This post is on the topic of “The Power of We” for Blog Action Day 2012. One of the lines from Star Wars that I still think about to this day is when Obi Wan Kenobi says, “You can’t win, Darth. If you strike me down I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Obi Wan says this right before he altruistically allows Darth Vader to strike him down in order to force Luke Skywalker to escape. Being that Obi Wan Kenobi was one of my first gurus–I even thought about changing my name to Obi Wan Hattori–I’ve spent the last 30+ years trying to figure out what this line really meant. After years of studying Buddhism, the Bible, and the Japanese martial art aikido, I think I have finally unlocked the secret of this koan.
According to the founder of aikido, Master Ueshiba Morihei (1883-1969), if one is in harmony with the universal ki–ki being the Japanese equivalent of the Force in Star Wars–then anyone who attacks you has already lost because the attacker must break away from the Universal We in order to attack. The egotistical I is no match for the Universal We. For even if the assailant strikes you down, they will still be fighting against the Universe. The Universal We is defined by compassion, love, and empathy. How else can an I become a we?
Thus, when Darth Vader attacks Obi Wan out of vengeance, ego, and hate, he is attacking universal values. I don’t care how strong the Force is with this one, no one can win a battle against the Universe. If you look in history all the great spiritual leaders who were struck down became more powerful than their adversaries could imagine because they belonged to the Universal We: Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Tupac Shakur. (For those of you who are smirking at the inclusion of 2pac, go listen to “Dear Mama.” I challenge you to find a better expression of empathy, understanding, and unconditional love: “There’s no way I can pay you back/But the plan is to show you that I understand/You are appreciated.”) If only Darth Vader would have realized this right after Obi Wan sacrificed himself, then we would not have had to suffer through the bad acting of Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen as Anikin.
In essence, we are all Darth Vaders. We routinely break away from the Universal We in order to stroke our egos, bank accounts, or light sabers. Let’s get out of the Dark Side and be re-united with the Universal We. What if right before we cut down another tree to support our conspicuous consumerism, the tree said, “You can’t win. If you strike me down…” What if all our enemies said the same thing before we launched our counter-attacks of missiles, hate campaigns–yes, I’m talking to you Democrats and Republicans–or even bad feelings. Let’s join the Power of We and live with lovingkindness, empathy, and joy like the Ewoks.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.