Jedi Meditation: “Do Not Make Monsters of Your Rivals”

When we as Jedi encounter people who believe things that violate all of our principles, it’s easy dehumanize them, turning them from people into monsters in our minds. There is a strong tendency in our species to ‘other’ that which we do not understand, to make assumptions about experiences and identities that are not our own, and hate that which is different from us; being a Jedi does not make us immune to this behavior. On the contrary, our desire to not fail at placing knowledge over ignorance, and peace over emotion can lead us to ignore these gaping holes in our logic and behavior.

It is excellent Jedi behavior to speak out against injustice, to ask questions about that which we do not understand, and hold people accountable for their actions and words. You don’t have to like or be friends with those people who violate the basic tenets of the Jedi Code. But the Skywalker Creed says “Jedi respect all life”, and that is where we have to draw the line. Respecting all life doesn’t mean getting along happily as one big family, but acknowledging the (often flawed) humanity present in each and every one of us.This does not mean that we should not feel anger, or sadness, or hurt; these are all normal and logical responses to injustice. We may (and sometimes must) fight our rivals, those who would seek to do us or others harm in their actions and words, but nurturing that passion and righteousness into hate is not the Jedi way.

This is the hardest part for many of us. When I see someone act in a way I find morally repugnant, anything from kicking a kitten (to pick an obvious and absurd example) to supporting views like transphobia and sexism (an unfortunately less obvious example for many in this world), it’s hard to not write them off entirely. Although I am not personally or solely responsible for fixing their attitudes, rejecting their humanity, turning them into monsters in my mind does me no favors. It gives them power, and nurtures hatred in my heart that limits my capacity for compassion and empathy for all beings. I become rigid and stagnant in my spirit.

In order to get better at something, we have to practice it. So here is a buddhist loving-kindness meditation (also called metta in the Pali canon) that has worked excellently in the past to help me forgive (but not always forget), and turn the stiff scar-tissue of hurt into healing.

Loving-kindness, or metta, as it in called in the Pali language, is unconditional, inclusive love, a love with wisdom. It has no conditions; it does not depend on whether one “deserves” it or not; it is not restricted to friends and family; it extends out from personal categories to include all living beings. There are no expectations of anything in return. This is the ideal, pure love, which everyone has in potential. We begin with loving ourselves, for unless we have a measure of this unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves, it is difficult to extend it to others. Then we include others who are special to us, and, ultimately, all living things. Gradually, both the visualization and the meditation phrases blend into the actual experience, the feeling of loving kindness.

This is a meditation of care, concern, tenderness, loving kindness, friendship–a feeling of warmth for oneself and others. The practice is the softening of the mind and heart, an opening to deeper and deeper levels of the feeling of kindness, of pure love. Loving kindness is without any desire to possess another. It is not a sentimental feeling of goodwill, not an obligation, but comes from a selfless place. It does not depend on relationships, on how the other person feels about us. The process is first one of softening, breaking down barriers that we feel inwardly toward ourselves, and then those that we feel toward others.

Steven Smith at ContemplativeMind.org

Find a comfortable position, ideally somewhere you can keep your spine straight and you won’t fall asleep. (Remember, it’s ok if you fall asleep meditating, if you were that tired, you probably needed the rest!)

Take a couple deep breaths, in, and out. Feel your lungs expand, and your nervous system start to settle down. Breathe calmly and naturally.

We will begin to wish the universe well, starting with yourself, and expanding outward as far as you can to the edges of the universe. You can speak the following out loud, or say it in your mind. Feel free to linger at any stage of this meditation until you feel ready to move on. Sometimes it takes several repetitions (or many sessions) to make the feeling of metta stick to a specific group of people. Be patient with yourself.

First, focus on yourself.

May I be happy, healthy, and free from inner or outer harm.

Next, pick someone you have uncomplicated, joyous feelings of love for, like a child or a pet.

May ____ be happy, healthy, and free from inner or out harm.

Next, pick someone close to you that you know well, a good friend, a spouse or significant other, a family member.

May ____ be happy, healthy, and free from inner or out harm.

Next up, pick someone you don’t know very well, but have basic friendly feelings for. A coworker, the checkout person at your local grocery store.

May ____ be happy, healthy, and free from inner or out harm.

Next, move to a person or a group of people you have difficult or complex feelings for. An ex, a friend who has wronged you, maybe even someone in the community you are fighting with.

May ____ be happy, healthy, and free from inner or out harm.

Then move your consciousness out and start to think about all living beings, in this room, in this state, in this country, on this planet, until you’re filling the universe with the sensation of pure, unconditional compassion.

May all beings be safe, happy, healthy, and free from inner or out harm.

May all living beings be safe, happy, healthy, and free from inner or out harm.

May all breathing beings be safe, happy, healthy, and free from inner or out harm.

May all individuals be safe, happy, healthy, and free from inner or out harm.

May all beings in existence be safe, happy, healthy, and free from inner or out harm.

Stay here as long as you want. When you are ready, begin to deepen your breathing, wiggle your fingers and toes, and come back to the present.

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