“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Today I become a Knight of our Order, something I've worked towards since joining the Temple last October. Since embarking on this path, I have always held the Knight's Code in my heart, just as I hold the Jedi Code and Creed. I believe every aspiring Knight should embody the virtues of knighthood; but more than that, I feel these values follow directly from our core Jedi beliefs. To be Jedi in thought, intention and action is to embody the Knight's Code; to be a Jedi Knight.
"A Knight is sworn to valour."
Valour is the application of courage. It takes courage to put faith in the Force, and to live a life of sacrifice in order to promote the harmony of all things. All Jedi should strive to be courageous in their approach to faith, life and themselves, and even in times of grave danger (consider the maxim "Death, yet the Force"). It takes courage to be Jedi, thus all Jedi are valorous.
"His heart knows only virtue."
All Jedi strive to embody the virtues extolled by our Tenets, Code and Creed. More than this we make deep and sincere efforts to develop a compassionate understanding of ourselves, our place in the world and those around us. We give our attention, practice and lives to our virtues, thus Jedi are virtuous.
"His blade defends the helpless."
Jedi are "instruments of peace" and as such we give succour to those in need of defence. But we also know that sometimes, our "blade" is required. We may imagine this as a laser-sharp, pinpoint focus, but in a more practical sense we may sometimes need to fight for something in order to protect those in trouble. We hold the strength within us to defend others, thus Jedi are blades against helplessness.
"His word speaks only truth."
There's a difference between truth and honesty. Honesty can be reckless; truth is an expression of things as they are, in a manner which is compassionate and authentic. As compassionate individuals Jedi may not always be unflinchingly honest, but we remain pure in motive and deed; what we do, we do for the underlying unity of the Force. We hold true to the Force, the basic truth of all things, thus Jedi remain true in word, thought and deed.
"His shield shelters the forsaken."
Similarly to the point about our blades, Jedi are also shields for those who are lost, outcast and dismayed by others. It's very easy to go with the herd mentality and ostracise or ignore those on the fringes, but this is not a harmonious way. We recognise that all is one in the Force, and our commitment to peace and defence permits no attacks on those who have been marginalised, thus Jedi forsake no-one.
"His courage gives hope to the despairing."
Following on from the last point, because we refuse to ostracise and ignore others, we do not let others suffer alone. Despair is a darkness which can extinguish a life, but Jedi are bringers of light. Through our strength, we show others that there is hope, even in times of darkness, thus Jedi give hope to the desperate.
"His justice undoes the wicked."
Justice is at the core of the Jedi project. What we do, we do to create balance. Justice is about everyone having enough, without iniquity (or inequity). It is about harmony and restoring balance. We work to redress wickedness through love, compassion and truth, thus Jedi remain just.
"His image brings peace."
As I have mentioned already, Jedi are instruments of Peace. We also strive to foster mutual understanding and mediate in times of strife. By remaining true to the core Jedi principles of reflection, meditation and compassion it is impossible that we could neglect the importance of stillness and peace. By recognising the oneness of all that is, peace becomes our image, thus Jedi bring peace.
"His code breaks the darkness,"
Jedi follow the Jedi Code, which reveals some of the fundamental dichotomies of life as all part of the universal unity of the Force. Accepting this, as I've demonstrated above, the Knight's Code expresses an unfailing commitment to the same unity of all people and things. Thus if one is truly Jedi, one is already following the Knight's code: Making sacrifices for the truth and putting the helpless and forsaken first in a courageous, virtuous effort to become beacons of hope, unity and justice, in defence of the harmony of the universe.
"His legend brings light."
The legend, myth and imagery of the Jedi lends us strength; it brings us together and unites us in the light of the Force. But beyond this, our own lives are legends. We serve as examples to others, and are strong so that others may shrug off their own weakness. We serve the message and harmony of the Force, thus our lives shine even in darkness.
As Jedi, whatever your rank, if you hold true to these maxims you are already a Knight. Live a life of valour, virtue, defence, truth, shelter, hope and justice. Whether you are a Guest of the Temple or a Councillor and Grand Master, if you truly trust in the Force, all that is written in the Knight's Code must follow.
Fake it til you make it, if that's how you choose to look at it. But remember there is no "finished article". No Knight, Master, or Councillor is perfect, and all are still growing, learning and trying. All are human, all have weaknesses and all err from time to time. It is enough to try, repeatedly and sincerely. Make Knightly virtues your habit, and you become a Knight, whatever your rank at the Temple.
Brother and Sister Knights:
may your code break the darkness,
may your legend bring light
and may the Force be with you, always.