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So have I seen:

This step, on this Path, in this moment.

That is where one’s attention is best directed.  Eyes held gently open, this step, here, a choice you make for the truest expression of your nature.  Moment to moment, will you honor your effort and your teachers in the same breath?  Will you insult your own spirit?

This step, on this Path, in this moment.

Path is what we call it.  This word, so rich in history and symbolism, a bit of training and testing all on Its own.  It illuminates the way even as it obscures it.  We must explore, and we do.

The Path leads to an evolving truth that is understood in the accumulation of steps toward it rather than by arrival.  If one could be sped on their way to the End in some great leap forward, it would profit one nothing.  And the point is moot, as there is no End and so, no arrival.  Just the million tiny arrivals.

This step, on this Path, in this moment.

Concern yourself only with this. Do not give the End more than a passing glance, now and again.  Better still, ignore it altogether.  If the steps are correct, the destination takes care of itself. Never tell me where you are going.  Tell me of the step you have just taken. Where did you place your feet today?

Did you triumph?  Did you learn?  Did you wander off?  Our story takes place in all of those steps.

Fear nothing of your missteps. Any Path of consequence will not be too easy to walk.  And those missteps teach us.  Indeed, our mistakes are all part of it.  Did you actually stray?  That depends.  Did you find your way back?

This step, on this Path, in this moment.

The mystery of our Path, of any Path of consequence, reveals itself in how it denies and embraces opposites. The Path is made of both choices and discoveries.  We must bend ourselves to the Path, but the It bends as well. It is both uniquely yours and shared across time with those who came before and those who will come after. It is both the bedrock of your life and a complete illusion.

Let us explore.

This step…

We feel called to this, so many of us.  We found an archipelago of ideas, found a name that rung with meaning to wrap them up with, and we named ourselves Jedi.  That was it, more or less, wasn’t it? 

And we decided that we were embarking on a Path, called to it by many voices, only one of which was our own.   Is the Path laid out before us? Do we carve it from virgin wilderness?  Is it ever that simple? 

So have I seen:

I stepped into the wild places within, but I had no idea what I would find.  Did I fill it with beasts and vines?  Did I create the cliffs that descend to mist?   Did I make the brief glimpses of perfect sun?  I do not know.  They were there.

Did I choose the Path?  Yes, of course.  But it also chose me.  And it was filled with the unknown.  I discover turns and impasses that were never my preference.  I chose sincerity, and sincerity forbade many options.  It demanded that I face realities that offer no choice beyond the long walk forward or turning back.

I have discovered much.  My Maitre has helped me reveal more.  And so much lays ahead.   I chose to take this Path.  I never chose what was to be on it.

…On this Path…

And this thing I both created and found: it makes demands.  Being true to this Path demands commitment, ethical behavior, and great heart.  I bend myself to it, away from the easy mistakes and the lies about myself and others that seduce me.  It can feel unnatural, even painful, like upright posture for a spine given over to slouching. Yet…

Yet, the Path is not so straight. It does not simply begin where you started.  It begins again and again, wherever you are, and snakes forward, vital as life, wending Its way through you as you make your way through It.  It evolves as your understanding of what is real and true evolves, ever imperfect.

We bend ourselves in order to grow, to give ourselves to a Path that grows even as we do.  We give ourselves over to sincerity, to keen observation, and we are shaped by what is shaped by our hearts.

…In this is moment...

They are my steps, my choices, my hands that part the way so I can pass.  The effort is mine, is it not?  And yet, every time I clear a way through, there are footprints ahead. 

The ghosts of heroes leave their mark on my way. 

The mountains in my way certainly did not climb themselves.  The wilderness inside did not clear a trail on its own.  My Maitre sent me questions.  He did not send me answers.  I worked hard, did I not?  Did I not work hard today?

Yes.  Well and good.  Don’t get too excited.

I can trace my Maitre’s tracks with my fingers from memory.  I can find the places where his teacher placed his feet.  And others as well.  My ancestors, new friends walking their own Paths, ancient teachers who never heard the word Jedi in their lives, the adversaries that teach me by showing me my limits, even the ones I will teach who I have not yet met.  All of them are there to guide me.  All of it is there, in the Path I carve in solitary effort.

My sleepless nights.  My frustration. My tears and my struggle to keep my heart soft and my hands open.  My triumphs that only expose questions that shake me to my core.  I am never alone.

The ghosts of heroes leave their mark on my way.  My brothers and sisters are with me.  The Force is with me.

This step, on this Path, in this moment.

The years pass. The days pass.  I place my feet.  And none of it is real.  Except that it is. 

More or less.

The Path is real.  It is our stories, wound together, along with the stories we have not yet set down. It is a way we make through ourselves, through the world, alone and together, and it is all an illusion.

Or a useful construct.  Until it is no longer useful.  Chosen and discovered, binding and bending, solitary and shared, it lives in our hearts and minds.  Like anything that lives in the heart or mind, it can become a barrier.

Have I become so patient that the impatience of others unseats me?  Or so open open-hearted that that mean-spirited people drive me to madness?  If I am cultivating the self in order to truly express the truest version of my spirit, the Path is real enough.  If I cultivate the self because I believe I am somehow broken, or to show how cultivated I am, it is barrier and distortion. 

Barriers are there to be overcome and left behind.  Distortions must go.

This step, on this Path, in this moment.

This endeavor of ours has great risks.  Did we simply convince ourselves of a lifestyle we shaped around our prejudices and preferences, one that tells us we were right all along to feel whatever attachments and aversions that have always ruled us?  Or did we pick an authority we placed over our own hearts and follow it to a dead wall? The abyss is deep.

Much is demanded of us, of our warrior’s sincerity.  There is a reason why some of us simply find a list of rules and run with it.  It is not an altogether foolish choice.  Perhaps we should all begin there.  I did.  It had its limits, but one begins with form to achieve a formlessness that is not simply decay and disorder.

The Path is real only insofar as it is authentic.  The rest is distraction.  Casting it off is your work, then.  Will it be replaced with another Path?  I could not tell you.  If I had the answer, I would not tell you anyway, Jedi.  Then you would only have another line to recite to others, a true thing you did not really understand; just more distortion and barrier.

The year passes.  A new one comes.  I am walking a Path through my own heart, and it defies any attempt on my part to slice it into opposites or hold it still.  I can see the marks left there by all of you. Please accept my profound gratitude.  You are all with me. 

The Force is with us. 

Thank you.