Thursday, June 13, 2013
Turning Failure Into Success
Hyatt and Gottlieb assert, "Failure does not lie in the event; it lies in the judgment of the event." For instance, William L. Shirer felt devastated when he was fired by CBS; it seemed like his once-promising career had been derailed but he learned to view what happened not as a setback but rather as an opportunity to pursue other goals:
"In the final analysis it has to do with what your values are. I was never ambitious to be vice president in charge of news or the number one person in status or pay. I was not ambitious to be more than a good journalist and a good writer. My inner life was the most important thing for me. That, and the value of the work itself. The main thing is living with yourself.
In the end, getting fired from CBS was a blessing, which I did not appreciate for a long time. What it set me to doing was what I had always wanted to do, which was to write books. When you're working for a big paper or a big network and you're making a lot of money, you keep putting off the time you are going to write that big book."
Shirer spent nearly 10 years writing The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, draining his savings and persevering despite the objections of friends and colleagues who told him that no one would buy a 1200 page book about this topic. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich sold out its entire first printing on the day it was released and it became the top selling book in the history of the Book-of-the-Month-Club. Shirer transformed what looked like failure at CBS into a great success story.
In addition to refocusing one's external direction after a setback, one can also refocus one's internal perspective; as Hyatt and Gottlieb put it, "Excellence of craft is the issue, not reviews or medals." Do what you do because you are passionate about doing it, not because you are seeking money and/or praise.
Actress Barbara Babcock told Hyatt and Gottlieb about her mentality:
"For me the most important part of my career is the process, not the result. The most satisfying stage is generally the rehearsal, working on a role rather than performing it. That is one of the ways I have coped with the concept of failure. I think failure is always goal-oriented--what has happened as a result, and not the process of getting there. I measure myself against the process--did I do the scene well? Did I find something interesting about the character? Did the moment feel alive for me? These are the satisfactions that sustain me."
Hyatt and Gottlieb point out that this approach can be applied to any walk of life: "Even in sports, it's a matter of balance, of perspective. The striving for success, the fierce desire to win, have to coexist, with a larger sense of self, an acceptance of the possibility of loss, an understanding that neither winning nor losing are the real measures of ourselves."
Julius Erving endured six years of frustrating playoff setbacks before winning an NBA championship and throughout that period he stayed true to his core belief: "I've always tried to tell myself that the work itself is the thing, that win, lose or draw, the work is really what counts. As hard as it was to make myself believe that sometimes, it was the only thing I had to cling to every year--that every game, every night, I did the best I could."
Hyatt and Gottlieb note, "You cannot prevent failure because you cannot control results. But you can control process. You can learn to become involved in what you do in a different way, so that your emphasis is on the pride and pleasure you take in the work rather than on the results. In doing that, you will have changed the basis for measuring your own success and failure."
Benjamin Barber, a political science professor at Rutgers, told Hyatt and Gottlieb that the most important trait is the ability/willingness to learn and grow:
"I don't divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures, those who make it or those who don't. I don't even divide the world into the extroverted and the introverted, or those who hear the inner voice or the outer voice, because we all hear some of both.
I divide the world into learners and nonlearners.
There are people who learn, who are open to what happens around them, who listen, who hear the lessons. When they do something stupid, they don't do it again. And when they do something that works a little bit, they do it even better and harder the next time.
The question to ask is not whether you are a success or a failure, but whether you are a learner or a nonlearner."
Hyatt and Gottlieb conclude, "If you refuse to feel like a victim, if you take responsibility for your life, if you understand that you can change, you begin to act differently. And once you begin to act differently, other people begin to perceive you differently, other people begin to perceive you in a powerful, not powerless, way."
Saturday, June 8, 2013
The Good Inclination and the Bad Inclination
In the Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within," a transporter malfunction splits Captain James Kirk into two separate people, a "good" Kirk and a "bad" Kirk. The "good" Kirk turns out to be an ineffective Captain because even though he desperately wants to do the right thing he lacks the strength of will to make tough command decisions, while the "evil" Kirk is so corrupted by his uncontrolled lust for power and sex that he is too ruthless and self-centered to be an effective Captain. Both sides of Captain Kirk's personality--what Jewish philosophy calls the yetzer hatov (good inclination) and the yetzer hara (evil inclination)--are essential for him to be a great leader but the secret to Captain Kirk's greatness is that both sides balance each other; however, it is one thing for a fictional character to maintain such balance and quite another thing for a person to maintain such balance in real life.
I am not the first person to observe that the plot of "The Enemy Within" depicts the conflict between yetzer hara and yetzer hatov (and there is at least one other Jewish element in Star Trek: Leonard Nimoy borrowed the now-famous Vulcan "Live Long and Prosper" hand sign from the Jewish Priestly Blessing); David Holzel writes, "Viewed through a Jewish lens, this episode is an allegory of a man whose yetzer hara, or evil inclination, is split from his yetzer hatov, or good inclination...Far from a demonic force that needs to be destroyed, yetzer hara represents creativity, ambition and will. It is more morally neutral than its name suggests...Yetzer hara is our sneaking suspicion, or out-and-out conviction, that this life is all there is. It pulls us from the holy to the corporeal. To defy death, our yetzer hara stirs us to build monuments to ourselves--families, businesses, works of art. These, we know, will survive us. (Why else do captains of the starship Enterprise leave detailed mission logs? Why else are there reruns?)."
Just as the yetzer hara is not a manifestation of pure evil, the yetzer hatov is not a manifestation of pure good; Holzel quotes a rabbi who warns that the two inclinations must be in balance, because "Too much [yetzer hatov] leads to premature saintliness. If one is overly righteous, one is likely to become suicidal." Trying to make perfect decisions that lead to 100% positive outcomes in all possible scenarios is a recipe for disaster whether you are the fictional Captain Kirk or whether you are facing tough choices in your personal and/or professional life; doing the best you can do and then accepting the outcome is a recipe for maximizing one's likelihood for success. "Do your best" is one of the themes of Don Miguel Ruiz' "The Four Agreements":
"Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
Doing your best means enjoying the action without expecting a reward. The pleasure comes from doing what you like in life and having fun, not from how much you get paid. Enjoy the path traveled and the destination will take care of itself."
It is possible to make a subtle but significant shift in one's mindset, to change one's goal from seeking perfection to having a wider perspective: "Striving for greatness is important and meaningful but there can be a high price to pay for such striving and few people who attain greatness avoid paying for it in some fashion; that does not mean that anyone should settle for mediocrity but rather that those who strive for greatness must have tremendous self-awareness and must concentrate on maintaining proper balance mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically."
During "The Enemy Within," Dr. McCoy tells the "good" Kirk, "The intelligence, the logic. It appears your half has most of that. And perhaps that's where man's essential courage comes from." Mr. Spock has a deep understanding of such inner conflicts: "Being split in two halves is no theory with me, doctor. I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half, submerged, constantly at war with each other. Personal experience, doctor. I survive it because my intelligence wins over both, makes them live together."
There is a very fine line between a winning life strategy and a losing one; the tools for a winning life strategy include intelligence, logic, the subtle yet vital distinction between seeking perfection/having a wider perspective and "adaptability in the face of serious survival challenges."
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Whatever Happened to Sheena Easton?
Easton's debut single was 1980's "Modern Girl":
Sheena Easton - Modern Girl Live by rvdgu2006
Easton's single "9 to 5"--which was retitled "9 to 5 (Morning Train)" in the United States to avoid any confusion with Dolly Parton's 1980 number one hit--reached number three on the UK Billboard chart and that success elevated "Modern Girl" to top 10 status in the UK after the earlier single was re-released. Easton became the first woman to simultaneously have two top 10 UK singles. "9 to 5 (Morning Train)" also became Easton's first and only Billboard Hot 100 number one hit:
Sheena Easton - Morning Train (Nine To Five) by SheenaEaston-Official
Her rendition of the theme song for the 1981 James Bond movie "For Your Eyes Only" was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe in 1982; it peaked at number four on the Hot 100 chart and number six on the Adult Contemporary chart and it is on the short list of best Bond theme songs ever:
"You Could Have Been With Me," released shortly after "For Your Eyes Only," peaked at number 15 on the Hot 100 chart and number six on the Adult Contemporary chart. Any spurned lover who feels like his or her former partner has made a mistake can identify with the piercing lyrics delivered by Easton on this track:
Easton teamed up with Kenny Rogers on a number one Country hit in 1983, "We've Got Tonight":
She soon followed that success with "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)," which reached number nine on the Dance chart in 1983:
Sheena Easton Telefone by Celtiemama
"Strut," which peaked at number seven on the 1984 Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the U.S. Dance chart, signaled a shift for Easton toward songs featuring lyrics that were more sexually suggestive:
Sheena Easton - Strut by SheenaEaston-Official
Prince--using the pen name Alexander Nevermind--penned "Sugar Walls" for Easton and that single became her first and only number one Dance hit; it also was listed by the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) as one of the "Filthy Fifteen" songs. In 1987, Easton teamed up with Prince on the duet "U Got the Look," which reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and thus became the highest charting single from Prince's "Sign O' the Times" album. Easton was not listed on the credits when the single was released but she appeared very prominently in the song's video:
Prince Sheena Easton U Got the Look by docfromcpt
Between 1980 and 1988, Easton had eight top 10 singles on the Hot 100 chart but after "The Lover in Me" peaked at number two in 1988 only two of her next 22 singles were listed in the Hot 100: "Arms of Orion" (a duet with Prince that is featured on the 1989 Batman soundtrack) peaked at number 36 and 1991's "What Comes Naturally" peaked at number 19.
Since 1990, Easton has periodically released new music plus some compilation albums; Easton's 1993 album "No Strings" includes her cover version of "The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else":
Recently, she has focused on theater work, voice-acting and performing in various venues in Las Vegas, her current residence; in 2004 she was inducted into the Casino Legends Hall of Fame.
Here is Easton performing "For Your Eyes Only" at a 2012 concert in Chicago:
Labels: For Your Eyes Only, Modern Girl, Morning Train, Prince, Sheena Easton, Strut, Sugar Walls, Telefone, The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else, U Got the Look, We've Got Tonight, You Could Have Been With Me
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
appreciating e.e. cummings
This is my favorite Cummings poem:
if up's the word;and a world grows greener
minute by second and most by more-
if death is the loser and life is the winner
(and beggars are rich but misers are poor)
-let's touch the sky:
with a to and a fro
(and a here there where)and away we go
in even the laziest creature among us
a wisdom no knowledge can kill is astir-
now dull eyes are keen and now keen eyes are keener
(for young is the year,for young is the year)
-let's touch the sky:
with a great(and a gay
and a steep)deep rush through amazing day
it's brains without hearts have set saint against sinner;
put gain over gladness and joy under care-
let's do as an earth which can never do wrong does
(minute by second and most by more)
-let's touch the sky:
with a strange(and a true)
and a climbing fall into far near blue
if beggars are rich(and a robin will sing his
robin a song)but misers are poor-
let's love until noone could quite be(and young is
the year,dear)as living as i'm and as you're
-let's touch the sky:
with a you and a me
and an every(who's any who's some)one who's we
I love the couplet "in even the laziest creature among us/a wisdom no knowledge can kill is astir"; it conjures two images for me: one image is that of a seemingly "slow" person who shines and thrives if someone takes the time to patiently teach him and the other image is of a person who retains his wisdom even after enduring 12 years of being force-fed all of the "knowledge" that the American public education system purports to dispense. Cummings saw that there is inherent wisdom--and worth--inside every person, regardless of that person's seemingly "lazy" disposition and regardless of the way that certain experiences may have dulled that wisdom/concealed that worth.
Cummings' poetry challenges readers in a way that was once widely considered enchanting but his reputation has not grown after his passing, perhaps because readers no longer want to be challenged. Cummings anticipated that his writings--and what he called "The New Art" in general--might not be well received by some audiences. During a Harvard commencement address that he delivered in 1915 at just 20 years of age, Cummings presciently predicted that the "fakirs and fanatics" would not view with favor works of art that explore methods, emotions and concepts that fall outside of the norm. In an article titled "Make it Newish" (May 2005, Harper's Magazine), Wyatt Mason explains, "Cummings had come to issue a corrective to an audience ignorant of any error."
Cummings hoped that society would embrace art that challenges preconceptions and that reveals new ways to look at the world but society instead lurched in the opposite direction. More than 30 years ago, Jerzy Kosinski lamented how much people rely on "The constant companionship of distracting devices" and he warned that we are becoming a nation of "videots." Kosinski decried what we would now call "reality" TV before the concept had even devolved into its current form and he told interviewer David Sohn, "I look at the children who spend five or six hours watching television every day, and I notice that when in groups they cannot interact with each other. They are terrified of each other; they develop secondary anxiety characteristics. They want to watch, they don't want to be spoken to. They want to watch, they don't want to talk. They want to watch, they don't want to be asked questions or singled out."
"Videots" will not take the time or expend the effort to untangle Cummings' unorthodox poetic structures; they will not read slowly enough and with enough concentration to discern the method underlying what superficially seems like random, chaotic madness. Cummings sought poetic/artistic truth and such a quest is out of step with a society that values "reality" TV over poetry, artistry or truth.
After describing Cummings' compositional methods, Mason's article discusses three major biographies of Cummings. Mason considers Charles Norman's The Magic-Maker "an affectionate profile" but notes that its objectivity is somewhat compromised due to the heavy influence that Cummings exerted on the composition of the book's final draft. Mason praises Richard S. Kennedy's Dreams in the Mirror for not only being exhaustively researched but also for being very well written. Mason finds strong evidence of plagiarism in Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno's E.E. Cummings: a biography; Mason demonstrates that Sawyer-Laucanno used Kennedy's research without proper attribution and even directly lifted several passages from Kennedy's book while only making very slight changes to the text. Few crimes are more destructive than theft; no community can tolerate rampant theft, which is why even in the animal kingdom thiefs are treated quite harshly: it is understandable--if a bit extreme to civilized minds--why some societies sanction that a thief's hands should be cut off. The theft of someone's ideas/intellectual property is particularly egregious; such theft deeply violates the victim and reveals the moral emptiness of the victimizer. Mason notes how ironic it is that deception runs rampant throughout a book about a writer who was so devoted to artistic truth and so passionate about creating unique works. Mason soberly ponders what this means:
It tells us that we are drowning in information--unreliable information, shoddy information, wrong information. It tells us that, as a culture, literary or otherwise, we are letting our ignorance lead us. Ignorance is nothing more than an indifference to what is before us; we have only to pay attention--and we are paying attention in a way, but to pretty noise, the newer the better. Pound knew this, and Cummings knew this, and they tried to devise a means by which we might pay better attention to our world. The pictured caves of the Dordogne marked by prehistoric hands; the tattered verses once sung by a girl with a lyre; a tapestry that tells of a thousand-year-old battle upon which a certain comet may be seen, bright as any star: these delicate things are evidence, proofs that others like us looked at the world once. These are the sources of ourselves, our truest fossil record. The Modernists feared we were burying this record and, with that burial, losing what was best in us under waves of what was worst. They set out to help us remember. But, of course, Modernism failed. It never had a chance.
Put even more simply, one could note that there are hundreds of cable/satellite TV channels available but most of them broadcast nothing more than "pretty noise, the newer the better." U.S. Chess Champion/philosophy professor Stuart Rachels expresses a similar sentiment in different words, decrying America's "deeply engrained anti-intellectualism." That anti-intellectualism explains why "Modernism...never had a chance"; our society does not train people to savor the joys of thinking and the merits of sustained concentration: anything that cannot be tweeted in 140 characters or less must not be important--or so we have been told (brainwashed).
Monday, May 13, 2013
Whatever Happened to Jeru the Damaja?
JERU THE DAMAJA - Come Clean by homhom
"Come Clean" features Jeru's trademark free verse couplets, including these two gems:
I'm a true master you can check my credentials
'Cause I choose to use my infinite potential
My attack is purely mental and its nature's not hate
It's meant to wake ya up out of ya brainwashed state
Jeru's second album, "The Wrath of the Math," peaked at number three on the R&B chart. The single "Ya Playin' Yaself" urges listeners to focus on "knowledge, wisdom, understanding," words that are repeated throughout the song; here are some of the lyrics:
Knowledge, wisdom, understanding like King Solomon's wealth
You're a player but only because you be playin' yourself...
The race is on, but I won't compete
In this competition, because I have a greater mission
I hope that you listen
Knowledge, wisdom and understanding brings long life
And health, think anything else and ya playin' yaself
It is interesting to note that the Hebrew acronym Chabad--which is the name adopted by one of the Hasidic movements in Orthodox Judaism--refers to Chochmah, Binah and Da'at, meaning Wisdom, Understanding and Knowledge. Knowingly or not, Jeru delivered a quintessentially Jewish message--intellectual/spiritual development is more important than the accumulation of material wealth--that needs to be heard by all of humanity.
In an October 2009 interview, Jeru explained that he "wrote the whole treatment for 'Ya Playin' Yaself' and came up with the concept." Jeru has studied the martial arts, so the "Ya Playin' Yaself" video includes martial arts set pieces while presenting a message favoring the pursuit of long term enlightenment over the pursuit of short term frivolity:
"The Wrath of the Math" also included a brief track titled "Tha Bulls--t," a raw declaration of war against anyone who values commerce over art:
Jump up in my Rolls Royce, top choice
Make 'em holler, everything I do is for a dollar
F--k being civilized, I got dollar signs in my eyes
One day I'll fall but for now, I'll rise
The end of the song makes it clear that Jeru is not promoting such a decadent lifestyle but in fact considers such a world view to be a nightmare vision that he would not want his children to follow. With those lyrics, Jeru the Damaja rejects the assumption that the primary purpose of life is just to accumulate more and more toys and he seeks to reclaim Hip Hop as a poetic art form as opposed to a crass celebration of "gangsta" life. Visit any bookstore or music store or just glance at the bestseller lists in either genre and it is easy to find many examples of the shoddy work that Jeru the Damaja passionately decries--and not just in Hip Hop; works that display technical craftsmanship and that contain enduring artistic/intellectual worth are exceedingly rare.
Jeru's talents are not limited to music; he is also a photographer. Jeru the Damaja has not appeared on any U.S. Billboard charts since the 1990s but he is still producing music and he is still entertaining his fans worldwide. His November 20, 2012 post at JerutheDamaja.com explains his current activities (the quoted passage retains the original spelling and punctuation):
While other guys are Stressing getting their song played on hot whatever, or thinking they made it because they have a hundred thousand followers on twitter, I have millions of loyal fans worldwide and this number increases daily. Actually, I take that back...theses people are not fans, they're family! who have, and continue to support me in all musical endeavors.
See, I'm like a stealth bomber flying under the radar. Dropping bombs on my targets whenever and wherever I please. It's the classic case of, if a tree falls in the forest. Just because you didn't see it or hear it doesn't mean that it didn't take place or had some type of huge effect on something you know nothing about. For example... I have records with dudes all over the world you never heard of, Those same records are platinum in those countries with millions of hits on youtube.
Disregard the few random typos and focus on the larger message: Jeru the Damaja is pursuing his artistic vision on his own terms, expressing himself creatively without paying attention to what the "mainstream" critics and charts say.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Express Yourself/Free Hugs
The first time that I heard this song, I thought that James Brown was the lead vocalist but "Express Yourself" is actually a 1971 hit (peaking at #3 on the Billboard R&B chart) by Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.
"Express Yourself" played in the background of one of the all-time classic NBA commercials--an episode in the Nike "Barbershop" series featuring Chris Webber, Latrell Sprewell and Charles Barkley:
The Dunk, the Commercial--and the Aftermath
Words to live by from "Express Yourself":
You don't never need help from nobody else
All you got to do now:
Some people have everything, and other people don't
But everything don't mean a thing if it ain't the thing you want
Friday, April 19, 2013
Don Miguel Ruiz' Five Levels of Attachment and Four Agreements
Frank Herbert's Whipping Star contains an interesting quote: "If you say 'I understand,' what have you done? You made a value judgment." Assuming that you understand what another person is saying involves an act of interpretation that may not be correct. As Yoda said to Luke Skywalker, "You must unlearn what you have learned"; sometimes knowledge can be a prison if that knowledge is used to form preconceptions that prevent us from looking at the big picture.
After reading The Five Levels of Attachment, I researched some of Ruiz' earlier work and I came across his 1997 book The Four Agreements. Those agreements are:
Be Impeccable with Your Word
"Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Impeccable means 'without sin' and a sin is something you do or believe that goes against yourself. It means not speaking against yourself, to yourself or to others. It means not rejecting yourself. To be impeccable means to take responsibility for yourself, to not participate in 'the blame game.'
Regarding the word, the rules of 'action-reaction' apply. What you put out energetically will return to you. Proper use of the word creates proper use of energy, putting out love and gratitude perpetuates the same in the universe. The converse is also true.
Impeccability starts at home. Be impeccable with yourself and that will reflect in your life and your relationships with others. This agreement can help change thousands of other agreements, especially ones that create fear instead of love."
Don't Take Anything Personally
"Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
We take things personally when we agree with what others have said. If we didn't agree, the things that others say would not affect us emotionally. If we did not care about what others think about us, their words or behavior could not affect us.
Even if someone yells at you, gossips about you, harms you or yours, it still is not about you! Their actions and words are based on what they believe in their personal dream.
Our personal 'Book of Law' and belief system makes us feel safe. When people have beliefs that are different from our own, we get scared, defend ourselves, and impose our point of view on others. If someone gets angry with us it is because our belief system is challenging their belief system and they get scared. They need to defend their point of view. Why become angry, create conflict, and expend energy arguing when you are aware of this?"
Don't Make Assumptions
"Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
When we make assumptions it is because we believe we know what others are thinking and feeling. We believe we know their point of view, their dream. We forget that our beliefs are just our point of view based on our belief system and personal experiences and have nothing to do with what others think and feel.
We make the assumption that everybody judges us, abuses us, victimizes us, and blames us the way we do ourselves. As a result we reject ourselves before others have the chance to reject us. When we think this way, it becomes difficult to be ourselves in the world.
Take action and be clear to others about what you want or do not want; do not gossip and make assumptions about things others tell you. Respect other points of view and avoid arguing just to be right. Respect yourself and be honest with yourself. Stop expecting the people around you to know what is in your head."
Always Do Your Best
"Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
Doing your best means enjoying the action without expecting a reward. The pleasure comes from doing what you like in life and having fun, not from how much you get paid. Enjoy the path traveled and the destination will take care of itself.
Living in the moment and releasing the past helps us to do the best we can in the moment. It allows us to be fully alive right now, enjoying what is present, not worrying about the past or the future.
Have patience with yourself. Take action. Practice forgiveness. If you do your best always, transformation will happen as a matter of course."
Many elements of Ruiz' Agreements are similar to the Jedi philosophy; Yoda counsels Luke Skywalker to avoid attachments and to simply feel the Force, to become one with the way that the Force binds all life forms together. The three epigraphs in my article about Garret Kramer's Stillpower also express this outlook:
Luke Skywalker: "But how am I to know the good side from the bad?"
Yoda: "You will know...when you are calm, at peace, passive."--Dialogue from "The Empire Strikes Back"
"In war, as in life, there is a wrong way and a right way to compete. Avoid danger and greed. Embrace concentration and awareness. And when it becomes inevitable--let go."--Kwai Chang Caine, "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues"
"Colors blind; Sound deafens; Beauty beguiles; the enemy of stillness is desire. Eliminate desire, and the truth will become clear."--Kwai Chang Caine, "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues"
Before Luke Skywalker made his fateful walk into the "domain of evil" cave on Dagobah, he asked Yoda what was in the cave and Yoda responded, "Only what you take with you." The world sometimes seems like a "domain of evil" but ultimately we each find what we take with us: if we take with us anger, fear and weapons then we will find strife, despair and conflict. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never attack, and that is how each of us should use our own powers and gifts; fight for what is important--be willing to die for it if necessary--but do not fight for the sake of fighting or turn every situation into a struggle when it is possible to take a less confrontational approach.
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