Written by Kevin Trout, Edited by Katherine Mock, originally posted to 365 Jedi
Image of Jedi First Aid Training at the 2012 Jedi Gathering
Here are 4 misconceptions people have about the Jedi Path:
Negative Emotions are the Dark Side.
“But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.” – Yoda
The major misconception here is that emotions are positive or negative. This is simply a line of thinking that I have not found to be true to the Jedi Path. Emotional Stability is core to the Jedi Way. We seek equanimity. We want to feel openly and deeply without knee-jerk reactions or losing our rational mind. Fear and anger tend to be prime examples of losing our ability to be objective and make good decisions when we feel these emotions strongly. But this actually happens with all strong emotions including love and joy. Objectivity and making the best decision tends to dip when those we like and care for are involved. This is why many companies have rules and regulations against employer-employee relationships. Emotional stability is not about Good vs. Bad or Positive vs. Negative or Light vs. Dark. It is about accepting your feelings, understanding why you are feeling that way, and making the decision to move forward which is best for all involved. The Dark Side, if we must label such a thing, is darkness. Decisions made in a haze, made in ignorance, made in the dark. The Dark Side is when you as a Jedi willfully act in a unthinking and uncaring manner, lashing out and hurting others simply to make yourself feel better.
You are never Allowed to feel Fear, Anger, or Hate. – “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda
Hate is a tough thing. I have never met a Jedi who hates really anyone, though I have met Jedi who hate injustice. Discrimination is just something that they loathe and they have learned to recognize this and adjust accordingly. As a Jedi you are going to feel anger, you will most certainly feel fear, and you might find that there is something out there that you truly hate. I personally find it a waste of emotional content and haven’t found anything I truly hate. Certainly things I have disdain for: for example, hypocrisy in those that claim to be Jedi Knights or Masters, but don’t even know the Jedi Code. As mentioned these things aren’t the Dark Side, they are simply part of the rainbow of human emotion. It is when you allow these things to override your senses and dictate your actions that Jedi frown on.
Acceptance Means Passive and Passive means Always Do Nothing. – You will know. When calm, at peace, passive. – Yoda
Acceptance is Peace is a big philosophical point within the Jedi Path. Many view acceptance as meaning passive. Or more accurately they view these things as complete inaction. Sitting back and doing absolutely nothing, and that is a big problem for many. People point to Martian Luther King Jr. and ask, if he was passive how would that affect the civil rights movement? What about Jane Addams, if she had just accepted her role and passively did nothing how much longer would have women had to wait to vote and be seen as world changers? While the dictionary definition of passive leads credence to this misunderstanding, the definition I feel fits the Jedi ideology best is “not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of an emotion or feeling.” Passivity is against the knee-jerk reaction. What we are saying for Jedi is that one must first acknowledge and accept the problem in order to have any chance of influencing or fixing it. From there they need to consider how best to approach and seek resolution of the problem. While emotion often compels us to quick short-term resolution, as Jedi we want to have a lasting impact as well. So yes, give the homeless person a sandwich, but what can you do long-term to help the homeless on a larger scale? Fortunately many great minds and organizations working on such solutions which Jedi can endorse, support, and be a part of. Equality, Uplifting, Education, they all require active effort, but this doesn’t mean you have to be an activist. Nor does it mean sitting on the sidelines letting the world play out as it will while you meditate on inner peace. Accept and find the best resolution forward that is compatible with you, your lifestyle, and will have the impact you desire.
Attachment is Forbidden. – “Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden.” – Anakin Skywalker
Attachment is fine. Ignoring the fact that all things, all persons, the whole universe is impermanent, that is less okay in the Jedi Way. Love your X-Box, but when it burns up and dies, accept that eventual reality. You are allowed to be attached to your family, your spouse, your friends. And should they pass on that is going to suck beyond all reason. We will always want more time with those that make our universe a brighter place. But what we can’t do is be so consumed by loss that we fail to continue to live. That we lash out and hurt others. Back to the X-Box. When it crushes and burns and you just bought it. Yes that is going to suck and not make you happy, but picking it up and throwing it through your flat screen TV is certainly not going to help. Attachment to those we care about and the things we care about is fine, but we must remember that there will come a time when they are no longer in our life. When we let our attachments rule us, and make us act or react in ways that are not worthy of a Jedi, that is where we go wrong. The best thing we can do (after some mourning) is to pick up where we left off, honoring and appreciating those wonderful gifts we have/had in our life,learning from the experience of loss. Give thanks, appreciate the moments you have, they are fleeting. Enjoy them and when the moment passes, remember them fondly and share that essence and gratitude with the rest of world. The Jedi will tell you, be attached, just don’t let that attachment override your better senses and blind you to the continued beauty, wonder, and gifts your world still offers.