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  • Writer's pictureLama Jigme Gyatso

Lessons from the Prequel Trilogy

A Mystery!

On this planet

there are so many beautiful

Buddhist statues, and Buddhist temples,

and so many beautiful men and women

who are utterly committed

to, the Buddha’s teachings and techniques,

or at least what they were taught they were.

And yet,

by their own admission,

there are so very few,

if any,

who have become buddhas,

in turn.

How did this

come to be?

To understand this

it could be helpful

to use the tales

of the Star Wars galaxy

as a series of similes.

The Jedi did not set out

to be led astray

they were deceived

and confused

and manipulated

by a very cunning and secretive

Sith lord;

a deceptive fellow

who was keenly skilled

at the deceptions

of innocent appearances.

Just as George Lucas

wrote in terms of

the dark side of the force

and its light side as well


more than twenty-five centuries before

Lao Tzu wrote of the yang and the yin,

which although have been translated

as male and female,

I prefer to think of them

in terms of toxic masculinity

and healing femininity.

A great example of healing femininity

from the prequel trilogy

is Jedi Master:

Qui Gon Jinn,

who strove neither

for rank, nor prestige,

but yearned simply

to flow with the force.

Consider his opposite,

the tragic tale

of Anakin Skywalker

who in his greed

for rank, and prestige, and safety

lost everything.

In any organization

there will be those

who fight, and claw, and plot

to attain positions of leadership

and others

who are far more interested

in simply mastering the teachings.

That is how

in every religion

the majority of the positions of power

have come to be occupied

by those who hunger and thirst

for power and for cleverness

infinitely more than they yearn

for love and wisdom.

This perspective of

craving, and controlling,

has skewed their perception

and comprehension

of the Buddha’s teachings.

This becomes evident

upon closer examination

of the most basic

meditation instructions.

We are told to focus

upon an object

such as our breath,

and when we have noticed

that our attention has wavered

they instruct us to drag it back

to our arbitrary object of focus.

Such is the path

of active concentration

and it is in perfect harmony

with Toxic Masculinity’s tendencies

to use force

to modify a situation.

But active concentration

is actually the opposite

of the Buddha’s

seven enlightenment factors

where we are taught

to passively notice

our present moment experience

without analyzing it,

or controlling it,

or modifying it.

We are taught to notice it,

with the utmost vulnerability,

and then to relax into it.

We are taught to marry those two practices

of noticing and relaxing

with our respective inhalations and exhalations

and as we do

just as the interstellar dust

of the cosmic medium

accretes into the massive object

at the center of its nebulous

likewise passively noticing and relaxing

cause our perceptions, and emotions,

and intentions, and calculations,

and recollections, and imaginings

to collect inward

like planets falling into elliptical orbits

around their star.

This is the difference between

active concentration

and passive mindfulness

between the philosophical web-spinning

of contrived cleverness

and the visceral insight

that flows from centered spontaneity.

Long ago the Buddha taught

that the test of the teachings

was not

their age, nor popularity,

nor wealth, nor intellectual appeal,

nor emotional draw.

He taught

that the only valid test of the teachings

were the results they generated

when we applied them

energetically and joyfully

for as little as a week.

Yes, this method is effective,

but for those who value

safety, and convenience

it could seem a dreadful thing.

And thus we have so-called teachers

quoting texts and commentaries

rather than walking in the footsteps

of the great men and women of science

and putting things to the test

and noticing the results

in the laboratory

of their bodies and minds.

And this why

when a great luminary does appear

they do so, typically,

outside institutional settings

in the tradition

of the lone yogi

like Gautama who gave us Anapanasati,

like Prahe Vajra who gave us Mahasandhi,

and like Saraha who gave us Mahamudra.

Although each of these simple

yet powerful techniques

were given by lone yogis

they were rapidly co-opted by institutions:

rigid, and fearful, and aggressive, and controlling.

In the prequel trilogy

it has become evident

that the Jedi order

slipped into the rigidity

of toxic masculinity.

So much so

that it could be argued

that at that time

collectively they were no longer

light side force users

but rather

gray path acolytes.

But we do NOT have to make that mistake

we could choose to follow the example

of Qui Gon Jinn

who in his habitual acquiescence

to the force

chose the centeredness of patience

allowing solutions

to spontaneously appear

and then relaxed effortlessly

into their application.

a simple

call to action

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