The Jedi Realist ideology can sometimes be a little difficult to work with, at least as far as pinning things down for definitional purposes is concerned. The main issue that has highlighted this tends to revolve around the notion of defining what a Jedi is. Certainly we can pinpoint various aspects of one’s behaviour, beliefs or attitudes, but oftentimes you have to wonder whether or not we’re missing something from one’s definition. After all, it is incredibly difficult to pin down the nature of such an individual without in turn over-generalising.
That observed, such a thing can’t stop us from trying, because inevitably we have students and fellow practitioners who, rightly so, have to wonder what exactly constitutes a Jedi. What is it to be a Jedi Realist, to live as one and approach life in a manner that is distinct from that of the people around them? In honesty, though, you can’t whip up a dictionary definition of a sentence or two that won’t, as a result, diminish the truth of the matter. The nature of a Jedi is as complex as that of any other individual you might encounter – it is more than just the superficial aspects you can perceive on the surface.
Unfortunately, this leads to one of two possibilities: either you come up with definitions that are too vague and generalised to really get to the heart of the matter, or you become so specific as to start being almost segregational, since you would inevitably come up with an obvious idea of what does constitute a Jedi, and what doesn’t. The Jedi Realist Community has had a lot of issues in the past revolving around this – just how specific do you get with your definitions, and who exactly are you excluding from those criteria as a result?
I am sorry to say it, but inevitably that’s what is supposed to happen. Does Christianity change its ideas to include non-Christians into the umbrella of their name? Does Islam? Does Buddhism? Is it alright to call myself an actor, even though I can’t act? Can I say I am a politician, even though I’m not involved in politics? Can I say I fully embrace the classical philosophies when I ignore Plato and Aristotle? Of course not. Divisive though it may seem, you do have to draw the lines somewhere, and such is as true for the Jedi as it is for everybody and everything else. That might upset some people that like to consider themselves Jedi, but don’t conform to the criteria, but that’s life.
I wish to make one thing clear here, if I may: the definitions and/or traits provided in this book are not designed to be comprehensive. They’re designed to make you think a little bit. If you agree with them, great. If you don’t, I don’t have a problem with that, as long as you’ve got solid reasoning to reinforce that disagreement. This particular section is no different. I’m going to spend a significant amount of time here discussing the nature of the Jedi Realist – essentially, the type of people that they are. No, I’m not going to get so specific as to say that a Jedi Realist watches drama but not comedy, or anything quite that nonsensically mundane. Yes, I will be pinpointing some more generalist observations – those things which inevitably have to be true for all of us to function effectively as Jedi. And, yes, some of those things inherently have exclusionist properties: if you don’t have these qualities, or aren’t prepared to obtain them, the Jedi Path isn’t for you.
Why is that? I appreciate if you think it is arrogance on my part. Maybe it is. But, more realistically, I tend to think of it the traits that I’ll discuss shortly as being those which are inherently fundamental to a person being a Jedi Realist. How can you be a Jedi if you don’t, for example, have pro-life tendencies? How can you be a Jedi if you possess no self-control? How can you be a Jedi if you aren’t prepared to put in the effort to learn about your own strengths and weaknesses? The simple truth is that you cannot.
As you read through the rest of the book, you will be brought to one inescapable conclusion: that a Jedi Realist is the sum of a significant number of parts: the end product of study and adherence to a large set of particular beliefs ad the consequential practices that result from them. At the same time, though, there’s much more to it than that – every Jedi is naturally different. When we create our training programmes, we’re not looking to make automatons, people that react exactly the same way to every situation they enter. So when we define the Jedi, we are not defining the things that make them different from each other. We’re defining the things that make them Jedi, thus those aspects that they share in common. I ask you to keep that firmly in mind.
Now I shall move on to discussing some of those traits.
1) A Belief in the Force
The most obvious and perhaps fundamental of the traits defining a Jedi Realist is a belief in the Force. Whether you call it Life Energy, or simply Energy; whether you consider it to be the totality of energy within the Universe, or prefer to narrow your perspective down purely to that energy responsible for animating and sustaining life – that’s entirely up to the individual practitioner. Regardless, that belief has to be there, simply because it is the foundation upon which all of our other major beliefs and understandings come into being. Allow me to explain.
The first thing this creates is an understanding of the interconnected nature of life: because we are all bound by the same energies, I am connected to you, you to me, and us to every living thing around us. In conclusion, all living things are bound to each other. This should be fairly obvious to anyone familiar with biological processes – life affects life in a more intimate manner than is true for any non-living inanimate object in existence. We consume other living things to survive, and living things produce the very atmospheric conditions we need to survive (i.e. consumption of carbon dioxide and the production of oxygen by plant life).
The second is the creation of a belief in the sanctity of life: life is precious, and a gift we ourselves possess, and not something to be wasted. This is moreso true when you consider, once again, the interconnectivity of life – each one has an effect on that of others. For humans, that usually relates in a more literal sense to other humans: we have emotional bonds to each other and, at a more natural level, we also have responsibility to continue our species and to protect our young. Thus, the death of any living organism, be it human, plant or animal, has a consequential effect on other living things around it. Hence our conclusion: life is sacred.
Among humans, our effects on others of our kind tend to exist either at the material level (feeding our families, for example), and also at the emotional/psychological level. Thus, anything we do can affect others, either positively or negatively. An unkind act can cause significant damage to another being, affecting the course of their lives, perhaps. A kind word can brighten somebody’s day, maybe even giving them a new enthusiasm, even for a short time. I should think this is all painfully obvious. But from that understanding, we realise that our individual choices will inevitably have consequences that do not always remain isolated to the person responsible for them – thus, we are responsible for affecting the lives of others on a regular basis.
Thus comes a culmination of the second and third discernments: that if we hold life to be sacred, yet are naturally predisposed towards affecting life, we consequently have to act in a manner that ensures that our contributions towards life are not negatively designed, for any single action we perform may have vast repercussions. Moreover, in respecting life, we respect the independent right of all life to live, either in a manner that comes naturally to it (if taking into account plant and so-called ‘non-sentient’ animal life), or in a manner it chooses – thus, determines of it’s own accord. Yet each time we act, we risk doing so in a manner that compromises either one (if not both) of these things. So, if we are to act in a manner that appropriately expresses our belief in the Force, and the knowledge that arises from that awareness, we must live in such a way as to be responsible for our own actions, thus requiring us to do several things:
Be aware of our motivations for acting
Determine the potential consequences of any action we might take
Make a choice based on reason and forethought, not from hasty and impulsive action
Take responsibility for the consequences of our actions once we have performed them – whether to minimise or cancel out the negative effects, or to supplement any positive consequences that might have arisen.
So, while we seek to fully assert our own independence, and make our own mark upon the world around us (as all people inevitably desire), we also wish to see to it that our actions also enable others to do the same, or at the very least, seek to ensure that nothing we do compromises the ability of another to determine their own fate in life. All this from that singular belief in the existence of Life Energy. With that premise, the other understandings come with time. Lacking them, though, ensures that one cannot be a Jedi Realist, since it becomes impossible to follow any of the consequential principles that are the key to our ideology.
You will find throughout the rest of the book that we place an awful lot of emphasis upon balance: balance within the individual (physically, psychologically and spiritually), balance within one’s actions (taking into account as many factors as possible and making decisions that favour no single factor or influence too heavily), and so on. The simple reason for this is so that we can live in a manner that is not too focused upon one thing at the expense of another – that we can, consequently, exist without cutting ourselves off from the experiences that are available to us.
Likewise, we also find it true that when you do unbalance yourself in any particular form, negative consequences always follow. If you eat too much, you gain weight. Too little exercise and you fall prey to weaker muscles, slower reflexes and bad co-ordination. If you use your emotions too much, you miss things around you that a more reasonable person could perceive. If you rely upon reason without use of emotion, you block yourself off from the very natural experiences that constitute the human condition. When you compromise between such things, and form an equilibrium between the two, you can partake of the positive results of both while minimising the damage that can be caused by favouring one thing too much over its opposite.
Such a concept shouldn’t be too difficult to understand – it is, for all intents and purposes, a very natural idea. After all, nature itself is constantly balancing itself, for life exists in such a manner as to make mechanisms that allow for this. If you’d like an example, consider predator-prey ratios. If there are too many predators, the number of prey will die off to nourish them, until the population of the predator becomes too great to sustain. At that point, the number of predators falls, allowing that of the prey to increase. And if there are not enough predators, the number of prey will increase exponentially, thus meaning that such a population will grow until it, too, becomes unsustainable. This is a natural equilibrium: the state whereby two dependent factors level off at a certain point so that both can exist optimally, neither one reduced in favour of the other in a permanent manner. Yes, such things are constantly shifting, but such is the nature of life. Inevitably, a balance is struck, or both factors get taken out of the picture permanently.
For Jedi Realists, this takes several particular forms, at least insofar as our observance of such an understanding is concerned. Firstly, we begin with an emotional balancing: the practitioner begins with obtaining a personal awareness of their internal psyche, thus to learn where they might be cultivating any imbalance in the psychological sense. Do they use emotion at expense of reason, or perhaps reason at expense of emotion? With this in mind, they can then act to correct such an imbalance, and thus learn to use them together without compromising either.
Secondly, we aim towards obtaining physical balance. We can consider this in a very direct manner – engaging in regular physical exercise, maintaining a good diet – as well as energetically, seeking to allow the energy of our bodies to flow in a manner that is unobstructed and natural, this in turn augmenting our physical and psychological health. All Jedi have their own individual regimen with regards to keeping physical balance, so I shall not seek to make generalisations of such here.
Indeed, perhaps within our own training programmes, the emphasis on balance can be easily witnessed, since Jedi Realists naturally tend towards balancing the concerns of the physical body with those of the psychological mind – when both are balanced in their training, each one serves to supplement the other. Good physical energy levels and an appropriate diet allow for the mind to remain focused and supple, while an active mind serves to motivate the individual to keep the body well exercised and to promote a sense of overall wellbeing, thus striking a natural balance between them. And when one is neglected, so therefore is the other.
Balance is, then, one of the other key principles which characterise a Jedi – we seek balance in body, mind and action, this in turn being reflective of the simple nature of life itself, as we see it.
3) Seekers of Self-Knowledge
Perhaps one of the more practical notions we possess, as a rule, is that of seeking to obtain knowledge about the individual self – thus, to learn of our strengths and weaknesses; to understand our own desires and wants; to comprehend the ways in which we react to the world around us, and so on. The ideology we follow is all about changing to become the kind of person that acts conscientiously in all things, one who is considerate of all life around them, and one who does not allow themselves to be controlled by the compulsive dictates of their own emotions, instead seeking to reach a compromise between their own emotional natures and the dispassionate considerations of reason. Unless you’re very lucky, this requires that you direct changes to your own life in order to reach such a state of being.
It is, therefore, one of the major premises of our ideology that one must first learn about what is, before one can give consideration to what might be. Thus, in order to make changes in your life, you have to be certain that you understand both what it is you want to change and how best to go about that change. Such can only come from self-knowledge, and this is therefore something we rigorously pursue, from the very moment we begin our training. Even when we learn nothing, we at least endeavour to do so, thus to leave ourselves receptive to those things we might learn of ourselves that will give us a better understanding about our own natures and, perhaps, of the world around us.
We start, firstly, by doing something of an assessment of ourselves – asking ourselves questions and answering them as honestly as we are able (thus, seeking to apply objectivity to something which otherwise possesses an almost wholly subjective bias), and scrutinising these answers by comparing them to the perceptions other people have of us, thus to try and determine the truth of the matter. This being done, we can then move on to initiating some changes, as well as giving practitioners a starting point from where they can then examine their natures through constant scrutiny: through Mindfulness and Detachment.
In this, we come to a system of self-policing, as it were. Once you know (to a reasonable extent) certain aspects of your own nature that you wish to change, you can move towards doing so, but placing a level of focus upon those characteristics that allows you to track your own progress, so that mistakes can be spotted and corrected, while successes can be observed and built upon with relative ease. All this simply requires two things: the will to change and the patience to see it through.
Moreover, when we look towards the more altruistic aspects of Jedi Realism, you have to note that in seeking to help people, it seems a good idea to be aware of exactly what you have available to ensure that you can do this – it is all well and good to declare one’s intentions to help others, but without knowing how you can do that, such objectives are hollow. Thus, we exercise self-knowledge so that we are aware of what abilities and strengths we can bring to bear on a problem, that we might help others achieve a resolution.
And then, of course, we come back to the notion of conscientious action. Whereby we understand that our actions have consequences for others as well as for ourselves, we therefore have to act in a manner that takes this into account – thus, making sure that our actions are both decisive but at the same time designed so as not to harm others unduly or, better still, to benefit others without being to the detriment of anyone involved. To achieve this, we have to exercise awareness of ourselves within the moment – hence, both knowledge of ourselves and our motivations, as well as remaining aware of our environment.
You will find that, throughout our training programmes, self-knowledge is a notion that we will constantly reiterate – without it, the rest of our training is irrelevant. It is, if you will, the first of those things which constitute the teachings we use everyday, and a process that we undergo every day of our lives.
4) Application of Control and Discipline
Perhaps something which constitutes the stuffier side of Jedi Realism (or so I’ve been told), the application of self-control and self-discipline become fundamentally important with several particular considerations. Firstly, we have to ask ourselves what happens to our ethical principles lacking those two practices, and secondly, we have to wonder at the implications for our own internal state of mind – how does one function lacking some form of ability to restrain oneself from excess?
Inevitably, everyone possesses some level of self-control, even if that only extends to stopping yourself from indulging on that one last cream cake when you’re trying to watch your weight. For Jedi Realists, though, we have to take that to the next level, since we feel it is the only way to determine a path in our lives that we feel to be appropriate for us. Well, perhaps not the only way, but certainly the most effective one.
We come across these ideas initially as a result of our beliefs in the Sanctity of Life – if we are to act in the best interests of others where possible, or at the very least, to prevent ourselves from causing them any harm through intent or simple negligence, we must seek to impose a certain amount of self-discipline over ourselves, in order to ensure that any actions we do take are those that we have determined will occur consciously – thus, we have decided that we will act in a particular manner, and that any consequences arising from that action are either those we intended, or have occurred as a result of our actions. I make that latter distinction because sometimes there are things such as unforeseeable consequences. That is not to say that such a thing diminishes our responsibility for the actions that created them, merely ensuring that you are aware of the difference.
Again, we also have to look once more at the notion of maintaining an internal balance – having to compromise between the oftentimes compulsive nature of our emotions with the more detached dictates of reason and rational thought. Certainly early on in the training process, this requires that we exercise a more rigid control on our emotions, allowing reason to speak when it might otherwise be silenced. In some cases, it can be the other way around – allowing an emotional voice to speak through the over-analytical. This tends to be true for most of us, at least until an appropriate balance is struck between the two.
Given how closely interconnection the application of self-discipline is to the individual quest for self-knowledge, students generally move to learn both at the same time, since gaining self-awareness helps them to apply discipline over the aspects of themselves they feel need to be more tightly controlled, at least until sufficient changes are made so that such a high level of control can be relinquished, since the issues that warranted the restraint are no longer present or creating a problem.
This all becomes most obvious when dealing with emotional states and their consequential application. As you will discover, we tend to consider emotions as part of a three-step process: the sensation of the emotion internally (thus, the provocation of the actual feeling); the psychosomatic energy generated by this and, finally, the outward expression of this internal sensation. As you might imagine, the outward expression is that which often causes most of our problems. In anger, we may lash out. In sorrow, we might break down and cry when strength of presence is required. In happiness, we go to extremes in expressing that, thus making others uncomfortable. Self-control is thus vital when dealing with changes in one’s emotional landscape, since we need to be able to restrain the apparent manifestations of our feelings if they are inappropriate, thus to allow reason to be exercised and a more suitable articulation determined and acted upon.
Self-control and the exercise of personal discipline thus become very fundamental to us, since any action taken with these absent risks the possibility that what we then do breaches those principles we hold either as vital or even sacred. Moreover, the employment of such control inevitably allows us the greatest possible opportunity for conscious expression of our own individuality, this no longer predicated upon the whimsical acts of involuntary reflex.
5) Acceptance of Oneself
It is not simply enough to be knowledgeable of one’s strengths and weaknesses, stimuli-responses and behavioural patterns to be a Jedi. Such is oftentimes the first step, but reaching the more advanced aspects of training requires that a practitioner be able to accept themselves for who they are – to acknowledge that they have limitations, and to understand those as being potential strengths in certain situations. Likewise, they need to realise the nature of their strengths and be willing to put them to use, rather than taking them for granted. Such things allow a practitioner to grow, both as a Jedi and as a person.
More than that, though, is the simple recognition of one’s boundaries, and the knowledge that such things can be surpassed, but that not doing so is not indicative of weakness. Sometimes it is a good thing to push against your limitations and break past them, but at other times, doing so can leave you staggeringly vulnerable in a way you might not have predicted. Thus, part of accepting the person that you are is realising that there are going to be certain things that you cannot do unless you are willing to sacrifice another part of your nature.
That noted, there is also a simple point that should never be utterly overlooked: one cannot be content in life until you have accepted who you are. I expect everyone feels occasionally inadequate against the various challenges of the world, or finds themselves in a position that they feel untenable. Under such circumstances, the true test of one’s resolve is in how you manage to endure those times, and how you come out the other side. For that, you have to be content within yourself and be prepared to take the failures with the successes, and be comfortable with your foibles as well as with your fortes.
When you look at the nature of our Emotional Methodology, you also have to take into account that obtaining a serene state of mind requires more than simply the ability to banish tempestuous thoughts from your own mental landscape, and simply relax in the physical and mental sense. It requires almost a sense of inner surrender to the environment around you, and to achieve that, you also need to be prepared to relinquish the constraints placed upon you by your own ego. To do this, you need to be able to admit to weakness, and to be able to perceive strength without allowing for arrogance to set in. If you can achieve that, the ability to reach inner serenity is far easier, or at the very least possible.
We also have to see that acceptance of the self inevitably allows for confidence to develop – I am not speaking of egotism, but simply an understanding that the barriers that we set for ourselves are self-imposed, and can be broken with the right application of will. Jedi often need to be able to express themselves through words and through deeds, and they must have the confidence to do this without problem.
Finally, there comes the simple need to face outward adversity without taking a blow to one’s self-esteem. Criticism is often designed with the intent on helping us develop our skills and outlook, and if a practitioner cannot accept criticism without taking it personally, they clearly are not inclined to be so accepting of their actual nature – rather, they prefer to maintain a façade, thus blinding them to the realities of their own selves. Under those circumstances, true self-knowledge cannot be obtained, and the results of any changes made to the individual will thus always be reflective of such inadequate understanding.
If there is but one thing which characterises the modern era, it would be both the supreme exercise of open-mindedness thus far not witnessed in history, and yet at the same time, the obvious intolerance which arises in some quarters against those perceived as being different or somehow ‘less’ than those exercising that sense of bigotry. The latter is, as well you can imagine, very much contrary to the principles of life being sacred or, at the very least, precious. When each individual has a contribution they can make, when each one has an effect upon those around them, what consequences intolerance?
I suppose you could say that Jedi Realism exists with intolerance for narrow-mindedness of that nature. Everyone within our ideology has their own practices, their own beliefs and their own way of approaching the world, even when you consider what we share in common. And, since our ideology is designed to exist in a manner that does not compromise religious faith, we also have a large number of practitioners drawn from different systems of belief: Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam and so on. It would be most difficult to allow for this if there existed within our numbers intolerance for the practices and beliefs of others, and we consequently advocate tolerance within the very fabric of our ideology.
There are several underlying reasons for this. Firstly, you could base our perspective upon the simple understanding that others might have issue with what it is we believe, and would consequently demonstrate intolerance towards us. In the simple spirit of wishing to behave towards others in a manner we would like to see used towards ourselves, adopting tolerance or acceptance of the beliefs of others seems only appropriate. Alternatively, you could simply see such open-mindedness as an extension of our pro-life ideals: prejudice does little to create positive influences towards living beings, and is responsible for a great deal of violence and ill-feeling, which is not something we feel inclined to nurture, given our beliefs.
Indeed, it iis in the presence of intolerance that we tend to react most strongly – prejudice is not something that we can tolerate, and is about the only thing aside from violence which falls under that category. That is to say that we do not believe in universal tolerance, since that would allow the contrary notions to fall under that umbrella. We accept the rights of everyone to believe what they choose, and to act upon those beliefs, as long as in so doing, they do not seek to curtail the rights of others in that same regard. As far as we are concerned, if you cannot accept the existence of beliefs other than your own, don’t expose yourself to them. But anyone acting upon their intolerance is simply risking the potential that others might do the same to them, and such is not something we allow for among our own number.
Consequently, those practising Jedi Realism are bound to a simple principle that encompasses this: wherein others believe other than you do, it is your obligation to permit them freedom to possess and act upon those beliefs as they so choose, as long as in so doing, they do not act to harm others by restricting that same freedom. Acceptance does not mean you must believe as someone else does, but rather that you must give them the same courtesies that you would ask of them.
Part of understanding the nature of actions, and how they can obviously have an effect on other people thus gives rise to the notion of personal responsibility: when we commit an action, we are therefore bound to it as being the cause, whether we intended to act in that fashion or not. As a result, we must accept the consequences as being something for which we are liable, and we must show the integrity and the willingness to accept those consequences, even should those prove unpalatable to us.
This enters our ideology for several reasons. Firstly, it is a one of the more obvious teaching mechanisms that we can use for our students, and for ourselves – if we act in a manner that has negative consequences for others, we must accept our responsibility for that, understanding that in essence, what occurred was our fault. And since such an act runs contrary to our own principles, it is therefore not something to be repeated. It is, if you will, almost a process of trial and error.
Likewise, it is designed to teach one ethical conduct – if one causes harm to another, or acts in a manner where harm is the end result (whether intended or not), the consequences of such an action will naturally have negative ramifications for the one responsible for them, as is appropriate. Thus, a person will begin to act in a moral way out of pure self-interest, fearing the consequences of contrary action. I should note that I do not speak of this in terms of how we would approach a training system – most Jedi Realists begin their training with a strong sense of ethical behaviour to begin with.
Additionally, taking responsibility for one’s actions helps practitioners to remain both objective and practical, since they understand that are thus accountable for any deeds they perform, and this consequently encourages them to focus more upon the wider factors involved within any given situation, since they must carefully consider each one before coming to some sort of decision. Thus, when they do act, they are aware of the possible consequences of each action and are, in addition, more than prepared to accept them. This much we reason because it must be assumed that, once a Jedi has given careful consideration of their options, they have chosen to act as a result of the consequences – preferring to achieve one result, rather than one of the possible alternatives.
We also tend to feel that the notions of good and evil tend only to apply at the human level – it is we who created them, and we who translate these notions into direct action in the world around us. Thus, if we choose to be good people, individuals of moral conscience, it seems only appropriate to act in a manner that reflects those ethical values and, should things go awry, to accept the consequences of our choices, simply because they are our choices. One cannot express individuality and determine the path of their own lives if they are not prepared for the results and everything that follows them.
8) Honour and Integrity
Moving on from taking responsibility for our actions comes the more general notion of personal integrity and honour. To some extent, many of the precursors of modern Jedi Realism based their approach to the world on a very potent and sometimes overwhelming sense of integrity. There is the Japanese notion of Bushido, the warrior code which dictated ethical conduct and, of course, the more generalised Western Medieval notion of Chivalry (though, for our purposes, let us ignore the debates over the practical existence of such a concept in the historical sense). Both have a significant influence over the conduct of Jedi Realists, and it seems appropriate to deal with that here (although I shall provide a more extensive treatment elsewhere).
For all intents and purposes, what we mean by honour and integrity is simply a common standard of behaviour to which we all adhere, to a greater or lesser extent. Perhaps it would be better to say that we all aspire to such a thing, but whether we succeed is probably for others to best determine – it is, after all, oftentimes a matter of outward appearance as much as inner awareness.
So what does such a standard include? Initially, we start with honesty, both with ourselves (thus, not deluding ourselves as to our nature when we take into account our self-realisation training) and with others (thus, being neither deceitful nor dishonest in our dealings with others). From there, we can move out towards more tangible notions: offering our assistance to people that might require it; being courteous to everyone, regardless of our personal feelings towards them; treating everyone equally and with the same respect we would hope they would offer us.
From here, you can also move towards more generalised ideas, such as obeying the laws of any country within which you happen to be, whether it is your country of origin, or respecting the customs and practices of the people around you, regardless of whether or not they differ from your own (again, refer back to the notions of Tolerance).
Also, there are more personal inner notions of integrity: we must always keep our word, so when we say that we shall do something, it gets done, regardless of what we have to do to ensure that. The only circumstances under which it would be acceptable for us to leave something unfinished once we have committed ourselves to doing it would be if we were released from such an obligation by the person to whom it was given. If we break our word, we destroy any trust that others might have with us, and tarnish both our own integrity and that of the Jedi as a group. Each individual represents the whole, and we should always act accordingly.
Regardless of how you approach the matter, Jedi Realists are bound simply by a particular sense of how we must conduct ourselves at all times. Admittedly, this is often left unspoken, rather than written down, simply because it is something that the majority of us understand implicitly, but such a thing does not mean that we are not obligated to act accordingly – to do otherwise is to engage in conduct unbecoming of a Jedi, which is unacceptable to all of us.
9) Moral Principle
In keeping with that same theme comes the notion of moral principle. As you may have gathered by now, all Jedi are bound by a very strong sense of morality – thus, the notion that we must act in a manner that is only beneficial to other living beings, since to do otherwise is to show a shockingly disrespectful face to the gift of life which we all possess, and to the awareness of the interconnectivity of life. We are all, as I have said, responsible for our own actions, and everything we do can and likely will have some effect on others. Consequently, we must act in a manner that is reflective of this awareness, and thus serve life as is our natural responsibility.
Generally speaking, we utilise a somewhat basic approach to our overall moral stance: actions must have a distinction drawn between pro-life and anti-life actions, this being the fulcrum of our ethical perspective. Of course, it becomes more complicated when you take into account the nature of our ethics (e.g. do we follow Act, Rule or Negative Utilitarianism, or do we employ a more Deontological approach?). I shall discuss those in due course, in the appropriate section.
Regardless, we understand that good and evil (being pro-life and anti-life action according to our definitions) are all the purview of human action, and we believe that the path of the Jedi Realist is always to be directed towards positive contributions to life in the ethical sense. Our choices are relatively simple: we can choose between living selflessly, acting in the interests of life, or living selfishly, acting against the interests of life.
I should make a clarification here: when I refer to selfishness (at this point or at any other within the book as a whole), I am referring not to an individual that focuses upon themselves (as we all have to do from time to time), but rather to one who looks towards themselves when others are in need of assistance that is within our power to render. For example, if we decide to be self-absorbed when a friend or a stranger is in need of a shoulder to cry on, we are acting in a manner unbecoming of the pro-life Jedi. Likewise, inattention to the problems of others can also be considered selfish, because the individual acting thus is either too self-absorbed to notice that someone is in need of aid, or is already acting on their own self-interests, and thus deliberately ignoring the person in need.
Thus, I should note that we consider it perfectly ethical for a Jedi to act upon their own interests (since this is only natural, and neglecting the self can obviously render someone unfit to offer assistant to others, as well as being rather negligent of one’s own obligations to thrive and develop), such conduct becomes unethical when their services might be requires by another, or if in acting on their own interests, they deliberately or inadvertently put others at risk of harm (the former being utterly unethical, the latter signalling a lack of prior consideration).
Finally, I should emphasise that there is a difference between possessing moral principles and acting on them. A Jedi is one who will always act in expression of their ethical values, and will never be found simply giving lip service to those principles. The mainstream notions we derive from our belief in Life Energy gives us a clearly defined set of ideas as to what constitutes acceptable ethical behaviour and what does not. Confronted by those that would cause harm to life, we would naturally act to prevent or rectify the situation. And should we not find ourselves called upon to do this, we can always be counted upon to act in a manner that serves only to benefit life, or at the very least, not to act in a manner that causes unnecessary harm.
For a Jedi Realist, patience is one of the single greatest abilities that they can acquire, since it is through exercise of such patience that many of our over beliefs and practices can be realised. Inevitably, the path that we walk cannot be completed overnight, and even though it doesn’t take an active mind a huge amount of time to absorb all of the theory we can teach, it takes far longer before one can apply it and understand it in context. This, as you might imagine, takes a lot of patience to prevent one becoming unduly frustrated and disaffected.
This becomes relatively clear from the first moment a new practitioner begins training: many of the training techniques we utilise take many years to master, and that is just those that allow a student to advance to the more intermediate practices - to give them a sufficient understanding in the basics that these can then start being applied in one’s life. And it doesn’t follow that the Jedi Path is necessarily linear: one can often come upon an impasse that can only be overcome with a singular understanding realised. One has to be both willing to accept that and to take the time necessary to see it through – all of which requires patience.
By definition, patience is the ability to endure delay and hardship with equanimity, and consequently, the act of learning patience often serves as the perfect training technique for students – to be certain of it, one must be exposed to situations that would thus test one’s patience, and in so doing, this would require that a student seek a calmness within, an acceptance of their circumstances and the understanding that finding a resolution for the difficulties encountered therein takes time. Consequently, a Jedi wishing to learn to discipline their bodies and minds to accept adverse situations without losing their self-control or composure often find that learning patience is a highly effective tool that will stand them in good stead for their future progress in training.
However, patience has several other functions, beyond teaching Jedi practitioners to maintain their inner equanimity amidst difficult circumstances. It is also the precursor to the creation of tolerance within one’s own mind, and the expression of that in one’s attitude to others. Often it can be difficult for people to accept things which are radically different from that which they are used to – regardless of whether we are talking about mannerisms, attitudes, beliefs or actions. Applying patience to circumstances where such things are encountered enables them to reach a state of inner calm, thus allowing them to examine their surroundings rationally. When this is utilised alongside the principles of acceptance that we also practice, situations to which we might otherwise be averse are likely to be far less uncomfortable. Sometimes it takes patience to understand that people are often as similar as they are different – it is simply a case of taking the time to realise what it is we have in common.
This is, I should note, also a great way to obtain empathy for other people – when you can look at the differences between you and another person, yet still manage to find similarities that make you far less distinct that you would perhaps otherwise like to believe, that in itself should help you find a way to connect to other people within your own mind, and that inevitably makes relations far easier in the long run.
Additionally, patience is utterly essential for maintaining objectivity, since the prerequisite state (at least, as far as we are concerned) of serenity requires patience and a relaxed mind to sustain. When entering a situation whereby objectivity is clearly required, the Jedi will need to take a moment to be able to observe the various factors and nuances that are part of their environment, since each one may inevitably affect their overall judgment and their interpretation of the circumstances around them. For us, acting in haste is the most impulsive and dangerous course that one can take, so while it may take longer, exerting patience in a situation enables a Jedi to consider the consequences of any potential course of action they may take, thus enabling them to determine which is the most appropriate.
Given time, you can speed up your own analytical processes, thus enabling you to perceive those aforementioned factors quickly and effectively, this in turn allowing you to act quickly and effectively. To reach that particular state of affairs, however, requires that you practice your assessment of situations and your ability to determine consequences prior to acting, and this naturally requires the exercise of patience and self-discipline of a high order.
Finally, as I have partially noted already, patience is fundamental for reaching and maintaining the state of serenity – the pinnacle of our Emotional Methodology. When the mind is at peace and the person is calm and relaxed, they are therefore in control of themselves, and potentially also able to exert control easily over their environment. The self-control required for the successful use of patience greatly assists in this, especially given that effective patience is indeed the use of a calm, relaxed and mindful outlook on life. Believe me when I say that such is not a coincidence.
Yes, you’re probably being a little sceptical now, I suspect. Why would scepticism be a defining part of what it is to be a Jedi Realist? I should first note that when I speak of scepticism, I am not talking of cynicism or fundamental doubt regarding the world around you, but rather the simple ability to question the status quo, and the way we perceive things around us. As should be painfully obvious to most people reading this, many of the things we observe around us are designed to trick us, or to lull us into a false sense of security. Or, if you wish to think of it another way, many of the things around us are such that our superficial perceptions are not sufficient to take us to the essence of that which we observe.
Consequently, a Jedi must be sceptical simply because this is a natural function of objectivity: in order to be able to see everything as it truly is, we sometimes have to extrapolate beyond the superficial to determine the true nature of that which we perceive. If we were to take everything at face value, it is more than possible that we have missed something important, and in so doing, have compromised our own ability to make decisions, since we are not in full possession of the information we would require to make an educated determination.
Moreover, it would be incredibly simplistic to assume that everyone around us has good intentions – many of those that don’t act in a manner that is designed to deflect people away from questioning the nature of their intent, thus allowing them to behave lacking scrutiny. And this is as much true for the Jedi as it is for other people – a Jedi must seek to question themselves and their own intentions as much as they would do so of others. Since we believe in being honest with ourselves, approaching our own minds with a little scepticism is nothing more than an act of prudence.
As far as we are concerned, questioning oneself is part of a very natural process, one we believe is only healthy and conducive to a constant growth and development of an individual. Our ideology deals with a lot of internal changes, and in order to stay ahead of those, and to appropriately chart our development over time, we always have to ask questions of ourselves, and be prepared to be sceptical of the answers – humans are, after all, superb at playing with matters of artifice, and thus we even deceive ourselves at times.
Under such circumstances, is it wrong to challenge our illusions? Or those of others? Such is the nature of scepticism.
Autonomy is another of the more primary traits of a practising Jedi Realist. We believe, as a rule, that every person has the right to their own individuality – to freedom of thought and action, to the unfettered ability to make their own choices and decisions in life, to the possession of whatever beliefs they choose to have, and to the ability to live without having their direction determined for them without their consent. Thus, we see each individual as something singular and unique, carrying with them emotions, the ability to reason, the capability to practise their beliefs and act on any decisions they choose to make.
Consequently, there are two main aspects to this notion of autonomy, as far as we are concerned: the encouragement of autonomy as a purpose of training, and the recognition of that same independence in others.
The first becomes fairly obvious when our training begins – we teach Self-Realisation, so that the individual may come to understand themselves better, and understand at a more intimate level the notions of personal choice, and simply to show them just how much control they have over themselves and the world around them. Essentially, it becomes a way of showing a person what their boundaries are, and just what they can achieve with a little application of effort and single-mindedness. We also teach them to live within the moment, so that they are more aware of their motives and reasoning for their actions, and to be responsible for those – to literally own both themselves and everything they do, all in a manner that becomes as natural to them as breathing.
The second is something that stems both from an awareness of the self and from a developed respect for others that often grows from our applied beliefs in the sanctity of life, and the consequential ethical values which stem from that. Knowing oneself allows you to be able to look at others through a similar lens – it can stem from an understanding of one’s own motivations and drive, so that these things can be observed in others; it can stem from knowledge of one’s tempestuous emotions, allowing the effects of the same to be noticed in a detached and even in an empathic sense. Regardless, since we cherish and seek to cultivate our own autonomy, we therefore see it as only appropriate to recognise that in others, to respect it and, if we can, to help others develop it if they wish.
A fundamental realisation at the earliest stages of training is simply that the process itself never stops. We seek to train ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally, all towards the objective of becoming Jedi – or, in the cases of those that have already reached the point whereby they are Jedi, towards the goal of becoming better Jedi. None of us are perfect, and thus, we understand that even the oldest of the practitioners among our number must continue with their training on a daily basis: coming to new understandings, considering new approaches and cultivating their teaching abilities, as well as keeping themselves in a condition appropriate to their experience, both physically and psychologically.
Indeed, to become a Jedi Realist in any sense of the term – whether at the level of a brand new student or one of the more advanced practitioners – one must train in our methods, our techniques, our practices. It is a matter of learning, conditioning and gradual development and all of it requires constant diligence and devotion. This is not to say that one must rush through their training at the start, or proceed in haste – the rate at which you progress is of little concern, as long as you do progress. And the only way to achieve that is, of course, to keep up with your training.
Certain aspects of one’s training can be handled through the use of a set regimen – specifically, practitioners often organise their physical training in such a manner, devoting a certain amount of time on a regular basis to a particular fitness routine, as well as managing diet and any combat training they engage in. For learning theory and concepts, these can also be learned according to a set route – usually, the best route is to have a more experienced practitioner (preferably your mentor/teacher) lay out a direct training structure from which you learn one thing before another, so you can determine roughly what you need to do to reach a particular aspect of training, or what you need for the next level.
Other facets cannot, however, have a time or date or even rough place assigned to them, simply because some things only come with time and experience, and cannot be placed on a predictable scale. Sometimes you might have a sudden revelation which changes your perspective on matters, while at other times, you may only come to truly understand something you have been taught when you can fit it into the context of your experiences. Sometimes you just have to wait for things to click within your own mind before you can move on.
Regardless, there is absolutely no reason why you cannot engage in some aspect of your training on a daily basis. But, as with most things that constitute our ideology, much of what happens in terms of our learning processes happens when we’re out doing things, going about our daily lives. Nobody should ever look upon training as something separate from the rest of their life – the changes that come with time need to be observed in all environments, and certainly the mental/psychological training manifests itself constantly, so is not separate from the individual, and thus, cannot simply be picked up and put down again at will. Frankly, if you can do that, you need to work harder to make such things embedded within your mind. Our ideology and the practices that constitute it are designed to be natural.
I have deliberately decided to separate teaching from training on the basis that one is something in which all Jedi Realists engage at regardless of their level of practise, while teaching becomes more the purview of the more experienced practitioners – essentially, those that have spent long periods of time studying and training in our ideological practices, and thus possess more knowledge and experience of those approaches and methodologies than their younger/newer counterparts. Consequently, while all Jedi Realists train, not all Jedi teach.
Why, then, have I included it amongst the defining traits of a Jedi? Essentially, it is the obligation of every single practitioner to pass on their knowledge to others, in some form. In some instances, this might involve teaching classes and seminars, or taking students as their apprentices. In other instances, it may simply be providing a little advice to a younger practitioner, or moving completely beyond our internal training, to teach those not of our ideology some of those principles or methodological aspects which might be help to them.
It really needs to be emphasised that our obligations in terms of teaching extend well beyond our own ranks: since part of our overall self-imposed duties extend towards helping others to realise and develop their own autonomy, some of that requires that we educate others in those methods that will assist them to achieve such a thing. I don’t mean this in a condescending fashion – simply teaching someone to cook can achieve the effect I was referring to. But then there are more serious opportunities in which we can share our knowledge: our calming abilities, our control techniques, our relaxation techniques. Mindfulness. Detachment. And other such things that are designed to assist in helping someone cultivate their independence.
That noted, such a thing tends to occur only as the situation arises, whereas among Jedi Realists, in the internal sense, we always have students that seek teachers, or require assistance in order to advance their studies. If I may be permitted to say so, I feel that when we take something out of our own Jedi training, which is almost always embarked upon with the assistance of others, it therefore seems only right to give something back, to be in the same position our teachers once stood in (and perhaps still do), thus to help other students as we were once helped – after all, if your teachers had not helped you, you might never have been in a position to help others in the same manner. And who better to understand the difficulties new students might encounter than someone that has stumbled upon them before and managed to overcome them?
Inevitably, the only way our ideology grows is if we work together to develop the talents of our students, and to put them in a position whereby they can continue the same work once they have advanced beyond their own initial training. It is even true that students will end up teaching even while still engaged in their own – many of our advanced practitioners advocate students sharing their understandings and perspectives, as well as engaging in discussions with one-another. And we always incorporate teaching techniques into training, thus ensuring that practitioners are well-equipped to pass on their knowledge when the time comes for them to do so. Thus, teaching becomes a fundamental part of what it is to be a Jedi Realist.
In many regards, our ability to sense and share the emotions of others around us is one of those capabilities which has helped us to develop our keen sense of moral principle, since we can feel when others are in pain, or are frustrated or angry, and so on. Moreover, since we understand that others also possess that very natural empathic sense, it seems only appropriate to regulate our own emotional states, since those can be sensed by others, and shared by those that have a particularly strong ability. Thus, if we allow ourselves to retain a negative state of mind in the emotional sense, we risk passing on that mood to others, both empathically and simply as a result of the way in which we might express our anxieties.
However, it is expected that any practitioner come to develop their sense of empathy over the course of their training, simply to ensure that they can establish a finely-tuned sense of emotional awareness, thus to be able to pick up on the feelings of others, and thus to alter our approach to them accordingly. Thus, if someone’s anger is particularly close to the surface, we can moderate our tone and outward manner to be more soothing than we might otherwise have it. If someone is afraid, we can project a sense of confidence through our own emotions, and thus allow them to pick up on this and perhaps feel calmer.
Empathy also augments our compassion for others, simply because we can tell when others are going through a tough time, and even in circumstances whereby we can do nothing to help them, we can at least give them our quiet support, making it clear that we understand their feelings (if not their situation), and are inclined and able to assist them should they want or need such.
I ought to note that empathy is a natural ability, not something you need to learn. Certain exercises and constant use (especially when combined with Mindfulness) allow you to develop a more sensitive empathic perception, and practitioners are encouraged to pursue such a course of development once they have started working on the emotional methodology, since empathy allows us to better understand the effects our emotions have on others.
I am aware in writing this that putting such things down comprehensively is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Thus, if I have missed something, I beg your indulgence in this. As always, our ideology continues to grow at a steady rate, and our ideas about the nature of the Jedi Realist become ever more complex and structured, so it would not surprise me (or anyone else, I suspect!) if this particular list were incomplete. Under those circumstances, I only hope you will excuse that particular limitation.
That observed, I should also note that you may very well have different ideas about what makes up a Jedi Realist. Again, please do not assume that the list here is comprehensive, nor complete – as it stands, I have endeavoured only to include what you might call the fundamental traits: those aspects of the Jedi Realist that inevitably must exist for an individual to be classified as such, since a lack of any of these traits inevitably indicate a rather large gap in what they will have learned from training. I should also note that these are not numbered in order of priority – I consider all of them more or less as important as each other. Thus, you should not read anything into the order in which they are placed, beyond the fact that they were included at all.