Campaign of the Month: January 2012
Star Trek Late Night
This is the study of how energy flows within our body and within the Universe, with special emphasis on how we access and direct that energy. Life force energy pervades the whole universe and is called many names: Ki, Chi Tao, Prana, etc. It is abundant in every area of the universe and is freely accessible to everyone. The Force is neither controlled nor controlling — it is a part of life itself; asking if it controls or can be controlled is like asking if a person controls his component cells, or the cells control him.
The Force itself is the vital life force which we all possess. It flows through and around the body along pathways that are known as meridians. According to many ancient healers, blockages in these channels that impede the flow of the force are the cause of many illnesses. The exact nature of this energy flow is not known for certain in terms of modern science, but many practitioners believe it to be a manifestation of quantum energies.
Varying Views of the Force
The Living Force
The Living Force was a view on the Force, accepted by the majority of Jedi throughout ages. The Living Force was thought to be present in most living beings, surrounding and penetrating them, thus making all living things connected by it. The Jedi believing in the Living Force relied on their instincts and were attuned to other living beings around them. They were mindful of the future and the possible consequences of their actions, but remained focused on the present. The Living Force was viewed as having both the Light and Dark Sides. The Jedi always had to be mindful of their actions to avoid the temptations of the Dark Side. Through following the Living Force, several Jedi were able to retain their identities after their physical death, becoming one with the Force and able to manifest themselves as Force Ghosts. Proponents of the Living Force view, such as Qui-Gon Jinn, espoused a philosophy of ‘living in the moment’, relied heavily on their instincts and concentrated more on sensitivity to living things, rather than fulfilling destiny, which was one of the main tenets of the Unifying Force philosophy.
The Unifying Force
The concept of the Unifying Force found fewer supporters within the Jedi Order than the Living Force. The concept of the Unifying Force was that the Force is a single entity and has neither a Light nor a Dark Side. The Unifying Force was viewed as a deity that neither had sides nor chose them, treating all beings equally. Followers of the Unifying Force always kept their eyes open for future possibilities. In the end, it resulted in them trying to fulfill a destiny rather than focusing on here and now, as the Living Force supporter would do.
Ironically for Unifying Force Jedi, Emperor Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious, supported this belief as well. He claimed that there was only one Force: the only difference worthy of note was that the Sith saw the Force as a means to an end while the Jedi saw it as an end in itself.
The Potentium Heresy
The Potentium view of the Force, not to be confused with the Unifying Force, was strictly disapproved by the old Jedi Order. While similar to the Unifying Force, which suggested that there was only one Force that did not take sides, the Potentium view stated that the Force – and the galaxy in general – were inherently good. According to this belief, the so-called Dark Side was not made up of specific ‘parts’ or ‘abilities’ of the Force: as espoused by the Light Side, it existed inside the life form which used it, made from their emotions. By that standard, and unlike the Light Side, all Potentium followers could perform any action and use the Force in any way they saw fit, as long as the intention behind it was good. In contrast, the Old Jedi Order acknowledged the existence of Potentium, but made it clear that it was a subverting of the Jedi teaching and a way to misguide people to the Dark Side, or a means to serve it. The living planet Zonama Sekot supported the Potentium theory of the Force as well.
The Jedi Order
“It has been said that anyone who knows the ways of the Force can set her- or himself up as a king on any world where only she or he knows the ways of the Force. Any Jedi could do this. But the Jedi, fools that they are, adhere to a religion in which the Force is used only in the service of others. How shortsighted of them. Is that not why they lost the galaxy to the Dark Side?”
Emperor Palpatine, in The Weakness of Inferiors
The Light Side of the Force was concerned with the ideals of good, benevolence, and healing. Followers of the Light Side strove to live in harmony with the world around them, acting out of wisdom and logic rather than anger and hasty judgment. In order to achieve harmony with the Light Side of the Force, its practitioners would often meditate to clear themselves of emotion, particularly negative emotions such as aggression, fear, anger, and hatred, since these were thought to bring on acceptance of the Dark Side.
The largest group of proponents and teachers of the Light Side was the Jedi Order, who strove to maintain peace and justice throughout the galaxy. The values of the Light Side were culminated in the Jedi Code. The Jedi accepted the view on the two sides of the Force: the Dark Side and the Light Side. A follower of the Light Side strove to live in harmony with those around him. Mutual trust, respect, and the ability to form alliances gave the Jedi their distinct advantage over the Sith. In contrast, a follower of the Dark Side uses the Force primarily for himself. Use of the Dark Side of the Force was forbidden within the Jedi Order, and was strictly considered the domain of the Sith.
Traditional Jedi were keen to keep the Force ‘in balance’. They attempted to achieve this by destroying the Sith and denying the Dark Side – essentially ‘keeping balance’ by restoring the Force to its natural state, as they viewed the Dark Side to be ‘corruption’. This involved the purging of negative emotions such as aggression, anger, and hatred, since they could easily bring on acceptance of the Dark Side. In contrast, positive emotions such as compassion and courage nurtured the Light Side of the Force. The Jedi Code compared such feelings and provided insight into the ethical use of the Force.
Passion was considered dangerous, as it could lead to strong emotions that could unbalance the Jedi and lead them to the Dark Side. Love was, curiously enough, seen as something both Jedi and Sith avoided. While the Jedi espoused a broad, all-encompassing, self-sacrificing love for all beings, love for another being — romance, a possessive love by nature — was shunned in post-Ruusan order. Possession of all types was also shunned in the post-Ruusan Reformation era Jedi Order, the only exceptions being a Jedi’s lightsaber and clothes. The Jedi viewed love as a danger best left untouched.
The Jedi Code:
One of the key portions of the Code was a five-line mantra. Several versions of the mantra exist, though the original version was:
Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Chaos, yet harmony.
Death, yet the Force.
The refined version established by Odan-Urr was perhaps the best known:
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no death, there is the Force.
Alternately the Sith Code as taught by Darth Bane:
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 free me.
Some have speculated that the Code of the Sith was created in direct contrast with the Jedi Code, to illustrate the fundamental philosophical differences between the Orders. This could certainly account for the first line of the Sith Code discounting the Jedi’s proclamation of peace, as well as the similar structure of the two Codes.
The Sith saw themselves as seekers, challengers of old and stagnant ways, in touch with the laws of nature and the universe. They saw the Jedi as denying their natures and afraid of the truth around them. Yuthura Ban gave examples of the tuk’ata and sarkath hunting prey, feeding on weaker creatures. Passions were what kept all creatures — from the most rudimentary to the most evolved sentient — alive. Yuthura Ban explained this to the amnesiac Revan, “To think us creatures beyond the need of simple passions is a delusion”. They believed that mastery of their passions gave them strength the Jedi lacked.
The Sith did not believe that victory by any means was desirable, but believed that unless victory proved your superiority, it was an illusion and temporary. Though there might be different types of victories — peaceful victory, victory by sacrifice, even a truce — Sith dogma taught that unless the victory was achieved by demonstrating that one’s power was superior it was not true victory. The stronger a Sith became in the Force, the more power he could achieve, but he always had to fight for that power.
The true meaning of the line “…my chains are broken” was a subject of argument among many Sith. The chains represented a being’s restrictions; not just a Sith but any being in the universe. The restrictions could be those placed upon a being by someone else, or restrictions that one placed upon oneself. The ultimate goal of any Sith was to free himself from such restrictions, but not (as many failed Sith pupils believed) in the simplistic meaning of just being able to do whatever he wanted. The Sith desired to free themselves in order to reach perfection and fulfill their potential. They wanted perfect strength, perfect power, and perfect destiny, which, in turn, allowed one to do whatever they wanted for the most part. The person who had these abilities was known as the Sith’ari.
The Sith’ari was supposed to destroy the Sith and then make them stronger than ever. This caused many Sith to treat perfection as a goal to work towards rather than a strict state of being, and in that way they were very like the Jedi.