What Led Anakin To The Dark Side – Can “Good” Lead to Evil?

Anakin Skywalker
Image from Pixabay

Like any true myth, the story about Anakin Skywalker turning to the dark side is compelling in its overwhelming persuasiveness. What led Anakin to the dark side?

C.S. Lewis once wrote in a letter to Peter Milward that a good myth is

“a story out of which varying meanings will grow for different readers and in different ages.”  

And then he added that a myth is not really dependent on the words in which it is told or the art form in which it is conveyed. It’s not the narrative itself that makes the myth convincing but something much more elusive. 

“The narrative is more of a net whereby we catch something else.”


What led Anakin to the dark side?

What I caught in the net of the Star Wars myth is HOW Anakin was led to the dark side — it happened, oddly enough, through his inordinate desire for something good.

As a young boy he swore a solemn oath at his mother’s grave: “When I grow up, I will become strong and will never let my loved ones suffer and die.” 

This oath marked his transition to the dark side long before it happened in chronological time. At that moment, a bargain was struck in his soul for the possession of a loved one in exchange for breaking God’s law.

At that moment, he made a decision for himself to never ever part with his loved ones again, no matter the cost. The perfectly good desire — to protect his loved ones from death — turned in him into a demonic possession when he put it on a pedestal.

As Tim Keller said, an idol is a good thing turned into the ultimate thing.

An idol is usually a good thing that we make ultimate. We say, “Unless I have that, I am nothing.”


Why did Anakin choke Padme?

When Anakin had to choose between losing Padme — fearing that she might die in childbirth — or turning to evil to “save” her from death, he chose evil. It was his desire to “save” her at all costs that led Anakin to the dark side. For him, the dark side became a means of saving his loved one. He chose evil to achieve what he thought was the ultimate good. 

Ironically, this led to Padme’s death. He choke the one he wanted to save with his own hands. When we turn a good thing into the ultimate thing and try to get it at all costs, we lose that good thing — destroy it with our own hands.

Such is the harsh logic of idolatry. We are captivated by some version of good and turn it into the “summum bonum” — without noticing it. And then everything becomes a means to an end, a sacrifice offered on the altar of this god. 

A wise man once said that a myth is something everyone knows without being told. This “story” lives in humanity’s collective unconscious, and we all instantly recognize it once it is put in the form of a narrative.


Why is Plato’s concept of anamnesis so important?

According to Plato, all cognition is re-cognition. Seeing again. Recognizing. He calls it anamnesis, recollection. It is an important concept because what we call learning is actually the soul remembering something it always knew. It is the soul’s response to an inner call.

As C.S. Lewis pointed out,

most myths were made in prehistoric times, and, I suppose, not consciously made by individuals at all. But every now and then there occurs in the modern world a genius — a Kafka or a Novalis — who can make such a story.

George MacDonald: An Anthology

George Lucas may well be another such genius who retold the old myth in a fresh way. It is a timeless story of how a human being tries to use the power of the dark side to achieve some good. 

There is Anakin Skywalker in each one of us — in every person and in every nation. The tragedy of turning to the dark side for the sake of gaining some “good thing” unfolds every single moment in my soul and in the collective psyche of humanity. What led Anakin to the dark side is a timeless motif.


What have I made into my highest good this very moment?

Family? I will destroy it with my own hands.

Health? I will always feel I am not healthy enough and will wreck my body by worshiping the god of wellness.

Money? I will always feel poor and will sacrifice everything I have, including time, health, and family, on the altar of Mammon.

Power? I will always feel like a loser and will end up destroying myself in an attempt to prove to the world that I am somebody.

Beauty? I will always think of myself as ugly and will end up mutilating my body to achieve an elusive ideal.

Perfection? I will always feel “I am not enough,” because no one can live up to their own standards.

Pleasure? I will always feel that circumstances threaten my “happiness” and will flee from the harsh reality into some form of escapism.

Of course, these are extreme examples, but we slip into them gradually and subtly. 


What is disordered love for Augustine?

A Christian saint
Image from Pixabay

National ideologies are often rooted in the harsh logic of idolatry too: the government elevates some form of “good” and sells it to the public as the highest good. It works.

Isn’t liberty, equality, and fraternity a good thing? It is. So let us shed the blood of millions who disagree. 

Aren’t human rights a good thing? Let us turn them into a sacred thing and give absolute power to human institutions so they can enforce them in a top-down fashion.

Isn’t it good to protect your country from enemies? Yes, it is. So let’s demonize our enemies and exterminate them from the face of the earth.

Any “good thing” turns into evil when it becomes the highest priority. As Augustine put it, sin is disordered love. He believed that our problem isn’t necessarily that we love the wrong things. It’s that we often love the right things in the wrong order. What we should love first, we love second. What we should love second, we love first.


What did Padme beg Anakin not to do?

“Anakin,” begged Padme, “let me go! If I should die, don’t go over to the dark side to save me.” As King Solomon said, “cast your bread on the surface of the water because you will find it again after many days.” 

We need to let go of the Ring of Power, our precious, to be as free as only a hobbit can be.

We need to pass the test of greatness like Galadriel did when she chose to remain herself and be diminished with her people.

Slowly and subtly, our hearts are seduced into loving a good thing above the ultimate thing every day. And when something threatens my little god, “my precious”, I turn into a beast and start growling. 

But all I need to do is to realize what’s happening. It is not the end. It’s the beginning. 

It is a sign from above that it’s time to let go. It’s time to drop the Ring.


How was Anakin saved?

The ending of the Star Wars myth is just as convincing as the beginning. Anakin was saved by his son and IN his son, Luke. Luke was able to let go of something that Anakin had a tight grip on— his own idea of good and evil. 

Palpatine tried to draw Luke in by arousing in him the same weakness that flowed in the veins of his father — anger and inordinate desire to save those he loved at all costs.

But Luke let go of his anger and his desire to save his loved ones by killing Palpatine. He honored the laws of the Jedi above his family idol. He put his sword down and put in order his father’s disordered love. That moment the magic spell broke. Darth Vader died, and Anakin was reborn. 


 

How did C.S. Lewis define myth?

An ancient book and fountain pens
Image from Pixabay

According to C.S. Lewis, myth is “a story out of which varying meanings will grow for different readers and in different ages.” And yet,

[myth’s] connection with words… turns out to be merely external and, in a sense, accidental.

Myth haunts us again and again, re-emerging in various shapes and forms. Our souls recognize it from deep inside and it moves us deeply.

It comes to us as Bilbo letting go of the Ring — the only creature in the whole Middle Earth who kept the Ring for such a long time but was able to part with it anyway!

It comes to us as Harry Potter who realized that he was the last Horcrux and that Voldemort was part of himself — so he died to his own self and destroyed the last Horcrux.

It comes to us in Owen Barfield’s Silver Trumpet, where a dark spell of a lost appearance is broken when prince Peerio looks through the image instead of at it. 

Idols don’t survive our looking through them, they want us to look at them! Their life depends on us looking at them as if they were the ultimate thing!

Yet, there is a Luke Skywalker inside each one of us who puts the sword down and puts all things in order. The curse snaps, and Anakin joins Obi-Wan and Yoda as they appear at the final celebration.

The end of the Myth is just as moving as its beginning. The curse is lifted, and the celebration begins.

On and on and on they danced, citizens and courtiers, lords and ladies, kings and queens, till the sun had gone down in the west, and the sky over their heads was cool green and gold. And then they all gathered in a knot round the fiddlers and danced a very old country-dance called “Mr. Barney’s Breeches”. And that was the end. Owen Barfield, The Silver Trumpet

How to Break Free from Addiction for Good — a Surprising Discovery by Bill Wilson

How to break free from addiction for good?

Brain full of addictions
Image from Pixabay

Whether it’s alcohol or social media, if you have battled with addiction for any number of years, you know that it’s not enough to just stop. Stopping is relatively easy. The hard part is not to start again.

Bill Wilson, a co-founder of AA, saw thousands of people quit drinking after “working the 12-step program.” But he noticed over time that many of them eventually replaced their old addiction with a new one.


Why do we keep relapsing?

“How often have some of us begun to drink in this nonchalant way, and after the third or fourth, pounded on the bar and said to ourselves, “For God’s sake, how did I ever get started again?’”

AA’s Big Book, page 24.

Why do we keep relapsing? According to Bill Wilson, an addict will remain an addict as long as they believe in their power.

We go back to our self-destructive behavior because we believe that through it we can control things.

For example, I fall into passive aggression and start pouting every time I feel offended because I believe that this will induce the other person to meet my needs.

The reason I fall into workaholism again and again is that I believe that through overperforming I can control how much I get in life. I reach out for this next piece of chocolate against my better judgment because I believe I can control my mood from outside in.

I believe in my own power. I am God.

Continue reading “How to Break Free from Addiction for Good — a Surprising Discovery by Bill Wilson”

A Simple 10-minute Practice That Undercuts the Root of Anxiety

Green forest and a trail

There is a simple 10-minute practice that undercuts the root of anxiety. Brene Brown, the world-famous shame and vulnerability guru, described it very well in Oprah Winfrey’s show when speaking of the inner workings of shame:

“To grow exponentially, shame absolutely needs three things: secrecy, silence, and judgment. Shame cannot survive two things: being spoken and being met with empathy.”

Destructive emotions feed on secrecy, silence, and judgment. Reversing this pattern involves:

  1. Breaking the secrecy.
  2. Speaking up.
  3. Getting empathy from someone who will not judge you.

A simple 10-minute practice that undercuts the root of anxiety is surprisingly counterintuitive

After struggling with anxiety for about 30 years, I finally found something that works. As of today, I have not been anxious for over a year — which is surprising, given the circumstances I have been through.

My first anxiety attack came at 21 when I was a senior in college — many years ago. It came totally out of the blue — it must have been triggered by a train of thought that I totally didn’t notice. And it felt so bad, I had to excuse myself and go out to breathe it away.

Since then I would get it every once in a while — and always out of the blue. Trying to “figure it out” never helped. In fact, it made it worse. I couldn’t trace it to any external cause.

Of course, I did a bunch of things to get rid of it — talked to therapists, exercised, memorized Bible verses, and read tons of books on self-help, philosophy, and religion. It helped… sort of…until the next time.

Little did I know that the solution was totally non-rational.

Continue reading “A Simple 10-minute Practice That Undercuts the Root of Anxiety”

Self-inflicted Stress — How I Learned Not to Force Anything

For some people, life is boring when all goes well.

Photo by sharon wright on Unsplash

Most stress is self-inflicted. That is, we can avoid it if we choose to. But we choose not to. The reason is that our bodies “need” it. Often people don’t reduce stress because they use it as compensation for nutritional deficiencies.

According to Dr. James L. Wilson, a leading specialist in nutritional balancing science, people who are constantly tired often use stress as a stimulant. Over time, they become addicted to stress and instinctively choose things, people, and situations where they can relive the level of stress they are used to.


Is stress a stimulant?

It sounds strange, but it is a well-established fact that people who grew up in abusive homes use stress as a stimulant. Eventually, they end up recreating the same degree of abuse in their adult relationships as they saw in their childhood.

They find partners who stress them out. They find jobs where they carry the brunt of the workload for pennies. They find friends who “need” them. They find people they can rescue.

They are ready to sacrifice themselves on every altar and feel bored when life goes well. Life should be tumultuous to be interesting. They need drama to feel good.


Does self-inflicted stress deplete your body of nutrients?

When the body experiences daily stress for an extended period of time, it loses some of the essential nutrients and minerals  (like zinc, for example) that get flushed out almost immediately through urine when we get stressed.

When the body is deficient in essential nutrients, its energy level decreases. In time, we develop cravings for things that can get us going despite fatigue — coffee, energy drinks, sugar, and stress.

Putting some stress on the body temporarily boosts adrenal hormones — primarily cortisol. Cortisol raises blood sugar, which, in turn, gives us some energy. We feel we can keep going.

Continue reading “Self-inflicted Stress — How I Learned Not to Force Anything”

How to Be Enough with Who I Am?

Insight from an egret.

Eugene Terekhin Feb 23 · 2 min read

Image for post
screen capture by author

How to be enough with who I am? Here’s the secret of an egret.

I was walking along the creek, feeling empty. I didn’t even know why. There was this unsettling feeling that something was amiss.

I know this feeling so well. It haunts me. It always tells me the same thing over and over: the moment you are in is not good enough. You need to skip it and go to some blessed future.

Engrossed in my thoughts, I saw an egret in the shallow waters, standing on one leg. It pointed its beak down, waiting patiently for its breakfast, looking perfectly content.

It was sure it would get its fish. Life was good.

It looked up and saw me. So serene and unperturbed it was in its immovable stance that I couldn’t help but stop.

“Are you in a hurry?” the bird asked me silently, like a white marble statue.

“Yes, I need to get so much done,” replied my weary soul.

“Why?”

“Because I need more.”

“You already have it all,” said the egret, deftly shooting its beak into the water and pulling out a small fish.

“If you use this moment only to get to the next one, you will never enjoy what you already have.”

“What’s there to enjoy?” I mumbled.

Without a reply, the egret spread its huge wings slowly and gracefully over the murky waters and took to the sky. Swooping over my head, it almost allowed me to pat its curved neck.

I stood in awe, speechless. For a moment, my cluttered mind cleared, and the wind brought a distant echo:

“Enjoy being who you are.”

The wind bloweth where it will, and you will hear its voice every once in a while, saying: “Who are you?”

“Are you enjoying being yourself? Or are you using this moment as a means to an end?”

I teared up.

My winged prophet was disappearing in the clouds, carrying a small fish in its beak.

“I also have a few small fish,” thought I, and my heart soared on the wings of a sudden insight.

“I have enough. I can feed the world with who I am.”

A quiet pond
Photo by author

The Power of an Empty Mind – The Wisdom of Meister Eckhart

“The soul does not grow by addition but by subtraction.”

Meister Eckhart

I was looking at the lampshade that I was designing as part of my business. I liked the way it turned out. And yet, something made me doubt whether it was ready to go to the client. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was.

Was it the shape? The size?

Straining my mind for an answer, I suddenly felt some unease growing in me. I knew very well what it meant. It usually means that I am frustrated with how things are going and want quick results.

Chuang Tzu

Chuang Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, told a parable of an archer who “needed to win.” At first, he was shooting just for fun and seldom missed.

When he was offered a reward, a brass buckle, he became nervous. Then, he was offered a prize of gold and went blind – started seeing two targets.

His skill didn’t change, but the prize divided him. He cared more about winning than shooting. The need to win drained him of power.  

I also knew what my mind was doing. It was set on winning. On results. Not on the fun of designing. My unease made me blind – I couldn’t see what was lacking in the lampshade.

I stopped and took a breath. I needed a break. “The soul does not grow by addition but by subtraction,” the famous quote crossed my mind.

It felt counterintuitive – I had a deadline to meet. The project was due the next day. Just thinking about it gave me more anxiety. I was desperately grasping for control.

Sitting down in a chair by the window, I turned away from the lampshade. Do I really need to get it done today? What if I let it go and stay inactive for a while? The thought sent shivers down my spine. I could lose the client if I didn’t ship it on time.

But there was something else behind it all that I feared even more. Deep down in my heart, there was a little perfectionist who couldn’t bear the thought of not meeting someone’s expectations.

It was my self-image, my EGO, I was holding on to. It was my ego that made me so uneasy. I knew I needed to let go. I will stop striving for results and will trust my creative instincts.

Taking the leap of faith, I finished the last of my coffee and stepped out for a bike ride.

For the rest of the day, I was watching my mind intently – it would shoot back to the lampshade again and again. But, after some time of silence, it slowly loosened its grip.

I sat by the window, watching the kids play with a plastic bag that they inflated like a balloon. My wife was busy in the kitchen making pancakes – the Russian style! And then, finally, my mind was empty. For a while, I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular.

Noticing the smells, the rustling of the plastic bag, the laughter of the boys, I was becoming increasingly aware of what was going on around me. And there was peace, undisturbed by any thinking.

The next morning, I walked into the room and looked at the lampshade. And suddenly – bang! I got it. It struck me like lightning. It was a simple solution that only an empty mind could produce.

I added one piece to the shade and immediately knew in my heart that it was it. There was no doubt. Because it came out of emptiness. There was no ME in it.

Moving back to our Harvey-flooded house

We are moving back to our Harvey-flooded house in a week’s time. It’s been a year and a half since we were displaced. I have moved three times in my life, and I have come to a point where I find it more unnerving than rewarding. Not that I dislike adventure and discovery – it’s just that I’ve had too much of it. I like to come back to something familiar, without having to change the entire wiring of my brain over the whereabouts of the forks. I like things to be within my arm’s reach. I like the familiar things to be within my eye’s glance. I like my future to be within my imagination’s scope.

Yet, move we will. Moving things around is like uprooting trees. My couch must have grown roots into my bedroom floor by now, and the poor fellow will probably screech and squeak as I yank it out of its native soil. My bookshelf will look so orphaned without the books, which will end up in boxes. A gaping hole in its heart will be hard to look at for a whole two hours until the books find their way home. The spoons and cutlery will be dinging against each other as they fight over their place in the new kitchen drawers.

Yet, move we will. We can’t do without moving. We can’t do without some unrooting. We can’t do without some dinging and some finding your place under the sun. They say, there’s nothing new under the sun. But when you have been moving around for quite some time, you almost want to say there’s nothing old under the sun. But we will get through and rediscover our old nest. We will send down new roots after some screeching and squeaking. The gaping holes in our hearts will be filled with new and old books. The new place will become the familiar place, but, after a while, our souls will suddenly overflow with the desire for new adventures and discoveries. Aren’t we a strange mix of resisting change and yet yearning for it?

We hate being uprooted and yet can’t seem to settle in for what we have. We want to rest our eyes on something familiar and yet crave for the scope of our imagination to ever expand to new horizons. I guess I will take it easy, and start preparing for my unavoidable move, little by little. One box at a time, one screech at a trip, one ding at a walk.

The Bridge Who Was a Giant

 

Once upon a time there lived a giant by the name of Yant. He was so huge that he could easily step over wide rivers. But that’s not what he loved to do – his favorite pastime was to sit on the bank of the river watching tiny boats sailing by. When the boats were passing the spot where he sat, he would often, just for the fun of it, bend over the river, pretending to be a bridge. He would plant his legs on one bank, lean over and put his hands on the other. He loved this game of a bridge and spent hours at it. Often, those who happened to sail by underneath his big round belly, would lift up their heads and say to each other: “That’s a good bridge, no doubt about it.”

The giant did not mind. He knew who he was – a giant, not a bridge. But it happened quite often that, whenever a boat was passing by, the people onboard would hear his stomach rumble after a hearty meal and say to each other: “This bridge is very well built. What an incredible traffic capacity. Hear all this noise?”

Actually, while the giant was playing his game, there were cars, buses and bikes running up and down his back all day long. And why not? After all, people need some way to get over the river. Very soon, however, he found out that, whenever he “was a bridge”, there was a constant flow of traffic on his back – so he decided not to straighten up until the day was over and there was no one left up there. After all, he didn’t want anybody to get hurt. But as soon as it was night, he would unbend himself, stretch his limbs, sit down comfortably on his favorite spot by the edge of the river, and strike up a conversation with his old friend as he watched her quiet waters gracefully flowing by. Continue reading “The Bridge Who Was a Giant”

Hooked: A Story About Fishing in the Swimming Pool

The swimming pool was teeming with people. Bright luminescent bikinis, squealing children, laughing dads, chattering moms, all jumbled up together in a thick soup of incessant movement, stirring, whirling, mixing, blending.

On one side of the pool, there was a man sitting by the edge of the water with a long pole, fishing. His face was hidden in a thick beard. He seemed totally detached from what was going on around, watching intently the red bobber on the undulating surface of the pool. A guard hastily jumped down from his tower and ran towards the man.

“Sir,” he said with an air of utter amazement, “what are you doing? This is a swimming pool!”

The man didn’t budge.

“So what?”

“This is not allowed!” “This is…,” he stumbled, “you’ve got hooks out there, people can get hurt!”

“Yeah,” chuckled the man, “what did you think? Good things come to those who bait. Just look at this beautiful bait.” Continue reading “Hooked: A Story About Fishing in the Swimming Pool”

The Song of the Void: The Self-fish story

In the blue-blue sea there lived a fish called Self-fish. What a strange name, you might say. Who gives such a name? Well, it’s actually a whole group of fish. They are called “Self-fish” by other sea creatures who are sure about themselves that they don’t belong to this category.

She knew very well who she was – Self-fish. Of that she was reminded daily.

“Stop thinking about yourself all the time. You never care about others,” the others chided.

“Why are you looking at yourself all the time?”

“If you weren’t Self-fish, you would have had more compassion on our poor nerves.”

“Why am I Self-fish?” thought Self-fish. “I have to change. From now on I will think about others all the time.”

And that’s what she did. Tired of being shamed and blamed, she decided she would be looking out for the interest of others. She was hoping that others would start appreciating her more and more and would finally stop calling her Self-fish. But the more she tried to please them, the less they seemed pleased. In fact, they blamed her all the more. “You should think more about others and less about yourself! Shame on you, Self-fish.” Continue reading “The Song of the Void: The Self-fish story”