In the spirit of my second article Sith Happens, I decided some time ago to write one about the Jedi. However, due to the mountain of information about the Jedi, I feel to do the topic justice I should do a series of such articles. I thought it would be a good idea to start where most Jedi Instructors start: a discussion of the Jedi Code.
“For forty years, the Jedi Code has been my focus, as it will become yours. It is the philosophy upon which stands the Jedi Order. It is a pledge of protection to the citizens and inhabitants of the Republic. It is an encapsulation of our relationship with the Force. As a Jedi, you must be faithful to the spirit of the Code. Every day you must ask yourself: Do I understand it?”
– Grand Master Fae Coven
One of my only negative criticisms of KOTOR’s story was that when your character was training to be a Jedi, the Masters that instruct your character never went into depth about the Jedi Code. Other than making you recall the second half of each line as it is spoken to you, they never explained what each line meant and the philosophy behind it. But when your character gets to Korriban and goes to the Sith Academy, they make you learn the meaning behind every line. Now that I think about it, the Jedi push your character out of the door and the Sith Academy is trying to convert them over to the dark side.
Many Jedi instructors teach the Code to their pupils very early in their training. To the Jedi mindset, knowing how to pick up objects telekinetically, perceive the future or the past and lightsaber training are not enough to become a Jedi. Understanding what it means to be a Jedi, and how not to be controlled by their power, is of more importance than how to manifest that power. The Jedi Code itself points out the five virtues that are at the heart of their teachings: peace, knowledge, serenity, harmony, and rejoicing for those that become one with the Force. These precepts are paramount to a Jedi in thought as well as action.
“There is No Emotion, There is Peace.”
When a Jedi is confronted with a situation, they calm themselves, not allowing emotions to cloud their thinking. This is usually accomplished through meditation, emptying their minds of not only negative emotions like anger or fear, but positive ones like love. Emotions, either positive or negative, can have an effect on not only what the Jedi decides to do but also how they go about doing it. Removing emotions from the equation allows the Jedi to also be able to think clearly and objectively about every situation. I said this in my first article, but I feel it bears repeating: Master Jedi to be emotionless, in many ways similar to Star Trek’s Vulcans. Both Master Jedi and Vulcans do feel emotions, but they do not allow them to influence their reasoning. Yoda told Luke that he would know the good from the bad when he was “calm, at peace.”
“There is no Ignorance, There is Knowledge.”
To my mind, fear is one of the greatest paths to the dark side. Fear of the unknown is directly related to ignorance. If we know what is going to happen, then we have little to fear. The Jedi guard against this by learning all that is learnable. In later lessons, we will discuss the myriad of Jedi who spent their lives in the pursuit of knowledge. Scholars and historians busied themselves in libraries and museums throughout galactic history. Ossus was a planet that was a storehouse for all of the Jedi’s knowledge until it was destroyed by Exar Kun in the Sith Wars.
“There is no Passion, There is Serenity.”
In many ways this is a reinforcement of the first virtue of peace. A Jedi does not act aggressively and removes the importance of themselves from the mission. The Jedi derive their power from peace and calmness of mind. While in this state of mind, as Obi Wan explains to Luke, the Jedi is moving in synchronization with the Force. In the Clone Wars movie, Ahsoka Tano told Anakin that “everything got easier” when she calmed her mind. In the series itself, there is an episode in Season One called “Gungan General” that illustrates this idea very well. Pirates in this episode kidnapped Dooku and were ransoming him to the Jedi. Obi Wan and Anakin went to the pirate hideout to see if they did indeed have Dooku, and ended up being taken prisoner themselves. After being imprisoned and tortured, Anakin and Obi Wan escape; when they are walking to their ship, the head pirate asks why, after all that had happened, they were going to just walk away. Obi Wan tells him that they were Jedi and do not take revenge. Since he no longer had Dooku to ransom (he had escaped too) they had no further business with the pirates.
“There is no Chaos, There is Harmony.”
At first glance, it might seem that the universe is random. Uncounted particles randomly interact with each other an unimaginable number of times, seemingly with no direction or meaning to their existence. Those who sense the Force understand that everything that exists does so for a reason and has a place in the universe, including sentient beings. The rules of physics are constant throughout the universe; these are ordered laws that the universe is bound by, and by extension the universe cannot be a chaotic mess. The Jedi encourage this feeling of order in everything they do. I believe this is why they defended the Republic as they did. The Republic was an ordered system of government for the galaxy, making sense out of politics which, at first glance, might seem chaotic. However, when you see the big picture, you can see that politics can be very ordered indeed.
“There is no Death, There is the Force.”
Yoda tries to explain to Anakin in Episode Three this concept of the Jedi Code. He tells him, “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not.” Later in Episode Five, Yoda tells Luke “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” In one form or another, sentients in the Star Wars universe live on in the Force. Jedi Masters have the ability to physically vanish when they die, becoming one with the Force. By doing this, they retain their identity and are able to exist as Force Apparitions like Obi Wan. If this tenet of the Jedi Code is true, then it seems to me that the Force is becoming greater and greater as time goes on, since so many “souls” (for lack of a better term) are being added to it. Whether or not this means that the Force is becoming more powerful I cannot say, but it is an interesting theory.
These tenets of the Jedi Code are principles to which all Jedi aspire, regardless of era. There are other principles that can be extrapolated from these—like compassion, honor and a sense of duty—but these are the basic principles that all Jedi are taught when they are younglings.
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Until next time may the Force be with you all.