Jedi Understand Their Limitations
Teaching number 7 of the Temple of the Jedi Order’s doctrine begins “Jedi understand their limitations.” However, understanding one’s limitations does not mean simply giving up. On Monday I went to a local park to practice lightsaber fencing. It became apparent throughout the class that my reflexes and body mechanics would not allow me to do the things others seemed to do so easily. Historically, when confronted with physical limitations, I have often just said, “that’s not meant for me” and focused on things that I was already adept in, or areas in which I could be assured some success. But in my reflections I realized that I could reframe my limitations if I got rid of my limiting thinking. Here are some thoughts I would like us to ponder together.
How is my limitation impacted by who I “think” I should be?
One of the limitations we can fall prey to is that of black and white thinking. If I don’t see myself as immediately successful, I am a failure. I know that “it seems easy so why can’t I do it?” ran through my mind many times. With the immediate reply “it’s because there is something wrong with me.” Thoughts like that do not serve us well. In order to reframe, the first step is to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves. It may take us longer to get the hang of things, but we will have made greater progress than if we had given up at the first sign of struggle.
Another thing to consider is that we simply may not be able to do what others can, but why not do what we can. In this we aren’t so much focused on who we ought to be but who we are. For example, If I can only use one hand because I need to hold on to my crutch with the other, why not just accept that and adopt my style to accommodate it? In other words, I’d like to suggest Jedi should understand their limitations and adapt our expectations to them.
How much of my limitation is impacted by “mind reading”?
Mind reading is an assumption that other people have the same or similar negative thoughts about us or about our capacity as we do. For example, during sabers my thoughts went to “no one is going to want to partner with me because I don’t know how to do the moves and I am going to be wasting their time and nobody wants to waste their time and I’m just going to have to sit on the bench like in karate.”, In the time I have been at sabers this has never happened, but it doesn’t stop the thoughts. However, if our mind has the capacity to create such a negative future for ourselves, why not leverage it to create a positive one? When we assume a negative future for ourselves, it can physically or mentally stop us in our tracks. So why not imagine something good happening and let us be propelled forward? Imagine, for example, that you will have a training partner and not have to sit on the bench, that people are delighted to see you and want to help you. Why not? We are just as likely to be right about that as we are about a negative outcome. In other words, though Jedi should understand their limitations, their limitations need not be self-imposed by negative thinking.
How much of my limitation can be understood, accepted and managed if I ask for help?
Once I accepted that I had to use one hand for my lightsaber fencing, I began thinking about how I might adapt the strikes and parries for one handed combat. I thought for sure that I would have to invent something new all by myself. Sometimes we can attach a lot of shame to asking for support, but the best way to limit ourselves is by thinking that we are alone; that we do not need or cannot ask for help. “I should be able to do this myself. ” has often crossed my mind, but that’s limiting thinking. If we were meant to walk this path alone we would not be in a community. So I decided I’d ask for help. I figured there must be someone out there capable of helping me adapt Shi-cho for one handed combat. Unsurprisingly, I did find a community member willing to assist me. Interestingly enough, most strikes and parries can be adapted to accommodate different abilities, but I might not have known that had I not asked. In other words, Jedi should understand their limitations, but need not try to manage their limitations alone.
To conclude, it’s very important that as we navigate the Jedi path, we examine how much our thoughts impact what we do or don’t do. As Qui-gon Ginn would say “ You’re focus determines your reality”. May the Force be with you all