Pride

“Of course, he had seen deep commitment at the Temple among the Jedi students.  But with some students, there often seemed to be pride mixed in.  They were the elite, picked out of millions to be trained.

“Whenever Yoda saw pride in a Jedi student, he found ways to expose it and put the student on the right path.  Pride was often based in arrogance, and had no place in a Jedi.  Part of the Jedi training was to eliminate pride and substitute sureness and humility.  The Force only flourished in those who knew they were connected to all life-forms.”

~Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice – The Defenders of the Dead by Jude Watson; p63-4

Those who follow the path of the Jedi in this world do so of their own choosing, not because they were selected due to an innate connection with the Force.  Because of this, there is a higher level of pride displayed in the community.  Individuals strive for titles and power within the community without really dedicating them to the path, they see themselves as above certain things, or an exception for whatever reason.

If you are someone who already holds a position of influence.  Make sure to check yourself and your piers for pride, and then make sure to pass down the lesson of “sureness and humility.”

If you are someone newer to the path, still learning, still looking for guidance, look for that guidance in those who do not display an abundance of pride.  Unfortunately, there are MANY in the community who boast the title of knight and master who negate their claims with almost every word and action, but they will only continue to grow more prideful if given the respect due to one who has truly earned their title.  Don’t try to tear them down, it is not worth the energy, just ignore them and go somewhere else.

The purpose of this path is not for praise and recognition, but to serve, even if all your efforts go unnoticed.

“As a Jedi, he left behind justice and honor.  It didn’t matter if his footsteps would disappear, or if years from now no one on Gala remembered that two Jedi had helped to ensure a peaceful transition for their planet.  They would remember peace, and that was enough.”
~Thoughts of Qui-Gon Jinn – Jedi Apprentice: The Mark of the Crown; p.128

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Mock Gathering: Venice

This time of year brings many large celebrations, the most commonly known being Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana Fat Tuesday is February 28th); also Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (February 24-March 1), but my personal favorite is Carnevale in Venice, Italy (February 11th-28th).  When I was abroad, despite having an invitation to join my Italian friends on a trip to Germany during Carnevale, I made it a point to visit Venice.  The town is overflowing with costumes, artists, and live performances.  When I was there, I even stumbled upon, what appeared to be, an impromptu Capoeira Jogo (I recorded the whole thing, I really wanted to join).  One day I want to go back to actually dress up and experience some of the more involved aspects of Carnevale (masquerades and what-not), but that year is not now.  However, in honor of this time of year, this months Mock Gathering is for Venice.

I was very tempted to look for rates during Carnevale for this, but they would be higher, and most Jedi would not be able to attend due to work and school schedules (not many holidays going on around this time of year), so I stuck to typical summer dates.

Accommodations
I am going to put up two locations for this one.  The first is Rialto Palace in Venezia.  There are 12 beds, so it could technically sleep up to 24 (though some of those “beds” are in the common area), but the price for 16 would be $174/person.  Being in Venezia, there is no free parking, but neither are their roads… Italy has excellent public transportation however, so getting there is no problem.

The other location is Villa Linda in Noale.  This is much cheaper, a total of $60/person (for 16, but could probably sleep more), a little bit less sleeping space as there are only 10 beds, but there is a backyard.  Biggest drawback is that it is not IN Venice itself, but again, public transportation is good, and it is about halfway between Venice and Padua, another good city to visit.  You could easily schedule one day in Venice, and one day in Padua.

Activities
Seriously, it is Italy.  Venice (and Padua), like most other towns in Italy is rife with architecture and museums.  You could literally spend an entire day doing a walking tour of  the city and still not see everything.  Examples:

  • Basilica di San Marco
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Ponte di Rialto
  • Glassblowers in Murano
  • Piazza San Marco

Plus Padua:

  • Capella degli Scrovegni
  • Palazzo Zuckerman
  • St. Anthony’s Basilica
  • Prato della Valle
  • Botanical Gardens

You can even take a trip over to one of the other Islands, Torcello Island, for a hike to get a little activity in (other than the fact that you will be walking everywhere).

This is definitely a more laid back destination, but I think it is important for the Jedi to remember the knowledge aspect of the code, and sometimes it is worth it to go out into different cultures and just observe and learn.

 

What I do, not what I say…

At the inception of the Jedi Community, we had forums.  That was it.  Maybe you would exchange instant messenger handles or e-mails, or meet various people in a chat rooms at random, but our interaction was entirely limited to words on screen.  Even voice chats were rare, and the technology was poor, and you might exchange phone numbers, but we did not all have our own personal cell phones to give out numbers to.  Hell, I think we even still paid long distance at that point.  Today, we have voice chats, we have video chats, we have multiple social media platforms, and offline meetings are rather commonplace (they were pretty much non-existent for the first three years I was around, aside from small individual level meetings, but even those were very rare).

Point is, we have all this exposure to each other and that makes it much easier to hold each other accountable.  You can see if a person practices what they preach, or do they spend hours on end ranting about not talking about other Jedi behind their backs and being honest and truthful, and then turn around and talk about others? Do they preach about being healthy and then chain smoke, pour sugary drinks down there throat, and eat takeout for every meal?  Do they profess themselves a leader, but display a thirst for the power itself, and then when presented with issues, prove themselves unable to properly address those issues?

It is easy to create a public face for yourself that appears to be ideal, but when you really peal back the layers, what you find can be disappointing.  Much as I asked several months ago to ask yourself “Do I Really Want to Be a Jedi?” you should also ask if you really want to emulate a particular person.  Not to say you cannot gain valuable information from even the most unlikely sources, but you need to be cautious not to also gain the damaging habits.

Now, I am not claiming to be perfect, and I am not saying that everyone is or should be.  We all make mistakes, and we all have moments where we have lapses in judgement.  The issue arises when you have a continuous pattern of lapses in judgement.

Even as students, you have a right to question those who are tossing their lessons around.  Do so respectfully, but if you see someone doing or saying something questionable, ask questions.

100 Days – Mental Health with Josh Sundquist

I really enjoyed this video in the series.  If you have not followed along, John hates meditation, so this video brings in Josh Sundquist, a Paralympian, who discusses his practice with fitness, and focuses a lot on the M in his fitness acronym (JERM).  It is also just inspiring to see how this person rose above his physical limitations, even at such a young age.  It makes me feel lazy…I need to go workout…crap…I am at work.

 

JERM
Journaling
Exercise
Reading
Meditation

I never assigned myself an acronym, but this is really the core of my daily practice.  I do not always write everyday, but I rely on it heavily when my mind is feeling full and jumbled (I should really do it everyday).  I exercise daily.  I have a reading schedule and try to read a little bit every day, even if it is just 20 pages or so.  And I meditation daily, generally twice a day.

I think I am going to check out Josh Sundquist’s channel as well.

Facebook

I have created a facebook page for this blog, mainly to make it easier for updates and following. I already cross-post to my twitter and tumblr, so I felt it needed the facebook presence as well (and none of my existing pages really fit with the theme).

I am not entirely sure what I am going to do with the page yet, other than cross posting blog posts of course, so if there are any requests or suggestions, let me know.  Otherwise, I will be experimenting some I suppose. 😉

 

Knighting Ceremony – What it Is – What it Was – What Should it Be?

Even back in the late 90’s/early 00’s, the Jedi Community wanted some sort of formal Knighting Ceremony.  Back then, of course, we were exclusively online and that was more difficult.  Presently, various communities have come up with their own version of the Knighting Ceremony, I had the opportunity to witness the Federations live this summer at the 2016 Gathering in Illinois, and I have seen a couple others through videos posted online.  Here is the basic gist from what I recall from the Gathering.

The Knighting Ceremony was scheduled in the weekend agenda, and took place directly after the group photo, so all were in attendance, and in “formal attire” (basically here, formal attire is whatever you want, but ranged from Karate Gi’s with added embellishments, to costumes themed after the standard Jedi robes of fiction, to glittery dresses).  A speech was given by the person presiding, the individual that nominated/sponsored the knights-to-be were given a chance to speak for them.  There was an exchanging of symbolic items, and each individual was knighted, and then presented to the group as a knight.  Throughout the whole ordeal, all speeches were read off paper, and there were some group responses that were posted in the “Yearbook” (a book that each attendee received when the arrived, complete with names and photos of everyone that was attending, even those that dropped out of attending…photos were sometimes taken from peoples Facebook pages without their knowledge…other photos included in the yearbook were from LAST years gathering) that the entire crowd gathered was supposed to say in response to prompts, declaring their approval of the appointment of knighthood.  The videos I saw online were fairly similar.

With that in mind, I want to give you an excerpt from The Jedi Path by Daniel Wallace:

The Knighting ceremony is the ceremony in which a Jedi Padawan or apprentice is made into a full Jedi Knight. An ancient ritual, it is presided over by members of the High Council or of the other three Councils and led by the Grand Master. This ceremony could be repeated for a Knight who achieved the rank of Master.

The Knighting ceremony is an ancient ritual and each Padawan are responsible for preparing themselves and reviewing their role in the ancient rite. Only the High Council can promote an apprentice to the rank of Knight; though sometimes the student’s master is also permitted to knight their own students. After passing the Jedi Trials, the student is assigned a date that the ceremony is set to take place on. The day before the ceremony the Padawan is required to meditate within the Preparation chamber. While typically alone, sometimes several Padawans meet there at once; though socializing was frowned upon as each apprentice was supposed to be searching for their future path.

The following day, the Padawan is summoned to the Hall of Knighthood. Entering into the darkened chamber, the Padawan would kneel in the center of the room as the Masters present ignited their lightsabers in a ring around the student. Led by the Grand Master of the Order, the other Masters are typically those who sat on the High Council and other prominent Jedi who helped in the apprentice’s journey. If the High Council was unavailable, members of the other three Jedi Councils could step in to complete the ring. Reciting the ancient passages used in the traditional ceremony, the Grand Master will lower their lightsaber to just above each of the Padawan’s shoulders and then sever the braid that hung behind the ear of the newly appointed Knight. Then Grand Master hands the lightsaber to the Padawan, and the new Jedi Knight is then able to collect the braid and depart the chamber in silence, the ritual completed.

While the ceremony is the norm, sometimes expedience overrode tradition. During times of war or on extended journey missions, Masters would knight their own students if they could not return to the Temple or field promotions were necessitated by another ranking military personnel’s death.

In addition to raising a Padawan to Knighthood, the Council also brings Knights to the Hall to grant them the rank of Master. To achieve this rank, a Knight could opt to take a modified version of the Trials, or successfully train a Padawan to Knighthood themselves.

At each formal ceremony, the Grand Master recites the same ancient ritual words when knighting each Padawan. The formal opening of the ceremony welcome the participating Masters, and focuses their minds on why they are there.

“We are all Jedi. The Force speaks through us. Through our actions, the Force proclaims itself and what is real. Today we are here to acknowledge what the Force has proclaimed.”

With that said, the Grand Master will call the Padawan by name and bring his lightsaber down above each of the kneeling student’s shoulders.

“By the right of the Council, by the will of the Force, I dub thee Jedi, Knight of the Order”

Then hand one the lightsabers to its owners and severed their braid. With the ceremony complete, the Knights will take up their lightsaber and the severed braid and exit the chamber in silence, signaling the end of the ritual.

A few things that stand out to me:

  • While I believe the wording was used for the Gathering ceremony, as I mentioned, they were read off of paper.  If words are to be said at a Knighting Ceremony, whether by the individual presiding or by the one being knighted, they should be memorized.  To read from paper shows a lack of importance and gravity, it should be the responsibility of all involved to do their part, and if they cannot hold themselves responsible, perhaps they should not be involved.
  • The text indicates a day for personal reflection, being done solitary the preference.  At the Gathering, the day before was the day the student had their trials and there was no personal time for reflection.  Perhaps it can be blamed on the desire to do these at Gatherings because when else are several Jedi together, but the whole thing seems very rushed.
  • The Knighting Ceremony is not a public event.  Further support for this is in the Clone Wars Cartoons when Anakin is knighted.  The council was present, perhaps the Padawan’s master, and the Padawan themselves.  Being knighted should not be a public spectacle, it is a solemn event.  It lends the tendency to crave the spectacle itself, rather than the personal achievement  of reaching that point.  The end goal should not be the focus, the process should be (like the Zen Master fable from last month).
  • The call and response format is a big problem.  Even if made a private affair, there may not be individuals that agree with a students appointment to knighthood, they should not be scripted to say they agree.  If they do not want to participate in the ceremony, that should be their option, and if they want to, they should not be singled out in their non-response.