The Spirit of the Jedi
To examine the spirit of the Jedi, we need to look at what has existed before and how it relates to the Modern Jedi Knight. We will do this through an examination of empathy and compassion, chivalry, bushido, and other warrior creeds. We will also see how it relates to the Jedi Code and the Jedi Creed.
Empathy is defined as identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives. While not directly implied in the normal definition, empathy in relation to the Jedi refers to their ability to have compassion, a love and respect for all life, and a strong dedication to charity and service for those who are unable or less fortunate.
The Medieval Knights of the Middle Ages developed a code of conduct and a culture that was called the Knights Code of Chivalry, Charlemagne’s Code of Chivalry, or simply chivalry for short. A song composed at the end of the 11th century, The Song of Roland, chronicled the Code of Chivalry and gave us written documentation which showed that the Code of Chivalry had many points similar with the portrayal of the Jedi Knights. Here is a list of some of the attributes of a medieval knight from The Song of Roland (some religious attributes have been left out):
- To serve the liege lord in valor and faith
- To protect the weak and defenseless
- To give succor to widows and orphans
- To refrain from the wanton giving of offence
- To live by honor and for glory
- To despise pecuniary reward
- To fight for the welfare of all
- To obey those placed in authority
- To guard the honor of fellow knights
- To eschew unfairness, meanness and deceit
- At all times to speak the truth
- To persevere to the end in any enterprise begun
- To respect the honor of women
- Never to refuse a challenge from an equal
- Never to turn the back upon a foe
DISCLAIMER: This information was retrieved this website.
Similar to the concept of chivalry, the warrior knights of Japan, the samurai, created a code of conduct called bushido (translated as The Way of the Warrior). Bushido was the Japanese definition of being a warrior, and it carried over into all aspects of samurai life. Developed during the same time frame as chivalry, bushid has been codified as having seven principal virtues:
- Rectitude (Gi)
- Courage (Yu)
- Benevolence (Jin)
- Respect (Rei)
- Honesty (Makoto)
- Honor (Meiyo)
- Loyalty (Chu)
In addition to the seven principal virtues listed, there are some others that are sometimes listed, but they don’t fall under the seven principal virtues. These are filial piety (k), wisdom (chi), and caring for the elderly. Bushido exerted such a strong influence over feudal Japan that the concepts are still held in high regards by the Japanese, even in these modern times.
There are many different beliefs of the warrior, and they can be found in many places in our modern times. Many of the armed forces of the world have a soldiers creed. Practitioners of the martial arts will often have their own creed also. My children, in their Taekwondo class, said their creed at the beginning of every class. My children also say a creed at the beginning of their Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts meetings. I repeat a creed in relation to my martial arts training as well. We don’t say it at my Bujinkan class, but I read and think about it at least once a day. It is called The Warriors Creed, and was written by Dr. Robert L. Humphrey, a United States Marine Corps veteran and Bujinkan 10th Dan:
Wherever I go,
everyone is a little bit safer because I am there.
Wherever I am,
anyone in need has a friend.
Whenever I return home,
everyone is happy I am there.
The Jedi Code
The Jedi Code was a code of moral and ethical conduct expected to be adhered to by all members of the Jedi Order. The timeline of the origin of this mantra is unclear, but one could assume that it came into existence shortly after the Ashla Knights, the precursor to the Jedi Order, and the Galactic Republic were created circa 25,000 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin). The mantra has changed throughout the history of the Star Wars galaxy. Here is the first version:
Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Death, yet the force.
A Draethos Jedi Master named Odan-Urr studied the Jedi Code in great detail, making a revised version sometime between 5,000 BBY and 3,996 BBY, which was adopted by the Jedi Order. This is the edition of the Jedi Code familiar to most sentient beings, and it was used until Order 66 and the Great Jedi Purge occurred in 19 BBY:
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.
Following the collapse of the Galactic Empire after the death of the Emperor Palpatine in 4 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), Jedi Grand Master Luke Skywalker aimed to reestablish the Jedi Order. Termed the New Jedi Order, Grand Master Skywalker re-wrote the Jedi Code, often referred to in this edition as the Jedi Creed:
Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.
Jedi use their powers to defend and protect, never to attack others.
Jedi respect all life, in any form.
Jedi serve others rather than ruling over them, for the good of the galaxy.
Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.
The early versions of the Jedi Code are open and ambiguous, open to interpretation by the reader, while the latest version, or Jedi Creed, leaves little to the imagination and is very clear on how a Jedi should act. I read both versions almost daily and like them both, but the earlier versions of the Jedi Code, in my opinion, allow one to contemplate on what it is to be a Jedi, and allows them to make the code something that is their very own.
Conduct of a Modern Jedi Knight
As you can see from all of the codes, creeds, and doctrines listed, they all share some common threads to help a Jedi determine their proper conduct in society. The Jedi respect all life by defending and protecting those who cannot do it for themselves, striving for peaceful and non-combative solutions to any altercations they encounter. By training the mind and the body the Jedi seek to improve themselves by gaining unfettered access to the Force while also seeking to improve those individuals and groups they come in contact with. By serving others, the Jedi give of themselves through acts of charity, citizenship, volunteerism, and good deeds.