The Jedi Way and Buddhism Part 1

14 years 8 months ago #21025 by Garm
We will look at Buddhism with a Jedi slant and use examples taken from the movies that fit the various ideals. It is not the intent of this essay to say that Jediism comes exclusively from Buddhism nor the darkside references meant to be malicious, but to be taken in context as directly described in the films. This is simply a :cheer: fun :cheer: look at Buddhist thought and where the films scenes and themes seem to parallel.

I have drawn heavily from a number of texts and the internet. The texts I recomend the most and would be an asset to anyones library include: The Three Pliiars of Zen by Roshi P . Kapleau, Understanding Buddhism by Gary Gach, and The Dharma of Star Wars by Matthew Bortolin.

This is the first installment, and we will look at the four noble truths and the Eightfold path in depth in future posts...please comment and add as we travel along, I'm sure there will be many references that I will miss...:)

The whole of Buddha’s teachings can be summed up in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Truths layout his doctrine for us to understand, and the Path is for us to follow.

The Buddha interlinked the last Noble Truth and the first step of the Eightfold Path, connecting both theory and practice to create a path we can apply to our lives right now and learn by doing…

The Four Noble truths are:

1. Suffering (duhkha)
2. Attachment (trishna)
3. Liberation (nirvana)
4. The path of Liberation (marga)

The Eightfold Path consists of:

1. Right View
2. Right Thought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration

Before we look at what these ideals mean and the Jedi applications and connections lets look at a practice that is a key element in both Jediism and Buddhism;

The Jedi Art of Mindful Concentration.

Mindfulness and Concentration

“Don’t center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan, keep your concentration here and now where it belongs.”

“But Master Yoda said that I should be mindful of the future.”

“But not at the expense of the moment, be mindful of the living force, young Padawan.”

~ Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jin instructing Jedi Padawan Obi-wan Kenobi.

Qui-Gon sensing that his apprentice is lost in the future, councils him to practice the Jedi art of mindfulness and concentration.

Mindfulness and concentration also base elements of Buddhism, essential steps to spiritual freedom and happiness, vital for being in touch with the living force, for living in the present. If we are to be truly alive we must touch life deeply in the here and now because there is no life outside of this moment. The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. When we get caught up in the past and future, we loose the joy inherent in the present.

Buddha and his followers were known to be radiant, when asked how monks living with very little could be this way, Buddha answered, “They do not repent the past nor brood for the future. They live in the present, therefore they are radiant. By brooding over the future or repenting the past, fools wither away like green reeds cut down.”

When we are not wasting energy thinking of the past and future we are able to stop and smell life’s roses, and when we do, we become aware that there are a lot more roses around than we ever imagined. In every moment there exist countless small joys, but too often we take them for granted. Living as Qui-Gon – remaining in the here and now, opens our eyes to these wonders.

Buddha said “I teach only suffering and the cessation of suffering.” He was not interested in abstract philosophical theorizing. He found little importance in pondering things such as ‘Is the soul one thing and the body another?’ or ‘will the universe come to an end?’ To him such questions were a waste of time and energy because they did nothing to cure the problem plaguing the world – that of suffering.

Suffering is a fact of life. Honestly recognizing suffering is the first step toward transcending it.

Living in the manner Qui-Gon describes, we are able to observe our present suffering and the causes and conditions that give rise to it. We suffer because of unexamined views, beliefs, attitudes and habits.

At the heart of the Art of Mindfulness and Concentration lies the ancient Greek maxim “Know thyself.” When we know ourselves we understand why we suffer. Mindfulness does not judge or reject the causes of our suffering, it makes us aware. When we are aware we are capable of the Buddhist and Jedi practice of “letting go.”

Letting go means the ability to “see” all of the things we cling to as truths, the things we grasp as important, and the things we believe to be necessary. And to be able to honestly “evaluate” their true worth. To remain attached to ideas and habits, mechanical devices and protocol, is to limit ourselves and can set us down the path of suffering. When we release attachments to these things, they become choices rather than addictions we blindly follow. To overcome these things we first need to develop our mindfulness.

The method of mindfulness is simple to understand – Yet surprisingly difficult to practice. It requires us to focus our awareness on what is going on around us at this instant – to be mindful of the living force. When standing, sitting, walking, or watching a aware that you are standing, sitting, walking, or watching the movie. Focus your attention on the task at hand.

- Try this exercise. Right now, get up from your computer and get a glass of water and drink it. Then sit back down and continue on…


Okay, try to recall as you walked to the cupboard, removed the glass and proceeded to fill it. Did your thoughts ever drift away? Were you thinking about being mindful or actually being mindful?

It is difficult to be mindful because many of us have lived unmindfully for years. Yoda’s words to Obi-wan concerning Luke can easily be applied to us. “Never his mind on where he was, on what he was doing.” We have accumulated many years of living without mindfulness – doing one thing while thinking of another, this habit is ingrained in our daily lives.

To help ground us in the moment there is a useful tool in the technique of Mindful breathing.

Luke learned the art of Mindful breathing with Yoda on Dagohah. While climbing vines, leaping rocks and logs the young Jedi, his master on his back, is being instructed on the dangers of the darkside. Luke’s mind races with questions; is the darkside stronger? How can he tell the darkside from the light? And why can he not do certain things? Luke’s questions come in such a rapid-fire manner that it is clear to Master Yoda that his student has lost touch with the here and now. Noticing this he brings the lesson to an end. “Nothing more will I teach you today,” Yoda says. “Clear your mind of questions.” In this way Yoda stops Luke before he can become bewildered, rather than empowered by his training. Luke does as he is told and by clearing his mind of questions he comes back to the present moment – returns to his breath and is almost instantly visibly calmer.

Mindful breathing is simply the practice of concentrating on ones breath. It is for many, including myself, the first introduction to meditation. You follow your breath in with awareness, then follow your breath out with awareness. You just need to notice-be mindful - of your natural breathing process, do not try to change the rhythm or volume, simply be mindful of the process.

As we focus on our breathing we discover that our mind wants to wander. But through sustained effort and practice the wandering can be coaxed into a state of calm.

On a personal note, as I said earlier, this technique was my first venture into the world of meditation. I’ve used so many variants I couldn’t attempt to list them and with many things we seem to return to our beginnings. I use the technique of mindful breathing almost exclusively now, I guess for me, more is not always better and I obtain the best results with this humble little meditation.

The practice of the Art of Mindfulness and Concentration helps us discover ourselves. It is a method of observation, not a means of becoming a different person, we do not need to become anything, we only need to observe the impermanent nature of our feelings, thoughts and the world around us. Observation reveals when our actions lead to suffering and when they lead us to freedom, and in turn these observations allow us the wisdom to make the choices that will keep us off the path of the darkside.

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14 years 8 months ago #21045 by
I have been looking for this, it is more in tune with the feeling of the force for me, I shall and will follow this path of light.
I need/want more on this subject as I feel the power of the force strong with in me, the joy of the warmth of this knowing is like a seed now planted, I will need water, I shall not disturb it as I gaze upon it to reflect my hear and now.

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14 years 8 months ago - 14 years 8 months ago #21057 by Garm
There is more to come my brother, I've put most of the material to paper it's just to get the chance to type and shuffle it around a bit...holidays and visiting family has delayed my progress a little...:) Please feel free to add anything you wish, in the mean time. We will take a look at what suffering (dukaha) really is, it's quite a large topic we may break it down so we can talk about it in bite-sized pieces. ;)
Last edit: 14 years 8 months ago by Garm.

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