Written and delivered by and published for tzb
However far we are along our personal paths, we can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the distance we still need to travel to achieve our goals.
Peace, knowledge, serenity, harmony and the Force can all seem like distant, unknowable ideals when we first try to embody them. Many arrive at the Temple in search of them, because they know how emotional, ignorant, passionate, chaotic, and how full of "death" they have been.
We want to be perfect. We want to keep our stillness and calm in a crisis, to never say ignorant things or have aggressive thoughts. And when we do, we can sometimes feel like we're "bad Jedi". Sometimes, people leave our path because they stumble. But our Code doesn't imply perfection. It suggests balance, moderation, harmony. Acceptance.
Rather than viewing the right hand side of our Code as a mission statement that succeeds or fails based on our constant embodiment of it, why not consider it as a kind of starting point: a baseline?
"Emotion, yet peace."
We are not robots, and the core Jedi value of compassion implies very real experiences of emotion. If nothing else, to empathise with those around us we must feel something of what they feel.
Similarly, if we hope to bring peace to others, we must first find peace in ourselves; through meditation, contemplation and coming to terms with who we are. When we face emotion, this foundation of peace can bring calm to other people.
We are Jedi, instruments of peace. We make peace our baseline, something to which we return after the inevitable emotional disturbances we experience along the way.
"Ignorance, yet knowledge."
We can't know everything, and we must accept this limitation. Ignorance, ironically, is often found in believing we know something beyond doubt. "You're wrong!" is usually an ignorant assertion.
True knowledge comes from understanding you can always know more. By accepting the limitations of our understanding, we gain knowledge about what we don't or can't know, even if we inevitably make ignorant comments or assumptions from time to time.
Everyone has moments of ignorance, but as Jedi we make knowledge our baseline. Knowledge equips us to be flexible, rather than constraining us to rigid beliefs. Our Code is a form of knowledge.
"Passion, yet serenity."
We are driven by passion at a basic level, and will never be able to simply "switch off" the passionate part of ourselves. I think again about meditation, where we teach ourselves to simply acknowledge thoughts that drift in and out of our awareness, without attachment.
When we teach ourselves to accept our inevitable passions in the same way, working with them rather than against them, we learn to let them go. We accept that we feel however we do in the moment; but we learn to return to stillness, calm, serenity.
We make serenity our baseline. Despite moments of great passion, Jedi know that when the dust settles, when disturbed waters become still again, they will see things differently.
"Chaos, yet harmony."
We are always in the midst of chaos; even if we took an ascetic life and spent all day in meditation, a stray meteor could crash through the roof. We can never predict everything; to believe otherwise sets one up for continual frustration.
The work, again, is to become supple, flexible, to "bend like a reed in the wind" and move in harmony with all this seeming chaos. To be open to whatever comes, without expectation.
Our whole path is focused on harmony. It is the baseline of all that Jedi seek to achieve in the world: Harmony between people. Harmony with the Force. And, crucially, harmony with ourselves.
"Death, yet the Force."
We are mortal and will die, just as all those around us will pass on. By recognising that all is one, that energy is never lost, but instead translated and transferred through the wider stream of the Force, we learn to accept death not as something final, but as a strange and beautiful form of change.
We are the Force; these bodies are but a temporary form it takes, and some day they’ll change into something else again. All we know, feel and perceive is the Force. Death loses its terror when we know that whilst all things are in constant flux, not fixed or immutable, all things are also one.
We never leave, and are never left. Nothing is permanent but change, and change is the action of the Force. The Force is the constant underlying baseline of all things.
For me, the Code speaks of our underlying motivations. As humans in this reality of constant change, we shouldn't expect to embody the five "light" values all the time. As Jedi, we must learn to forgive ourselves when we stumble.
The Code doesn't deny the existence of the "dark" elements; it acknowledges them as parts of our lives. So why is it we see people punishing themselves for expressing passion, emotion or ignorance? Instead of recrimination and guilt, why not simply try again? However chaotic, however "un-Jedi" our lives can feel at times, we can always choose to return to our baseline values of peace, knowledge, serenity, harmony and the Force.
In these five principles we find refuge, wisdom, and our centre. And from there, we have the perfect foundation for another try – or a new beginning.