“Jedi may share the ability to manipulate the Force, but it is through the Jedi Order that they are truly united”
Welcome back, FOTF reader. If you are unfamiliar with the series I have been writing for Future of the Force, I will give you a brief recap. This is The Balance Series, an in-depth look at what balance truly means in the Star Wars universe. So far we have covered the overall look at the series and the Sith history and philosophies. If you’d like to catch up on those posts, you can hit the links.
In this post, we will first take a look at the history of the Jedi and how their current system came to exist. Next will be the balance philosophies and how the Jedi view balance based on the knowledge they had available at the time.
The original Jedi origins cannot be precisely pinpointed. There are several ancient organizations that could have been the original band of Force-users, though most are nothing but mentions on obscure temple walls or holocrons. Most historians would agree that the most likely location of the first “Order” was on Tython around 25,000 BBY. This was not as much an Order but a group of like individuals trying to harness a power they didn’t really understand. They learned much about the Force and spread their knowledge. The light side they called Ashla and the dark Bogan.
Eventually, they learned that the Force was not sequestered to Tython but permeated the whole galaxy. Soon after the Jedi began recruiting from other worlds. Jedi were allowed to chose their own paths based on preference and personality, becoming warriors and diplomats, or guardians and consular respectively. Jedi who served in specific locations were called “Watchmen”, a term that most likely evolved into the Jedi Sentinel, specifically Shadows, who were spies. All this new evolution would have been during the Old Republic when Jedi were also recognized by lightsaber color; guardians carried blue, consular carried green, and watchmen or sentinels carried yellow.
Early Jedi life was quite different. Attachments were not forbidden, but there was an understanding that decision making could be influenced by having a family. Most Jedi chose not to have families but traveled the galaxy to learn moral judgement and how to best be of service. Patience, sacrifice, humility, and harmony permeated a Jedi’s life. After the Great Hyperspace War in 5,000 BBY, the Jedi moved their temple to Ossus. It was here that a much greater understanding of the Force came to be.
During the days of the Old Republic, public opinions of the Jedi became increasingly important. As Jedi took more active roles in the Republic government, the public became distrustful. A few Jedi even served as Supreme Chancellor. The public worried if the Jedi were being honest and winning their elections fairly. Perception became increasingly important, as trust was required for the Jedi to perform their duties. I’m sure a re-evaluation would have followed, but the Battle of Ruusan in 1,000 BBY severely depleted the Jedi ranks. The survivors overhauled the Order, creating the 12 member High Council and establishing new rules of conduct, recruitment, and training. The other three councils (Council of First Knowledge, Council of Reconciliation, and Council of Reassignment) were not created until their numbers were greater. Thus began the Order we are all familiar with.
On Ossus, the Jedi came to understand that both the light side and the dark side of the Force reflect aspects of the living Force, the in-the-moment manifestation of life energy, and the unifying Force, the cosmic expression of prophecies and destinies. More precisely, they realized that the light and dark sides are intertwined and necessary to each other, as they form a cosmic balance. A Jedi could avoid embracing the dark side, but could never ignore its power. Over millennia, awareness of the unifying Force became lost to the Jedi, but it was rediscovered during the New Republic’s war with the Yuuzhan Vong (Windham, pg. 55).
Simply put, the unifying force is what makes the world go round and the living Force is what Force-users use to move stuff. Although the Force is a single entity, it has two separate jobs. When a Force-user sees the future, they are tapping into the unifying Force. This is the Force that binds the worlds together, that encompasses all living things. Literally, it is life. It is made of light and dark, though it is not good or evil itself. Its purpose is to maintain balance. This knowledge of the Force was lost for a time, including during the time of The Clone Wars. It is possible that this loss of knowledge played a role in the Jedi losing the war, leading to the Purge.
I believe that the Jedi losing this perspective changed the way they viewed balance in the galaxy. Keep in mind that what we see the Jedi in the prequel films striving for is the balance that comes from the Prophecy of The Chosen One – a prophecy we have yet to see. It is possible that they got the prophecy wrong or misinterpreted it because they didn’t see the difference between the living and unifying Forces.
The Jedi we see in the films are not the only light side Force-users in the galaxy. There are several other groups and individuals who have the ability to use the Force, they have chosen to remain separated. Each of these groups has their own version of balance and what the difference between the light and dark side is. To see an example, I would recommend looking into the Altisian Jedi from the Clone Wars novel No Prisoners. Or, even better, read the book. It’s a good one.
Much like any institution today, the history of the Jedi helped create the Order we are all familiar with. The same Order that influenced Luke as he remade the Jedi. History also greatly influenced how the Jedi perceived the light and dark sides of the Force. Losing knowledge of the unifying Force verses the living Force cost the Jedi a good bit of understanding. If all you see of the Force is the what you and others can manipulate then you would be inclined to believe that’s all there is.
This belief binds the user into a box and constrains them from seeing the larger picture. Yoda said the future was clouded. Not only was this cloud coming from the Sith, but from a lack of knowledge about the unifying Force that could have helped him see through it. “Beware, Jedi Master, lest through carelessness and inattention you loose upon the galaxy a monster.” – Jedi Master Bodo Baas via The Tedryn Holocron.
The next subjects of the Balance series are:
- The Mortis storyline (TCW)- it’s intentions, repercussions, & consequences. Ahsoka and Obi-wan’s visions.
- The Interpretation of The Force from Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Mace, Yoda, Anakin, Maul
- The Jedi Council’s and Palpatine’s Interpretation of the prophecy – character agreement/disagreement – Betrayal of Anakin.
- Was Balance Ever Achieved?- We do not possess the prophecy. Did “balance” mean what the council thought it did? Was “balance” actually The Clone Wars?
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Katelyn Mathis is a regular Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is a passionate Star Wars fan and is the go-to source for Force Knowledge. Follow her on Twitter @ForceKnowledge where she uses the force frequently!