This weekend saw the passing of the Spring Equinox, an event which marks the equality between the lengths of day and night (the word “equinox” is derived from “equal night”). From now on, the days will lengthen and the nights shorten as we move into the lighter, more active phase of Summer. For our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, this situation is reversed and they are to enter the darker, more reflective phase of Winter. The Equinoxes (this one and the opposing one in Autumn/Fall) represent the perfect balance between these two extremes and allow us to experience both from a more impartial viewpoint.
Consider the notions of Light and Dark within Jediism. The movie representations, that are a metaphorical inspiration to many, have a more clean-cut view on this: the Sith are seen as the epitome of a ruthless pursuit of power whereas the Jedi have more of a moral compassion to their actions. But even within these two representations, there exists the flavour of the other. When Luke experiences trouble with the locals at the Mos Eisley Cantina, would the Light way (as portrayed by Obi Wan) really resort to cutting off an arm as opposed to resolving the conflict in a more peaceful way?
As we know, Jediism is inspired by these tales but our definition of Light and Dark, and even the terms Jedi and Sith, are based on our own reality – the emotions, events, histories and actions that define us as human, not those of a galaxy far, far away. Sithism embraces our emotions, whatever they are, as a fuel for action. So a vehement statement of opposition may be followed by a joyous expression of acceptance. Jedi, on the other hand, see emotions as indicators and catalysts for the actions that must be taken after due consideration. So while these may not represent the notions of “good” and “evil” that we see in the movies, they nevertheless encapsulate opposing and complementary perspectives. So what is the balance between these two?
There is much confusion around the term “Grey Jedi” and a lot of this has to do with the blurring of the lines between fiction and reality, in much the same way that Sithism doesn't teach Force Lightning and a manner of succession that relies on the assassination of the mentor. For many, the term “Grey” refers to Jedi who are prepared to do whatever is necessary for the greater good; sometimes this means a Sith approach, sometimes that of the Jedi. This path can often be regarded with contempt, as lacking the dedication of sticking to one viewpoint or the other. As with every other form of Jediism, being Grey requires a motivation from the Force and those that walk this Path are guided by their own personal intuition, unbounded by either perspective. This makes it both simple and difficult to maintain.
Siddharta Gautama, the historical figure known as the founder of Buddhism, was a proponent of the “Middle Way”. In Buddhism, this describes a path that is constantly on guard against a life dedicated to either extreme – on the one hand the “indulgence of sense-pleasures” and on the other, “self-mortification”. So the man who drinks, smokes and makes merry with many is seen as extreme as the chaste monk. The Middle Way teaches the “right” actions, known as the Noble Eightfold Path, that allow the devotee to maintain that path of balance. While a prolonged experience of either extreme is not encouraged, any such experiences are embraced for the lessons that they offer. For example, a night of casual drinking and socialising may highlight a need or desire that can be addressed using the teachings.
Within traditional Taoism we see the philosophical notions of Yin and Yang. Yang represents the “sunny side of a hill” - light, activity, expansion, etc – and Yin represents the “shady side of a hill” - dark, stillness, contraction, etc. These energies are constantly in a state of movement and even at the point of greatest expression of one extreme there lies the seed of the other (this is portrayed by the black and white circles within the opposing section of the Taijin, or Yin-Yang symbol). This dynamic model is the perfect representation of balance – as the symbol spins around the centre-point, the amount of Yin and Yang constantly changes, yet is always balanced, opposing and complementary. A follower of Taoism seeks to follow this flow within their own life, guided by this natural way of being – called Tao (or as we would recognise it, the Force).
These times of Equinox are natural representations of these models – the Grey Jedi, the Buddhist, the Taoist. They allow us to see each perspective without being consumed by either. There may have been times in your life that you have felt angry, afraid, unbalanced and there may have been others in which you have been so calm as to not feel connected to reality. We can also reflect on the polarities of life and death. The Winter is a time of introspection as crops and plants seem to die yet are conserving their energies to bloom once more in the burst of new activity that is the Spring. So the Equinoxes are a time to reflect on what (or who) we have lost as well as the opportunity to look forward to what is to come.
So take some time to study each aspect of yourself. In this time of balance, consider your thoughts, feelings and motivations so that you may then put them into action. Whatever your perspective, and whatever your path, allow yourself to be guided by your own experience of, and connection to, the Force. Maintain that balance within yourself and truly live the energies of the Equinox.