Self-Discipline

Two of the primary tenets of Jedi Realism have always been self-discipline and self-control, even for the Jedi of the Star Wars Universe. They are naturally important for all practitioners (though for the moment, you're taking my word for it), but why is this the case? What makes them such important concepts? In essence, it is self-discipline that proves to be one of the aspects that forms the Jedi Realist's methodology. The reasons for this extend all the way to the solid emotional control we are supposed to possess, right back to the basics of the Code.

Self-discipline and Self-control are inevitably that which allow us to transcend some very ancient and very basic human influences - I suppose you can call them part of human nature, if you will (though if ever someone manages to define that, I'd be surprised).

In a macroscopic view, humans are quite the puzzle within the natural world. Nature has always stood in a system of balance - all organisms understand that survival is the highest priority - whether this is realised consciously or understood instinctively. For most, there is no sense of morality with regard to life, but simply the preservation of the species that is understood. If the predator hunts without reservation, their prey dies out and, thus, so does the predator in turn, when there is nothing left to provide for them. Nature, consequently, has brought this system into balance - with force there is a foreseeable counterforce which affects the balance of life and, with that, the Force as ever-precious life energy.

Humans, however, choose to transcend this system. We kill indiscriminately - nowhere more so except amongst our own kind. We do not seek survival as a species, but as individuals, and it is from this very basic system that has arisen over the millennia that the two tenets have arisen.

Why? Well, simply put, humanity has come to the point where we can intellectually see the harm being done to ourselves and to our world by our own actions - and this has been inevitably integrated into a system of morality whereby such actions are wrong. From this, we are slowly learning to control ourselves and to discipline ourselves should that control fail.

But this in itself is far too macroscopic for us as Jedi. We need to look at a more personal level, with regards to consequences. Thus, we shall look at the aims and intentions of Jedi methodology. Now, we are, inevitably, the exponents of pro-life ideals: we believe in the Force, as life energy, and we choose to partake of an obligation that pushes us towards the service of life - whether we protect it, preserve it, nurture it or assist in its development by merely preventing anything from hindering it. This is the sum of our ideals.

However, as with all things, we tend to encounter a barrier: our emotions. We have these pro-life beliefs, but what are they when influenced by emotions? If we are driven to anger, shall we not strike out? Where then are our ideals? If we save the life of a friend over the lives of several strangers, where then are our ideals? Emotions are a hindrance - they serve to challenge our intellectual morality by offering us an alternative to rational and conscientious action – and that alternative can very easily be offered in an almost compulsive fashion.

T
hat said, emotions also create the pro-life tendencies that form Jedi ideals. Compassion, love, friendship - all these are emotions. These are the things which we are supposed to live by. So, what therefore do we do? Shall we take a chance, and use our positive emotions, even when there is a risk that our negative emotions can be invoked? Shall we use neither so that we are not duly influenced by our emotions?

The solution we therefore come up with is that of a little emotional self-control. As I've discussed with others before, our emotional methodology is to be found not in the suppression of emotions, as the second solution would advocate, nor in the free expression of all emotions, as the first would advocate. Instead, what we have in operation is a system whereby our emotions are expressionally controlled until there is a moment wherein it would be appropriate to express them.

Hence, if we return to the earlier example of the choice between saving the life of a friend and those of several strangers, could not your emotions impede your judgement? Of course. Therefore, your feelings of friendship must be controlled to allow you to make a rational judgement - clearly, the good of the many is better than the good of the individual under the circumstances. Someone will die - it is better that one die and many be saved that many die and one is saved. I don't think it can be disputed overall that this is the choice most of us would make. So in anything even remotely resembling such a situation, a lack of emotional expression through self-control is clearly a benefit.

But then, we have the negative emotions to consider. When is there an appropriate time to express those? Admittedly, some people prefer to express anger or sadness by simple things such as hitting a pillow or the like, but inevitably, this is an expression of negative emotions - even a simple display could sometime be substituted for a far more inappropriate display. Thus, what can we do with these?

This is where pure self-discipline comes in - the method for controlling an expression is to stop it from forming. This in itself is not by force - the best way to control anger is never to develop it in the first place. We do this by spotting the potential for it before it forms, and making the appropriate internal adjustments to prevent it. This is both discipline and control - the discipline comes from being able to spot the potential, and the control through being able to stop it before it starts.

Our inevitable gain from this is our point of emotional balance - inner and outer tranquillity. The inner tranquillity comes from the lack of negative and turbulent emotions, controlled at the source and therefore allowing you to maintain a sense of internal calm as less emotion is available to unstabilise you. The outer tranquillity comes as a reflection of that inner tranquillity - as you feel serene, so is this reflected in your mannerisms.

And how does all this come about? Through two very basic little systems. Self-control. Self-discipline. They are the focus. Inner and outer tranquillity. They are the results. Thus may we practice our pro-life ideals safely and in a way appropriate to our lives and society.