March Sermon Series 1: Dagobah
Dagobah, a place so rich in life and thus the Force. If we acknowledge that life is comprised of the Force and that the Force brings life, any planet which has so much life is to be strong in the Force. In the movies we saw dense vegetation, swamps, creatures, and so much more. It is easy to think that a swamp would also be teeming with smaller life forms as well, and thus creating that verdant image of a planet teeming with the Force.
I believe Dagobah to be a central ideation in regards to the Force and an easy way to draw parallels. If you view that we are both in and of the Force, each of us could be also be considered a planet. Albeit one that has a hankering for potato chips. A forest takes in carbon dioxide and returns oxygen, we just do the reverse. A planet has ants, we have blood cells. These are not perfect parallels but the mental image is the same, that we are fully comprised of smaller units that work together and when something is off, something bad can happen.
Dagobah is known to us as the place where Yoda was hiding. Yoda elected to hide there due to the close proximity of the Cave of Evil (tm) and this is also where we really started to get that sweet, sweet Jedi flavor that enticed us all in the movies. It’s that ultimate place of mystery and danger, it has a wise and old mentor, and it has that Cave. But what about Dagobah that really entices us? Is it the Jedi Master, the root soup, the evil cave? Perhaps it is that feeling that there’s something else just beneath the surface that we just haven’t really dug around for yet.
The cave of evil itself was formed when the Jedi Knight Minch killed a dark Jedi master in the hollow under the tree. Now, we are all familiar with the concept of hauntings, especially from the viewpoint that a lot of pain in one place leaves its mark. Usually we view locations that have a lot of pain, suffering, and death as a location in which spirits tend to stick to. The dark Jedi killed there also left their mark on the location. Think of it like a pothole that pops your metaphorical tire or maybe a nasty gouge from an accident. This is why we find that when people go there, they tend to experience nasty illusions, it’s a scar on the planet and in the web of the Force.
In this planet’s life, it experienced a traumatic event which has left a permanent mark. So, now let us draw back a bit in that we consider ourselves a planet, does this sound familiar? Have you ever experienced something so painful, so terrifying that it echoes forever? Perhaps we don’t acknowledge it, lost in the hazy fog that covers the planet, hoping that we don’t see the cave and we simply try not to think how we came to that pain. Perhaps we chose not to look too deeply into those murky shadows as we considered it part of life. I know, myself, that I have experienced some pains in my life that I thought were normal until someone pointed out that it was very much not the norm!
If we consider ourselves this ecosystem of thoughts, feelings, emotions, history, ego, and so much more, what does it mean to have that cave of evil on us? Perhaps multiple caves?
Yoda was brought to this planet in order to learn more about the Force, to learn how to become immortal. He did not seek out immortality as his goal, but he sought out how to become one with the Force without losing himself in it. Yoda foresaw horrible events, but he wanted to find a way to stay beyond his time in order to guide the future and to achieve that oneness with the Force. We all have that same desire, that wish to become better than we were before and to guide others, but how can we do that when we are inherently mortal? It’s not that we can become immortal in real life, but that we can be more aware of our actions and how they ripple in the Force that we can truly begin to appreciate how long our legacy will echo.
Yet, many seek out personal enlightenment and what is the first thing we say to the new person to the group? “We are learning to learn ourselves.” We are seeking our own personal truths and how we, as individuals, live within the Force. It’s a horribly personal journey and ultimately quite frustrating when all you want to do is learn the secrets of human purpose and your purpose within that purpose. Pity someone just couldn’t tell us about what we need to do in a simple formulaic manner! However, if we continue to use this idea that we are each our own Dagobah, with our own scars and histories, we could consider a little bit more of Yoda going to find himself.
In Jung’s archetypes of people, one thing we see is consideration for the Shadow Self. It’s less evil boogymen and more the stuff we don’t recognize in ourselves. We try to push away thoughts about our ego, we try to push away greed, and fear, and all these other negative emotions, but ultimately what we are doing is pushing them deeper into our shadow. These thoughts and desires still exist, but ultimately we have to acknowledge them lest they become a problem. Imagine the super hero impervious to pain, and then he feels pain for the first time ever. He doesn’t know how to handle it, and reacts poorly (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog has a good reference here with the “good guy” feeling pain for the first time, I bring that up because I’m not trying to be horribly negative and dreary). The problem here is we are being conditioned to the same things that we encounter daily, of course the superhero is impervious to damage from everything on the planet but is he immune to rocks from Mars? When the patterns change, we find that we are not so well conditioned to handle the situation sometimes. Think about a baby and how they cry, or how a child stubs their toe and they cry. To you and me, it might be something that hurts, but not life shattering, but when you consider that it might just be the most pain they’ve experienced in their very short lives, it changes how we understand the pain they are in. If we felt the worse pain in our lives, we would also end up on the ground crying as well, and that’s why it’s so important to have that perception because “It’s just a break up, you’ll get over it” or “Don’t worry about losing your job, you’ll get a new one” can be profoundly different to those who have never experienced those things.
However, our shadow selves are formed from these darker aspects of ourselves that we push away and in the dark and as a result we don’t know how to handle them, and again they aren’t always negative (someone who has low self esteem has shoved their ego into the shadows). Much like people, from the distant outer space, Dagobah is a lovely marble in the void that is space, but when you get below the trees it is a dark and foreboding location. Ultimately, isn’t this how we all are? We have things we want to hide from others and ourselves, but at all times we want to have some sweet, sweet space tourism money as people visit us from afar. That mask thing that we talk about in the IP, does that ring a bell anywhere?
So, for this several week-long analogy, we are viewing this as
Yoda going back to himself, and exploring himself in isolation to find enlightenment. He is on a planet full of life, so deeply connected to the Force (sounds even like Yoda; green, full of life, deep connection to the Force), and is also where he might not want to be: next to a source of evil. But isn’t that where we also live, one chance meeting of a bad ex, one bad memory, one moment away from recalling a pain so deep that your day change. We all live next to that divot in the ground that we try to stay away from, and on dark nights we find ourselves compelled to enter. Next week we will dive more into what the cave is and what it means to us as people and as Jedi.
This week, I encourage you to consider if you might have a few sore spots that you tend to revisit or that you completely avoid to help prepare for next week’s lesson.