This is the library of a Jedi Knight, not as clumsy or random as an eReader, a way of reading from a more elegant, civilized age.
Jedi are not allowed to own things, except a lightsaber and perhaps a few robes, but assuming a frequent and free passing-around of books, this library might be an exception. Like a Padawan heading into the Trials, digest these books well, and you’ll be more of a Jedi than any 10 of your plastic-saber-wielding friends combined.
The Jedi code says “Emotion, yet Peace”. Meaning, your insides may swirl around, but a Jedi can find the calm in the storm. Well, you can’t “keep” the peace, if you don’t have any. Okay, but how? Meditation.
There are many of forms of meditation, from religious traditions all over the galaxy, and some with no religious content, but they are all meant (on some level) to settle your jumpy heart-quivers and pull your diffused ass back into the middle of the Way. But it is tough. Get some instruction from one of these choices and start practicing. There is no substitute, and it will take a while to get good at it, but even badass mofo Mace Windu meditates. Neglect this at your peril, Padawan; you will not pass the Trials without it.
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is the classic text from Suzuki Roshi, who brought Zen to the West. You can’t do better than to start here. A few other approaches from the Buddhist point of view (though not necessarily Zen or observantly Buddhist) are A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield and Loving-Kindness by Sharon Salzberg
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is a good selection from the Christian side of things. Don’t look under Meditation here; the entries in the section on Prayer are closer to the mark. Try Centering Prayer or Contemplative Prayer.
You might even take a dive into Evelyn Underhill’s Practical Mysticism. Deep waters. Anything in the way of mysticism is Qui Gon Jinn territory.
Or perhaps Meditation and Kabbalah from Aryeh Kaplan from a particular Jewish perspective. I think Jews might make the best Jedi. After all, as I think we implied in another post, Jesus had some very strong Jediic tendencies. (And the disciples owned only a couple robes and maybe a walking stick with which they may or may not have been able to deflect blasters.)
Whatever path of meditation you take, you gotta find a way to regularly cool your jets and take a spritzer bottle to your mental white board. It’s more than zoning out, it’s less than taking monastic vows.
This is not your best bet, but it will help you clear your mind right now.
All that meditation will no doubt lead to better awareness, both internally and externally. A Jedi will add techniques to hone that into tactical and situational awareness.
Left of Bang from Patrick Van Horne and Jason A Riley contains a system for quickly analyzing any situation and being prepared for surprises. On a timeline where a centerpoint called “bang” is the dangerous event, “right” is after the event, ie – too late. That leaves “left” as before the event. That’s where you want to be. This book gives you the tools.
Say a Wookie walks into Starbucks wearing a doo rag. Makes sense: he’s keeping his fur out of his eyes, and maybe he just likes the look of it. He does look pretty cool. He checks out; keep scanning the room. But then a Jawa comes in wearing a tennis visor. That should spike your awareness: Why is he wearing a tennis visor? Is he keeping the sun out of his eyes? No – He’s already wearing a hood, like all Jawas do. It doesn’t fit, so something might be up. Keep an eye on him and go ahead and formulate a quick plan on how to protect the droids in the room, just in case. Awareness leads to preparedness: you are now left of bang.
Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making by Gary Klein is about the tension between rational and intuitional decision making. Sometimes analyzing facts works; sometimes reacting to your gut feeling works. Learn to know when is when. (If you squint and tilt your head sideways, you can almost see in this dichotomy the tension between the Unifying Force and the Living Force.)
Fitness. No matter if you can levitate spaceships out of swamps or throw random electrical appliances across maintenance hallways with your force-skills, you gotta be fit. Jedi don’t sit around inhaling Frito pies. All that said, there are a million workout routines easily accessible from the comfort of your own browser. What is most important is to get a solid underlying knowledge of technique so that you can sift out the nonsense. Don’t thrash yourself with improper form. This is not about the actual shape of your body; this is not “cosmetic”. If you’re big, so be it – you just need to be able to move. This is about fitness.
First, a fair number of Jedi have relatively dull assignments: archivists, robe tailors, temple receptionist, etc.. These require long periods of keeping a Force-sensitive tush in a plastic chair at a desk. No bueno for the bod. The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds will help counteract the negative effects of this dutiful, relative immobility. Get started here, and when your lifestyle is changed a bit, you can move on to the heavier hitters.
Try Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength from Steven Low. From body mechanics to goal-setting to injury prevention/recovery, this will teach you how to make smart training decisions and sense disturbances in the Force, like when your personal trainer is full of Sith lies.
For weightlifting, you need Mark Rippetoe’s classic Starting Strength. This system is about whole body strength, not just grapefruity biceps and man-boob pecs. Those weird, persistent aches and pains you got trying to fill out that t-shirt? That’s cuz you did it wrong. And girl – don’t worry about “thigh-gap”. Just make sure your thighs got burst and stamina.
Joe Friel’s The Triathlete’s Training Bible is hitting the cardio at a high level, even if you have no intention of running a triathlon. You need to build your endurance. If you want to incorporate a race into your training a Tough Mudder or other obstacle race provides a more wholistic approach than a triathlon. But beware of getting caught up in the emotion of the “adventure” and “thrills”; a Jedi craves not these things.
Along this line of thought, you can almost view The Obstacle is the Way from Ryan Holiday as a book length explication of these aspects of the Jedi code: “Emotion, yet Peace… Passion, yet Serenity… Chaos, yet Harmony”. The fallacy is to think that Jedi do not have emotions (this stems from another slightly misleading form of the code, which reads “There is no Emotion, there is only Peace, etc.” Because there is emotion – even if you’re Vulcan), but it is truer to say that a Jedi controls their emotions. This book provides reasons and techniques for this art of not flipping out when it would be 100% normal to flip out. Here you will learn how to control your reactions, to assess coolly and to snatch opportunity from the maw of apparent doom. A Jedi with the habit of spazzing out will quickly slip into red lightsaber territory, aka Anakin “I Kilt Them” Skywalker.
The most surprising thing on this Jedi shelf is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s not that this book falls into the bullshit-self-help category; in fact, it’s one of the rare self-helpers that does not fall into that category. It’s surprising to find it in this library because you’d think a Jedi was born disciplined. Well, maybe some are. But like the 7th habit states, “Sharpen the saw”. This can help you isolate the less-disciplined parts of your approach, if any chunks of your saw are dull. The humility and discipline of being a Jedi means that you continue to train and learn.
The so-called “Jedi mind trick” is a more advanced technique that can’t be taught from a book. But you can aquire some technique that could at least help in diplomatic situations. Look at Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds by Kevin Dutton. Just remember that your job is to protect and serve, not wrangle free pizzas with a subtle turn of phrase. Use your power humbly and for good.
As you can see, becoming a Jedi and practicing the Jedi arts involves a great deal of internal work, alongside the external training. Do you really think you can force push a coffee cup by straining the muscles in your hand? Nope. There’s something else going on, something much deeper. You can put in the work, or you can just shoot the damn thing with your blaster.
You must choose.
EPISODE 7 IS ONLY ONE MONTH AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!