Nov 10 2015
Luke Skywalker: “What’s in there?”
Master Yoda: “Only what you take with you.”
– Empire Strikes Back
After a vigorous day of training, Luke Skywalker’s mind is filled with many questions about the Force and its Dark Side. While discussing this with Master Yoda, Luke senses something odd about the area of the swamp, where they have just stopped. His attention is drawn to an opening under an old tree. Yoda tells him that is a “domain of evil” and Luke should go into it without his weapons.
Luke decides to go in, but he takes his weapons with him. What he finds within is his nemesis from the Dark Side of the Force, Darth Vader. Luke quickly draws his light saber. Darth Vader does the same. They battle. Luke lops off Darth Vader’s head.
As Luke looks at the head at his feet, the mask explodes off to reveal Luke’s own face looking back at him.
I was 12 years old when I first saw Empire Strikes Back. That scene, in particular, has had a life-long impact on me. Yoda became my first guru. I connected with his teaching about the Force and the balance of dark and light within the Universe.
I understood that by reacting out of fear and anger, Luke became Darth Vader, which lead to him defeating his own self.
We all have dark and light within us. In order to stay balanced with the Force, we must harness the power of our feelings without letting them carry us away.
The Dark Side of Love
Soon after this lesson, Luke decides to drop his training with Yoda. He has a vision that his friends are in danger, so he rushes off to save them. Yoda understands how vulnerable this leaves Luke to the seduction of the Dark Side. Though he loves his friends, Luke acts out of fear and attachment.
According to yoga teacher/scholar, A.G. Mohan, all interactions are based on 2 emotions: attachment (I like this.) and aversion (I don’t like that.). These leave traces within our bodies and psyches that Mohan calls, “latent impressions.” These impressions begin to direct our thoughts, habits and impulses.
Luke’s attachment to his friends causes him to act impulsively. He cannot see that this is the Dark Side beckoning him with a trap.
Dancing with the Shadows
I’ve always wondered what would have happened if Luke had entered the domain of evil without his weapons. I imagine it would have gone more like Buddha’s experience under the Bodhi Tree or Jesus’ time in the desert. He might have watched all his fears and hopes swirl around him without attachment or aversion. He may have become Consciousness witnessing Itself.
The gift of movement and meditation practices is the release of intense emotional memories stored in the body to be seen for what they are, just e-motions. movement of energy.
As I have been exploring what I’ve banished to the shadow realms through breath, yoga, dance and martial arts, I have come across deep rage, anger and selfish desire. These manifest in my life as behavior patterns of judgement, resentment, passive-aggression and rudeness.
When I move my body or sit in meditation with awareness of what my dark shadows, I begin to see what lies within these emotions. My rage reveals aversion to separation. Anger reveals attachment to justice. Selfish desire reveals my attachment to Love.
As I witness these emotions and allow them expression through movement, I feel the incredible richness of the human experience.
Gratitude and Love wash away any notion of dark and light as separate.
The Witnessing Consciousness
As you sit here, notice your thoughts, emotions and sensations of the body. What do you notice?
Now, ask yourself who is noticing.
Who is noticing is different that who is labeling what you are experiencing. Can you sense that?
Within you, there is a Witness that simple observes our lives, thoughts and emotions. That is the unchanging aspect of ourselves, the Divine Within.
This Witness does not label or judge us as good or evil. There is only observation.
For me, that is the essence of being a Jedi Master. To be in the presence of both the dark and light without attachment or aversion is the way of finding balance within the Force.
Train like a Jedi
Any training that brings you into present moment experience can release you from the duality of dark and light. With the mind in focused awareness, emotions flow freely through the body into creative expression. The mind watches the thoughts that arise from these emotions and can change these thought patterns. This brings about choice in your behavior.
A.G. Mohan states, “The mental resolution to act on a chosen thought is Sankalpa, intention/resolve.” A Jedi Master has choice that comes from seeing that what we label dark and light as equal. A Jedi can intend his actions. Someone, who has “given in to the Dark Side” has no choice. They have given over to the reactive power of attachment and aversion.
Become aware of your dark side. Free yourself from attachment and aversion. The choice of which side of the Force you dwell in becomes yours.