I’ve recently been doing a little reading into some Hindu concepts and ideas which have a relationship to the properties of the Force, and the Jedi worldview. I’ve always had a fascination with Hinduism and the fantastically vibrant and mature body of philosophical thought it comprises, and many of the beliefs reflected in the various strands of Hindu philosophy relate to Jedi beliefs.

Brahman (ब्रह्मन्) is defined as “the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world” and represents the impersonal element of the divine, the “great thing” which lies behind, beyond and within all aspects of reality. For me it is a very similar idea to that of the Great Tao, the single thing which is all things and more besides. Brahman is the Self (atman, आत्मन्) of all living beings. Brahman is what is.

Shakti (शक्ति) is defined as “power” or “energy” and represents the cosmic energy which allows forces to exist at all. It is thus the source of all change, creation and destruction in the universe, embodied in the minds of many Hindus as the female creative force, the “mother” energy which allows things to become what they are. Shakti is the flow of all things (thus also like the Great Tao), and is thus expressive of time. Shakti is what was and what will be.

Acintya-bhedābheda-tattva (अचिन्त्यभेदाभेद) is translated as “the simultaneous inconceivable difference and non-difference of reality”. It is the idea that whilst we can appreciate the distinction between objects, concepts, God and man, we must also accept the oneness of all reality as a single thing, an entity beyond entities. The tattva principle is related to both Brahman and Shakti: it tells us that we are part of the universal Brahman but are also ourselves, and that we are part of a system in which Shakti is acting but are also agents in our own lives. We live because of and through Brahman and Shakti, but we are also human beings on the surface of the earth. We are one with the creative force at a very deep level, but we are also “eternally separate” from it. Consider this in relation to my previous entry on Indra’s net.

How like our belief in the Force all of this is. We recognise we are of the Force; that all that is, is “Forcely”. But we cannot experience this forceliness except in meditative, reflective moments. We go through our lives aware of the oneness of all existence, but cannot realistically stop experiencing a car, a book, a computer screen. Most crucially this point comes into relief when we consider other people. I can understand that all people are (including myself) are expressions of the Force. But I can’t prevent them from hurting me, angering me, cheering me up, inspiring awe in me.

And, crucially, I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t and don’t wish to. I will appreciate the reality of the world as distinct objects, people, ideas, places. I will live a human life as fully as I may, where it doesn’t cause great harm or pain to those around me. Thus I respect the reality of a world “distinct” from the Force.

However, I can hold true to the underlying reality, equally valid and true, that all that is is transient, the “all” expressed by Brahman, with the “change” enacted by Shakti. The Great Tao which encompasses both. The Force. Beneath all the joy and pain of my human life, I am greater, a part of something bigger, something eternal. Where things hurt me, I can find consolation that my problems are minuscule. I learn to let go because I can never truly lose something.

But where a belief in something infinite and eternal gives comfort in times of pain, it could also diminish my joys. The tattva principle shows me there is no need for it to. I can take the parts of this surface, objectified world which work for me. The leaves in the wind, the laughter of my children, a nice cold beer after work. I can appreciate them as sights, sounds, sensations. But I can also understand them as marvels in the Force, elements of the impossibly intricate, ornate and spectacular manifold of experience.

To put this in simple terms, I am not alone, as I am always one with the Force. But I am also entitled to make the most of the fleeting joys and pleasures of the everyday world. I’m trying to boil this down to a single germ of wisdom to carry forward. Perhaps an apt one is this: Death, yet the Force. When beset by hurt and pain, this is a comfort. When happy and joyous, this is a call to appreciate and savour the moment.

We are one with all that is, and yet, for now, we remain ourselves.

This too shall pass.