Following last week’s piece about Being Sensei, it follows to look at Yoda, whose name may be derived from “Yoddha,” the Sanskrit word for “warrior” and may be connected to the Hebrew ידע(Pronounced: “Yodea”), meaning “One who knows.”

Like all things Star Wars, voluminous writings detail all aspects of Yoda. His biography as a fictional character a source for this blog not so much is. The object-subject-verb order of his speaking forgo hereafter I will. I wish to focus on Yoda as Sensei and 7 lessons we can take from his life and comments.

1. “Yoda believed most firmly in the importance of instructing younger generations and never missed an opportunity to ensure his students learn from their experiences. At heart, the diminutive Jedi Master was a teacher” (Star Wars wiki). Part of being Sensei, I believe, is looking for learning everywhere; passionately fostering students’ insights and development.

2. “…he was known to have a penchant for mischief and practical jokes. To all of the young Jedi, he was the humble Yoda, who offered enlightened leadership … he was widely known as a sage instructor” (ibid.). Perhaps not so much mischief and practical jokes, but lightness and sense of humour are essentials of effective teaching. Yoda embodied enlightenment and sagacity for which we can all strive. His appearance was based partly on Albert Einstein, another model of grounded wisdom. He is “the old one” or “the shaman” that Joseph Campbell described in the Hero’s Journey. What an honour and a privilege to play this role for our students.

3. Here is one of the most quoted (and misquoted) of Yoda’s dialogues:yoda
Always with you what cannot be done.
Hear you nothing that I say?
You must unlearn what you have learned.
Luke: All right. I’ll give it a try.
No. Try Not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

Whereas the last line seems most beloved, the lesson about unlearning may be more important (and perhaps more accurate). As a somatic Sensei, it is crucial to see that a student has “wound up” with a shape, tendencies, and way of being. Assisting in building awareness, letting go of what no longer serves, and moving toward new being and action is foundational.

4. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.
Managing moods — of self, students, and dojo (learning environment) is an omnipresent task. Gaining mastery reduces fear, anger, hate, and suffering.

5. Help you I can. Yes, mmm.
Luke: I don’t think so. I’m looking for a great warrior.
Oh! Great warrior. Wars not make one great.

Although Yoda is a fine swordsman and capable in battle, I take him to follow the aikido dictum, “as soon as you fight, you lose.” Greatness arises from self-cultivation more than from wars.

6. Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is.

A pitfall for teachers is trying to do it all ourselves as ego or identity. Recognizing that we are connected to nature and spirit – and building our capacity to connect to source energy is a core practice for Sensei.

7. To be Jedi is to face the truth, and choose. Give off light, or darkness … Be a candle, or the night … but choose!”
Choice is a powerful distinction for all. There’s much growth and development available in addressing that we all have light and shadow. Noticing that we can be run by undiscovered darknesses and moving toward light has great value.

I also embrace centrally several meanings of lightness and, internally, think of my commitment as being the Somatic Sensei of Levitas.

A catalyst for my claiming my Sensei-hood is my upcoming 50th birthday. I aspire to be like Yoda: “although of great age, incredibly agile and immensely skilled.” I also identify with the challenges of keeping students and experiences distinct: A trial of being old is this: remembering which thing one has said into which young ears.
(And for fans, a Yoda stand-alone movie is upcoming). May the Farce be with you.

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