In public consciousness, there is little more synonymous with the word ‘Jedi’ than the lightsaber. This fictional weapon is used by the heroic Jedi and villainous Sith to do battle; it is viewed as a “more civilised” weapon than guns and bombs. It requires training and precision, and has limitations (it’s a close-range weapon, for one) but used properly can accomplish seemingly impossible feats, not least deflecting laser bolts as they hurtle towards the fictional Jedi. The sword has a long tradition as the “heroic weapon” and the instrument of light used to battle darkness; and in this way it has parallels within the Jedi path.

The sword has been commonly used to symbolise liberty, strength and often the word of God. If we replace the word God with the Force, as many have, we can see a simple parity between the chivalrous knight of medieval times defending the honour and virtue of the world in the name of God, and the noble Jedi Knight who uses his lightsaber and the strength it allows him to protect the liberty of the galaxy, in the name of the Force.

Swords are also central to many great myths, from the Sword in the Stone in which the raising of Excalibur proclaims the young Arthur the “Once and future king” and hero of his land (and a whole mythological saga), to the historical Ronin Miyamoto Musashi, founder of an entire philosophy based on swordsmanship represented in his Book of Five Rings. These very different heroes used their swords, and their prowess with them, to lead revolutions in thought, inspiring others to follow a path of nobility and a coherent personal code. Perhaps like Arthur, the darkness Jedi seek to banish is that of ignorance, of closed-minded acceptance and face-value assumptions? Our sword of light could be a torch, shining a beam into this world of darkness in order to uncover the truth. It can be a beacon of hope for others to follow, and a lighthouse on story seas for others to aim towards.

In Dan Millman’s The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, the philosopher/teacher/Jedi he calls Socrates describes his sword as his ability to meditate and focus his attention; I think this is a useful metaphor for us as Jedi. Through the sharpened edge of his perception, Socrates cuts through to the reality of every situation. This can be disorienting and disconcerting for the novel’s protagonist, who represents a more “everyday” worldview. Without the years of accumulated wisdom and the flash of enlightenment reached through his years of training in dedication to his “swordsmanship”, Socrates’ ways can seem outlandish or even impossible. And yet they stem from perfect wisdom, based on knowledge gained by experience, crystallised by perfect focus. Crystals, too, have their part to play within the Jedi path.

Lightsabers have crystals at their core, and I’m reminded again of the crystal structures which I have in my mind’s eye when I think how each human extends out of the living Force. I’m reminded too of the early Joseph Campbell lecture in which he describes the “web of jewels” envisaged in Hinduism, coincidentally the name of an old band I used to front, Indra’s net; how it describes a holographic system in which every point is dependent and contains information relating to every other point, and how this is a metaphor for the universe we live in. This, for me, ties together much of the Jedi worldview. Everything arises from one substance and exists only as part of a wider, all-encompassing system. Everything is affected by everything else, even if this is at microscopically tiny levels. Everything is one, and the countless trillions of “things” are only distinct in our minds; in reality they are all fundamentally the same.

It’s this sameness that drives the Jedi, and this crystalline centre which encapsulates our worldview. We reject the extremes, and instead we are prisms to the light. We refract the glare of reality into a full spectrum of colours, each a different path making up the middle ground of synthesis before deciding on the course which works best in the real world. We use our focus like the swordsman, slicing to the heart of things and rejecting the surface distinctions. Our sword is a shield against the weak, a weapon against darkness and a torch to light the path, for ourselves and others. Jedi are the sword of the living Force.

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