I was recently reading Destiny Froste’s series of articles on the Jedi Trials, and how they can be useful in our real world community, and it got me thinking: what is the purpose of these trials? Why these trials, why skill, courage, flesh, spirit, and insight? There are a plethora of virtues and obstacles to overcome on the Jedi path. What do these trials say about what a Jedi Knight should be?
And then it came to me: persistence. This is the first and most vital obstacle a Jedi must overcome to be a Knight. The work, the time, the bad times, the difficulty of this path, even the good times in your life: all can distract you from continuing forward towards true growth and improvement. Often people give up. Sometimes people get stuck. Even worse, sometimes people settle, thinking they’ve acheived something stable and permanent, or achieved mastery in some way, all while forgetting that this path is one of constant pressure, evolution, and reevaluation.
A knight is someone who has persisted in their path long enough to become a beacon for others. Even the California Jedi Knighthood standards say as much: “Firstly, a Jedi Knight is someone who has walked the path despite obstacles and trials for a long time: long enough to deeply explore their path and internalize it so they are a Jedi every day, not just when it is helpful or convenient.” A Jedi Knight Persists.
Of course there are many other qualities to being a Knight: leadership, communication, mentorship, responsibility… the list goes on. But the first item on that list is persistence, and the trials reflect that goal.
The Trial of Skill is persistence in the face of distraction and exhaustion. Control and self-discipline require long hard work to build, and consistent prolonged effort to maintain.
The Trial of Courage is persistence in the face of external fears. A Knight cannot let the fears that besiege them halt them on their path or interfere with their goals.
The Trial of Flesh is persistence in the face of pain. Pain and death are natural parts of life that humans avoid, but we cannot let our limitations limit the scope of our path, or let our wounds scar so badly that we lose flexibility and trust.
The Trial of Spirit is persistence in the face of internal fears, or insecurities. Just as Luke in the Cave, or Yoda on the planet of the Whills, we must look deep within ourselves to face whatever darkness lies there, so it cannot undermine us or thwart our path.
And the Trial of Insight is persistence in the face of illusion and ignorance. A Jedi must not be led astray by bias, false assumptions, lies, or illusory things; a Knight has to see clearly to forge the path ahead.
For the next five weeks, starting Monday, I will be reposting (with the generous permission of the author) Destiny’s series on the Trials as they apply to real Jedi. Think carefully about your path: what trials have you passed in your life, or on your path? What trials have you yet to face? What must you do to pass them successfully?
Happy reading, and may the Force be with you.