Continuing with the discussion of cultural objects that may influence large parts of the population, in spite of being presented as ‘light entertainment’, instalment VIII of the Star Wars series presents some interesting points.
As an (intended or not) allegory of the times we live in, in which the ‘baddies’ seem to have the upper hand, the film refuses, however, to give the usual simplistic good vs evil scenario. Existence is full of accidents, good people make horrible mistakes and bad people had few choices, and they are not all bad anyway. Unfortunately these nuances run the risk of getting lost in the violence, always there, yes, it’s called Star Wars! after all.
The spiritual homework that characterised the first series and somehow got lost in the follow up prequels is back, perhaps deeper and more transformative than in the previous works.
Here Master Yoda´s words of wisdom ‘failure the greatest teacher is’ mark an interesting point. When profound existential insights permeate popular culture there is still hope for our beloved and embattled humanity. In our success-driven ultra-competitive neoliberal society acknowledging the importance of failure could not be more opportune.
Failure, the great awakener to meaning in life
‘Over many days I discovered this great paradox: Those who bore failure in their hearts were able to illuminate the final victory, while those who felt triumphant were left by the wayside, vegetating in their muted and diffuse life. Over many days, coming from the darkest of darkness, I arrived at the light, guided not by teachings but by meditation.’
These opening words in Chapter lll of Silo´s Humanise the Earth, many, many years ago, surprised me, disturbed me, and later relieved me as my failure to ‘fit in’ completely into the values of the system around me became the pointer to a road full of discoveries and precious experiences shared with extraordinary friends.
Years later, in 2004, Silo returned to the theme:
‘We have failed… but we keep insisting!
‘We have failed but keep insisting with our project of humanizing the world.
‘We have failed and we will continue to fail not just once but a thousand times again, because we ride on the wings of a bird named Intent, that soars above frustration, weakness and pettiness.
‘The force that gives life to our flight is faith in our destiny, it is faith in the justice of our action, it is faith in ourselves, it is faith in the human being.
‘Because this is not the end of History, nor the end of ideas, nor the end of mankind; neither is it the definitive triumph of wickedness and manipulation. And for this reason we can always continue on in our attempt to change things and to change ourselves.
‘This is the intent worth living because it is the continuation of the best aspirations of the good people who came before us. It is the intent worth living because it is the precursor of future generations who will transform the world.
‘Two great souls who struggled against discrimination and injustice accompany our gathering. Inspirational guides of non-violence: Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, who both knew failure but never slackened in their intent. Today they are very much present in our minds and in our hearts.´
Dario Ergas elaborates further on the importance of failure in his blog (in Spanish)
‘The first difficulty is that it is not true that I am looking for meaning in my life, most of the time I experience that my life does have meaning. It is very difficult to look for something that you think you already have. However, in these times of rapid changes, events hit our beliefs and that causes such great suffering that we end up recognising that we are totally lost and our life has no meaning. These buckets of cold water that life throws at us over and over again is the experience we call failure. We have confused the meaning of life with our dreams and desires. When those dreams fail, we wake up from the illusion and we realise that we are lost and without a true meaning. Failure allows the consciousness to free itself for a moment from the prison of daydreams. This experience of failure is very important and it is very difficult to assume. The experience of failure is experienced by all, but only some recognise it and many hide or deny it. When we hide or deny our failures we fall into resentment, depression or panic. The recognition of failure awakens us from the illusion that imprisons the consciousness, and leaves us free to start a new search. This is why we say that this search and this teaching is “for those who carry failure in their hearts”.
About the Force.
For those who have experienced the actual Force, that gives energy to body and mind (not really good for levitating heavy rocks or lifting spaceships out of ponds), with its capacity to bestow a meaningful, unitive and transcendental direction to existence, there is a particular scene that hits a special spot.
The film goes back to making the Force central to the possibility of liberation, but unlike previous instalments it makes clear that it cannot be the patrimony of a person or group; that would be an act of vanity. It’s everywhere and available to everyone. It’s not something ‘received’ but rather ‘awakened’ within the self, in other words, an act of intentionality.
Some human activities and productions, whether artistic, scientific, political, etc, communicate the signals from the profound and sacred inspiration that move the world. They come scrambled with the rest of the noise that constitute our culture, our violent and dehumanised society. They are difficult to detect when packaged in a megabucks-maker blockbuster. And yet, being able to detect them and connect with others in tune with them does open the path to liberation. There are few choices we can make with total freedom as events condition and determine much of what happens in our lives. Attempting to connect with the flow of energy dwelling in the profound layers of our consciousness is one of them.