What is the Purpose of Knighthood?

There is a moment in The Phantom Menace where a young Anakin Skywalker has to make a choice. A path is placed before him, and he must choose whether or not to take it—whether or not to become a Jedi.

“Qui-Gon: Anakin, training to be a Jedi will not be an easy challenge. And if you succeed it will be a hard life. 

Anakin: But it’s what I want. What I’ve always dreamed about. Can I go mom?

Qui-Gon: This path has been placed before you Annie; the choice to take it is yours alone.”

It’s a pivotal moment for the young man, now young Jedi, and we all have similar pivotal moments in our paths: the moment we committed to becoming Jedi. However, it is far from the only important moment in a Jedi’s life. I am speaking, of course, of knighthood.

Knighthood is held up in the Jedi community, from Facebook to Academy Forums, as the completion of something, the recognition of some great accomplishment. There are few new Jedi who do not at some point envision knighthood on their path forward. This is perfectly healthy and understandable. Knighthood is a lovely and time-honored way to recognize and celebrate growth and experience in the community, and easily point out members of the community as excellent and trustworthy resources on the path.

The California Jedi Knighthood Standards define a Jedi Knight thusly:

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.

Secondly, a Jedi Knight takes on more work and responsibility than they did before, both in their own development and the development of their Jedi community.

Thirdly, a Jedi Knight experiences personal growth in mind, body, emotions, relationships, and spirit. This growth should be noticeable from the time the Jedi begins to pursue knighthood to the time they are being considered for the position. A Jedi Knight needs to be strong and well-rounded in all these areas, and have a training regimen for all of them.

But should everyone pursue Knighthood? Like Anakin, we are all presented with a choice. Many of us flow from one step to another, like gaining a rank in a beloved martial art, or graduating from one grade to another, as if this path is set or automatic. Instead of seeing knighthood as some necessary rank to be achieved, or the next natural step on your path, examine clearly why you want to be a Knight, or if you want to be a Knight at all. What is the purpose of this title, and would it have any purpose or meaning for you? What qualities give it that purpose or meaning, and are those qualities something you want to nurture or strengthen within yourself? What use would this trial or title have for you on your path?

We have all chosen to become Jedi; some are just starting on their path, others are finding it is not for them and choosing to leave, and some are choosing again and again, day after day, to keep walking the Jedi way. Each of these choices is valid and valuable. Consider that your path does not have to lead to Knighthood in a straight efficient line, or even at all. Make choices on your path consciously, after careful consideration. One can easily meet the above qualifications, but discover that knighthood is not an important goal for them. Whether or not you’ve always dreamed about it like Anakin, or feel as if this is not an important step on your path, whatever choice you make, make it intentionally.

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