We often see threads at the Temple asking about the traditional light vs dark conflict. We’re all familiar with the good vs evil, right vs wrong dichotomy portrayed in Star Wars, and indeed the “dark side” as portrayed in the fiction is, to some, a very real thing – yet others amongst us consider it a fundamental misunderstanding of the Force. But is there not a third perspective, which sidesteps both the previous ideas?

Light is often used as a metaphor for knowledge. We say new information has “come to light”, implying it was always there, waiting to be known. This is a very powerful thing for Jedi to understand. Our attention, our focus, indeed, our application of wisdom can be a kind of light we shine on those parts of ourselves, of others, of our world, to discover something previously hidden from our understanding. Our ability to remain open, perceptive, and to allow ourselves to see that which others pass as in darkness is a gift we all possess.

Similarly, we are used to referring to that we do not understand as darkness. “I was totally in the dark” speaks to our blindness, our inability to see what’s coming next. In this sense, we illustrate a secondary light/dark dichotomy which many miss. The light of our knowing makes sense of our feelings, of others, of the universe. The darkness of misunderstanding or ignorance clouds us, a veil over what we intuit. So many walk in darkness, blind to the truth of their existence, even to their own true nature. Darkness is the “I know I’m right, whatever the evidence!”, the “It’s not what I’d want, so it’s not OK!”, the elements of ourselves we choose not to face – and often overcompensate for in aggression, arrogance, or conversely in anxiety or self-loathing.

This is why the Jedi project of reflection and self-learning is so valuable. In shining the beam of our focus on the parts of ourselves we hadn’t previously allowed ourselves to know, we become something new. Bringing those parts of ourselves which were hidden to light raises them; growth as a whole (rather than a cherry-picked collection of “good parts”) unites and harmonises us. When we learn to work with them, we find our flaws are boons, as opposed to deficiencies to be overcome. They make us, us. Mindful of the effect of wilful ignorance, of shutting our eyes, ears, our minds to that which is there, we learn that it is better to face even an ugly truth than to dim the lights, and hope it will disappear.

The mineshaft of self-deception is darker than the night of ignorance, just as the morning mists of self-forgiveness are dim beside the clear summer’s day of self-acceptance. We can love what we are, flawed as we must inevitably be.

Jedi are, therefore, custodians of the light – that is, of the willingness to know, to understand, to discover even the ugliest truths of our world. We apply this light evenly, like beacons, shining our attention upon both the known and unknown parts of ourselves. If we face the monsters under our beds, we discover only others like ourselves. Furthermore, our courage in facing these “demons” becomes an inspiration for others to face their own challenges with similar honesty. Shadows are a consequence of light, and in understanding this we demonstrate to others that this “shadow nature” need not intimidate us, and can instead become part of a luminous and harmonious whole.

Most of all, we shine because that is our nature. Those who are called to the Jedi path are those with the courage to live in the light: to illuminate the shadows, to cast a beam for themselves, for others, for the Force entire. Embrace your nature, the spark in you which says “shine!”. Remember this integral part of who we are as Jedi, and who you are for finding yourself here today.

Remember the light is within you, always.