This is posted finally. It was a particularly challenging sermon that I, myself, just wasn't getting right. So, with tzb's gracious help - and his well-stocked rhetorical tool-box - here is the message of the Live Service of 24 March. Finally ...
Sorry for the wait .... (I know that you were all truly on the edge of your seats !)
It would be well to take a few moments to settle into ourselves : to meditate, to contemplate, to intro- and/or outro-spect, or to pray – to actualise our connexion to the Force and to come together in the spirit of our unity …
May the Force be with you …
MOYERS: Are some myths more or less true than others?
CAMPBELL: They are true in different senses. Every mythology has to do with the wisdom of life as related to a specific culture at a specific time. It integrates the individual into his society and the society into the field of nature. It unites the field of nature with my nature. It's a harmonizing force. Our own mythology, for example, is based on the idea of duality: good and evil, heaven and hell. And so our religions tend to be ethical in their accent.
Sin and atonement. Right and wrong.
MOYERS: The tension of opposites: love-hate, death-life.
(from ‘The Power of Myth’ p. 55)
Ask yourself : What do I believe in ?
Not “we” – I.
This is the source of much discussion in our forum threads – whether it turns bitter and goes on for pages or not: what we agree with and what we disagree with as individuals. And what leads us to agree or disagree ? Further, why does agreeing with one position mean disagreeing with another ? What causes so much faith, or confidence, or bloody-mindedness even, in what we ‘think’ we’ve experienced ?
Ours is a syncretic religion. But that doesn’t mean taking a look at the rituals and practices of a handful of religions and picking and choosing what one “likes” and “dislikes”. It is not smorgas-religion … This is why myth is part of our very basic, introductory teachings here. A ritual is the re-enactment of a myth. It is done to take part in a symbolic experience of something that touches a part of our lives that we cannot express in any other way.
A syncretic religion goes beyond the rituals, canons and dogmas of established churches and delves into the common mythic, mystic foundations ; Jedi know that if we cannot symbolise our experiences in Life some way, it overwhelms us. Some go to church, some to therapy, some to both. Some go to therapy because they’ve gone to church …
If all we are doing is making a metaphorical patchwork quilt out of the scraps of other traditions’ rituals without getting to the underlying meanings, then we are not practicing a ‘syncretic religion’ – we are simply counterfeiting. We could just go through the motions of any religion on the menu with the same effect.
Isn’t it curious how when we focus on what we ‘like’, on what makes us feel ‘comfortable’ or what ‘justifies’ what we want to think/feel – we inevitably find a whole world out there of what we ‘don’t like’, that makes us very ‘uncomfortable’ and that flies in the face of what we’ve chosen to believe ?
Someone else’s ‘bullshit’ is their myth – accepting it, interpreting it to understand the person beneath the ritual is what a syncretic religion is all about.
What are we truly seeking in practicing our religion ?
No matter what we think we’re ‘right’ about or how ‘justified’ we are, we aren’t going to get away from culture, society (other people), nature and time. The World is what it is ; all of our lofty idealism and/or cold realism is not going to take it all in or change it.
Can we not find the value in this which we find in both Western and Eastern thought, from Socrates to Sartre, from Lao-Tzu to Albert Camus :
“He who thinks he knows, doesn’t know. He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.”
Are we going to insist on being ‘right’ (understood), demanding (receiving) in our desire for validation, un-pardoning and arrogant in our comparisons with others ? Or are we going to work to understand the underlying meaning behind their beliefs and actions ? To find the myth behind the ritual ?
Are we willing to become instruments of peace, to extend love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy ? Are we willing to be consoling, understanding and loving ?
Can we be kind ?
I am a Jedi, an instrument of peace ;
Where there is hatred I shall bring love ;
Where there is injury, pardon ;
Where there is doubt, faith ;
Where there is despair, hope ;
Where there is darkness, light ;
And where there is sadness, joy.
I am a Jedi.
I shall never seek so much to be consoled as to console ;
To be understood as to understand ;
To be loved as to love ;
For it is in giving that we receive ;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned ;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The Force is with me always, for I am a Jedi.
Ours is a syncretic faith.We are searching in the same labyrinth as has been set before us in all the ages and to all the generations ...
Let us be open to the lessons and answers that surround us, however alien they may appear, and no matter how resistant to them we feel at first glance.
Move beneath the ritual … find the myth.
May the Force be with you all …