On Faith and the Sith
May 30, 2005
Third time's... too depressing to be a charm, but Lucas finally got it right (well, more or less). Revenge of the Sith is a fitting end to a well-crafted storyline. The acting isn't perfect, a few things still seem more forced than they should be, but the story comes through loud and clear. A few hours after seeing the film, I remained haunted by the hunting of the Jedi, by the betrayal of Anikin, and most of all by his near death. And this all led me back to reflection on the nature of faith, my own in particular.
The sequence of movies now makes sense. We began en media res with Episode IV. Beginning with the beginning would have been boring indeed. We see a youth become a man in the great struggle to return power to the democratically elected. We see the apprentice become master of his own fears and passions, though they drive his actions more than they should. And eventually we see the return of selfless loyalty, to family and to society, as the Emperor is overthrown. That was the story of the Skywalker redemption.
Episode I began with an innocent. Episode II saw the birth of twisted confusion and a hidden need for power — power to overcome one's enemies, and keep loved ones safe. In Episode III, we see the young man give in to his fears and passions, placing his faith and trust in the "dark side" instead of that of the good — all so he can cheat death and, in his own point of view, bring peace. But his master truly believes in nothing greater than his own power, stopping at nothing to rule over all.
While most of us (Abu Ghraib not withstanding) do not have the capacity for evil that Anikin-Vader held, his hopes and fears are certainly those of humanity. We all struggle with the question of where our loyalties — our faith and trust — lie. Do we put faith only in ourselves, or do we let go of our own feelings and seek communion with a higher... Being? And in so doing, do we trust our own interpretations of the Will of being, or do we look to our wise Masters for guidance?
Though I can be social enough in my own way, I am relatively happy to go my own way, relying on others as little as possible (relative to what? That is a good question). And so it is that I still find myself at odds with the concept of belonging to an organized religion. What I always come back to realize is that no matter how great I might think my own ideas to be, they do not alone make me feel integrated — with Being, or with being... human. Being human, how can one be at peace with suffering in the world? If one is not at peace with the suffering, how then at peace within oneself? Lucas's answer is the answer of all organized religions: through submission.
To what do we submit then? In deed and word we choose to what, or whom, to give our loyalty and faith. "By their fruits ye shall know them." My own fruits do not convince me to follow myself. But the fruits of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's servitude and reverence, these convince me that my own submission must be to Bahá.
We must all question our Masters. So blinded was he by the lust for power, Anikin did not bother to question his new Master's motivations or fruits, even as he questioned those of his former Masters. Though I be headstrong at times, though I question and may be tempted to follow my own path, I cannot imagine losing belief and trust in the Will of Being as most recently personified in Bahá'u'lláh.