I have never felt Jediism has ever measured up to an actual religion. Howeve that does not stop people from believing. And if people believe strong enough, than no words will change that. So while I feel Jediism can be proven a falsehood of religion, that will not make t go away. =) heh But Jediism is simply one facet of the entirety of the Jedi Community. There are more schools of thought than simply that. So today we will be looking at the three major schools of thought within the Jedi Community.
When looking at the Jedi Path you are going to find three main schools of thought. Just as Christianity, Judaism, and Taoism all have various sects and individual thought with in each, so do the Jedi. So what we are going to do is take a brief look at each of the individual sects of the Jedi Path. The main sects you will find and we will be discussing are Religious, Spiritual, and Pragmatic. I will seek to not only describe these various schools of thought, but also their common ground outside of the name/label Jedi.
First we will look at the most known aspect of the Jedi Path, the Jedi Religion. The Jedi Religion, better known as Jediism, came into full existence in 2001. This was due to the media coverage of a mass e-mail campaign requesting individuals of the United Kingdoms and New Zealand to list Jedi as their religion on the 2001 census report. It was claimed at the time that doing so would make the Jedi an officially recognized religion. This was not and is not the case however and Jediism to this day is not officially recognized by any country as an “official” religion. However that has not stopped the thousands of people who believe and practice the Jedi Religion.
Jediism is best defined by its beliefs in the Force. Within Jediism you will find prayers and worship of the Force. A view that the Force has a will of its own, a sentient deity, and is treated as such. Phrases like “thank the Force,” “may the Force be with you,” and “the Force has a purpose though we may not know it,” are all popular within the Jediism circle. As a religion Jediism is meant to replace other religious thought. Most Jediists fully believe in being a Jedi and following the will of the Force. As such they use this belief over a belief in the Christian God or other such Gods (e.g. Witchcraft).
Common viewpoints within Jediism:
Enjoy the Fiction of Star Wars. And often are found using fictional references as a means of expression, such as Lightsaber Training and wearing Jedi Robes.
Teaching, Quoting, and Love of Joseph Campbell's work/books. Every single Jediism group has this in common.
Have set practices and forms of worship.
Have prayers to the Force.
View the Force more as a sentient energy field, than simply just energy.
Use Religious Titles such as Priest, Bishop, etc. As ordained by the Universal Life Church.
No set standard or structure, leaving each individual group to establish its own ranking system and requirements. Which are often very low and accommodating to all individuals interested in becoming Jedi.
A lot more can be said on Jediism, their history, growth, and current leaders. However we shall leave that for another time and article.
Next we will look at the Spiritual aspect of the Jedi Path. The Spiritual Sect of the Jedi may even have a greater following than the Jedi religion, simply because it allows for much more middle ground. Here is where you will find your many variables of the Jedi; such as Shadow Jedi, Grey Jedi, and even Dark Jedi. For the Spiritual side is not so much concerned with regulations and definitions as it is with personal growth and enlightenment. And that can come in many forms.
Spiritual Jedi often refer to themselves as Jedi Realists. Using the Jedi Name and Label merely as a means of conveying a like-minded thought in a more easier to understand term. Those individuals that follow the spiritual aspect include and use a lot of outside reference material. Zen Buddhism, Tao te Ching, Reiki, Hinduism, not to mention Christianity. It is in this mixture that they find spiritual growth and self-betterment. Excluding nothing, and seeking various forms of meditation, and energy work. Nothing is off limits so long as it works for you and you can find that balance within the Jedi Path.
Ideals of Love and Compassion are often major themes. Most Spiritual Jedi do not have a religious preference, though any religion is accepted. This is where you will find most of your Christian Jedi who use the Jedi Path to help them grow and connect with their faith in a new way. Books such as Christian Wisdom from the Jedi Masters help in such endeavors.
Spiritual Jedi have been around since 1977, when the first people were awed in the theaters. They saw this thing called the Force and find many parallels to it and their own beliefs and ideals. Not to mention many of the other faiths out there. It was almost a safe point, an area all beliefs could agree on, if they could overcome semantics.
Common Viewpoints of the Jedi Realists:
Varied standards and ranking, but generally accepting of all those interested in self-growth and betterment.
Study and accepting of a variety of ideals and techniques, including Chi Gung, Daoism, Zen, etc.
No real uniformity outside of a general use of titles such as Jedi Knight, Jedi Master.
Most individuals that are not Jediists (follow Jediism) fall within this category.
Often call themselves Jedi Realists. Or Jedi Realism.
High focus on Community Service and helping others.
Lastly we will look at the lowest populated sect of the Jedi Path, the pragmatic ones. These are individuals that will not use terms as Jediism, or Jedi Realists, instead simply calling themselves Jedi. And hoping that their demeanor and actions will set them apart for the rest.
These Jedi are often considered elitists among the rest of the Jedi. The separation in these sects took place in 2001 for the most part. Until that time all were Jedi with different views and beliefs. It was the media coverage on Jediism that created a need to separate and define clearly what the Jedi Path was.
The Jedi Pragmatists, if such a label is needed, were the ones that saw a need for clear cut definitions, standards, requirements, training, and education. They saw value in the fictional Jedi, but knew such lessons as Inner Peace and Calm, Objectivity, Patience, Awareness, Self-Discipline, etc. needed to come not only from the inspiration, but more from practical firsthand experience.
In 2005 the Jedi Path as a whole was introduced to the Jedi Circle. A non-fictional piece of writing on how to live as a Jedi. In the Jedi Circle it included five practices, five tenets, five traits, five truths, and five misconceptions all concerning the Jedi. This was the first real work of the Jedi Pragmatists.
Skills such as Observation, Conflict Resolution, First Aid, took over where discussions on the Force use to be the norm. A focus on Physical Fitness to encourage good health and better ability to help others was brought in. Meditation was used not as a means for personal enlightenment, but instead as a means to quiet, focus, and control the mind. Logic, Reasoning, Facts, these were encouraged. Emotional Control is a major theme as well within the Jedi; noting that while we all have emotion, we all have the ability to chose not to act from it.
Due to the high standards and regulations involved many do not follow or fall into the Jedi (pragmatist) sect of the Jedi Path. And there are very few sites which endorse this view.
Common viewpoints of the Jedi (Pragmatists):
The Force is seen as an energy field which blankets the earth. Many comparisons to the ocean and rivers. With currents and flows, but no sentient thought or will. And certainly not a deity.
Allow all Religions and Beliefs, if said religion and beliefs do not conflict with the Jedi Path.
Follow the Jedi Circle.
Encourage Logical and Rational thought over emotional reactions. A focus on not allowing emotions to cloud the judgment of the Jedi (including emotions such as compassion).
Strict Standards and Regulations.
Focus on helping others to help themselves (teach a man to fish and all that)
In conclusion, when looking at the Jedi Path we have to remember that anytime people look into the unknown, they will bring back different perspectives of the unknown. The Jedi grew out of time of spiritual curiosity. All of us were inspired by the fictional aspects we saw. And we share that common ground. We are each Jedi, whether one is a Jediist, Realist, or Pragmatist, we speak for the Jedi Community as a whole. What one does reflects all of us.
And while we may not agree on what exactly the Force is, we do agree the Force exists in some form or another. And while we do not agree on methodology, we do agree that Jedi are about self-betterment, and are continual students. And while we each aspire to the fictional Jedi in our own way, we can all agree that fiction is simply that; and while inspiring the Jedi are much more than a green muppet in the swamps.
Church of Jediism: jedi-church.co.uk
Temple of the Jedi Order: templeofthejediorder.org
Jedi Realists –
Force Academy: forceacademy.co.uk
Real Jedi Knights: jediknights.b1.jcink.com/
Jedi Academy Online: jediacademyonline.com