitated to include the lecture Pick a Question because I do not know who contributed it. With the changes from Ezboard to Yuku to Tapatalk, many accounts became orphaned and user names did not remain visible … hence authorship information sometimes has been misplaced. All I know is that the author identified themselves as the Chair of the Sine Nomine (which ends up being rather ironic).

As it may be, I decided that this lecture introduces a useful exercise, one that is similar to those used by consultants aiding people or organizations in creating mission and vision statements.

While the initial question posed may seem trivial (the author asks “What did you have for breakfast?”) a series of “why” questions following can begin to remove the trivial, layer by layer, until the values and principles behind the, seemingly innocuous, everyday decisions and actions of daily life begin to be exposed.

For instance, my answer to the breakfast question today would be: eggs with microgreens and cinnamon swirl bread with margarine.

Why did I choose this breakfast?

At one level, because it is a combination of protein and carbs with some microgreens.

So, why these things? You already can see a hint at my response in how I framed the answer: because I think it offers valuable nutrients: protein, carbs, and phytochemicals.

Why did I go for “valuable nutrients”?

Because I am working at improving my health and think that this combination of nutrients will aid me in developing strength and have enough carbs that I can get through my 9 am personal training session without fainting.

Why am I improving my health?

  1. I am of the “move it or lose it” philosophy and think that if you don’t work at improving, entropy will increase. In this case, I’ll get weaker and possibly injured or ill.
  2. I think that I need to be physically fit* in order to have the necessary energy to teach (my real life job) and also to be of service to the community (my Jedi vocation).

…. Naturally, we could keep going here. These events are usually timed, and you do need to be in the right frame of mind to continue with introspection for very long. And if this is done with someone else, you need to feel a sense of trust … and expect that there are no wrong answers.

BUT, I hope you can see how I already am uncovering my personal values:

  • Physical health
  • Continuous improvement
  • Teaching others
  • Community service

I would like to suggest this sort of question period (do keep it short!!) might be valuable as part of either a student initiation OR as part of Jedi Trials as a way to think about values …. but also how we can enact them every day.

It’s not what you say that’s important to you, it’s what you DO that’s important to you.  

Steven Kamb (NerdFitness.com)

* Which is not to say that I think everyone needs to follow my example in this, but it is important to me to be as physically capable as possible under the circumstances.

More Lectures from the Past

I am working on filtering through the guest lectures from the Jedi Temple and publishing items that – to the best of my knowledge – were not picked up in any collections or books.

The first lecture today is a serious question from Naya: “So you wanna be a Jedi?” that takes a less-romantic look at the downsides of being a Jedi in the modern world by comparing living as a Jedi to being a shaman. While I don’t suggest that you should live like Kevin Cottam, you should consider what living as a Jedi will really entail.

Continuing in the theme is a lecture from one of our founders on The Jedi Way.

For those affected by recent disasters …..

There is so much suffering in our world these days. Some is human-created. Some is the result of “natural disasters” (quite probably increasing in severity due to human actions). All in all, it often seems too much.

I’m still working on an article about how we can respond to these events as (Jedi) Knights, but in the mean time, I offer some ideas on how to respond in compassion.

One item I am adding to my day is to say the Litany for Those Lost to Climate Change from the UUA. Say it slowly, with intention and let the words sink into your soul.

Another idea would be to say the traditional Metta prayer with the areas recently affected as a focus for your prayer. If you are not familiar with this prayer, a 5-minute guided introduction can be found at Wildmind.

Finally, you may want to join the Jedi Community Action Network in a healing meditation (virtual) session.

Living as a (Jedi) Knight

I’m still thinking about paths and vocations, and so I present a few articles on how to live as a (Jedi) Knight.

While I agree that self-improvement is important, especially maintaining one’s health, I think we eventually – as individuals and as a community – need to reach out and address the needs of the world around us. What you choose to do – where and how you serve – is entirely up to you. But I hope you will find some way to serve others. These articles are offered as a way to start thinking about what you can do.

A Jedi’s Role by Steffan Karrde

A Jedi’s Role in the Community by V’tor and Ogion

Vacation musing

I had intended to publish some thoughts on Jedi Knighthood as a vocation … but I realized that I need to spend some more time on that subject.

In the meantime, I have pulled out a couple more articles from the archives for your consideration.

More is Not Enough was contributed by Ainar as a wisdom tale.

There is No Path was written by Demetrius Vorak

In the meantime, I am enjoying hiking in beautiful weather, eating too much food and reading a new book by Druid Dana O’Driscoll: Sacred Actions.

In Search of …

 It has taken too many years for me to finally cue into this, but Ally Thompson made a comment that started me in re-evaluating my expectations of the early Jedi community.

Many, many “students” came to the online Jedi sites for healing.  They were rejected by their peers for being different or being interested in ideas and topics and hobbies other than those popular with their social group and family.  They had suffered trauma.  They were disabled physically, mentally, or emotionally.  They suffered from addictions.  They had been abused and rejected by churches, teachers, families, and society.  Sometimes, they were people who just didn’t fit in.  

They came to a place to start over … where no one knew who they had been … so that they could start fresh and be somebody different.  To try on new roles and identities in a situation where people would not keep pushing them back into being who society expected them to be.

Yes, they came to role-play.  They came to role-play better selves.  Wiser.  Older.  Well-regarded by their social group.  Successful.  Valued.  Respected.  Members of a group of like-minded people.  Members of a social group.  People who belonged.  People who had a higher calling and a noble purpose.  People who, when they spoke, leaders listened.  People who made a difference.  Heroes.

We had high school students (and sometimes younger) who were role-playing adults who were role-playing Jedi Knights.  The multiple layers of assumed identities was sometimes mind-boggling and problematic.  It contributed to undermining the credibility of sites and leaders.  But this was a part of the growing and healing process for at least some of them.  If you don’t have healthy role models in your life, where do you turn??  If  no one in your “real life” community supports your attempts to be a different – better – person, how do you reconstruct yourself??  As high-performance athletes and other successful people remind us, you have to be able to imagine something before you can be it or create it.  Change starts in the mind before it can be manifested physically.

And most of us need a support group along the way. In one of his YouTube videos, Opie Macleod talks about “found family”.  In the International Fellowship of Chivalry Now Facebook group, we are talking about how to form honor groups.  Therapists use games such as The Sims to help people imagine undertaking pro-social behaviors.  I think many of our members and casual visitors came looking for others who would support them in envisioning (and creating) their ideal selves.  Found family.  Honor group.  Jedi community.  

If these people came to us, I am – in retrospect – grateful.  They could have chosen so much worse.  If they stumbled and fumbled and came up short while they were here, I hope their idealized vision of themselves – yes, expressed as role-play – took root.  They may not win Nobel Peace Prizes.  They may not serve long hours at a disaster-recovery site. They may not show up at online Gatherings in Jedi robes, waving play light sabers.  More likely, they will be dropping change in a cup or letting someone else have a seat on the subway.  But I have decided that’s enough.