Jedi Code: Emotions

There is no emotion, there is peace.

The Jedi Code

The first line of the Jedi Code is one of the most difficult for new students to understand and accept. Stated as it is here (there are other formulations), it seems to argue that a Jedi should not have emotions. But as many Jedi teachers have written, this is a misunderstanding.

Human beings have emotions. That’s simply a part of being a healthy person, and Jedi value being healthy in mind, body, and spirit very, very much. To deny emotion and try to remove it from our lives would be a mistake. So what is the point to this line … the first line …. of one of the most iconic facets of the Star Wars mythos, one that has its foundation in both Samurai maxims and Stoic philosophy?

This line calls for reframing the relationship between a Jedi and their emotions. For so many people, their emotions are considered things outside of their control that not only seem to have a life of their own but that also color and frame the interpretation of events … and that call for specific actions and responses to events.

If someone is running late for an event because of traffic on the freeway, for instance, they think it is inevitable that they will become angry and maybe even honk their car horn or shout at people around them. They may even carry that anger with them through the day, letting it affect their responses to unrelated situations and people, getting even more angry at minor frustrations and blaming the traffic for making them angry and ruining their day.

Yet a Jedi would point out that the emotion did not come from the traffic. It came from within the person. At its most fundamental level, the emotion is an ephemeral chemical reaction in the brain in response to a challenging situation. And, ideally, a Jedi would recognize that momentary anger or frustration, acknowledge it, and then decide what to do. The emotion is not in charge of deciding what happens next; the Jedi is. Ideally, the next steps might be to do some deep breathing, mitigate the effects of being late (informing someone of the late arrival), and letting the frustration evaporate so that it does not bleed over to cause misunderstandings during the rest of the day.

But it is a big step to go from our society conditioning (“the traffic made me angry”) to managing our emotional life. The advice I hear from too many Jedi to “just be emotionally disciplined” comes from good intentions, I hope, but is not useful at the beginning of training. So, I have included an idea from Naya’s shamanic background (The Path to Anger) that I recommend you add to your training program, especially if you are already keeping a journal.

Recording your emotional responses and analyzing what might have evoked them is a good way to beginning to change your relationship with emotions and grow as a Jedi.

An Exercise in Mindfulness

I hesitated to include the lecture Pick a Question because I do not know who contributed it. With the changes from Ezboard to Yuku to Tapatalk, many accounts became orphaned and user names did not remain visible … hence authorship information sometimes has been misplaced. All I know is that the author identified themselves as the Chair of the Sine Nomine (which ends up being rather ironic).

As it may be, I decided that this lecture introduces a useful exercise, one that is similar to those used by consultants aiding people or organizations in creating mission and vision statements.

While the initial question posed may seem trivial (the author asks “What did you have for breakfast?”) a series of “why” questions following can begin to remove the trivial, layer by layer, until the values and principles behind the, seemingly innocuous, everyday decisions and actions of daily life begin to be exposed.

For instance, my answer to the breakfast question today would be: eggs with microgreens and cinnamon swirl bread with margarine.

Why did I choose this breakfast?

At one level, because it is a combination of protein and carbs with some microgreens.

So, why these things? You already can see a hint at my response in how I framed the answer: because I think it offers valuable nutrients: protein, carbs, and phytochemicals.

Why did I go for “valuable nutrients”?

Because I am working at improving my health and think that this combination of nutrients will aid me in developing strength and have enough carbs that I can get through my 9 am personal training session without fainting.

Why am I improving my health?

  1. I am of the “move it or lose it” philosophy and think that if you don’t work at improving, entropy will increase. In this case, I’ll get weaker and possibly injured or ill.
  2. I think that I need to be physically fit* in order to have the necessary energy to teach (my real life job) and also to be of service to the community (my Jedi vocation).

…. Naturally, we could keep going here. These events are usually timed, and you do need to be in the right frame of mind to continue with introspection for very long. And if this is done with someone else, you need to feel a sense of trust … and expect that there are no wrong answers.

BUT, I hope you can see how I already am uncovering my personal values:

  • Physical health
  • Continuous improvement
  • Teaching others
  • Community service

I would like to suggest this sort of question period (do keep it short!!) might be valuable as part of either a student initiation OR as part of Jedi Trials as a way to think about values …. but also how we can enact them every day.

It’s not what you say that’s important to you, it’s what you DO that’s important to you.  

Steven Kamb (NerdFitness.com)

* Which is not to say that I think everyone needs to follow my example in this, but it is important to me to be as physically capable as possible under the circumstances.

More Lectures from the Past

I am working on filtering through the guest lectures from the Jedi Temple and publishing items that – to the best of my knowledge – were not picked up in any collections or books.

The first lecture today is a serious question from Naya: “So you wanna be a Jedi?” that takes a less-romantic look at the downsides of being a Jedi in the modern world by comparing living as a Jedi to being a shaman. While I don’t suggest that you should live like Kevin Cottam, you should consider what living as a Jedi will really entail.

Continuing in the theme is a lecture from one of our founders on The Jedi Way.

Vacation musing

I had intended to publish some thoughts on Jedi Knighthood as a vocation … but I realized that I need to spend some more time on that subject.

In the meantime, I have pulled out a couple more articles from the archives for your consideration.

More is Not Enough was contributed by Ainar as a wisdom tale.

There is No Path was written by Demetrius Vorak

In the meantime, I am enjoying hiking in beautiful weather, eating too much food and reading a new book by Druid Dana O’Driscoll: Sacred Actions.

Ephemeral Nature of Things

I aim to publish at least one lesson per day, although I will not always succeed. This past weekend, a sudden ear infection reminded me of the fleeting nature of health … and the power of pain to recall us to the physicality of our existence. But also, it was a reminder that all things pass. Breathing through the worst of the episode was almost meditative as I held on to the knowledge that – with the proper application of modern medicine – this discomfort would pass.

But it inspired me to dig up this piece from Ainar, which was originally contributed to the Jedi Temple in 2000. “It Will Pass” ….

Ten Rules of Engagement

I am linking the article on these rules in both the martial arts and philosophy sections. While they probably were first intended for consideration in a conflict situation, that conflict is not necessarily martial or even physical in nature. Like the Art of War or the Book of 5 Rings, it can apply to any situation in which there is disagreement and a need to resolve the disagreement and act.

The rules themselves came from Brandel Valico and hence probably originated in Star Wars fiction somewhere. If you know the source, please do let me know.

Ten Rules of Engagement with commentary by Chris-Tien Jinn