Category Archives: Opie Rant

Five Steps to Jedi Calm

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One.) Acceptance is Peace.
In order to correct a problem we must accept that there is a problem. It is the first step. Acceptance is acknowledging and allowing something to exist. Most feel acceptance is passive. You accept and so you just leave it. “I accept injustice in the world, so I won’t do anything about it.” But that is not full acceptance. You have to accept your world, but also yourself. And that means accepting all of you. Your strengths, your weaknesses, the things you like, and the things you don’t. It is okay if you feel you have darkness in you – philosophically debatable, but if that is the label you use then accept your darkness as well. This allows you to fully address all situations you find yourself in because you know your limits and how far you are willing to go. So our first step to Jedi calm and peace is to accept the universe and ourselves.

Two.) Measure the Risk, Embrace the Now.
Too often we can get caught up in the what if scenarios. The potential hazards and consequences of a situation. Our minds can process hundreds of scenarios where something bad happens. And sometimes we feel anxiety and have no real reason, we just are worried. Focus yourself on the risk, regret, reward. Not worse case scenarios, we know those readily and easily. Instead think on the moment. This moment – what is the risk of doing? Will you regret not taking this opportunity? What about in a year, five, ten? Is this moment worth the leap? Measure your risk, sure. Be rational and consider your options, but don’t live so far in the future of endless possibilities that you never live for the moment and act in the present.

Three.) Acknowledge the Warning, Forget the Worry.
Fear is a natural response to what our instincts tell us is dangerous. That we are about to do something we are not comfortable with and don’t feel confident in doing. It is not bad or evil or dark. It is just a natural process. The issue arises when we allow fear to create worry and distract us from what is right in front of us. The endless possibilities of consequences and bad things that could result if this happens or if that happens. Worrying is a hamster running on a wheel. There is a lot of movement, a lot of energy, but no progress and no advancement. Acknowledge and accept the fear. Thank yourself for the warning. Measure the risk, and then embrace the moment. Worrying about it won’t change it.

Four.) Focus on Your Reality
We all know the Qui-Gon quote. Direct your attention where it will be most beneficial. You have accepted and embraced, now it is time to just focus. Steady the mind and hone that energy and focus onto something productive. If you are lost in thought on some what-if scenario you could miss important signs. You may not react or respond properly. Keep your attention here and now, because this is the moment that requires your attention. So focus on where you are and what you are doing. Hmm?

Five.) Just Live.
In the end forget all this nonsense and just live your life. Be happy. Enjoy the ride. It is going to end eventually anyhow. No one lives forever. No sense in wasting what time you have trying to be something that doesn’t make you happy. Being with someone who doesn’t make you happy. Refusing to do anything that you might enjoy because it is safer to do nothing. Live. Embrace your life. Whether that is the Jedi Life or the Snowboard life. Whatever. Just live. And if that means staying in a bed reading an endless pile of books because that is what makes you happy – then go for it (I mean you will have to work to afford more books and hot cocoa and such, but still). Point being is to simply live the life you want to live to the very best of your ability. Do that and you’ll build that inner calm within.

Personal Entry: Failure and Accountability

Accountability. It is a scary thing sometimes. It is great when you are doing well. It is fine when you have a hiccup or two. It becomes harder when you realize you screwed up bad and feel that if you own up to it the consequences will only get worse. Of course, trying to hide or lie about things will always make the situation worth. As they say, three things cannot be hidden for long, the sun. the moon, and the truth. Generally I am good with accountability. Because I have worked hard to get into the first two areas, especially as a Jedi. I have had some major wrong turns and done some completely boneheaded things (I have more than a few examples of good intentions paving the road to hell for me). But over the years I have learned from these experiences and sought to better myself for them. Yet the Jedi Path is not one of Mastery. It isn’t a craft that you gain a certain level of skill in and are good to good from that point forward. It is fluid. It is lived every day. And each moment is a Jedi Trial. Each moment you have a chance to fail at being a Jedi. I recently had that moment (we’ll get there) and I am stuck in my head about it. So it is time to be open and honest about that failure. Of course there are people in the Jedi Community who follow my material just for this moment. Looking for that thing they can use against me or try to hold over my head. People who want to tear down. And knowing you have those people circling your life can add a bit of trepidation to owning up. But here we go….

In my life I have lost my shit a total of three times. And I mean where I was barely in control of my actions. And by control I mean I was just vaguely enough aware of myself and actions that horrible things like severe bodily harm wasn’t a likely outcome. Twice was when the person I was in a relationship with physically attacked me with the full intent of seriously injuring me. In that situation I yelled, and pushed, and slammed doors until there was a hole. I teetered on the edge of physical violence (a byproduct of poor life choices as a kid, though never an excuse for such behavior, especially as an adult years removed). It was a horrible moment in my life. I figured myself a Jedi and yet here I was, pushed to the point of being everything I stand against. It was a very scary thing for me to realize; That under the right situation I would revert to that angry lashing out selfish child. Anger was a challenge for me as a kid as were my insecurities. But I have been interested in, studying, training, and living the Jedi Path for most of my adult life. And there have been times where I felt I had it. You know? That I just was good, a Jedi, through and through.

The first time I completely lost myself was when I was living in Michigan. I knew how a situation was going to end, but for some reason I had gotten my hopes up. I allowed myself that beautiful lie. And when it came crashing down I freaked out. And that is no exaggeration. Two people were there to witness this wonderful display of pure emotional breakdown. Hysteria. Tears, shouting, broken laughter, self-inflicted pain (though nothing major, I have always been horrible at that. A high self-preservation system I guess). But for whatever reason – I got off the phone and just completely lost it. The control being that I had thoughts of seriously injuring myself, suicide, and all that nonsense. But again, just enough self-control to stop myself. Just enough self-awareness and compassion not to inflict that mess upon my two roommates watching me stomp around the apartment completely distraught.

Again. You learn. You grow. You seek to be better. Took me a long while. In fact a lot of my growth there was smokescreen growth. It looked like was improving and such, but it was just a mask. As evidenced by the two freak-outs listed above. Though, to be fair, those second ones were much more out of blue. Still I had not progressed enough to handle such a situation. Clearly.

The problem. Last week was the fourth time I lost myself. I allowed myself to get stuck in my head full of thoughts with little rationale attached to them. I should have called someone. I should have reached out to my Jedi friends and expressed my situation. More than that I should have talked to the person who these thoughts all related to. Instead I bottled up (a Jedi 101 No-No) and when it came time to address the elephant in the room I freaked out. And said and did dumb things. Okay. I said Horrible things. All to a person who didn’t deserve it. It takes two in any situation and I had my justification all lined up before, during, and somewhat after (though mostly after I just felt/feel like a complete failure and shitbag). And the consequences have been real and might be lasting. I have no answer there, no solution, no movie saving moment which brings happily ever after.

The point. Failure. I failed horribly as a Jedi that day. I failed as person. As a boyfriend. I let things get away from me. Obviously not just that day, but fears and insecurities and stresses that I thought I was handling, but quiet clearly was not. I was falling into the trap of needing to be strong for someone and thus was not communicating my own worries. Again, this I find to be a failure on my part. I know better. I have lived better. I have trained better than all of that. Yet it happened.

Jedi isn’t about mastery. It is about the day-to-day. This is why the five practices are daily. The five goals, daily. It is a daily thing. And it can get away from you. If you allow your self-discipline and accountability to slip, it will get away from you. Fortunately for most of us, when it does it is usually little hiccups. Mine, due to my unique situation created a much harder landing. And I write all of this where it can be seen by anyone for accountability purposes. Jedi are not perfect. Being a Jedi for a whole bunch of years does not mean one is infallible. I cannot express fully my regret for my stupidity. And for anyone reading I am sorry. That apology will mean different things to different people. But there it is. I messed up. I failed. And now I must begin the long road back to improving and being better for it. Which is always difficult. Thank you for reading.

Jedi and Politics….

How Jedi Approach Politics

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Opening Statement: I, like many fictional Jedi, do not like politics. However I do understand them and their necessity. I fully understand that they will impact my life for the short term and longer term. They have far reaching effects. So while I have a disdain for them I recognize the importance of voting and giving my say. This year has been particularly brutal, especially for the United States. As we approach elections I’d like to offer a core reminder. You don’t have to like politics. You do not have to like the candidate. But you should know where your vote will serve best and how that will affect things around you. Many seem to have forgotten themselves and their path in this heated and divisive year. So a small reminder.

One.) There is no emotion; there is peace.
Say it with me now: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Currently there is a party waging a fear campaign. And we are seeing the results. Not just the minor unpunished crimes happening and being encouraged at rallies. But high tensions over justice and shootings. There is a lot of fear on all sides which is being turned to anger and hate. And we are seeing a lot of suffering (and death) because of this fear. This lack of understanding and ability to exercise patience and look for the truth of a situation is leading to emotional responses rather than Jedi ones. Which is generally these situations are a lot more complex than some one-sided emotional news reporting when none of the facts or circumstances are known. Patience, Objectivity, Knowledge. Approach these tense situations with the Jedi Mind.

Many leaders have lead fear-based campaigns. It is a known tactic within politics (and one which has proven to work – unfortunately), but it is not one Jedi should vibe with. We are all well aware of a Jedi’s stance on emotional reactions. We are all aware of a Jedi’s stance on fear and using fear as a tool to control people. Our decision-making is not based in knee-jerk reactions. We have a process and a method to comb through these very difficult and tough situations.

So remember Jedi. Emotion, yet Peace. It is very difficult – especially when some situations hit closer to home than others. But find refuge in your fellow Jedi, in your practices, in your routine and those that love you. And then approach the policies and topics with a Jedi Mind. Peaceful and Focused – not on the smokescreen of fear, but on what is actually being said and done.

Two.) There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
Knowledge. It is one of the Three Pillars of the Jedi. It is in any Jedi Code version you want to pick. The Jedi Circle, The Jedi Compass, no matter where you look Jedi prize, value, and extol Knowledge. And yet we are seeing a campaign infamously shrugging off facts as well as relevant and prudent information. We are seeing the media not bothering with fact-checking or holding candidates accountable for their claims and words. We are allowing the fact that so much crazy stuff has been said we are no longer calling it crazy and we are just letting it slide.

This does not vibe with the Jedi. Knowledge. Information. It is important to know where candidates stand on core issues. What policies they endorse and how they are looking to enforce them. It is important to know a candidate’s approach and negotiating tactics. In order to make an informed decision as Jedi we need to have as much of the prudent information as possible and we need to be willing to fact-check that information. This helps us make informed decisions. Not ones based upon emotional ignorance. If over 300 leading scientists tell you a candidate is going to cause problems within their respective fields which will have a negative impact around the world – that is something to take into consideration (not blindly and intentionally ignore).

Three.) There is no passion; there is serenity.
Another widely used political tactic is to appeal to the passions of the people. Because emotional and passionate responses help drowned out the logical and knowledgeable ones. Passion likes to ignore facts and information in lieu of heartfelt reasoning. There is a time to trust your instincts – but that is different than someone appealing to your passion. Right now there are a lot of hot issues which are sparking fierce conversations and debates. But allowing that to blind us to the overall effects a candidate will have is not the proper approach.

Instead focus in on the core policies with a calm and serene mind. Be objective in your views and dig into the issues that you are passionate about. Then approach them with the Jedi Mind. Take them one by one. What is the candidate’s position? What is their resolution? How will they make that happen? Be a Jedi – ask questions, be objective, and approach even the heaviest of topics with a calm and peaceful mind.

Four.) There is no chaos; there is harmony.
All of this directly ties to us and what we are looking for and want. But do not forget the bigger picture, the living Force if you will. Do not forget that we are part of an entire world and our actions have repercussions. Like ripples on a pond, the stone of this election will affect all of the water. So get the Jedi Mind on and consider how the candidate will affect the world. The world economy, the world environment, world trade, immigration between countries. Consider the entire impact.

Sometimes in politics you have to trade off impact. You don’t like this approach, but like the impact of this other policy. So you are willing to make that trade-off. It is a reason I really dislike politics. Cannot please everyone, but generally we are all making compromises during the election. Still, Jedi Diplomacy 101 – compromise is sometimes necessary. You have to work with it. Determine which is the best option forward for all involved.

We have a very diverse community – likewise so does the United States – and even more so the world. It is a benefit to us as a species (and as a Nation). It is something to be encouraged. So how does the candidate approach diversity acceptance? How do they handle and deal with different cultures and lifestyles and beliefs? This is valuable insight, because this view tends to effect policy and laws. It tends to highlight how people will be treated within the country and how the candidate will approach these issues on a global scale.

Five.) Honor Life / Respect All Life.
Instead of finishing out the Code here, because it got real dark in my first draft. I wanted to highlight something that is like Knowledge. Something that is core to all Jedi across the board. No matter the text you find a Jedi ideal of respecting and honoring life. Yet we see people support dehumanizing and degrading analogies. We see mass insults of entire cultures and heritages. We see a complete lack of understanding of different life experiences (the environment we grow up in will color our world view). Campaigns waged not only in fear and ignorance, but also a complete lack of respect for the diversity of life.

For a Jedi we have to look at the bigger picture. We have to understand that there are a million sides to every story. We will never know all the facts and the complete truth of all situations. But what we can do is honor and respect life. We can help foster an environment where life can thrive and grow in a positive and beneficial manner. That starts within us and grows outward, but it is also within our voting rights. We get to have a say on the world we want to live in. From your local City Council, to your Mayor to Congress, to the President. What is your value of life – what life would you like to see thrive? What life is conducive to the Jedi Way?

Closing Thoughts: Approach politics as you would all things – as a Jedi. Knowledge. Objective Information. Calm Fact-Checking. Looking at the policies not the hyperbole and smokescreens of emotional appeals. In other words – Emotion, yet Peace. Ignorance, yet Knowledge. Passion, yet Serenity. Chaos, yet Harmony. Remember the topics that mean the most to your. Rights, Laws, Education Reform, economics and the increasing gap between the classes. Be a Jedi, determine your stances, and which candidate best helps keep this ship floating until we can actually fix this broken thing. So if you can – get out and vote. And may the Force be with you.

Ten Time Budgeting Tips

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Lately I just felt overwhelmed and done. As such I allowed certain things to fall to the wayside for a bit. I was mentally exhausted. And allowed my own time management practices get lost in the business of life. It was a bad Jedi moment. Minus 20 Jedi Points for me. A student at Jedi Living labelled and talked about Time Budgeting in our financial budgeting lesson. And it really reminded me about the point of the Art of Timing. We only have so many hours in a day, just like we only get so much money per month. Both require us to keep a close eye on how we spend this so that we can maximize our spending and budgeting habits. Here are some tips I found to be useful in getting back on track with my time budgeting.

One – Get Yourself a To-Do List. Pick an app. Make it happen. Google has the todo list app which can really help. There are many great organizational Applications out there. Get one. Make use of it. Put it to work for YOU. It helps. It works. If you use it. So that is step one. Sometimes the obvious needs to be said. Sometimes it just needs to help pad the list.

Two – Do the Quick Stuff First. And I do mean the quick. Taking out the garbage. Putting dishes in the dishwasher. Or putting dishes away. The things that have like five to ten minutes? Get them done and out of the way. This does an amazing thing on your To-Do List and adds the feels of accomplishment even if the day gets away from you. Remove the easy stuff so you can really focus on the important tasks.

Three – Knock out the Important Stuff Thereafter. With the super quick out of the way – get the important things done first. Prioritize. This is key. Make sure you prioritize your To-Do List. And then knock out these important things first. It will give you peace of mind. “At least I got that issue taken care of.” Saying that at the end of the day is wonderful. Removes a lot of stress from your life.

Four – Budget Time not Projects. When setting up your to-do list and schedule make sure you give time to projects. Don’t just write in a project and exclude all things until it is finished. Instead offer up a set time. Example – I am writing a book. I don’t have – Book Project. I have two hours set aside for my Book project. That way I don’t get tunnel vision and allow other things to go undone while focusing on my important project. This still applies to above. Knowing you put in some work on your important tasks makes a difference and you don’t get discouraged because you didn’t finish the project.

Five – Say No. You are not Superhuman. You are not the Flash or Superman. You cannot do everything for everyone. You will have to say no. When you are swamped – No is your friend. It sucks. We want to help and do it all, but we cannot. So learn to say no. You only have so much time – make the most of it and do not spread yourself thin. It helps no one when you bury yourself and burn out.

Six – Delegate. Likewise learn to delegate. Know who might be able to cover things. If someone asks for something and you cannot help, you can always direct them to someone who might be able to. Or maybe pass on a project to someone you know is available (maybe even better suited) while you pick up the new project. Budgeting time is about knowing the resources around you and who is available, willing, and capable of taking on work.

Seven – Get an Early Start. Don’t delay. Get it done as soon as possible in your day. Knocking things out right away just feels like it opens up your entire day. Not only that, but toward the end of the day when everything is done? It feels good to just sit down and relax knowing your To-Do List got done for the Day. You can truly enjoy your down tie then. So Do Not Procrastinate.

Eight – Make Use of Your Down Time. Weekends (whenever those are for you) are sanity savers. But if you use just a couple of hours each day in them – you will cut down on the To-Do List while keeping your weekends for You. It is important to have down time. But you can also throw in a small amount of budgeted time to finish off a couple of tasks. That way on “Monday” (again whatever day that is for you) you are not stuck with a huge pile of work. You can also make use of time you are waiting for things. Anytime you have idle time – waiting for laundry to finish (for example) you can use that time to knock things off of your to-do list.

Nine – Buffer Time. It is important that you give some time in-between tasks. I recommend a quick meditation in there. Give yourself some time to rest and refresh. Maybe snack time, lunch, time to go for a walk. Especially after one of those important and big tasks. When we form a budget we often list and list and list all the things we have to do, but forget to give time for ourselves and our mind to recharge. And that is how we get burnt out. So make sure you Budget in some Buffer Time in between tasks. You can use this to budget internet and phone time. Facebook, BuzzFeed, YouTube. All that more frivolous internet browsing time. Budget it in so you still have it without it becoming a distraction. Giving a time limit and allowing you some time to just enjoy rather than work on something.

Ten – Do or Do Not. Focus and lock into the task at hand. Close all the extra browsers. Put the phone on Do Not Disturb. Create or Find a place you can work without distraction (or at least minimize distractions as much as possible. I like to put on some music (mostly soundtrack background music – no lyrics) and close my desk off to the rest of the world. If you want something to get done then get it done. Don’t allow yourself the distractions and set yourself up for failure. Focus on the task at hand and work towards your budgeted personal time.

Also – side tip. Do forget to have fun. Even chores can be made in a game. Play music that makes you move and lifts your spirits. Have fun with your day. Just because you are working doesn’t mean you cannot have fun while doing it. Enjoy your life – even when it is budgeted and filled to the brim with To-Do Lists.

Pokemon Go + Jedi = Charity!

First off I have to say I haven’t been into Pokemon for a long time. It is not really my thing, but when I was younger and it was relatively new – I did partake in the cartoon and games. But now they have released this new App Pokemon Go and it is not only pretty fun, but has really encouraged kids (of all ages) to get outside and walk around. So how does that work? Well it is simple. Pokemon Go is a ARG – Alternate Reality Game. In which you use your phone to track your movement/walks and stumble upon Pokemon out in the world. When that happens you pull up your camera and you use Poke Balls to catch the Pokemon. You collect as many as possible. And you find new Pokemon by going to new locations. Parks and major shopping areas tend to have stores and Gyms where you can connect with others. Overall it is a pretty interactive and fun little App that encourages outdoor exploration.

This has really come in handy in a couple service projects I am a part of. One is a little more limited in application – as it is with the Big Brother (Big Sister) program. And has really helped turn our little hikes into more regular events and much more interactive as well. This has been a great thing as we were struggling in common ground activities there for a bit. Especially in more active (and free) activities.  So this has help create a fun way to hike around and explore the city we live in. Driving to different parks, walking around the paths, hiking in the hills. It has really been a great experience. However this is a very personal experience and limited really to my current situation. There is a way to use Pokemon Go and your normal Dog Walks to help a great organization.

The WoofTrax App (http://www.wooftrax.com/) is a great thing I have been using recently which tracks your dog walks and helps support a local shelter in your area (or if there is not one in your area – a animal shelter of your choosing). Can you see the connection? Download WoofTrax, Download Pokemon Go, get out there and catch them all at the same time as supporting a great organization. If you don’t have a dog you can virtually walk their own rescue dog. This has been a great blend of modern technology, internet fade, and doing some community service.

No one said Community Service had to be trying, boring, or no fun. Blend your passions. Be a Jedi. Catch ALL the Pokemon. And support a wonderful cause at the same time.

Opie Rant: Why I’m Starting to Dislike “National” Jedi Gatherings

So as someone who has been to many “National” Jedi Gatherings. As well as someone who has met a lot of Jedi individually and been to smaller Jedi meet-ups and regional Gatherings. I am often asked my opinion of such events and what it is like to meet other Jedi. In a recent post on facebook I joked about the ability to deal with your peers in the community and remain sober at the same time. Or to be more accurate I quoted one of my favorite authors Ernest Hemingway, “An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.” Out of this someone further asked why I felt that way. So to clear the air. Here are my top issues with current National Jedi Gatherings; which mainly boils down to I don’t like the direction they are taking from what they were.

1.) Location-Centric.
What we concern the First National Jedi Gathering happened in Great Falls, Montana. Two West Coast Jedi went. Two Montana Jedi went. A Chicago Jedi went. And an East Coast Jedi went. While all Jedi went to the Jedi Organization website, they all were a major part of different Jedi Groups. Alora from the JO, Destiny from the Jedi Temple, Manna from a couple different sites, Mindas from the JO but started at the Jedi Academy, Mijan from Temple of the Jedi Arts, and myself which we won’t get into my long resume at the time. This is why we consider it the first National Jedi Gathering (back then called the Annual Jedi Gathering – now National as they are United States held and more than one gathering can happen in a year).

The next year it was held on the East Coast (Pennsylvania) and hosted by Moonshadow, who would become the main organizer for years to come. The year after that, in 2004 it was held in Michigan. In 2005 the Jedi Gathering was held in Loudonville, Ohio. In 2006: Big Prairie, Ohio as well as Lehighton, Pennsylvania. In 2007 the Gathering was in Ville Platte, Louisiana (and another that year in Angelica, New York). In 2008: Lincoln City, Indiana as well as another in Lehighton, Pennsylvania later that year. In 2009: Tower Hill Camp, Sawyer, Michigan. In 2010: Tower Hill Camp, Sawyer, Michigan. – No that is not a mistake. In 2011: New Caney, Texas. In 2012: Logan, Ohio. In 2013: Cosby, Tennessee. In 2014: Almont, Michigan. In 2015: Was suppose to be in Colorado. A year long planning was already in the works. However Chicago Jedi and future Indiana Jedi wanted to host one. So they usurped 2015 and the National Gathering was held in Martinsville, Indiana.

2016 is set for Oregon, Illinois. You know, an hour outside Chicago basically. Have you detected a trend or pattern? 10 out of 15 have been in a very specific area of the United States. I find this to be a form of exclusion. It keeps it to a specific location and group of people. As such you get an insular view and growth becomes limited. It becomes a cool kids club. And evidence of this already happening has been evident the past couple of years – none moreso than the usurping of the national gathering to keep it close and help someone get to knighthood faster. To be fair – this supposedly will be changing next year and routing locations every year. We shall see if Midwest Jedi like that idea.

2.) “Mandatory” Classes and Schedules.
In the beginning gatherings were very organic. No classes and definitely no schedule. Ideas, sure. Thoughts on what we might do at a location? Absolutely. But nothing was planned out. Mostly you went – Jedi got together. Discussions were had. And people would offered by classes and teachings. As the gatherings grew loose schedules were put into place. Someone wants to teach reiki? They say so. And when we have some time – “Hey guys. I am going to show Jedi So-So some Reiki, anyone else want to join?” And bam! Jedi Learning time. Now it is a strict schedule that implies that classes are mandatory – as other events are listed as “optional” while classes are not. Due to this lack of organic sharing the classes have changed a bit in tone and structure. It is a bit hard to fully write out because it certainly doesn’t apply to everyone who holds a class. But there is a sense more of spotlight desire and less on actual sharing of knowledge and technique. The feeling between the 2015 National Gathering and the 2016 California Gathering was night and day. And this was one of the major differences.

3.) Room Assignments.
One of the things that I always thought was interesting about gatherings was how sleeping arrangements came about. Basically it was everyone staying up late, holding discussions on various Jedi topics. Laughing, having a good time. And as it got later, Jedi would slowly bow out and go claim a bed. This automatically helped put Jedi together with a similar sleep schedule. It obviously also allowed Jedi who wanted to stay up and talk to find sleeping arrangements near one another. And if one room was a bit more rowdy they tended to automatically find each other before night time even began. There was no pre-arrangement – no one told you who you were sleeping with.

Now you are just put together according to the whims of the organizer. Which I find silly. You get stuck with people who snore and go to bed early? That is just your lot. You like to go to bed early and get up early? But two of your roommates hit it off and are chit-chatting all night? Tough break. If there is extra beds and two people want to grab a room to avoid disturbing others? So sorry. It is almost like we cannot trust Jedi to be adults. Which brings us to our next issue.

4.) Prohibiting Alcohol.
As the gatherings grew in number, drama became more commonplace. This happens with any meeting of multiple individuals with diverse backgrounds and opinions. This is not a bad thing. It is part of what makes our community interesting, fun, and educational. Last year a person went around an entire night bad mouthing another “Jedi”, questing if they were worthy of that title. Someone else crossed personal boundaries. As alcohol was present (though neither offender partook of said alcohol) the blame was placed there instead of the individual behavior. This has happened at all gatherings since 2012. Incidents happen which are interesting and some take issue with. And since alcohol is present it takes the blame instead of holding the individual Jedi accountable and responsible for their actions. So places are specifically looked for which prohibit alcohol as a way for the organizers to defer responsibility. “They didn’t ban alcohol. It is the rules of the place.”

I find this childish. Jedi who are adults – who take vacation time to attend these gatherings – should be allowed to consume whatever legal substance they desire. Want to drink that horrible for you soda? Cool. You’re an adult and allowed to take responsibility for your own behavior, training, and life as a Jedi. Want to have a beer or mead? Cool. You’re an adult and allowed to take responsibility for your own behavior, training, and life as a Jedi.

5.) Monetizing Gatherings.
Marketplace. Selling Ad. With no clear indication where said money is going. Maybe to helping other Jedi come to future gatherings? Maybe? Hopefully? But who manages that? What oversight is there? What allows one person to earn that money over another? What happens if the person in-charge of the money decides to leave the Jedi Path? What if they are not involved with next year’s national gathering because it is suppose to change locations (east or west coast)? Not that has been said where the money is going – but I have heard that as the most popular choice – a gathering fund.

More then any of that – Why are Jedi the Charity? Jedi is a lifestyle not a charity. We are suppose to be helping others. If you cannot help yourself than going to a Jedi Gathering should not be your top priority. You save up. You budget. A year out. Two years out. You plan, you save, if it is that important you make it happen. 10 dollars a month for two years. 240 dollars right there. That will easily get you a spot. The average price to attend over the past couple of years has been about 200 dollars. Need to travel there? Greyhound. Save 20 dollars instead of ten. Bam. You are at the 2018 Gathering. Jedi help themselves so that they may better help others. If you cannot help yourself – how can you fulfill the Jedi goals of service?

Be a Jedi. Live as a Jedi. If you do that. If you truly embrace the path fully. I promise you’ll be in a position to go to a Jedi Gathering within a couple of years. No doubt in my mind. Maybe even one – depending. It is withint he realm of possibility. So there is no reason for these things to start turning into money machines for the hosts. It is a service. It is something for Jedi to celebrate being Jedi and sharing their experiences and knowledge with one another. But more and more it is turning away from that. I feel next we will be paying for individual classes of so-called Jedi who purchased a booth to spout their rhetoric. And does that really sound like any sort of fun?

Real Jedi, Bullies

It is an unfortunate reality that there are times when we are faced with improper behavior. There are people who are leeches. They seek to suck and drain those around them. The Jedi Community, like any other, is not immune to these type of people. If you find someone draining your time and energy, don’t play the victim. Remember to adjust your focus and concentrate on what is truly important. Make sure you are investing your time and energy wisely. If someone crosses a line, remember that Jedi are not doormats. Non-aggression, peace, acceptance, patience, these do not mean to suck it up and put up with bad behavior. Here are five things to remember when you find yourself harassed by a person.

(1) You are Not to Blame. It is important to not fall into the trap of thinking that you did this or that this is your fault. You are not responsible for the actions and choices of others. Someone treating you poorly is not a reflection of you – it is a reflection of that person’s character. Do not blame yourself, do not resign it to karma or fate. It is person acting improperly because they have chosen to do so. They are aware of their actions. They are responsible for them. And they are to be held accountable for them. Do not accept blame for their impropriety.

(2) Speak Up. If someone is doing something you do not like. Or you just want to be left alone. OR someone is within your personal space or comfort zone. Say so. Don’t suck it up. You can voice your preferences and opinions. Your voice is valuable. Your opinion is worthwhile. You can be polite. You can be diplomatic. You can ask a person to take a step back with a smile. You can tell a person to leave you alone. You can tell a person they are being rude and harassing. Say No. Voice your discomfort and displeasure. You are allowed. But don’t take this yourself. Speak Up to Friends and Family. Don’t suffer alone. Don’t shoulder a burden. Talk with your support structure around you.

(3) Record. If you are being harassed online – take screenshots. Time and Date it. Save it in a folder marked harassment. Date and Time the images so they are easy to find. Document the inappropriate behavior. Offline, this is a little more work. You have to be careful with phone photos and recordings because a really aggressive person might break it or escalate the situation. So be mindful. But you can write it down. Date – Time – Factual Incident Summary – People Nearby (witnesses). Keep a record of this improper behavior as it can really help soldify your stance. As well it can show just how much you are putting up with. Sometimes we are a little to nice and lenient and having a record can show just how much we have allowed bad behavior to happen to us.

(4) Remove. Take action by removing the person to the best of your ability out of your life. You have absolutely enough to deal with. You have your own life, responsibilities, struggles, and worries. Don’t sit there and add another by allowing a negative element to suck away your time, ebergy, and good graces. If online – Ban, Block, Ignore. Have an iphone? Block the number. Whatever you need. Make it happen and don’t waste another second on it. Most people (like myself) don’t like doing this, but again, you are not responsible for the actions of others. If they prove they don’t listen to you and your request to leave you alone – cut them out. This is tougher to do offline. School and workplace issues tend not to allow it. But you can do your best to keep your distance and not get involved in the same projects as the other person.

(5) Report. A way to ensure not being forced into a group project with the person is to tell those in-charge. Teacher, Manger (boss), whoever, you let them know of the issue you are having and your desire not to work with the person. You show your documentation and various times where you asked politely for space and the demeaning and harassing behavior of the individual in question. Perhaps a more permanent solution will be presented. If it is online, especially in the Jedi Community, you can report to administrators or website leaders. Again you present your record of behavior and problems and state your issue. Leadership should hold the person accountable.

The thing to remember is that a person’s behavior is very rarely directed at a singular person. It tends to be a radiating thing. It spreads to many people. And by speaking up you could be adding to an already compiling list of issues. Or you may be the first that encourages others to come forward with their issues. Either way. Don’t be a doormat. If you have a dealing with a negative person – take action. Value yourself enough not to simply accept continual abuse from a person.

Jedi and the Troll

To be clear this is not a lecture or lesson on dealing with trolls. At least not in a formal sense. By all means take away what you will from this. But this is merely a reflection on a recent encounter with a person who has embraced being a running joke of an entire online community. And as the picture above shows I decided to take a different tactic -burn the house down to fix the problem- just this once to see if it would make even a fraction of a difference. Cold hard truth. Vulgar insults. A mixture. The other truth – “I don’t care.” Which ended up being repeated ad nauseam with no avail or effect. It was a absolutely fascinating experience for me, but that wasn’t the sole purpose of this experiment (I was hoping it would encourage accountability on those that support him as a Jedi Knight – spoilers, No.). Here is my account of what not to do. Because really – one ban click solves your problem (not the problem, but it might be very egotistical to think you can solve that problem).

Quickly – for a more accurate account on what I normally do and support in dealing with trolls, head here: http://www.jediliving.com/365jedi/jedi-vs-internet-culture-aka-trolling/

That said and done I finally wanted to see if accountability meant anything to groups handing out titles like special clubhouse passes. In case you are curious the answer is no. It is the usual turn and blind eye, allow the behavior, and thus by failing to confront it you encourage it. A recurring theme in certain online and offline Jedi Communities which annoys me because it perpetuates the behavior. And this is why I decided to go off books for a change. Spider in the house?
So I went fire with fire. “You don’t want to challenge me.” he said. “Fine. I challenge you. You are hereby challenged.” I respond. “Accepted” he answers. Oh noes. This means he is going to beat me up at the next Jedi Gathering. Or is it? My disdain for the individual was never a secret. The guy is a troll. He likes to run his mouth and this isn’t the first time he has made threats of violence should we meet in-person. A honest concern of mine (as I am not a fan of violence and we were filming a documentary at the time – so bad impression right?) my first time meeting him. In which he smiled and laughed and hugged me. All happy that we finally get to meet face to face. Yes, but about all those things you said? Called him on that and the next year we meet. Guesses? Again, as if we are best of friends. So am I worried about this new threat? No and sure because his previous threats have been empty, but also because a bully’s only power is fear. They use it for control. They use it as a way to manipulate people. Without it they have to honor their threats and there are problems with that (which feel free to point these out if someone is bullying you) – witnesses, legal repercussions, policy (school, workplace, organizational policies) repercussions, people not sitting by for their BS, that fact that fighting is rarely one sided and even one awkward punch can cause serious harm (the human body is amazingly weak and strong all at the same time). There are risks and many will only go forward with them if they feel very, very confident they can get away with them. This person may be delusional, but they know fighting me is not something without risk. So I have no fear of this person or their threats. And carry full expectation of laughing and trying to hug me.

But of course that wasn’t the beginning or end of the encounter. It was just another way for him to validate himself. Because I stated “I don’t care.” Several times in an effort to clearly highlight that his reasoning, ideas, opinions, advice, thoughts, all of it was wasted energy. You can only teach those that seek to learn. A reality of life. And so I conveyed my full unwillingness to even listen. Did that stop the constant messages of delusional superiority and belief that people are jealous of him? Of course not. So it continued. Don’t care after don’t care, it just kept coming. And so did his messages. So the truth then?

I threw it out there, done with the BS of it all. “You are a joke. Every Jedi holds this view of you. Not one Jedi takes you or what you say seriously. Even your supporters hold to, “he is a joke and that is why I like him.’ No one respects you. And this is all by your own actions, your own design.” His response, “I don’t give a f*ck what people think about me.” My response? “Yes exactly. I don’t either. But you are still here. Justifying yourself to me. Trying to defend and explain and convince yourself of these things.” The end? Of course not. I am the villain of this story and the hero cannot exit without defeating the villain.

It went on and in circles for some time. Finally I was left alone. I had given enough material for the troll to use. I am sure it will be spread around. “Look it at what Opie said to me! He was mean to me! And he wasn’t acting like a Jedi.” All which is true of course. I definitely took the time to throw my caring out the window and made the conscious decision to see if pure uncut as big as possible F-U would provide any level of change or realization. And certainly, not really what I would call the Jedi Approach. And no – it did not provide any level of recognition, change, reason, or even stop the constant messages. Again, eventually I was left alone, I suspect to other reasons (such as having to do other stuff). It was interesting, to be sure. But yeah – I can double down on my “Don’t burn down the house to kill the spider” philosophy. It is indeed pointless. And I stand by my original conclusions in the Post linked above. How do you deal with trolls? Be a Jedi. Make Use of Ignore and Block Options. Recorded the Problem and Bring it to the attention of those who can do something (even if just remove the person or just a shake a finger – at least show you won’t just sit there and take their garbage). Better that than the alternative which just hurts you.
 Of course I enjoyed the experience, but I am glad to have it done with. It was draining, not worth the energy or time used. A certainly does nothing for me as a Jedi. Definitely a failure (regardless of reasoning), but I am willing to own up to that. Acknowledge my idiocy, learn from it, and move forward a bit wiser for the fall. Be a Jedi. Use that block button. And focus on the things that matter. Which is definitely not trolls playing Jedi and my time is wasted as a Jedi playing a troll.

 

Physical Wellness

I think this is a topic that is automatically misunderstood because people allow their own insecurities and fears to color the topic. And the more a person allows this aspect of their life to stagnate the more the topic seems daunting and unnecessary. After-all, one has lived this long not worrying about, so why does it matter? They are already preparing to argue against a daily work-out routine. Ready with excuses on why they can’t run or jog. But it isn’t even about that.

This is just about being healthy. Yes, get active. Sure, get “in shape” whatever the hell that means. But mainly – just be mindful of your physical well-being. A personal example is something I wrote about once in this little journal. I had a hernia. Originally I was given the wait and see approach. The type of hernia I had (there are many different kinds) isn’t always considered dangerous. And mine was so small, it wasn’t a concern to the doctor. Of course, I am a crazy monkey that does enjoy being active. I love reacting Dagobah Jedi training. Give me mud runs, swing from ropes, handstands, full body workouts. Lets do this. Anyhow – that type of activity is not really helpful to a hernia. So after a couple of years of Spartan Races and very active Jedi Living it got progressively worse. Until one Spartan Race I seriously made it worse. I then ran another Spartan Race a few months later (it was for a charity and I couldn’t back out), in which made it so I had to get surgery. That is why they take a wait and see approach sometimes, because the only way to fix the type of hernia I had was with surgery.

So last Thursday (a week ago) I underwent surgery. The surgeon told me that I was right to get it fixed right away. It was at a very dangerous level and had grown large. I have spent the last week healing up. This is a part of physical wellness. Surgery, Medication, Doctors, your personal health is what we are talking about. Resting in bed for a week when I’d rather be doing anything else. Not being able to begin slowly working out again for another 6 to 8 weeks from now. Which I dislike. I feel like I am wasting away and getting fat at the exact same time. I can’t keep up my Luke in the swamps training. I can’t even do my little morning exercises I encourage other Jedi to do. No runs. Heck I still cannot even take my dog for his walks because he gets excited and pulls on the leash and that strain is too much. But this resting and healing is a core part of physical wellness.

When sick – don’t push yourself. Your body is telling you. Yo! Need some rest to fight this internal battle. So help out. Get the Orange Juice, get bed rest, and allow yourself to heal up. Part of being healthy is taking care of your health. Amazing I know. Break through wisdom right there. But it seems so many overlook that simple and obvious premise. So busy that one cannot spare time to rest and heal. Stop, Rest, Revitalize, and then you’ll be able to attack the day again at 100%.

Ethics, They Matter

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In a recent – shall we say – discussion there was an issue raised of ethics being included in teaching techniques. Now this is something I have been embattled with for years (so a raw subject for me, one could say). The Jedi Community since the beginning has put technique and “powers” and martial arts and all this stuff first (because philosophy and ethics are boring – lightsabers and force powers are exciting). It is the forefront of most training programs (even the main website is proof of that). Funny enough this is even touched on in the role-playing guides as Lightsaber Syndrome. Here is a technique for energy manipulation. Here is a technique on how to dislocate a joint. Here is a technique on Subverting someone’s Free Will. And that is it. There is no ethical lesson, disclaimer, or meat to it. Just, here is a gun – use it responsibly.

The idea being – Well, we are all Jedi. So ethical education doesn’t need to be said. Which I cannot even comment on without saying some unJedi-like things. Because that type of thinking leads to Jedi who have been around for years and they don’t see an issue with removing and subverting a person’s right to chose (dominating a person’s mind). No problem with tricking a person into doing what the Jedi wants. After-all it is a Jedi doing it – so it must be for a good reason yes? No danger in that at all. No abuse of power possibilities what-so-ever. Because no Jedi has ever fallen or made mistakes or lost the struggle to power. Nope. Never happened and never will.

I get it. Ethics is a very murky subject. One the Philosophical community has been debating and working through for centuries. What makes an Action “Right” or “Proper”? What makes an Action “Wrong” or “Evil”? These are very big questions which have a lot of different answers available to them. So it can seem like a tough subject to tackle. However the Jedi is not some subjective Path which is solely left to personal interpretation. There are rules to which we adhere. A core we all must follow – in one form or another. That includes ethical action.

Yet it is a topic so overlooked in the Jedi Community it is scary. What are the ethical values of the Jedi? When is a bad technique a good one to use? How does a Jedi determine that their actions are Right? So far I have seen people claim a stance that – well they are a Jedi – so they are right. No ethics needed. But if Jedi don’t get any ethical education, how can we assume Jedi know what constitutes ethical action?

Most Jedi will fall back to Utilitarianism for their ethics. “The greatest good for the greatest number.” It is okay to punch someone if it helps other people. It is okay to subvert a person’s free will if it helps other people. It is okay to steal bread to feed children. It is okay to be a complete jerk as long as it helps other people. I mean that’s why the Jedi why love me right? Me being a raging jerk helps educate other people – ergo I am a shining example of a Jedi. Right? I am justified in my actions, right?

Of course not. Because Jedi do not believe “the ends justify the means.” In fact there is a very rigid thought against this ethical code. It is often even labelled as Sith Thought. This Ethical School of Thought is called Consequentialism. Meaning the Consequences of your actions (good or bad) are the only thing that matter. The Outcome is what defines an Action as Good or Evil. This is not something Jedi hold to – even with the greatest good attached to it. Why?

Because how you do something is just as important as what happens because of it. Your Intentions matter, yes. Your Actions matter, yes. And the Outcome matters, yes. One does not override the other. As Jedi we are bound to a certain rule of ethics (I call it the Jedi Method) – Jedi Intention + Jedi Action = Jedi Outcome.

This is basic Rule Utilitarianism. Jedi want to do the greatest good for the greatest number. But they must do so within the confines of the Jedi Path. They must do so within the ethical values of the Lifestyle they live. This means adhering to the Jedi Code, the Jedi Rules of Behavior, the Jedi Compass, the Jedi Circle, the Jedi Precepts, the 33 Teachings of the Jedi, take your pick (heck, choose all of them). There is this core of the path to which we must adhere.

My Point – Do not neglect your ethical studies dear Jedi. Do not assume a person is always right just because they wear the Jedi title. Righteousness has harmed more people than most like to admit. What you do – How you do it – These things matter. Don’t go the Quick and Easy Path. Yes, it is easier to subvert free will than talk things through. Easier to punch a person than show them why people want to punch them. But that really isn’t the Jedi Way now is it?

Now if you are curious about ethics and how they apply to the Jedi. You can brush up on Deontological Ethics, Ethics of Care, and Rule Utilitarianism. Then combined with your experience and knowledge as a Jedi (along with whatever Jedi Texts you like the most, Compass, Circle, Maxims, Teachings, etc.) and determine which you feel best fits the Jedi Way and Why. Cause Homework is fun! (I mean I actually enjoy repeating this assignment, but I also love the philosophy way more than the “cool” aspects of being jedi; so you know grain of salt and all that.)