Are you a perfect human being? A perfect Jedi? A perfect friend, family member, colleague?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those, fair play to you. You might as well stop reading now. If not, here are your next questions to ponder.
Do you ever pretend to be a perfect human being? Do you ever pretend to be a perfect Jedi? Do you ever pretend to be a perfect friend, family member, colleague?
These might be harder to answer. Probably most of us would like to be able to say ‘no’. But don’t we all have those little moments here and there where we pretend to know all the answers, to be wiser than we are, to be infallible? Maybe it isn’t even a conscious decision. Or sometimes it might be fully conscious, and for good reason, such as in the course of parenting, or whilst giving orders in a high-risk situation. But can you think back to times when you’ve unnecessarily tried to appear more sagely or knowledgeable than you are, either as a means to a self-serving end, or just because it makes you feel good?
Here, at the Temple – have you ever caught yourself thinking patronisingly about someone else? That “they just don’t get what it means to be a Jedi” feeling? That “I can see right through them and their bluster” feeling? And then perhaps you’ve consciously decided to show them the error of their ways through some cleverly crafted and well-placed words?
You may not have done. I applaud you if so. It’s a hard trap not to get drawn into – we’re committed to helping each other progress along our paths as Jedi – so it makes sense that we’re looking out for opportunities to help teach people through our forum interactions.
But how often does that manifest in a sense of personal superiority? How often does the thought “they just don’t get it” manifest as something more like “I’m so much more evolved than they are”? Does the tone of our words towards them have the potential to widen that perceived gulf by over-exaggerating our own loftiness and putting us on a pedestal? Do we acknowledge our own fallibility, or do we find that there isn't any room amongst our pretty words for that?
Perhaps it spills over into life outside of the Temple too. We’re on a spiritual path of betterment, right? We’ve discovered a higher plane of existence. We’re the enlightened ones. We’re the ones heralding the next stage of mankind’s evolution of consciousness. We are the awakened – and as such, we have the tools at our disposal to wake all of those around us who are still asleep. Right? Only with the best of intentions, naturally.
Do you ever say something over dinner, or at the bar, or at work, that would sound quite rudimentary at the Temple but out in the wider world it makes you feel like a Buddha? Out there, we can all find chances to be that mysterious old Sage who drops tiny golden nuggets of layered truth that blow people’s realities wide open – we’re so wise! Aren’t we! Well done us! Hang on…are we??
Wait! I’m a Jedi! That’s not right!
Although we do know really that we’re not perfect and that we don’t have all the answers, we can so easily fall prey to the temptation to play the role of someone who does, because it can provide a certain kick that our Ego finds quite nourishing. Sometimes we can slip into that role so comfortably that we find it unexpectedly difficult to break out of it. How do we take the mask off again? It's far too embarrassing to admit that it was all a ruse! So we're going to have to keep the ruse up - but boy did we underestimate how exhausting and stressful that was going to be!
How much less tiring must it be to admit from the start that we aren’t omniscient? How much more productive for both our own journey and those of others if we can find it in ourselves be vulnerable and open enough to say – not “I am going to teach you this” – but “let’s explore this together?” How much more respect and co-operation arises when instead of decreeing “I know what’s best for you” we ask “what do you need and how can I help"?
This will not be the first time that you have seen someone put these questions forward at the Temple, and neither will it be the last. But we’re all human – we forget stuff. We get comfortable. We take things for granted. And sometimes we just need a reminder to keep asking the important questions.
So, I ask you – will you put aside your mask and walk this path together with me, as equals in our shared and imperfect humanity?