Yoda’s Wisdom for the Masses
We Movement folk seem to have a lot in common regarding a select few things that are not related to exercise. Mainly, Starwars, Batman and other superheroes. This is not strange at all–great minds, birds of a feather, etc.
That said, in the Starwars category, we could all learn a lot from our Jedi friend Yoda, if we stop and think about what he offers up, be it in fitness, or life.
One of my favorite quotes from the Jedi regards death. “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is.”
Speaking to a young Anakin Skywalker on the death of his mother, Yoda offers some words of wisdom that we could all do well to heed. The Buddhist view on death is kind of similar to the Jedi view. Both views have a very cyclical quality, and both do not signify an ending as we see it. In Buddhist thought, the deceased party will keep on circling the wheel of Samsara in a cosmic (and Karmic) cycle of Birth, Life, Death and Rebirth. For the Jedi, the deceased will disperse back into the Force, unless they can master it enough to manifest in an afterworld–like Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker and the Sith counterparts who would manipulate the dark side of the force to cheat death (like Darth Sidious did several times).
Western thought finds us placing a lot of emphasis on line segments, as opposed to anything infinite, like circles or full on lines. As such, the view that death is an end of something leads us to have extravagant rituals, wherein we doll up the corpse to look lifelike, and preserve them with embalming fluid. All the while, we face the grief over our loss and instead of moving on, we get stuck and suffer as a result of our desires. I think Yoda was on to something when he said that we should rejoice when one joins the Force.
One of my other favorite soundbites is when Yoda tells a young Luke Skywalker to move some stuff using the force. His X-Wing Starfighter, as I recall.
Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no ‘try.'” The profundity of this statement stuck with me since I was 11 years old and I went and saw Return of the Jedi in theatres when the special editions came out. This is one I seek to apply to fitness and all of my life. It is pretty simple, at its core. Take the steps necessary to accomplish a task. Those steps will work, or they will not work. If they do not, do something else then do the task at hand. “Trying” implies that you can get stuck and be at a dead end. “No matter how hard I try…” is a lament I often hear. Someone says they “tried” doing something time and again. Often times they are simply doing the same shit but with more fervor, and getting nowhere.
“So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?” You can encounter these types of folks everywhere. It reminds me of a Frankie quote that says “once you start knowing, you stop thinking.” It kind of becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. If you are certain something can’t be done, it most likely won’t. Or the adaptation to do so will be really slow. Moreover, this type of attitude can affect you if you let it. Know less, think more.
Lastly, Yoda states, “Named must your fear be before banish it you can.” I think the take home message of this is to know your obstacles so that you can experience a greater clarity of thought if you move on with life. In other words, seek to find the root of an issue to adjust, fix, get rid of it, as needed. If you know what you are after, easier will it be to progress on a better path.
If we all pay attention to the little green guy who stole our hearts in The Empire Strikes Back, we might find that we are stronger in the ways of the Force.