When I think of Star Wars, I think of light sabers, lasers, Princess Leia, strange creatures, strange planets, a green little midget fellow that speaks slowly and a bit backwards, traveling at the speed of light, The Death Star and the Fathership…oh and also people in robes. What I didn’t know, was that for some, the Star Wars “universe” has become so much more. For these people, it’s not all about the cinematic props; it’s about a way of life. But when so many things are contradictory in the Star Wars Universe, I needed someone to straighten things out for me.
I can tell you why, years ago, I entered the Jedi Church. The Church website states that “The Jedi Church recognizes that all living things share a living force and that all people have an innate knowledge of what is right and wrong.” I felt that this statement described my personal experience in life and I liked that there was no new belief to adopt. From birth, we all know right from wrong and that our life is part of something far greater. Even if we acknowledge the idea that life arises from particular combinations of matter, the mechanistic view of science, this does not really explain all of the principles which spark and drive life. Acceptance of the force can explain all the things which science cannot.
People often talk about why they’ve joined the Jedi Church, and it’s a good thing that they like to share their stories. I believe in the certainty that there is a force in life, which energizes, shapes and guides. This is a certainty felt by many respective members of The Jedi Church. It takes sincerity–sincerity in self and sincerity with others. The variety of personalities involved in the Church interestingly, makes the question of what’s right and wrong difficult to answer. The common feature is a belief in The Force. I’m referred to as Paladin Carl. My earlier online name was Padawan Carl, from my time in the Order of the Jedi. But even though my title is not Padawan now, I hold true to the attitude that someone from this Order ought to hold for life. Some said I should have a different name than Padawan. Paladin means ‘defender of the faith.’ There are Paladins in the Star Wars Universe, it happens sometimes. It is another term for ‘knight’. So I’m a Knight of The Force.
Reuben Jackson began Jedi Church in New Zealand. He wanted to make a place where those who believed in the Force could meet and share the faith. In New Zealand, you’re allowed to declare your personal religion–thousands answered “Jedi,” but at first it wasn’t thought of as serious. The government refused to acknowledge this as a legitimate response. The Jedi Church was begun to prove Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, wrong.
As far as intrigues and relations go, I’m not aware of any scandals in the Jedi Church. We do not hold the view that a Jedi ought to have no love. This is a church for all people interested. We have no prohibition of love, or sex. Drugs are medicines, ideally, prescribed and taken to help some ailment or condition. Recreational drug use is contrary to mindfulness, which is the hallmark of a Jedi. Some who have joined are recovering addicts. We fully support the recovery, never the addiction.
The Force has many names. It is known as God. It is the universal life force. It is the qi in Taiqi, it is prajna in Yoga. It is spirit. It is also the principle which shapes our Cosmos. It is functional in believers and nonbelievers alike. It does not require observance; it does not require worship; it does not require any formal doctrine to look toward and follow. We observe it because we feel called to do so. It is personally significant and important. If you ask five “Jedi” about their points of view on every question that has to do with the Jedi Church, you’re likely to get five different answers because everything is subjective. We’re defining this church with every thought from every member and if there is a consensus, it should only be focused on what is truly good. If this consensus were taken to heart, mankind would grow in remarkable ways. We have felt a connection with others through our minds and feelings. We have been blessed with a remarkable insight into beings, the present and the future, and have hope for something brighter in the future, more directed for the members of the Jedi Church. An all pervasive and influential force may be felt, known, and followed through outer practices and inner awareness. It gives us knowledge of right and wrong, the Source, a parent of morals and moral systems. It is therefore transcendental, with the Force itself, and it is practical, because we may use its gifts to do good. This sentiment was ‘created’ when people felt a message in the very first film in 1977. George Lucas wanted to urge young people toward their respective faiths, and make them comfortable in believing something. He did not intend to make a religion out of the Star Wars world. It is practically inconceivable that he does not know of us, the Jedi Church. We thank him, Joseph Campbell, Akira Kurosawa, Roman Kroitor, and numerous other creative minds who have helped form, in their own ways, this modern journey into personal spirituality. Compassion is the keyword. We do use terms like light side, dark side, and so on. The world is reflected in our views and beliefs. Evil is rampant. Its remedy is compassion.
There is a quote I like from a book by James Luceno, ‘The Unifying Force’ were Luke Skywalker says:
“The real powers are more subtle, for they involve adhering to the true path, avoiding the temptation to dominate, sacrificing oneself for those who have less, and living impeccably, by recognizing that the Force doesn’t flow from us but through us, ever on the move. I ask only that you give deep thought as to how you might best serve the Force.”
This is the essence of the Church. It is attending that communion we all have and heeding its warnings and encouragement. We exercise free will but we do so with a compassionate heart. Not idiot compassion, which is often as bad as no compassion. Think of the compassion of a mother who loves her child after the child does something bad. The mother does not cease to love her child; nor does she wish the bad behavior to continue. She moves to stop the misbehavior in a loving way: to nurture and encourage her child’s goodness. Compassion is central to what we do because there is Good, which may be known, and done. We may exceed what is good…go past it. This is the gateway into bad. Exceeding the good is evil although there is no evil in itself. “Using the Force” is not a matter of psychokinesis, despite which many seem to think. I don’t focus on psychic or supernatural matters. I am concerned with the innate communion, which tells us good from bad.
You can have all the power in the world. But what does one DO with this power. We are concerned with the heart. The Good. Because it is only from THIS that all our actions flow. They are shaped thus. This is called ‘denying the dark side’. If we see someone being excessive, we might move against that person. Engaging with compassion, we take care not to do excessive things while we defend our position. That way, we do not become like the evil one, by not performing revenge or some other selfish thing.
Our real power is internal. We have the most marvelous minds of all beings known on this small planet. We can use higher thought, logic, and consideration to correct ourselves when we are known to be in error. We can therefore be mindful. We know that the best mindfulness is watching our own minds. This is our field of true control and ownership. Not a job, not a car, not an iPod. Minds. Our own mind even. Watch the mind. Watch as you interact with others. See what is opinion, and what is real. Look at the mind and know a good thought as good. Recognize evil should it arise in thought. Evil thought is the beginning of evil actions.
Nip this in the bud by cutting out the evil thought, then and there, as it comes up. We can thus vanquish evil in ourselves. A wonderful gain in this world. We work on ourselves, and hope to be examples to others.
This Force is with you.
Where Compassion is, the dark side is not.