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November 26, 2010 at 6:45 pm #140008Tai-DaParticipant
The one thing I have had a strong belief in especially after learning that our words and reasoning is what confuses people between things and causes arguments when essentially they are the same thing. The one thing I have wanted to know and study is if God, The Force, Allah and the Tao are the same thing. First of all I would like to see a few of your views before I add in my own.November 26, 2010 at 11:51 pm #156838Kol DrakeModerator
Ever since the first movie previewed in 1977, people have been trying to equate something to the Force. So, the Force is ‘like’ the Tao — or ‘like’ God — or ‘like’ — well, there have been tons of comparisons in 33 years.
No need to go on at length about how one can easily detect the influence of Asian thought in the costumes, the philosophy of the Jedi and the construction of religion in the Star Wars universe. While Lucas does not see Star Wars as “profoundly religious,” he does tell Bill Moyers in an interiew that “almost every single religion” found the film contains elements suggestive of faith: “They were able to relate it to stories in the Bible, in the Koran, and in the Torah”. In fact, within a few months of the release of the original film in 1977, Frank Allnutt wrote The Force of Star Wars which viewed Lucas’s film as a “prophetic parable” about the coming of the Antichrist in which the Force is God, the Emperor is Satan, and the Rebellion represents the Church. Allnutt offers a fundamentalist Christian analysis on the film which, for reasons too lengthy to debate here, which attempts to make the Star Wars narrative fit the Book of Revelation, but fails. In the absence of a true Christ figure (Allnutt suggests Obi-Wan), the theory does not work.
Bill Moyers, in his interview with Lucas (Time Magazine, Cinema: Of Myth and Men, April 26, 1999), suggests that the Force is an “Eastern view of God — particularly Buddhist — as a vast reservoir of energy that is the ground of all our being”. Lucas agrees that “it’s more specific in Buddhism,” but he also argues that “it is a notion that’s been around before that,” without specifying what he means exactly or to which religious philosophies he refers. Lucas’s own view notwithstanding, the language the various characters use to describe the Force suggests Taoism.
Moyers’ “reservoir of energy” implies the Tao. Obi-Wan tells Luke, “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us and binds the galaxy together.” The theology of Buddhism maintains that this world is an illusion that generates misery and so must be transcended. It is in Taoism that the idea of energy is a principle tenet. Lao Tzu writes in the Tao Te Ching that the Tao (the way) “gives them [people] life and rears them. It gives them life yet claims no possession. . . . It is the steward, yet exercises no authority” (I: x).
Unlike the Western notion of God — an authoritative, anthropomorphic patriarch — the Tao is both life giving and binding, yet does not actively control human beings or demand worship or authority. The Tao is a non-present presence: “The way is empty, yet use will not drain it” (I: iv), which further suggests Moyers’ “reservoir of energy,” albeit one which will never be emptied. The theology and cosmology of Star Wars constructs an ultimate reality much closer to Taoism than to any Western religious philosophy.
Western religious philosophy does not have the idea of “flow” on which both Taoism and the Force are centered. The famous metaphor in the Tao Te Ching compares the Tao to water — “In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it. This is because there is nothing that can take its place” (II: lxxviii). The ideal follower of the Tao flows with the Tao as water flows. While seemingly weak and submissive one will overcome any difficulty by flowing. Likewise, both the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back contain repeated lessons for Luke given by Obi-Wan and Yoda about how to learn to flow. The following passage from Star Wars is typical:
OBI-WAN: Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.
LUKE: You mean it controls your actions?
OBI-WAN: Partially, but it also obeys your commands.
Yoda repeatedly tells Luke, “Feel the Force flow.” This idea of the divine being a flowing energy which both controls and can be controlled is Taoist, not Western.
A further example of the Taoist nature of the Force is its resistance to intellectual understanding Ingrid Fischer-Schreiber, writing in The Shambala Dictionary of Taoism, observes — “All Taoists strive to become one with the Tao. This cannot be achieved by trying to understand the Tao intellectually; the adept becomes one with the Tao by realizing within himself its unity, simplicity, and emptiness”. During the training session on the Millennium Falcon, Obi-Wan tells Luke he is thinking too much — “This time let go your conscious self and act on instinct. . . . Stretch out with your feelings.”
The Force cannot be understood or used intellectually; only by experiencing within one’s self, by feeling can one become one with the Force and use it. At the climactic battle of the Death Star, Luke turns off his tactical computer and “uses the Force” to hit the Death Star with his torpedo. It is only by “trusting his feelings,” “letting go,” and “letting the Force flow” that the huge, mechanical Death Star can be beaten and destroyed. Like water, a single man in a small ship seems weak and defenseless against the huge mechanical (read: Western) terror of the Death Star, and yet, through the use of the Force, the living being overcomes the mechanical monster. By learning the Taoist-like teachings of the Jedi, Luke is able to defeat the Dark Side and save the Rebellion repeatedly.
It is in the dualistic nature of the Force that Lucas comes closest to Western religious philosophy. While Taoism recognizes that good and evil / light and dark, are merely opposites in which balance must be sought, Western philosophy judges light to be good and dark to be bad. The yin-yang symbol is the embodiment of Taoism — both light and dark aspects are present and balanced. Western religious philosophy acknowledges a dualistic nature from which the darkness must be purged. Evil is seen as separate from good and must be not only resisted and rejected but overcome. The Dark Side is the result of Taoism’s being subjected to the Western concept of evil.
Now the point of all these comparisons is that they are just comparisons.
A Jedi is not a Buddha.
But many of the practices and concepts that are part of their art can be found in the Buddha’s teachings.
The Force is ‘like’ the concept of Tao, which is the ineffable, eternal, creative reality that is the source and end of all things. Te refers to the manifestation of Tao within all things. Thus, to fully possess Te, one must be in perfect harmony with one’s original nature.
But, the Force is not Tao in it’s purest sense.
Some think being a Jedi and ‘worshipping the Force’ is very Christian in nature.
But, the Force is not God.
Most recently, the Force is conjectured to be some manifestation of quantum entanglement, chaos theory, and a fractal universe. While trying to ‘prove’ the Force is one thing or another, we negate the ‘is-ness’ of the Force and in most cases, lessen the ‘thing’ we are comparing it to… which does neither the Force or God, Tao, Zen, Christianity, Allah, or quantum physics justice in their own right.
Let the Force ‘be’ what it is — the Force… not ‘like’ anything but itself.
And I direct you to the other thread which was similar to this idea of the Force ‘being’ something else…
May the Force Be With You All…November 27, 2010 at 6:08 am #156841tatsutsumeParticipant
Nice reply Kol. I wish there was more that I could add to this, but there’s not. I will say this. I attend a Buddhist Temple every Sunday to gain an understanding of the Buddhist philosophy. I tell several people that “I go but I am not a Buddhist.” I am Jedi and the Force is the Force. I have had people ask me to describe it and I have to tell them “It is beyond any kind of explanation, it is something you must experience to understand.” That experience come from looking within and realizing within yourself the connection and balance of all things.November 27, 2010 at 9:24 am #156842Tai-DaParticipant
OK I must say Kol you are very knowledgeable about the Force. You have helped me understand a great deal of what it is however I still strive to experience it. Kol I am somewhat jealous I hope one day I and the rest of us can have this same knowledge you possess.
Thank you for that post both of you. You have helped me understand a lot more, and more than I expected to find out.
Thank you both. And May the Force be with you.November 27, 2010 at 11:36 am #156843Kol DrakeModerator
Thank you both for the complimentary remarks.
As for knowing alot about the Force; well, part of it comes from studying and practicing various aspects of energy and other esoteric ‘art forms’ since the late 1960s; part due to my research into ‘what is the Force’ after seeing the first Star Wars movie in 1977. All that experience wrapped up with once working on a draft for a book which was going to be titled, What is the Force, at the beginning of the 21st Century…. so, kind of a major headstart.
Do not worry though, with time, patience and lots of daily practice, you folks will know more about the Force then what I know. Who knows, one of these days, those science guys in the lab coats might actually figure out how to measure, weigh, and quantify the Force so that everyone can get to know it!
Keep up your meditation and studies and the Force be with you all. :meditateNovember 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm #156850AnonymousQuote:Do not worry though, with time, patience and lots of daily practice, you folks will know more about the Force then what I know. **snip**
Keep up your meditation and studies and the Force be with you all.
These things are key to becoming a Jedi…well, that and many years of life experience in which to practice! There are some people on this forum who have been walking this path for a quarter century or more. It is not something that can be learned in six or ten or twenty classes but rather after many years of consistent, daily practice.
My advice to students wherever you happen to be is:
[li]Savor each moment and experience of your training and your life. [/li]
[li]Be mindful and aware in every moment for life is the ultimate practice ground.[/li]
[li]Explore everything as deeply as you can.[/li]
Learning to become a Jedi is a life long pursuit that cannot be rushed, which really is a difficult concept for the Western mind to wrap itself around. It is natural to try to approach study as though the lessons and experiences are part of some ‘to do’ on a list. However, this leads to missing some really amazing things and actually slows your progress, in the end. I know this one from hard won experience. Lol!November 28, 2010 at 7:36 pm #156859Anonymous
Well, as usual, I am coming into this discussion late but I wanted to post this excerpt from my definition of the Force in Force 101. I submit this simply for the sake of providing another view of the Force.Quote:I am going to step outside of the assignment slightly to offer my own name for the Force, one that I think works quite well and one to which both theistic and non-theistic Jedi can relate. I see the Force as the Ground of all Being. I derive this name from the work of the 12th century German mystic and theologian Meister Eckhart.
Although Eckhart was clearly a Christian theologian, he is most well known for his sermons given in vernacular German. At his later trial for heresy (mystics have this problem with orthodoxy), Eckhart stated that he wrote the sermons in order to “inspire in listeners the desire above all to do some good”. In those sermons, Eckhart, who is clearly referring to God, uses unusual terminology to get his point across and one of his favorite terms for God is “The Ground of All Being”. While this backing away from the orthodox terminology for the supposed Supreme Being got him into trouble, Eckhart’s mystical sense of that which “binds the galaxy together” led him to use less specific language that has fascinated scholars ever since.
While Eckhart’s work has been suspect in conventional Christian teachings, it has garnered a great deal of interest amongst non-Christian scholars (Buddhists, in particular) and amongst practitioners of Christian and more universalist mysticism. A good example of this would be the work of Matthew Fox, a member of the Dominican Order who was silenced by the order as the result of his radical mystical theology; he subsequently became an Episcopal priest when he could not work out his difference with the Catholic church. His book, Breakthrough, based on Eckhart’s sermons was his passionate and scholarly explication of what he called creation spirituality and he explores the concept of the Ground of All Being as a more universalist way to view the Deity in whom he strongly believes.
I feel strongly that the Ground of All Being is a good term to use for the Force. In the Star Wars saga, we learn that “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. . . ” (Obi Wan Kenobi, Episode 4). Master Yoda, in Episode 5, tells us that “Life creates it , makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. . .” Later in the movies, and in the books that followed we learn that life not only creates the Force, but life also returns to the Force when it passes out of existence. Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda and, eventually, Anakin Skywalker all rejoin the Force when their physical bodies cease to exist.
So, the Force is created by life and it receives life at the end of organic existence. What better metaphor for such a process, such an energy field than the Ground of All Being? A Ground from which all things arise and to which all things return, a Ground which, if we are to believe Eckhart, we can contact and which leads us into ever deeper union with itself, which guides our actions (in Eckhart’s view, through the exigency of the Holy Spirit) and which, according to Fox, leads us ever deeper into the mysteries of creation.November 29, 2010 at 4:00 am #156865SetanaokoParticipantQuote:You have helped me understand a great deal of what it is however I still strive to experience it.
That’s simple enough. What Kol gives you is one version of the answer. What I will give you is a further definition of the common term coined to “the Force”-more common than even “Tao”: Chi. Oftentimes people will use this term to prove that the idea of “the Force” is widely excepted by a religious culture-the largest one being in China. One reason for this, is that people often try to keep away from the Christianity viewpoint due to “heresy” accusations. It just makes things go more smoothly if you don’t touch the Abrahamic theologies when referring to a non-Abrahamic system.
What most of the people who state “the Force” is none other than “Chi” itself forget is that “chi” in it’s original context is quite scientific.
Follow these steps:
1) Take a seat, doesn’t matter how you sit-even if your posture is extremely bad.
2) Now take a deep breath in.
Feel that? It’s energy moving throughout your body because you have taken in oxygen which revitalizes your blood cells. In ancient China, “chi” was meant to describe the energy that you obtain from mere breathing. The more oxygen you get to your muscles, the more abilities you have-even in things such as flexibility and mental capacity. Your body is stronger when you have oxygen, rather than if you are deprived of that oxygen.
So, “the Force” has a variety of interpretations from the scientific to the mystical. You experience it everyday-at least in my mind-because it is both and not one or the other. Science just hasn’t explained a good deal of it yetNovember 29, 2010 at 9:54 am #156868Tai-DaParticipant
Very nice Chi technique I mean it just goes to show how something simple can do some great things.
Thanks for that. I appreciate it.
May the Force be with you.November 30, 2010 at 3:41 am #156872JaxKeymaster
I’ll preface this by saying these are my personal opinions gleaned from my personal study and thoughts at this point in time. For reference, much of my understanding comes from my understandings of the Conversations with God series of books (the entire series, about 10 books) by Neale Donald Walsch. They have been further refined through discussions with spirit guides and figuring out what resonates with me. I’ll do my best to explain, but I’m still learning how to communicate clearly on these ideas. I will say that my perspective does not discount the other perspectives shared, and I do agree on some level with each.
The key to this question is in how you define each term. Each person is going to have their own definition of what each means, which is often the source of conflict. Most Christians and Muslims would agree that God and Allah are not the same being. Or if they believe they are the same being, they disagree on each other’s interpretation of said being. But each person’s definition is still based on their experiences and understanding. This is the same for the Force. How much do we know? Not much. We know our individual experiences. We may know some theories of what it is. But even if a person was a master walking this earth, their understanding would be somewhat limited by what the human brain can comprehend, in addition to how their experience is filtered through them.
My personal believe is that, at the highest level, everything is one. I have a hard time calling that God because of my religious upbringing which I feel is a great distortion of reality. I tend to use the term Universe since it already encompasses everything by definition. I use the Force as well, depending on the audience. If I want to differentiate I also say that GOD is the real. God, Allah, the myriad of divine beings (real or otherwise), and even concepts like the Living and Unifying Force, are all subdivisions of the Whole. Because while everything is one, in the end, it isn’t very useful to view it only as one. By viewing things as separate and different we can experience much more. So we take a subset of characteristics and we call that the Living Force. We take another subset and call it the Unifying Force. And yet another subset and call it God, Allah, etc. On one level they are still all the same, and yet on another they are not.
And in the end, does it matter what I think if someone else disagrees? I can argue God and Allah are the same until I’m exhausted, but if the other person disagrees there is nothing I can do. If we could end religious warfare by just telling everyone “You have the same God” we would have done it by now.
To wrap this up, whether I focus on the unity between everything or the separation depends on what I’m working on and what is most helpful in that situation. Sometimes we need to view it all as the same. Sometimes it’s helpful to focus on the separation/distinction. But I do always keep the unity in the back of my mind, as I believe that to be the most accurate representation of Reality – as best I can understand and imagine.
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