According to census data, in 2001 Jediism was the fourth largest religion in the UK. For a few glorious years, Jediism was a larger religion in this country than Sikhism, Buddhism and Judaism. Though Jediism has since declined in Britain, there are still a couple of hundred thousand Jedi Knights walking among us. You too, can join their illustrious ranks. Though you’re unlikely to be able to summon lighting from your finger tips, or hurl great boulders at Christopher Lee, thanks to the enterprising teachings of the Temple of the Jedi, and other religious orders, you can undergo the studies needed to call yourself a Jedi Knight.
Jedis do not worship George Lucas. The Star Wars films are not their scripture, though it is accepted that the films are an accessible means of expressing Jedi philosophy. Since it’s conception in the mind of George Lucas, Jediism has evolved into a complex and compelling religious order, focusing on a philosophical system reminiscent of Buddhism, Taoism and Humanism. There is very little divinity in Jediism, but a system of moral codes and teachings.
Although Jediism is more a philosophy than a religion, there is an element of mysticism involved with the hallmark of the Jedi: The Force. Jedi believed the Force to be an all pervasive presence which emanates from all life in the universe. This may instantly remind of such religious concepts as the Holy Spirit, or the Tao. In essence that is what it is, an all encompassing, ethereal aspect of the divine. Though it may seem esoteric, the Force can be applied to our own lives, especially if we use the Star Wars films as a metaphor. In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker disables the targeting computer of his X-Wing fighter, preferring to reach out with his emotions and allow the Force to guide his aim. Though exaggerated, this is actually just talking about intuition. Examples of this can be found whenever one plays physical sports. Tensing as you go into a rugby tackle will result in injury, resisting the flow the river will flip your kayak. In other words, success often arises from listening to our instincts, listening to “the Force”. This aspect of Jediism draws heavily from of Taoist principle of Wu Wei, which literally means no action, and encompasses a complex philosophical idea involving trusting your instincts, going with the flow, and being adaptable to life’s problems. In life we must be flexible and adaptable, this is the message that the force attempts to teach us.
There are sixteen Teachings of Jediism, which have strong and clear influences from Taoism, Buddhism and Christianity. The Teachings combine this Buddhist nonattachment with mindfulness and a trinity of personal well-being in the mind-body and soul. In addition to the Buddhist influenced Teachings, there is a Jedi Creed, which is heavily based on the prayer of St. Francis of Assizi, the man for who the current Pope Francis is named, it is composed of two self-affirming stanzas, which remind the would-be Jedi to adopt a mind-set of learning towards problems rather than a mind-set of deafeatism. It is adapted from Christian ideology, but the viewing of a negative situation in a positive light is also a heavily Taoist concept. The Teachings and Creed of the Jedi distil words of wisdom from established religions in ways that are both simple and appealing.
The Teachings and Creed are all supported by the Maxims. These 21 short sentences aim to encompass the aspirations of the Jedi. These feature such noble pursuits as honesty, purity and. The Maxims focus heavily on personal awareness; inviting you to pay close attention to yourself so that you might acquire knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge should then be used to improve your life, and the lives of those around you. The Maxims are the embodiment of the three Jedi Tennets of focus, wisdom and knowledge. Just as the Force connects all things, Jediism’s three Tennets of wisdom, knowledge and focus, are all deeply connected. The first Tennet is focus, which comes from removing irrelevant thoughts from your mind. The second Tennet is knowledge, which is acquired from focus. The final Tennet is wisdom, which is found in the proper application of knowledge, and through patience in your endeavours. Though these concepts may seem trite, they serve the same purpose as any affirmations, found everywhere from Christianity to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.
There is nothing revolutionary about Jediism, nor is there anything childish or whimsical. It’s true that the the information page at Temple of the Jedi reads like the personal beliefs of one man, they are entirely reasonable and compelling beliefs, and are freely open to anyone to be a part of, no matter what their previously held convictions may be. The way in which Jediism is structured, and the value it espouses, appears to be just a moral code as normal as any other, wrapped in in a language and an ethos of ease, and pleasant simplicity. In your quest for spiritual guidance, don’t let Jediism slip under your radar. May the force be with you.
More information, and the doctrine of the Order of the Jedi in full can be found at www.templeofthejediorder.org.