Let Us Breath New Life
I am Michael, known as Zanthan Storm. IRL. most call me Z (because my name is difficult to pronounce).
I have questions. Many questions, as they form the bases of debate and reason. There are not many wrong answers to these as they are matters of philosophy. In my years with my physical congregation I have found that debate spurs interest, spurs enlightenment and while there are some displeasure about having an opinion disagreed with. It is better to refine your point of view or stand your ground, it is this unbending improvement of self that, in my humble opinion, allows a Jedist to be a lifetime learner and a better person.
The questions. Select one, select two or maybe three and post your response. You do not have to subscribe to the Abrahamic Rite to participate. As outside opinions, I have found, help!
1. What do we say to life when require faith? How do we connect to our Everlasting Force when we seek strength or wisdom?
2. Which is better, seeking knowledge or wisdom as a Jediist?
3. Is a distraction-less, solitude better than a busy, rapid life to attune ourselves to creation (life/the world around us)?
4. Can you train in one religion and then believe in another? Do they counteract eachother? Do they have to?
5. The last of this first list. Death, how do you see it, should it be feared? Why?
AKA Rev. Michael Ziskovsky OCP D.D.
Arch-bishop Abrahamic Rite
Master Knight of Jediism
Founder of Roseville, MN Chapter of TOTJO
3rd Degree Master Mason
Past Master: GM Neaj Pa Bol
Past Apprentices: Sr. Knight Kira, Knight Myos, Doriann
"Let no one thing control your life, seek to be complete and at peace."
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I am by no means an expert, nor am I officially a member of any clergy. (I'm technically ordained via the Universal Life Church, but they hand out ordination like free candy at Halloween, so all that means is that I can officiate a wedding.) I thought I would try to respond to your questions from my own experience, though, just to keep the conversation going!
Zanthan Storm wrote: 1. What do we say to life when require faith? How do we connect to our Everlasting Force when we seek strength or wisdom?
Forgive me if I sound stereotypical here, but I typically connect through prayer and scripture reading. I would like to find other ways of connecting to the Force as well -- especially meditation, which I have never been very good at as my mind refuses to be quiet when I need it to be so -- but for the moment, those two are my "go-to" methods.
Prayer is one avenue I would like to seek improvement in. When I pray, I feel I pray too selfishly at times; at other times (especially when praying with others in public), I feel I emulate preachers / pastors too much when I pray, and I often feel like I sound in-genuine if I start a prayer with the all-too-customary "Heavenly Father, we come before You...". Prayer has often been my primary connection to the Divine, but I would love more guidance in the proper usage of this powerful and all-too-overlooked conduit.
Zanthan Storm wrote: 2. Which is better, seeking knowledge or wisdom as a Jediist?
I would say both are equally important! After all, the relationship between the two is cyclical: one must have knowledge in order to cultivate the wisdom to use it properly, and one must have wisdom to know what knowledge to use and when. They are both sides of the Yin-Yang; one does not exist without the other.
Zanthan Storm wrote: 3. Is a distraction-less solitude better than a busy, rapid life to attune ourselves to creation (life/the world around us)?
That depends on the person! In the old EU (before the Disney buy-out), Anakin Skywalker was said to be a busy, busy guy: if he wasn't fixing a droid, he was tweaking a speeder or his Jedi fighter craft, and if he wasn't doing that, he was sparring. Business and activity were ways to quiet his spirit ("zoning out", if you will) by keeping his body and other parts of his mind active. He and other Jedi who preferred this method of quieting the mind referred to this activity as a "moving meditation". For some individuals, this is the best way to attune themselves to the world around them and to center their spirits.
For others, that quiet, distraction-less solitude you mentioned is the preferred method, and when we think of a monk or a priest, we tend to think of people who seek that kind of solitude. Obi-Wan Kenobi was described as that sort of person in the old EU material: a guy more at home meditating in a tranquil cave somewhere or happily studying some ancient tome at the Jedi Archives, sharpening his mind and enriching his spirit while communing with the Living Force.
As I said, I think it really depends on the individual as to what method of seeking tranquility and inner peace is best for them.
Zanthan Storm wrote: 4. Can you train in one religion and then believe in another? Do they counteract each other? Do they have to?
I don't see why not! You can be an expert in anything while believing only one thing; in the first chapter of Hagakure, Yamamoto Tsunetomo tells us "One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. It is the same for anything that is called a Way." However, Yamamoto says later in the same paragraph that if one understands the tenets of other ways (faiths/paths/philosophies/etc.) clearly and how they may compare/contrast to the Way of the Samurai, then that samurai "should be able to hear about all Ways and be more and more in accord with his own." (This is quoted in the film Ghost Dog, which is steeped in quotations from Hagakure.)
Throughout my own faith walk, I have been drawn to the tenets and customs of Judaism, even though I am a professed Christian. This attraction should not at all be strange to those who have studied the history of Christianity or the historicity of Jesus; Jesus was Himself a Jew called "Yeshua" who was hailed as a learned rabbi, followed the Torah (though the Pharisees and Sadducees often disputed how He kept the Commandments), and celebrated the Jewish festivals (including Hanukkah, or the "festival of dedication" in John 10:22).
If I am to emulate the Messiah, I must walk as He walked, so I study Judaism and try to follow the Torah as best a Gentile is able to. When studying Judaism, I will find writings from various rabbis that contradict what my "rabbi", Jesus, said and did. However, I have bound myself to Jesus and His teachings, and He is the reason I follow the Torah to begin with. (Plus, rabbis disagree all the time, so who cares if some other rabbi disagrees with my rabbi?) Keeping this in mind, I may hear about another "Way" (Judaism) yet remain more in accord with my own Way (Christianity).
Zanthan Storm wrote: 5. The last of this first list. Death, how do you see it, should it be feared? Why?
I love the Black Panther's quote from Captain America: Civil War about how Wakandans view death: "In my culture, death is not the end. It's more of a stepping off point."
In ancient Judaism, death was just a "sleep" until the Day of Judgment: you "fell asleep" in your grave until the angel blew the shofar to rouse you, then you faced judgment and your life in the World to Come afterward. Modern Christianity is much the same, with its Heaven and Hell concepts, both of which were based in pre-existing Jewish ideas of the New Jerusalem (where the righteous will live new lives after this one) and of the Valley of Gehenna (where the unrighteous are punished).
If these concepts hold truth, then new life beyond this life exists. (Almost all religions have some version of "Heaven" or "Hell" as well, of course.) If this is so, then why be afraid of death? To quote I Corinthians 15:55, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
That said, I myself posses a foolish fear of death. (Whether this is healthy or not, I leave you to be the judge.) I personally fear death because I have not done all that I want to do with my life, and I don't want my life to end until I have accomplished at least one or two of the goals I have set for myself. I must admit rather sheepishly that this is a foolish viewpoint: to quote Hagakure again, "To die without gaming one’s aim is a dog’s death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this."
Fearing death is natural and instinctive: we are hard-wired to survive at any cost, and achieving optimal performance in whatever our personal objectives are typically requires us to be alive. However, being afraid of death for the reasons I have spelled out above is silly, and I realize this. Living as a Christian -- devoting oneself wholly to the Master, Jesus -- requires us to be "dead to the world", or unmindful of worldly constraints and concerns, including death. (See Galatians 6:14.) Being dead means leaving this life behind for the next and basking in the glow of the Holy Spirit -- or, to put it in Lucasian terminology, to "become one with the Force" -- so death isn't really a bad thing at all. To quote Philippians 1:21 (Aramaic Bible), "For my life is the Messiah, and if I shall die, it is gain for me."
I thank you for your questions, and I look forward to further discourse!
(I realize your original post was made over a year ago, but hopefully you're still around to chat with!)
Live long and prosper, and may the Force be with you.
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