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Casual Thursday Episode 19: Jedi Dogma

[color=#000000]Welcome back to a new round of Casual Thursday. Last week I wrote about my perspective on the Sith society and their philosophy, this week I’ll point my arrows at their counterpart, the Jedi. [/color]

[i][color=#000000][/color][/i][i][color=#000000]There is no emotion, there is peace.[/color][/i]
[i]There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.[/i]
[i]There is no passion, there is serenity.[/i]
[i]There is no chaos, there is harmony.[/i]
[i]There is no death, there is the Force.[/i]

– The Jedi Code, based on Odan-Urr

[i]There is no emotion, there is peace.[/i]

The first line, and probably the most difficult , often misunderstood line in the Jedi Code. Though the lines say there is no emotion, that is never what the Jedi were able to do. If Jedi didn’t have any emotions, they would fail at being the Republic’s protectors. They couldn’t properly respond to the pain or sorrow that the citizens of the Republic experienced when there were troubles only the Jedi could handle. Maybe the first line is not written properly?

Perhaps. A clue we have is in a different take on the first line. The other version is “emotion, yet peace”. This short mantra has always been known, though there is no background on whomever had written it down first. The answer is lost in history. This short version understands that emotion exists and should exist, but the one who feels the emotion is at peace with himself and goes beyond his emotion, or rather, doesn’t let himself be controlled by his emotions. Moreover, the shorter version is far less stoic and dogmatic. It leaves open the ability to have emotion, unlike the harsh “no emotion” and that should provide a Jedi more leeway if one makes the mistake to become angry, in love, and so on. When faced with the divisive, harsh code compared to the earlier, more inclusive code, it’s unsurprising that many Jedi stray. Instead of acknowledging their emotions, and learning how to have emotion and peace coexist within themselves, they hide them, try to ignore them, and eventually succumb to them. Fearing that the plain, ordinary power of their own emotions will cause their fellow Jedi to be suspicious or chastising of them, they look for an alternative. They turn to their emotions and go down the path of the dark side.

[i]There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.[/i]

Wrong again. Even though the Jedi are wise and well-educated, the first thing any wise person would say is that he knows what he does not know, ie. what he is ignorant about. Of course, one can find a lot of knowledge and become knowledgeable about a lot of things, but don’t forget that you don’t know everything. And that is what the Jedi do. They know that wisdom can be found in the strangest of places. The universe is a mystery and should be approached as such. However, ignorance also implies a certain attitude of stupidity or disinterest in what makes the world go round. That is something the Jedi are not.

And again, I turn to the better and shorter version of the code: [i]Ignorance, yet knowledge[/i]. The Jedi might be ignorant of certain things, but they are not stupid, and they pursue a greater knowledge of the world, of the situation, of themselves. For once again, if one say it as dogmatically as the fully written version, it can come across as arrogant, which isn’t important, but could lead a Jedi to believe that he and his order know everything already, which would be a bad mistake.

Luckily, most Jedi do understand that and don’t behave as if they believe themselves omniscient, but the literal interpretation of the Code does give a hand out for that kind of thinking. And given the many examples of proud, narrow-minded Jedi, it does happen.

[i][/i][i]There is no passion, there is serenity.[/i]

And again, this sentence works far better in the short version of “passion, yet serenity”. A Jedi should, at least in my perspective, have passion, but in the sense of passionate at doing his job, for protecting his peers through the Force. They do their absolute best to save the ones they have been assigned to protect, however they do need to keep a clear head when they undertake their tasks. The best judgment comes from those who keep their heart in check. The decision of one against a million is one that a Jedi will come across in his adventures.

Well, maybe not one against a million, but at least unwanted choices to be made, and they need to be made through reason and peace. For also, if the Jedi is too passionate to protect his peers or fellow citizens, he cannot let go of his failure of protecting that one, or, depending on the situation, the million civilians. We know what happened to the Exile when the decision was made to destroy Malachor V. She had to sever her connection with the Force to not be overtaken by the thousands of deaths she caused. She had to do that, knowing the price – including the deaths of allies under her care, that she dearly wished to protect. And she had to be at peace with that afterwards.

[i][/i][i]There is no chaos, there is harmony.[/i]

This might be one of the few lines in the Jedi Code that remains true in either its fully written version, or its shortened one. A Jedi knows that tragedy and hardship are part of life. Death, pain and suffering do happen. And here comes their empathic part, they relate to it even though they try distance themselves (attachment and all that). The Force flows through everything, and everything is in the Force. Like something recently discovered by astrophysicists here on Earth. They have gathered the five or six most important materials which the universe consist of. Carbon, helium, oxygen, hydrogen, and “other” through the explosions of stars long gone. We have the same molecules and atoms as those exploded stars. Or to quote Neil deGrasse Tyson: “We are in the universe, and the universe is in us.” Maybe there is the Force after all, only biologically… The universe is voilent, dangerous, toxic, but at the same time the most beautiful of vista’s, incredible nebula’s and so much more are in the cosmos.

[i]There is no death, there is only the Force.[/i]

This is a clear one, in either form, so it would be quite futile for me to go in-depth, besides stating that the Jedi mean with this that one always lives on through the Force. Either by memory, or quite literally living on through the Force, since Jedi can become Force ghosts and all life is connected to the Force and returns to it upon death. For a Jedi, or any who believe in the Force as described by the Jedi, this is very comforting. To know that a loved one, or oneself, always exists somewhere. That the memory of the loved one is not just a memory, but have a place in the universe. So, like the Sith, the Jedi code is not as useful or as clear cut as one would think. It seems strange that the Jedi prefer the more divisive, dogmatic code of Odan-Urr than the alternate version. The alternate explains the Jedi ideals without excluding the basic, unavoidable human realities. The Old Republic era shows at almost every stage, the Jedi Order losing strength or becoming blinded because of tradition and dogma.

Perhaps the Code is only a tiny part of it, but the differences between the two versions clearly show a change in perspective in the Order itself, over a period of time. Perhaps no one Jedi would have succeeded under the first Code that fell to the dark side under the second. But when resistance to the dark side is such a fragile thing, so easily broken, so easily crumbled under the weight of the basic natures of the Jedi themselves, why make something already so difficult any harder than it absolutely must be?

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