The ‘Jedi Code’ is a particular teaching tool applied by many Jedi Realists over the course of their training, but yet remains one of the more controversial aspects of our training regimen – especially so among those that criticise our ideology. This primarily stems from that the fact that it is, inevitably, drawn directly from fiction – hence why it is sometimes known as the ‘Anderson Code’, after the individual oft considered as being the creator of the code, Kevin J. Anderson. Hence, the continued use of such a piece has resulted in more than a few heated discussions amongst our number; but nonetheless, it does continue to be used by some Jedi Realists.
It is as a result of this fact that I am therefore including an explanation of the Code here. This is not to suggest that I believe that the Code should be used by all practising Jedi Realists, and nor would I attempt to suggest it as a doctrine in so doing. Thus, the use of it within the text is essentially there as an academic reference, available to those that wish to use it, at their discretion. With this being the case, it seems only appropriate to provide a more comprehensive treatment to this teaching aid, thus to ensure that it is being used in the appropriate context by those that do choose to apply it.
I also ought to note that I shall give further treatment to the various debates and discussions on the topic further on in this particular section, so that people have the option to look through the reasoning on both sides and determine for themselves whether they believe that the use of such a thing is appropriate.
Moving beyond the various issues with regards to the use of the Code in general Jedi Realist practice, it might be helpful to discuss how the Code is used by those that do choose to keep it as part of their arsenal of training techniques. Primarily, it serves as a reminder of our basic ideological notions with regards to the moderation of one’s feelings, the application of our emotional methodology and also with regards to the ‘ideal’ mindset that a Jedi Realist should aim to achieve over time.
Most people will be familiar with the Code itself, but it would never do to discuss that particular aspect of training without first saying what it is. The Code itself is a set of four stanzas, each of which carries two components: first, a state considered contrary to basic Jedi Realist philosophies, and the second, the state we contrast it with as part of our overall image of the ‘model practitioner’. The code is as follows:
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.
Automatically, you should be able to observe the potential for misconceptions being drawn from each of these four stanzas. It comes as no surprise to older practitioners that much of the time they spend early on when teaching students comes in trying to deal with some of these particular misconceptions and ensuring that those under their guidance are not therefore practising erroneously. As you can quite imagine, this is one of the larger arguments voiced for the removal of the Code from mainstream practice.
Each of the stanzas tends to have many different possible interpretations, some of which I shall outline as the article continues, if for no other reason than to present the broad implications of the Code, and also to demonstrate how it ties in to many different areas of our ideological practices and teachings. Indeed, more often than not, we maintain that, if the Code indeed should be kept as part of our teachings, they should therefore only be taught directly by an advanced practitioner to those that are new to our ways, simply to ensure that misunderstandings and mistaken interpretations can be dealt with before they develop. This is not to suggest that all interpretations are wrong – instead, it is to ensure that students are aware of the more fundamentally correct interpretations before they start to develop their own – thus using the Code the way many of us intend it to be used throughout one’s training.
There are several approaches that we can take to the Code with regards to mainstream practice. The first is to take each of the stanzas separately, thus linking each of them to separate aspects of our practices – in a sense, making the Code little more than a reminder of some of the more basic yet fundamental teachings that we possess. The second is to consider them in regards to being part of a linear training process – hence, the first stanza is the beginning of the training process, and the end stanza is closer towards the end. Mainly this is true when looking at our emotional methodology. And no doubt there are many other valid approaches that could easily be applied, but for the purposes of this article, we shall consider but those two.
There is no Emotion; there is Peace
Of all the stanzas contained within the Anderson Code, this one is often that which causes the most confusion amongst new students, for two reasons. Primarily, it is often assumed that the stanza itself should be taken literally, to mean that there is no emotion, or via inference, that a Jedi should be without emotion. Secondly, there is also confusion with regards to the relation this has to the third stanza of the Code (there is no passion; there is serenity), since the two seem to relate to the very same thing (passion being an acronym of emotion, while serenity is an acronym of peace).
As you might imagine, these are two particular misconceptions that we often have to work hard to avoid, especially when teaching them to new practitioners of the various disciplines constituting Jedi Realism. As a consequence, there are a few things I should clarify before we move on.
Although the notion itself (that peace exists when emotion is absent) tends to be a particular truism used by Jedi Realism, the Code is not designed to indicate that one must purge themselves of emotions and therefore always be at peace. Anyone with a fairly good understanding of human nature would instantly see the problem here – how does one function effectively without emotion? The simple answer is that they don’t.
There seems to be a heavy emphasis among the more extreme practitioners that emotions should naturally be considered in a very negative light, but this is a somewhat naïve point of view, simply because it fails to take into account the very positive things that can happen as a result of emotion. More than simply being positive, though, one also has to take into account that emotions are one of our primary sources of the personal motivation required to act. Within any situation, we require some source of motivation in order to actually do anything at all: lacking motivation, we utilise only a principle of inaction, and nothing is achieved by this. More often than not, action is based upon potential consequence, and this in turn requires that we desire one outcome over another. Desire, in itself, is an emotion, so to desire a particular outcome (or perhaps to desire that an outcome be avoided), simply requires the use of emotion, not the lack of it.
Confused yet? If you’re not, that’s good, but if you are, that’s understandable. Why would we say there is no emotion when clearly there is? In essence, the first stanza is reflective of a Jedi Realist’s ideal state of mind when approaching any situation, thus serving as a reminder of the basic methodological values we hold. What does it mean, though? In all simplicity, it simply suggests that we should never act purely from emotion – we have to allow some room for reason and rational thought. If you’ll excuse the use of the term, I’d like to refer to passions, for a moment. I realise that is primarily referred to in the third stanza of the code, but there are several different meanings to the term, and the one I intend to use here is not the one referred to by the third stanza.
When a person becomes passionate about a thing, they essentially focus upon it to the exclusion of other things around them (in some instances, to the exclusion of everything). Such a level of single-mindedness is problematic, since it essentially blinds a person to various other pieces of information that could be obtained from their surroundings, hence meaning that any determinations they make are done from a position of partial ignorance, making it impossible for them to make any truly informed decisions. So, the first stanza of the code is, if you like, simply designed to remind a Jedi to avoid this particular error in judgement, thus to avoid the consequences. Of course, the reminder requires that one have a deeper understanding of our emotional methodology (you can’t apply that which the code suggests if you’re unfamiliar with the process of doing so), so it might be useful if I recap our approach to emotions here.
Inevitably, we realise that you can’t control when an emotion might be provoked – perhaps you can be prepared for an external stimuli that will lead to an emotional reaction, but this does not diminish the fact that it is nonetheless provoked – but it certainly is possible to control how one reacts when they feel that emotion. This is where the second component of the Code comes into play: there is peace.
Obviously, this is very much alluding to the notion of remaining calm inwardly at all times – making it all the easier, therefore, to act objectively, rather than impulsively. Thus, this particular aspect of the Code is designed not to advocate that one be emotionless, but rather than a person adopt a state of inner calm at all times, so that when an emotion is provoked, not only is it easier to notice, but it also gives the person a measure of conscious control over that emotion. A person that is constantly in the grip of an emotion will inevitably find it far harder to recognise when another emotion is provoked, simply because they are never in a state whereby they can observe it.
If you would like a metaphor, imagine a calm lake. When you throw a pebble into the water, the ripple of it becomes noticeable, since it mars the otherwise smooth surface. Now think what would happen were you to do the same during a storm – the rain that was bearing down upon the surface that it would cause enough ripples to make the pebble unremarkable and, for that matter, barely noticeable. Thus it is with the human mind with regards to emotions.
The peace we strive to maintain psychologically can be achieved through a basic understanding of the process by which emotions come into play. We tend to consider emotions as being initiated through a three-tier process:
Emotional sensation ? Emotional energy produced ? Emotion outwardly expressed
This can also be expressed in a slightly more generic fashion:
Stimulii? Thought or emotion provoked ? Physical energy generated ? Response
Pretty simple, really. Say somebody is deliberately trying to provoke you to anger. First comes the stimulus (which can be either internal or external) that provokes the feeling of an emotion (the emotional sensation). The sensation is purely internal, and almost completely unavoidable. Emotions are, of course, reflexive, so one cannot be held utterly responsible for the emotions that are provoked inwardly. This in turn generates emotional energy, that which is used to allow the sensation to be outwardly expressed – if you are amused, you might laugh; if happy, you might smile, and so on. Whatever the case, that energy has to go somewhere. And thus comes the emotional expression: the laugh, the smile etc.
As you might imagine, though, not all expressions of emotion are appropriate to the circumstances. When you are angry, is it appropriate just to lash out at another person (whether they were the one that provoked the emotional sensation or not)? When feeling cynical, do you think it would be appropriate to simply express that and thus perhaps ruin someone’s optimistic mood? There are plenty of situations where emotional expression can be problematic. Since we understand that our actions can affect others physically and emotionally, we are therefore responsible for acting in a manner that is not harmful to others in that regard. Hence, we believe that a measure of emotional control is appropriate.
I have already mentioned that restraining emotional sensation proves difficult under the best of circumstances, since it is almost reflexive in nature, so we tend to focus on the one aspect of the emotional process: that of emotional expression. This requires an understanding of personal choice, as well the application of Detachment. I’ll explain this further.
Primarily, every action we perform requires at least some element of personal choice. Why do one thing as opposed to another? Anyone that asserts that ‘they had no choice’ did have a choice, but were simply not willing to accept the alternative choice open to them (usually as a result of the consequences that would be set in motion by that choice). We consequently extend this principle towards emotions – while you may not be able to control the fact that you feel an emotion (at least at first), you can determine how that emotion is outwardly expressed. This simply requires that you be able to act with a level of personal detachment that enables you to bring rational thought into the process, rather than acting unthinkingly.
Further added to this is the second aspect of the first stanza: there is peace. What does this refer to? It is relatively simple – in order to allow one to disengage themselves from acting reflexively in a manner that lacks the addition of rational thought into the whole process, one has to be in a state of mind conducive to objectivity. That particular point is given more treatment in the section on emotional methodology, so please refer to that if you would like a more detailed explanation of our reasoning. Anyway, we consider peace to be the optimal state of mind for a Jedi Realist, for it is one which allows for the application of reason, as well as one which is well-suited for the exercise of personal choice, since you are not being compelled to act in any particular manner by emotion.
So, our method of obtaining this state of mind is as follows: first, you must accept your own emotions (recognition and acknowledgement), then step away from them (Detachment), in order to allow yourself to determine how and why those emotions were provoked (internal reaction to external stimuli) and what this in turn provokes in terms of possible responses (emotional expressions). A Jedi Realist must learn to push past their instinctive emotional reactions and obtain a state of serene objectivity, this in turn being conducive to appropriate (ethical and responsible) action. Practice will enable one to become better accustomed to the stimuli which provoke emotions, thus allowing them to better control their reactions to it.
It should further be noted that peace has to be something consciously imposed by the individual, as far as their own state of mind is concerned, at least at the beginning of one’s training. The reason for this is relatively simple: true peace, as we consider it within our methodology, comes only when we face circumstances which would threaten our equanimity, and yet fail to do so because we act to prevent it. Hence, a Jedi must be faced by emotional stimuli and yet still manage to retain serenity within themselves. Otherwise, any peace they may feel in situations where stimuli works to upset that inner tranquillity stems from an ignorance of that stimuli, not from awareness and acceptance of it. This in itself is in direct contravention of our belief in Mindfulness and Self-Awareness.
From this, we arrive at the second stanza of the Anderson Code.
There is no Ignorance; there is Knowledge
Of the four stanzas, the second is the one which carries with it the most meaning – not because it is the most significant of the four, but more because it has the greatest number of implications as a result of the various interpretations, all of which are inevitably fundamental in terms of basic Jedi Realist ideology. Of course, such a thing is also liable to create a larger number of misunderstandings or erroneous interpretations, so this all have to be addressed at the appropriate point.
As with the first stanza (and, indeed, as with the following two), this does not suggest that there is no such thing as ignorance, but rather that Jedi should act lacking ignorance of a particular form. Is not ignorance a lack of knowledge? Certainly so. However, humans will always lack complete knowledge of themselves and the world around them – this is a natural understanding that any rational mind could come to. As our perceptions are limited, so therefore is our capacity for knowledge and understanding. It is a rather simple equation. However, ignorance also exists in a second form, that which we inevitably prefer to consider in this context: ignorance as the lack of inclination to learn.
Life is inevitably a learning experience so, as you might expect, that cannot be avoided by anything other than death (which some would also argue was a learning experience, if you happened to believe in something beyond death). However, it is possible to be unreceptive to those opportunities that one might have to learn – a child might choose not to pay attention in school, and thus learn little or nothing from the lessons that are being taught. A person might have a car accident whilst driving at unsafe speeds on the road, and yet does not heed the lesson of that experience, thus driving unsafely afterwards when able to do so. And so on. This is what we consider to be ignorance – not an expression of unawareness, but an expression of the desire to restrain oneself from the learning process, for whatever reasons one might have for doing so.
There are several reasons that this might be a particular issue. Firstly, a person who chooses ignorance over knowledge is essentially binding themselves to knowledge they already possess and rejecting anything outside of that limited understanding. Thus, the first issue becomes that of rigid inflexibility, the state whereby one is unable to think beyond that which they already know and, therefore, are incapable of adapting to situations where their knowledge cannot provide sufficient answers to form a resolution for any given problems encountered in that environment. Ignorance is naturally a barrier to adaptation. While normally this would not necessarily be an issue – it is, after all, a conscious decision – for a Jedi, such a thing carries many further ramifications. I’ll attempt to explain some of these.
In a sense, this moves on to the second part of the stanza: there is knowledge. Jedi Realists value objectivity and the ability to detach ourselves from ourselves and those things around us in order to gain some level of conscious clarity over our own minds, thus to make rational decisions unhindered by emotional concerns. Aside from the other various techniques required to enable this to happen, it is important than we be able to look past ourselves and the knowledge we possess to try and learn something from our environment, using that to help us relate better to it, and to make an appropriate decision. Hence, for us, it is inappropriate to simply have models of action, upon which all our decisions are made. Every situation will have different variables that need to be considered for an objective decision to be made – if one is ignorant, and refuses to learn of these factors, it becomes impossible to make an objective decision, for clearly some information which could be of use is being consciously rejected.
The other problem that arises here is simply that to advance as a practising Jedi Realist, one has to learn about themselves. Self-realisation is the single most important part of our training process – to correct mistakes that one might be making, or to learn to approach things from a different perspective, you need to know why you think something is a particular way, or understand why you act in one manner as opposed to in an alternative manner. Hence, it is the process of opening ourselves up to potential change, since you can only truly change a particular form of behaviour when you understand it. Otherwise there is the potential for a re-emergence of said behaviour in the presence of a stimuli designed to provoke it. So, say for example, you are easily provoked and thus often become angry. You can restrain that anger each time you are provoked, thus not expressing it. This particular solution does, however, require a great deal of unnecessary conscious awareness – if you do not realise you are becoming angry, you cannot prevent it nor control it. Would it not therefore be better to get to the source of that emotion, and work out why you are provoked to anger, thus to find a preventative solution, rather than simply restraining the behaviour?
If a person is cutting themselves off from a learning process, for whatever reason (hence, applying ignorance), they cannot learn about themselves and, therefore, they can never truly find a resolution to those aspects of their nature which might be undesirable to them and certainly they can not improve themselves as a person (moving towards their ideal self, if you will) if they are unwilling to take the time and effort necessary to learn about themselves.
However, we do have to extend beyond simply the understanding of ourselves and also look towards understanding other people. It tends to be something of a truism for us that intolerance comes inevitably as a result of a lack of understanding. In the modern day and age, prejudice and intolerance are still very much present within most societies on the planet. Race, gender, religion, education etc – all these things are very much focal points for the expression of intolerance. These things are a way of saying that someone else is different to me, my way is clearly superior; therefore anyone who does not believe as I do is inferior. Sound familiar, perhaps? It is the principle behind the witch burnings of the 15th and 16th centuries; the thinking which resulted in the Holocaust during the Second World War; one of the contributing factors to the problems of the conflicts in the Middle East. For Jedi Realists, this sort of thinking is unacceptable: it is emotionally-charged, drawn of a lack of understanding and a sense of egotism which is utterly undesirable amongst those of us that are true practitioners. Allow me to explain this a little more.
The majority of intolerance generally comes from one of two particular notions: a lack of understanding or a lack of the ability to accept the beliefs, ideas and actions of other people. The second stanza primarily addresses the first of those two (although it does indeed take into account the second, as well), since a person lacking understanding is ignorant in one of the literal meanings of the term, but we also take it further – if a person acts intolerantly towards another because of a lack of understanding, they cannot therefore have an interest in seeking that understanding, thus being ignorant by our definition, as well. Among our own number, we realise that it also becomes impossible to be truly compassionate or objective when we are intolerant towards another – if we consider them less than we are, or less than another person, we thus treat them differently to others, and thus become prejudiced and lacking in both compassion and objectivity, simply because our compassion teaches us to treat all people equally, and the very notion of acting based on our own personal perceptions of another person compromises the potential for objectivity.
The second of those two notions, that intolerance stems from a lack of the ability to accept the ideas, beliefs or practices of others is, essentially, closed-mindedness. If you’re unable to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes, so to speak, you can never understand how they walk the path that they are on. And nobody in a position of ignorance (by our first definition) can or should therefore make judgements regarding another person – to do so is to treat them in a manner that says only that you don’t care about who they are or why they do things as they do. It is, then, to treat them based on nothing more than judgments based on assumption. We’ll try an example – think of a stereotype. All blondes are dumb. That’s a common enough misconception. So, if you approach a blonde person, you automatically assume them to be less intelligent than yourself and treat them accordingly – in itself, incredibly unfair to the individual concerned. This is simply because you have made a judgement about their nature and character based on nothing more than an assumption – you have not bothered to try to ascertain whether that assumption is correct, but have simply decided upon a course of action that is, at best, uninformed.
Anyway, I’ve been quite quick to discuss the meaning of the second stanza in terms of what ignorance implies, but less so with regards to knowledge. It is, for all intents and purposes, designed as a reminder of the former, in that when one is ignorant, one cannot learn about themselves (which would, I should note, stall their progression as a Jedi Realist), nor about others, which in turn leads to intolerance and inappropriate action as a consequence of that intolerance. It goes without saying that these are undesirable traits – to be ignorant (lacking the inclination to learn) is to be closed-minded, to compromise the potential for objectivity, to fail to learn more about oneself (and thus, make a conscious decision to stagnate, rather than to grow), to become rigid in one’s thinking and intolerant in one’s actions. Not only is this harmful to you, but also to others. Therefore, this is very much contradictory to basic Jedi Realist principles – hence why the Code reminds us of this.
What then do we replace these negative concepts with? Plurality, the acceptance of more than a singular set of ideas and beliefs, thus leading to tolerance of the beliefs and practices of others that are not necessarily our own. Open-mindedness, the ability to assimilate new information and not to make hasty judgements based upon incomplete information. Patience, the ability to persist in one’s learning, understanding that such comprehension takes time and requires that one not be overwhelmed nor frustrated by that time – thus, to maintain an appropriate level of poise under circumstances where information may not easily be forthcoming. And, of course, an enthusiasm towards learning which views knowledge as something that can only be inherently beneficial to the people possessing it – the consequences of that knowledge (in terms of the application of it) may not be beneficial, but one cannot reject the discovery of knowledge based upon such a possibility. That would truly be ignorant.
Thus, the second stanza is not saying there is no ignorance, for there is. What there is not is ignorance in the mind of a Jedi Realist. We will not live in a state of having as little knowledge as possible. We will not turn away from opportunities to learn and therefore reject the lessons such things can teach us. We will not practise intolerance simply because the ways of others are different to ours, or because we don’t truly understand the reasoning behind their actions. What we will do is seek to learn, to view life as a learning experience which we wholeheartedly wish to embrace. To do otherwise would be to fail to make use of that singular, unique gift: that of life itself. The very notion of that stands contrary to our beliefs.
There is no Passion; there is Serenity
A lot of people familiar with the Code will be quite aware of the number of problems that new students first have with this particular stanza of the Code. Why? Because doesn’t it sound an awful lot like the first stanza? Isn’t emotion and passion the same thing? Aren’t peace and serenity the exact same concepts? Look up the words in the thesaurus and, indeed, you will find the words there listed as possible alternatives to one-another. This does not, however, mean that they have the same meaning – inevitably, it would be redundant to have two words that mean the exact same thing. There are differences, and it is these which the Code indicates. This is due in no small part to having to emphasise the difference between the concepts of passion and emotion, as well as the difference between the states of peace and of serenity, in addition to the simple semantic differences.
Traditionally, passion is used to refer to any strong emotion or, perhaps in a more practical manner, as the expression of any strong emotion to an extent that would normally be characterised as being somewhat more intense than your ‘average’ emotional response. However, for our purposes, passion is better described simply as any high level of intensity directed towards an action, often (but not always) encouraged by emotional motive force. Inherently, passion is a necessity. Without it, we would lack any particular drive to engage in significant endeavours – certainly most of humanity’s greatest achievements would not have been accomplished had those prompting them lacked passion. So, how can this be considered in a negative light?
The primary issue with passion is that, often enough, the motivating force it provides is compulsive, meaning that when driven by passion, one tends to act without due consideration to the nuances of that action – hence, acting purely upon impulse, rather than giving any thought to the circumstances of the situation and, therefore, working out the most appropriate course of action. Although this can be a positive thing, it’s almost obvious that unthinking action will inevitably have potentially negative consequences, simply because you won’t have weighed up the pros and cons of your actions prior to actually doing something, thus meaning that, in all probability, something might have gone wrong.
As you might imagine, we have obvious reasons for considering this to be problematic. Unthinking action is contrary to Jedi principles: if you fail to give consideration to the various factors within a situation, and fail to weigh the potential consequences accordingly, the chances are that your actions will be such that certain elements within a situation will be beyond your personal control and, thus, can cause harm to yourself or to others simply because you were not thinking.
Jedi are not, however, control freaks. Our belief is in the necessity of responsible action, that is, actions performed upon the understanding that we choose to take a particular course, and thus accept the consequences of those situations. If we allow ourselves to act based not upon rational consideration of our circumstances, but instead act on the compulsion of our individual passions, we lose the element of personal choice that is gained from emotional detachment.
To control a passion is, however, far more difficult than to control a simple emotion – although the two terms (passion and emotion) are acronyms of each other, referring to a similar principle, we take passion to be a higher, stronger form of emotional state. We consider this here because, inevitably, this is one of the most fundamental points whereby control must be exerted over a Jedi's emotions. Not suppressing that passion/emotional state, but at this point, reversing the nature of a passion so as to make the very nature of that passion irrelevant.
Allow me to put this into the context of our overall approach to emotions: first, a Jedi controls the external expression of their feelings, then secondly, they come to a greater understanding of the reasons by which those emotions are provoked, as a result of the objectivity provided by forcing control of one's emotional expressions. Then we come to the third stage - the adoption of a singular default emotional state: that of serenity. This is not forced, nor a facade - it is natural to the Jedi, because they have come to an understanding of what provokes emotional states in most given situations (although this is an ongoing process) and have been able to arrive at a state whereby they control their reactions prior to those emotions being provoked - thus, they have gained a measure of control whereby their emotions are not easily provoked, because their minds exist in a state of inner and outer tranquillity, which is slowly enveloped by their psyche to become, if you will, their 'default' state of being.
Considered that way, the two stanzas (first and third) are different simply because they have a different emphasis – the first looks at controlling one’s emotional expressions, while the third is the more advanced point that stems from that: rather than simply restraining emotion, one must develop the ability to retain a single state of mind that is not easily dislodged by the dictates of one’s emotions. For us, that is the state of serenity, one which is conducive to objectivity and to acting in a manner whereby emotion is not the fundamental basis for action, but rather a contributor. Thus, the code as it relates to the third stanza is a reminder to a student of what they should strive to do – achieving such a state of mind takes a good deal of time, but this is not to say that one should not endeavour to obtain such a mindset consciously. It also serves to allow a student to re-evaluate their training process. If they are not making any progress towards a more advanced application of our emotional methodology after a particular period of time, they therefore must reconsider their approach.
There is no Death; there is the Force
This particular stanza is probably that which has the most interpretations, since it is quite vague, all things considered. Some have asserted that it therefore indicates a form of ‘afterlife’ that is present within our ideology, but I would dismiss this, given that the overall approach of the ideology is not to tread upon ground which religions cover. Since most of them have some form of life-after-death, to impose one upon our practitioners would thus contradict any religious beliefs they might hold, were the nature of whatever afterlife we were to come up with to be different to the one their faith suggests. Moreover, we have no specific notion of what happens after death – some of us believe that there is nothing beyond life, others have a different view.
However, in addressing that particular notion, it should be observed that we are not completely oblivious to what happens during at after the point of one’s death. After all, our ideology is focused upon life, so it would only be appropriate to give consideration to the cessation of life. That said, I’m not referring to principles of life-after-death, but more the actual physical nature of life. This will require that you accept a singular premise: that life results from the animation of non-living materials by Life Energy (that which we call the Force). If you consider that, you also have to consider the role of such energy in death.
For this, I tend to envision something of a cycle, from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Prior to birth, our physical bodies are simply an amalgamation of millions of inanimate components, all of which eventually become animated (usually prior to birth itself). When you look at things like DNA or cellular matter, these things are clearly formed of inanimate/inorganic materials, none of which are active in the same way life is. How does this become organic and animated (hence, living)? As far as we are concerned, this requires the application of Life Energy, that which is responsible for creating and maintaining life. Thus, living organisms are made thus by such energy, and maintained throughout their lives by that same energy.
This is not, as you can well imagine, something that can go on forever. If you consider nature as a whole, it is not particularly inefficient. As a human ages, their cells require more maintenance, since cellular mitosis inevitably becomes less efficient as more and more cells are replaced. The body is, for all intents and purposes, becoming worn out. Thus, more energy is required to sustain the life of an older organism than is required to sustain that of a younger one. I would hypothesise that, as a person reaches the point whereby it requires too much life energy to sustain the body (through illness, injury or the simple ravages of time), death becomes an inevitability. It is, energetically speaking, more efficient to sustain life that requires less energy for that purpose than it would be to sustain life which requires a greater amount to produce the same effect.
We have to therefore consider the First Law of Thermodynamics, which states that (in laymen terms), that energy can neither be created, nor destroyed. Thus, it can only be converted from one state to another. Our physical bodies contain energy, in the form of our cells and all of the energy required for them to operate. Much of this, then, will only be released upon the cessation of those processes which characterise life, and as the body ages, more energy will be required to maintain those processes. Death (at least by old age) comes when it becomes naturally inefficient for energy to be expended in this way. This cessation of life thus releases, over time, the energy contained within the body, thus to be converted or used by other life.
This creates a very particular cycle of life, since the energy of our bodies is not destroyed upon death, but simply converted into other forms that can be used to sustain life elsewhere. So, in the physical sense at least, the energy of our bodies does not die, but simply returns to the overall energetic cycle. So, in a manner of speaking, there really is no death. There is just the Force.
I should take a moment to observe that this is completely compatible with religious beliefs with regards to death – we only take into account what happens to the physical bodies, and leave the notion of the ‘soul’ to the individual person, based on whatever beliefs they might hold in that regard.
In returning to the methodological approach to the Code (in that the stanzas constitute a four-step process), there are several other interpretations of the fourth stanza. The most basic (and perhaps evident) one is that simply that Death is not something to be feared, but instead to be looked upon without concern, since the passing of the physical body is simply a continuation of a cycle that, as Jedi, we consider to be sacred. Indeed, death is how we come to appreciate life – it is finite, and thus ends. An experience which has but a limited time to it is one that must be embraced in full measure.
A slightly different approach is to say that the stanza is the practical applicative stage that the other methodological stanzas lead up to - for many, death is the final obstacle, the one thing that everyone fears because it is not something they have control of. When a Jedi can look inside themselves and understand that they have control of their emotions, they also come to the understanding that their fear of death is simply a fear of the unknown, and in coming to terms with this, the inner peace they have adopted as their natural state of mind becomes completed, since they come to understand that the worst thing in life to fear is, as the adage says, fear itself.
Problems with the Code
Since I have spent time addressing the various interpretations of the Anderson Code, I feel it necessary to take a little more to give some consideration to potential problems of the code, if for no other reason than to address those to new practitioners who may have issue with the tenets laid down by the Code, since we all tend to have our doubts now and again.
The first and foremost issue is over that of objectivity. I realise this is something I perhaps ought to address at length in a separate piece, but here I feel it is most pertinent. The argument here is relatively simple: how can one obtain a state of objectivity in a position where our perceptions are naturally limited, therefore making us naturally subjective? If we could not answer such a question, inevitably it would be true to say that our entire emotional methodology (the Anderson Code included) would fall apart, since objectivity stands as the centrepiece.
Is true objectivity impossible to obtain? I have to be honest and say that such a thing could well be so. Our perceptions are naturally limited – we cannot perceive sounds past a certain range, nor can we perceive particular wavelengths of light. And so on. As a result, it would be a poor student that didn’t question whether or not objectivity was difficult, if not impossible, to acquire and maintain.
That observed, we do have one major counterargument: the Force. How can this be? Simply put, knowing ourselves to be limited, we have to take into consideration things outside of ourselves which are not quite so limited in nature. Please, don’t assume I’m suggesting that certain things are beyond us – all I am saying is that we cannot be so arrogant as to assume that we can do anything. All we possess is the potential. Anyway, if we are correct in the way in which we define the energies of the Force (i.e. as the energy of everything), we can at least take that to a logical conclusion and assert that objectivity can be observed by those energies – thus, while humans see reality in a limited manner, the Force has no such boundaries placed upon it.
All very well and good, but what does that mean to us? Simple. We understand that we are capable of perceiving those energies, and indeed contain them within our own physical bodies. It therefore stands to reason that we can observe objectivity, but only when we let go of our conscious egos, and perhaps even our physical restraints. In a sense, to reach a state of objectivity, one has to commune with those energies, to experience our environment lacking the prejudice of emotions, and to release such restraining notions as that of the self.
Our emotional methodology is, to some extent, designed to help with this. Nobody is suggesting that you become less earth-bound, since we are by definitions realists. Jedi do not spend all their time in meditation, attempting to commune with something beyond us. We are essentially individuals focused on acting in a manner appropriate to Jedi tenets. Thus, applying the Code and the emotional methodology to which it refers is our method of achieving a state of mind appropriate to objectivity.
If you’re not impressed by all this talk of energy having a greater perspective on reality, try and think of it in terms of objectivity being prevented by our own psychological blinders. We cannot see reality as it truly is because we make judgements about the world, filtering what we perceive through mental sieves, determining something to be one thing or another. Essentially, we define and categorise. One thing is good. Another is evil. One thing tastes nice. Another does not. And so on. Essentially, you have to realise that this is limiting. Humans naturally make determinations like this all the time. To reach a state of objectivity, one has to be able to put aside these various factors and eschew one’s prerogative to judge until appropriate.
And how do we do that, you ask? By now, you should already have the answer. We detach ourselves from our own emotions and various judgements, reserving them. We seek peace so as not to allow those things to cloud reason. We use patience and a focused level of awareness (application of Mindfulness) to allow us to consider all available information and then to work our way through the options such circumstances present to us. Only then can we make a determination, consciously aware that we are not acting on impulse and with a level of controlled reason that allows us to apply the best solution to the circumstances.
In such a state we are, if you will, acting in tandem with the energies of the Force – simply being.
However, objectivity is not the only potential issue one might have with the Anderson Code. There are several others. Firstly, there is simple ambiguity. The code can be interpreted in many different ways – I wouldn’t dare suggest I could make this comprehensive, by any means. Writing that would be truly soporific, both to me as a writer, and you as a reader. If you can thing of any other interpretations, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. Just as long as you try and remember the purpose behind the Code.
In all truth, the Code was designed as a fictional device for the Star Wars Jedi Order. We cannot therefore attribute a huge deal of meaning to the purpose of the author in creating it. What we can do, however, is attribute meaning to it as we have given it. Jedi Realism would not have adopted the Code for our own purposes were it not useful – if it did not serve a purpose. Since it does, we retained it, and you are reading about it.
For us, the Code was designed to provide students with a reminder of those values standing at the very heart of our ideology – what to aspire towards, and in contrast, what to avoid. However, the problem of ambiguity comes only in circumstances when the Code stands alone, lacking explanation. Give the Code to a student and ask them to tell you what it means, and most will not be truly sure unless they are taught the meaning of it. So why use it? Simple: once a student has been taught the more complex version, that of the emotional methodology, the Code then condenses that down into four simple statements, each a reminder of those fundamental tenets. Ambiguity exists only when no articulated explanation is provided alongside it.
The third problem with the Code exists within the nature of it – as a fictional device, it is known to many that are not Jedi Realists, and is not an original device created by us. Thus, it is something we have borrowed or adopted, and chosen to use. Thus, the issue is one for the movement as a whole, rather than for individual practitioners. To many, especially those unaware of our ideological tenets, it suggests that we are simply overzealous fans of a fictional universe. As such, many advocate the removal of the Code from our texts, citing it as dangerous to our credibility as an emerging ideology.
My answer to this is simple: are the words themselves fundamental? Or is it the meaning behind it which we look at when we see the Code? If the former is true, then it couldn’t matter less if we choose to use the four stanzas for our own reference, within the context of our training. If the latter is true, that would be suggestive of a rather shallow approach to an ideology, and under such circumstances, you have to ask yourself which is more important: that which you do, or that which you are perceived as doing? And, frankly, if you can’t answer that one for yourself, there would be little purpose served by my explaining it to you.
There are likely other problems with the Code, but I preferred only to address the major ones – those which regularly arise when discussing this with other people. That said, if anyone has any other problems, discuss them with your fellow practitioners and work your own way towards a resolution. As any of the major instructors within the movement will tell you, some things are only learned properly when you struggle with them. Such is true of the Anderson Code.