A thing I wrote recently on The Force..
Defining The Force
What is The Force? Ask anyone in the street and they will say it is the mystical aspect of Star Wars.. A fictional energy field that some beings can use for good and evil, and which is an integral part of the storyline.
Is there such a thing as The Force – well, something that is a living energy field, whatever name we like to call it, that can be tapped into?
Walk into any alternative/ new age/ occult bookshop, and you will find proof that a lot of people believe there can be such things… You will find books on a bio magnetic field that surrounds the body, known as the Aura. Leaf though the book on auras, you will find that it states that the “field” varies in line with your health, mood, and that your aura can interact with others, resulting in the “instant likes and dislikes” among other things… You will find books on both “high” and “low” magic, stating that spells and rituals are simply ways to focus the intention, and that it is the power of your intention during the spell or ritual that makes the outcome happen – a form of mind over matter….
The fact that there is such a thing is regularly and vividly drawn to my attention in martial arts. I learn Aikido – and have been for some years. While it certainly relies heavily upon fitness, concentration, and the physical, there is also a lot of more “esoteric” stuff involved – relying on “Ki” energy…. Something very Force-like. What is always interesting is when some one new to the class is first taught the most basic of the exercises, known in Aikido as “unbendable arm”. The theory being that if your muscles are tense and you are trying to use strength alone to hold your arm out, someone can bend it, whereas if you relax physically, keeping the intention that no-one will bend it, it is pretty much unbendable, even when someone actually swings from your arm, feet off the floor! You see the new student thinking “what a load of airy-fairy nonsense” until they are called up and try it!!!! There are many other exercises we are taught at my dojo, involving the use of ki / mind over matter – including making yourself too heavy to be picked up by two strong men, being completely resistant to being pushed over, and even making someone loose their balance by doing no more than pushing/pulling on their aura. All apparently airy-fairy stuff until you find that it works! Combing this with the physical training is one of the main requirements of students as they progress.
Connecting with this energy field, whatever you choose to call it, is certainly a real skill that either comes without being taught (in some cases ) or that can be learned (in other cases).
It is a well known fact that George Lucas drew some of his inspiration from Eastern beliefs, and therefore the concept of Ki (Japanese form of the word) / Chi (Chinese form of the word), or prana (its Indian equivalent) will not have been alien to him, and will the oriental martial arts, and their predecessor of yoga will have been all related to that area of his research for ideas… as were the related fields of Taoism, Hinduism, the concept of Ying/Yang (the idea behind the light and dark sides of the Force, in the fictional universe), mirrored well in the Jedi and Sith codes:
The Jedi Code:
There is no emotion; there is peace.
There is no ignorance; there is knowledge.
There is no passion; there is serenity.
There is no chaos; there is harmony.
There is no death; there is the Force.
The Sith Code:
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
Through passion, I gain strength.
Through strength, I gain power.
Through power, I gain victory.
Through victory, my chains are broken.
The Force shall set me free.
It is also most interesting to read George Lucas’s own views on the growth of the real life Jedi movement:
George Lucas once said in an interview with Bill Moyers: “I put the Force into the movie in order to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people — more a belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system. I wanted to make it so that young people would begin to ask questions about the mystery.”…………………………………..
Lucas also said, in that interview with Bill Moyers: “I would hesitate to call the Force God. It's designed primarily to make young people think about the mystery. Not to say, ‘Here's the answer.’ It’s to say, Think about this for a second. Is there a God? What does God look like? What does God sound like? What does God feel like? How do we relate to God? Just getting young people to think at that level is what I've been trying to do in the films. What eventual manifestation that takes place in terms of how they describe their God, what form their faith takes, is not the point of the movie.”
Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith, releasing this week, is the first of the Star Wars films to garner a PG-13 rating, for violence and dark themes. We see Anakin Skywalker transform into Darth Vader. There is a dark side to religion that Lucas understands, and this last film in the series makes it clear what can happen in a world where the Force is taken seriously.
In this case, Lucas is referring to relating a belief in the Force to God, which, if you look at many new-agey interpretations of the word, does not necessarily refer to an actual deity/ entity, but to the conscious intelligence in the Universe as a whole. With that interpretation, Lucas’s statement begins to make a lot of sense. Though of course he stops short of saying if he actually intended to create a religion or way of life!
Major differences I do find between the fictional Force and the real Force (for want of better terminology) are that while, say, people do have different levels of ability with the Aikido mind-over-matter exercises, everyone, rather than an elite few, can become proficient at them given time and practice.. psychic phenomena are certainly considered to be things that happen to select people, but again I believe that to be in part due to the fact most of us are taught such things do not happen, and to discount them if they do – get talking to a roomful of people about the paranormal in general and over half will admit to some experience or another… so none of this is something which I believe only a few people have the ability to connect with, it is natural to all..
How relevant is the Force to being a Jedi? Both fictionally and in real life, I believe that it is imperative. Not necessarily use mind over matter skills to, say, make yourself too heavy to lift, or to develop psychic skills to outdo your friends. But an awareness and belief that the Universe is a sea of living energy is vital – to be aware that whatever you choose to do has a wider ripple effect in the world as a whole. To have a deep respect for living things that share this “energy field” with us, and to be aware that there is much more in the universe that we can currently know about. Weather it can even be used at the level it is used in the fictional Star Wars stories, is a matter for debate, but it is certainly something that exists in its own right, and is a vital thing for both fictional and real life Jedi to be aware of.
The Force - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_force
Ki In Daily Life - Koichi Tohei
Star Wars Roleplaying Game: Power of the Jedi Sourcebook - .D. Wiker, Michael Mikaelian, Jeff Grubb, and Owen K. C. Stephens
Jedi Religion sees Dramatic Growth - http://www.explorefaith.org/news/05_17_05.html/
Sensei Ross Hodder @ Torbay Aikido Club, Brixham, Devon UK
About Spells: http://www.innermoo.co.uk/moohtml/aboutspells.htm
Learning Ritual Magic by John Michael Greer, Clare Vaughn, Earl King Jr.