Ten Reasons to Complete Your Training Today: Spiritual Naturalism 101 and Star Wars

Revenge of Return of the Jedi by JD Hancock FlickrTo steal the words of Master Yoda, that little green guy from the Star Wars series, “Complete your training you must!”

But I don’t mean Jedi training, I mean your exploration of Spiritual Naturalism.

Our online course SNS 101: Introduction to Spiritual Naturalism integrates a naturalistic, scientific perspective with time-tested self-cultivation practices drawn from Buddhism, Taoism, and more. Better than mere “Jedi mind tricks”, it introduces time-tested and evidence-based techniques to help you cultivate empowerment and a sense of meaning.

Whether you are a Luke or a Leia, there is power inside you. I’m not talking about the Force, but something even better: the natural human capacity to cultivate happiness through compassion, reason, and practice.

So, let’s have a little fun here. How is our course like Jedi training (or even better)? Here are ten Star Wars-themed* ways it can help you cultivate happiness and empowerment today.

1. Find Others Like You.  Ever feel surrounded by people who don’t think like you, kinda like Luke stuck on the desert world of Tatooine? Luke discovers the Jedi, and you can discover others like you. This course introduces you to the many naturalistic communities who, like you, are interested in growth, connectedness, and meaning without God: Secular Buddhism, Humanistic Judaism, Christian Naturalism, Naturalistic Paganism, Greek philosophy, Spiritual Ecology, Humanism, and more.

Rey The New Jedi Fanart by Ronggo DeviantArt2. Learn From Those Who Know.  You don’t have to go it alone. In the latest Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens, the young heroine Rey struggles on her own, but with a little help from some friends, her powers begin to awaken. You can get that help too. Dialog as much as you like with the course mentor, and work with other students in your cohort to apply principles to real-life issues. You’ll also learn from Rick Heller, author of Secular Meditation, and Helen Weng, a psychologist at UCSF’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Together, you will realize your potential.

3. Train Your Mind and Heart.  It all starts with balance and control. Like a Jedi in training, you’ll learn four different meditations to cultivate mindfulness, loving-kindness, and compassion, as well as how to reappraise thoughts to help guide your life in healthy directions. Emotion and reason are studied from an integrated perspective, exploring not only rationality but also so-called “irrational” realms like art, poetry, and myth.

4. Cultivate Compassion.  “The Light – it’s always been there, it’ll guide you,” teaches Maz Kanata, a wise woman from The Force Awakens. And she’s right – compassion and other positive emotions are not just pleasant, they’re also healthy, empowering guides to living. You’ll explore how to bring more compassion, loving-kindness, and other positive emotions into your life.

5th Portrait Dagoba by 7oneders DeviantArt5. Explore the Dark Side.  “Anger, aggression, fear – the dark side are these,” warns Master Yoda. Yet in real life, we know it’s more complicated – even the darkest emotions can sometimes be useful and appropriate in the right circumstances. The challenge is knowing when and how to wield them for good. You’ll learn techniques to notice such emotions as they arise, accepting them if appropriate and reappraising them if not. You’ll also learn to work positively with existential challenges like grief, loss, and death, affirming value and meaning in life.

6. Integrate Science and Evidence. “It’s true, all of it” – that’s what Han Solo says about the Force in the new movie, but in real life it’s also what Spiritual Naturalists can say of their practices, which are based not on tradition or faith but on scientific evidence. Each weekly course module begins with a modern, scientific model of matters at the heart of spirituality, like emotion, reason, and practice. You’ll discover evidence-based answers to questions like: What exactly are emotions, and how can mindfulness of them help you in your daily life? What is the difference between intuition and deliberative reasoning, and how are they each useful? And how can an understanding of working memory help you overcome the crush of failure and make progress toward your goals?

7. Encounter Profound Experiences. “Luminous beings are we,” says Yoda. Indeed, there’s another layer to life beyond working, eating, and sleeping – but I’m not talking about anything supernatural. I mean awe, wonder, and profound experiences. Naturalists, no less than anyone else, can be rattled by deep, almost “mystical” encounters with nature, community, and the depths of the mind. You’ll hear from real-life naturalists who have been shaken to the core by these experiences, and learn how you can encounter them too.

8. Connect to Others and the Cosmos.  “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world,” Obi-Wan tells young Luke. It’s true: we are all part of a larger world. We’re all connected – as human beings, as animals, and as material entities in the dance of the universe. We are “made of star stuff”, as Carl Sagan famously put it. Discover yourself as a true cosmopolitan, or “citizen of the cosmos.”

9. Discover a Sense of Meaning. “Hope is not lost today… It is found,” affirms Leia in The Force Awakens. More than anything, this course is about an affirmative outlook on life. Happiness is more than just feeling good, it’s also a sense of meaning, purpose, and contribution. Is a universe without God meaningless? Hardly. Learn how meaning is more important than ever.

Star Wars by Matt McManis DeviantArt10. Join the Rebellion.  Revolution is in the air. Like Rebels against the Empire, we are banding together, not to mock what we don’t believe in but to affirm what we do. Secular Buddhists, Humanistic Jews, Christian Naturalists, Naturalistic Pagans, Spiritual Ecologists, Humanists, and others – we’re all coming together to create a new community of compassion, reason, and practice. Join the Rebellion today.

So, are you ready to complete your training?

Register for the next four-week course session now. Click here to learn more.

This IS the course you’re looking for.

*The course itself is not actually Star Wars-themed; rather, it integrates science and traditional practices like meditation and ritual to produce paths fit for the modern era.
Image Credits:
“Revenge of Return of the Jedi” by JD Hancock
“Rey The New Jedi Fanart” by Ronggo
“5th Portrait – Dagoba” by 7oenders
“Star Wars” by Matt McManis

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