This sermon is also available as a video in two parts, which you will find at the bottom of this article. A reduced version of this sermon was given as part of the live sermon in Chat on 11th March 2012
In life there are a million different paths to take and a million more choices to be made. So which one is the right one? How do we know that we're doing the right thing and going to the right place?
The simple answer is that everything you do is right and every move you make is the correct one. After all, you can't go back in time and choose another way! So you were always supposed to do what you have already done. But what about the BEST direction to take? That completely depends on your viewpoint and how much you are willing to trust in the Force.
The signs will be there for you, an indicator of which way to turn. The problem is that we are often so busy rushing through life, or focused on other things, that we fail to see those signs before it's too late and we have chosen the other path. But if we surrender ourselves to the flow, we may well find ourselves in the best possible situation each time.
However, this may not be what we BELIEVE is the best. We may have to try hard to discern the lessons in situations of suffering and pain, or those that are clouded in confusion or seemingly frivolous nonsense. It may take practice before we can see the deeper meanings, part of the bigger picture. Focusing on your training will help with this. There are many things that can be done to improve your intuitive sense and many of us may already be gifted with natural abilities such as these.
The more you expand your awareness to include signs and portents, the clearer they will become. This concept is portrayed in a fictional setting in The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. One of the “9 Insights” described in that book refers to the notion of synchronicity – that we are all led to places and situations that can help us along our path. Being able to recognise those key moments is one aspect; knowing what to do with that information is the next step.
Many of the training masters here at the Temple of the Jedi Order have experience in such matters and each will have their own recommendations on tasks that you can perform to improve your connection with the Force and its messages. If you do not have direct access to this knowledge in the form of an apprenticeship, you can begin the process by reflecting on your own journey – the steps that you have taken that have led you to where you are now.
Take a moment to do this. Think of what led you to this Temple. What inspired you to become a member? What indicators were there that pointed you to this site as opposed to one of the other Jedi sites, or other places of worship? Then trace that path backwards, noticing every decision that led you to this point. Spend a moment with this, allowing yourself to see how the Force has led you here.
So what made you choose this site over another? Was it the training opportunities? The Doctrine and teachings of this Church? Maybe the members that you engaged with? If you have encountered other Jedi sites or Churches, think about what they offered that wasn't right for you. Spend a moment at these crossroads. One direction points here while others lead to other Jedi paths. This is one example of the Force guiding your steps.
The important thing to remember is that the other choices, the ones that you didn't make, are not necessarily “bad” choices, just that they weren't right for you at that moment. There will be people who are drawn to other faiths, paths or institutions who feel the same way about this place. The notion of “right” and “wrong” is merely one of perspective. All you can do is determine your own path, without judging those of others.
As a teacher of healing and spiritual practices, I have sometimes wondered what draws people to me and not to another. Or (and this is usually in times of financial concern) what draws students to other teachers and not to me! There may be different teachings within the same system – one style of Reiki, for example, may be vastly different to another even if the core practices and values are the same. It may even be that a particular teacher is right for someone while another isn't.
We all share knowledge and experience with others, either consciously or at a more subliminal level. Sometimes we even learn from people who were “bad” for us and this is ultimately a “good thing”. Connecting to the best resources for us is something that the Force is willing to help with if only we can open our hearts to its guidance, and to place our trust in its will.
As an example of how this can manifest in unusual ways, I would like to recount a story from the last days of the Beatles. Paul McCartney was having a hard time dealing with the tense situations and difficulty with recording their final works together and one night he had a dream in which his mother (Mary, who had died when Paul was 14) appeared to him and said “it will be all right, just let it be”.
In that particular case, the Force manifested in a form that would provide advice and comfort; that of McCartney's mother. As a great example of surrendering to the flow of the Force, I would like you to listen to the song, at the link at the bottom of this article, and reflect on the advice of just letting go and trusting that all will be as it should:
The classical forms of Taoism call this process “wu wei” - which translates as “doing nothing”. It doesn't mean inaction but instead refers to actively preventing oneself from obstructing the natural flow of the Tao (which can be seen as another name for the Force, the will of God, of the intention of the Universe). Assuming that we can notice and understand this guidance, we then have the choice to follow it or to go against it.
This is an example of the free will inherent in every one of us. The fact that we were always going to make those choices (as mentioned at the beginning of this sermon) is irrelevant – what is important is to always try to take the “best path for yourself”. To paraphrase the Tao Te Ching:
“The Force can be called the Great Mother: empty yet inexhaustible, it gives birth to infinite worlds. It is always present within you. You can use it any way you want.”
May the Force guide you to where you need to be, even if it isn't where you want to be!