If you are a die-hard Star Wars fan who cares about spoilers, you’ve probably already seen The Last Jedi, but just in case, here is your warning that this post contains plot spoilers.
The Force, Yoda, Jedi Masters, the Dark Side, Porgs…. of course Star Wars is full of mindful awesome-ness.
Without further ado, here are five mindful lessons we learned in Episode VIII:
1. Even Jedi Masters Are Not Perfect
Like most everyone else, I was super excited for the return of Luke Skywalker. What has he been up to? How many new Jedi has he trained? How has he been staying hydrated? (actually, the movie had a totally gross answer to that one. Never mind).
I loved the meditating-levitating Luke in the new movie, so imagine my surprise when I returned home after viewing it and I finally allowed myself to read the online reviews … only to discover people were ENRAGED at the portrayal of Luke in Episode VIII. “A Jedi would NEVER give up!” “A Jedi would NEVER even think about killing his trainee, especially a really hot one like Adam Driver!”
Okay people, let’s just get this straight: THE JEDI ARE NOT PERFECT. OUR HEROES ARE NOT PERFECT. THAT IS WHAT MAKES THEM HEROES.
I actually loved seeing that even after becoming a Jedi Master, Luke was still fully human (though with some pretty cool powers — more on that later). He got angry, he became afraid, he felt like a failure, he lost hope, and he said SCREW-IT-ALL, I’m going to live on a remote island in a small corner of the galaxy and hang out with some adorably big-eyed puffin-like creatures and forget about trying to save the whole eff-ing universe. Who doesn’t make that wish several times a week???
True, Luke had the galactic luxury of remaining on said island for decades, but seriously, give him a break. You try teaching a new skill to your nephew only to find that he wants to become the new Darth Vader and destroy ALL THE GOODNESS. That’s a bad day.
But then what happens? Rey shows up, and after a lot of convincing, Luke realizes the importance of sharing the knowledge of the Force, even with someone who is NOT a Skywalker. Then he sits his Jedi ass down on his meditation rock (no cushion for this hero) and FRICKING MEDITATES HIMSELF INTO ANOTHER PART OF THE GALAXY TO SAVE THE LAST REMNANTS OF THE RESISTANCE.
That’s a pretty good day.
Why do we insist that our heroes be perfect? Why do we take their humanness to be a betrayal of all they have stood for?
We are at once powerful and frail, godlike and mortal. Our heroes are heroes because they are just like us and yet they do amazing things.
So give Luke a break. And give yourself a break while you’re at it, because….
2. “The greatest teacher, failure is.”
Ahhh, Yoda. The little green walking koan shares his wisdom once again in The Last Jedi.
He upbraids Luke for spending a tad too much time sulking on his island,
Heeded my words not, did you? Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is.”
Luke’s task was to pass on his wisdom and strength, AND his weaknesses and failures.
As James Joyce once said, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” (Fun Fact: Joyce was an Irish novelist, and Luke’s island Ahch To is actually in Ireland, so….)
3. Anyone Can Use the Force
Apparently another thing that die-hard Star Wars fans are upset about is that the “big reveal” about Rey’s parentage is … her parents were nobodies. They were not Skywalkers. Or Kenobis. Or Kennedys. Just regular people who gave birth to a badass warrior who is strong with the Force.
But isn’t that the coolest thing ever? Isn’t that where all of our heroes come from — living on small farms in Kansas, hiding in tiny closets under their aunt’s staircase, or practicing carpentry in remote outposts of the Roman Empire?
The Force — and those who can wield it — are everywhere.
The Force is not a power you have. It’s not about lifting rocks. It’s the energy between all things, a tension, a balance, that binds the universe together.“
Luke, to Rey in The Last Jedi
I love this democratization of the Force.
We ALL have superpowers.
4. Being a Jedi — and Being Mindful — Are SuperPowers
No, mindfulness won’t help you levitate and project your likeness across the galaxy to battle Kylo Ren, but it will help you not lose your sh!t when you step on the Legos that fell off your kid’s Kylo Ren Command Shuttle. Which, for our earthly purposes, is pretty much the same thing.
Mindfulness helps you navigate the chaos of your day. It allows you to stay present and respond to the situations that are right in front of you, whether you need to take bold action and defend the Resistance — or soften and accept what is happening without resistance.
That’s a superpower.
5. There is Light and There is Dark
This isn’t so much a lesson from The Last Jedi as it is a lesson from … pretty much every myth, novel, movie, and TV commercial human beings ever created.
But that’s why Star Wars is considered such a prototypical myth. The battle of good vs. evil rages across the galaxy, among nation-states, within families, and inside our own hearts.
It’s the battle so perfectly stated in the legend of the Two Wolves, purportedly of Cherokee origin, in which a grandfather tells his grandson of the two wolves who live inside him, constantly battling one another. One wolf is evil, wracked with anger, greed, lies, jealousy, and false pride. The other wolf is purely good — full of joy, compassion, kindness, humility, and truth.
When the grandson asks, “Which wolf will win?” the grandfather replies, “The one I feed.”
The entire Star Wars saga — and, indeed, all of human history — is the story of which side of the Force we feed, the light or the dark. And it’s clearly a tough battle — spanning nine episodes over four decades! The Dark Side, with its promises of fame and its appeals to our ego, tempts us as much as the light.
The Jedi discovered the power to feed the light.
And, wouldn’t you know, mindfulness teacher Sharon Salzburg shares her version of this story below, with her explanation of how mindfulness empowers us to feed the light and goodness within.
May the Force Be With You.
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