So I know Yoda is a Jedi Master and all that, but he’s got something wrong. One of his most favourite claims — “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try,'” — has a big hole in it.
I get his point: Words have power and the word try carries a defeatist attitude. But he’s suggesting that if you make enough of an effort to achieve a goal, you should be able to reach that goal. And that if you fail, your effort or conviction was lacking.
That certainly hasn’t been my reality. Sometimes I try my best, yet I still experience failure. There are often external factors that are part of the ‘success’ equation. To conclude we are to be blamed for our failures is to be denying ourselves of the acceptance and self-compassion we all deserve. It’s difficult enough for adults to grapple with these issues. Imagine how difficult it is for children.
I want my nieces and nephews to know that if they try to reach a goal, but can’t achieve it, that’s OK. Regardless of whether they win or lose, they are still amazing; their self-worth is not determined by achievement. By learning to simply enjoy the game as they’re playing it, they’ve already won…
Recently I’ve been dealing with change; much of which is significant. The end of an old relationship, the beginning of new ones, my living situation, changing significant aspects of my career, etc… Often in my past, I’ve become overwhelmed with this amount of change. The feeling of wanting “a safe place to stand” would arise. I would feel desperate to find that safe place where I could rest my head in order to calm my fears.
For some reason, although much uncertainty exists currently, I am finding that these said insecurities are not transforming into the paralyzing fear they once did. Somehow, instead, I am able to maintain a calm mind, allowing me to make new, proactive choices. This of course, is due to my ability to surrender to the nature of impermanence; something that even a year ago, I wasn’t nearly as skilled at doing.
I’ve kind of had it “up to here” with spiritual materialism: people spending $200.00 on yoga outfits, the abundance of self-proclaimed gurus taking ancient Eastern spiritual principles and repackaging them into fragmented Cole’s notes versions, and films that suggest if we simply repeat our daily affirmations we’ll attract the perfect partner and a high paying job. And if it doesn’t attract them, we must be doing it wrong. Suddenly, personal growth is all about outcome. Everybody’s jumping on the spiritual bandwagon. But hey, it’s hip. It’s cool. It’s fun. Let’s all chant, “Namaste,” together!
I don’t know . . . Personally, my spiritual path hasn’t always been so hip, cool and fun. It has often felt beautiful, but along that path there has also been pain. When I was in my early 20s being spiritual wasn’t hip at all. I spent my evenings hanging out with people 30 years older than I was in Buddhist and meditation classes. I remember feeling isolated, with my mind full of questions, wanting to share my path so desperately. I felt such frustration that everyone my own age was hanging out in bars getting wasted instead of wanting to discuss concepts such as impermanence and emptiness. It was a lonely time. Even now, I consider myself a happy person, but my current path is by no means a simple one.