No Place to Park in the Grand Drama of Existence

A few years ago, I took a self-development course to clear out some of the “dark matter” in my psyche. My efforts met with enormous success. At the end of the course, a piece of the infinite burst into my mind and landed like a grenade rolling through my astonished thoughts. For hours, I walked around the hall beating my head against the desire to explain what this was, fully aware that it couldn’t go on like this forever, wondering if that grenade was going to go off; nevertheless, I kept exclaiming internally, “This is it! I want it! I want it! How can I tell anybody what this is?” Pulling at my hair because, you know, infinity does not run out and there is no place to park and regroup. Fortunately, the grenade did not go off and I am relatively sane at this moment though I know infinity is in there just behind the shadows of my thinking. How do I explain this thing? Impossible to do as everybody knows; nevertheless, once more into the breach! 

One of the reasons, I believe, that many Star Wars fans were disappointed in the three prequals to the original trilogy was that the mystery of the Jedi and the force got lost in the outer landscape of the sprawling capital city, the aerial traffic, alien races, rogue generals and their wars, a senate the size of a small city, and Jedi sitting around in chairs making political and military decisions. Contrast those scenes with Luke Skywalker crash landing on a dark, swampy planet and coming across the wisest Jedi of them all. Was it just one of those things Luke arriving there? Surrounded by an impenetrable environment, Luke takes his first deliberate steps in opening to the force. 

Both movies created by the new owners of the Star Wars legacy have been about, in my view, restoring the mystery of the force and revealing that mystery at work. Witness the last scenes of The Force Awakens. And what follows here:

In Rogue One, the spiritual force of the story is carried by Chirrut Imwe, (pictured above) a blind Jedi out on his own whose life mantra is, “I am one with the force, and the force is with me.” His companion, Baze Malbus, is armed to the teeth and thinks that he is the one protecting his blind friend. At the end of the story, he realizes that the force has always been working through him, including bringing him and his friend to their deaths when their roles are complete. He has been the blind one. The other characters, including Jyn Urso and her father, who carry the emotional weight of the story and a major Star Wars theme of reconciliation of child and parent, know little about the force. Nevertheless, all who are on the mission sacrifice themselves to the intent within the force of extracting a piece of information from the mind of the dark side of the force and transmitting it to the forces of light. In Rogue One, the force is at work in everything, whether one is conscious of it or no. “I am one with the force, and the force is with me.” 

If you have pitched your tent on the landscape of light and dark with Jyn and Cassian as one of the good guys protesting the evils of the day, then the question to you is this: “Are you available to the force?” Protesting evil is easy. Just roll down the window and shout. If you are ready to dive into the deep, swift flowing currents of the force, realize that there is no dark side and there are no exits, including death, except the ocean of being. “I am one with the force, and the force is with me.”

Now transport yourself to ancient Egypt and Pharaoh holding the Hebrew people in slavery as depicted in Exodus. This is the story of an ancient Jedi who is one with the force, as we see in his attitudes and behaviors. It seems not to bother Moses that it is the Lord who is hardening Pharaoh’s heart every time Moses pleads with him to relent. He never questions the Lord about the devastation of the plagues, and he effortlessly absorbs the people’s doubts when they become fearful of the whole idea of leaving Egypt. He has his moments of uncertainty, but they do not last long. The Lord shares things with Moses only as needed, such as parting the Red Sea at the last moment when Pharaoh’s army is rushing toward them and the people are beginning to panic. Clearly, Moses has become one with the force. He doesn’t have to understand the whys and wherefores. Once he saw the burning bush, he was all in. 

Not the same, you say. But hold on. Both the millennia old story of Moses and the decades old story of Luke Skywalker are waves of thought passing hand in hand as equals through the mind right now. If you get this point, then the mental barricades will begin to crumble. Think of formal religion as being like the three prequel movies, important people sitting around talking about important things, large numbers of deciders of what should and shouldn’t be, arguments over group membership requirements, wars and violence, etc. Now think Luke alone with Yoda on a dark and swampy planet; then think Moses alone on Sinai with the Lord. Once you unwrap the vast mental landscapes filled with epic stories, images, sounds, shapes, smells, textures, and grand personages, you realize that all of it is just the soul-grabbing geology of thought; and that whether generated by theology or fantasy, there is the unseen mystery of spirit playing itself out every moment and in everything, including your thoughts about Luke and Moses. Here is the decisive moment: Luke and Yoda, Moses and the Lord; they are showing it to you right now, standing on the rocky shores of your mind, dripping wet with the infinite mystery out of which they and everything else are arising. 

I cannot show you the thing itself or even convince you that all of this is real, but I can ask this, “Are you available to participate in the grand drama of existence, or would you rather just buy a ticket to a Star Wars movie, munch popcorn, and pretend that what you see on the screen is not about you?” In eternity with no place to park, it’s all good; yet here and now, there is that nagging question of what is going on in the bottomless caverns of you.