Temptation along the spiritual path - Anakin Skywalker

Just how is it that good people go bad on the spiritual path?

It all seemed so simple when we start. As we learn more about 'spirituality' it all starts to 'make sense'. This is where we are tempted. When spirituality makes sense, and when spirituality becomes 'logical', we are both powerful and clueless. We 'know what we are talking about' and we think the power is 'in the words we speak'.

This is the big temptation on the spiritual path. Dharma has given us knowledge about wisdom. We don't yet have real wisdom; we just have new confidence!

How to put a face on this issue. I have been thinking about the latest version of Star Wars - revenge of the Sith. It is a good example of this new confidence, and what can happen. If you haven't seen it yet, it is about a good man (Anakin Skywalker) gone bad (turning into Darth Vader), and how that happens. It is also an age old story about spiritual leaders going to the 'dark side'. It is one of the countless stories of religious wars and holy crusades. One starts out on the spiritual path and ends up with a big ego.

Buddha talked about how difficult it is to grasp the Dharma, it is like picking up a snake. If you pick up a snake by it's tail, it will bite you. So it is with Dharma. Dharma only applies to you <--> from you. It does not apply in the 'logical' sense, about others. It doesn't 'give you power'. That is the big temptation that seduces.

On 'our' spiritual path, we might try to avoid us and rather see the problems 'with others'. When this occurs we are also tempted to 'fix them'. This applies the Dharma, as a projection, and it is what is meant by being bitten by the snake.

We always use force, when bitten by the snake. Physical force - like Darth Vader, or simply mental force - we use words, and lay trips on other people.

Almost anyone can see the problem with using force, people die, but few also see the problem of trip laying.

Trip laying is where we 'know more' about the other person than they do about themselves. It is a form of cross talk, and it can be very subtle and hard to recognize. We project out our stuff onto others and we do it with confidence. We are certain about them and we speak to invalidate them. We take away their choice.

Trip laying is common in our society. Most people have been exposed to 'Guilt trips' and maybe the words 'laying a guilt trip' simply means 'correcting children'. Maybe "You ought to be ashamed of yourselves." has been said, and you can feel the guilt and shame attached to words. We use 'trip laying' like this to invalidate. It is often done with anger and intensity.

We can teach Dharma, but we can't preach Dharma. We can't 'put anything on it' when it goes out. The Dharma doesn't work that way. That is the way of the snake.

Suppose we see something the other person does that really gets under our skin. We might try to 'fix' them by laying a trip. We invalidate them. We speak to lower their self esteem. But the energy in us comes from our unconscious. We avoid looking at what it is about that, that pushes our buttons. We remain unconscious.

The spiritual path only works on you to yourself. Once you arrive that path is no more.

Expect to 'get something' for effort? Maybe some expectations. How interesting.

As long as 'I' exist, I pray, that I have not laid any trips today. May I speak only of needs and feelings. May I also avoid gossip or speaking of others. Until that is so, may others forgive 'me'.

Bill Savoie

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