Post number 16 of 33 in The Ganymede Progression.

Control is something many strive for, but few achieve. The Force is a wide, complex and impressively chaotic system, which means “the best laid plans” almost always find some way to go amiss. Control is often thought of as an externalising force to bring reality in line with one’s expectations. It can take a great deal of effort to exert even a small controlling influence on things.

Does that mean we are foolish to seek control? Well, not necessarily. We might aim to control our own response to things, for one. We cannot meaningfully control our emotions, our feelings, the things which happen to us or the things others say or do, but we can learn to have a measure of control over our response to these things. Think of it this way; if someone insults me and I punch them, or if someone insults me and I smile, which exhibits the greater control? My instinctual lashing out does not speak to a high level of self realisation: it lacks control. On the other hand, being able to regard insulting behaviour as just that exhibits a degree of control over our reactions, which implies an understanding that we cannot control how we feel, but can control how we respond.

Control is a useful idea in the early stages of one’s development as a Jedi. It can help one come to terms with the difficulties we face in honing our responses and the understanding behind them. If I can control my behaviour, I learn to differentiate between “right action” and its alternative. However as one progresses along the path, control gives way to trust as a priority. We can trust ourselves, our core ideals, our values and our training. We learn to trust in the Force, rather than applying concrete notions of control to it – “No, it should be done MY way” gives way to “I see, that’s how this works”.

Another aspect of control is the extent to which other people, ideas or values control us. We have a lesson in the IP about cults, and one key aspect of a cult is that it is controlling, coercive, and dominating. It’s important that we don’t allow strict adherence to the values we prize to exert this kind of coercive force over our lives. How can we describe our response to the lessons our path brings as authentic is all we ever do is weigh them against the filter of doctrine, for instance? We first learn to see the value in the doctrine, then we let it exert its quiet influence over us; never do we submit to its control. A Jedi must live engaged, aware, awake. Not as an automaton under the control of this Temple, its doctrine or a teaching master.

Jedi in the fiction are shown to be controlling presences at times, performing mind tricks or otherwise coercing behaviour from others. Whilst I believe it is within the remit of Jedi to be persuasive, to counsel towards a value of harmony and unity, I suggest the Jedi mind trick exerts control against the beliefs of Jedi in the same way swinging a lightsaber at someone exerts violence against Jedi beliefs. “Extreme times call for extreme measures” would be one way to characterise this; let us not forget, the Jedi in the fiction use their coercive powers in times of war, in situations where they face mortal danger. Is it better to go against what we believe in one moment, and survive to do greater good for our beliefs in the days, years, decades to come? Whilst each situation must be assessed individually, I believe it is something we must at least consider.

Control is something we are accustomed to seeking in life. One of the foundational lessons of the Force is that whatever control we might seek, whatever control we might exert, in time we will lose it. It will have consequences beyond those we perceive, because the Force is a vast and chaotic system. And in the end, all structures of control crumble when the Force exerts its transformative, transcendent power. Time marches on; all things must pass.

For me, the central lesson we are taught about it by the Force is that we must loosen our grasp in order to open our hands. That to get what we are due, we must be prepared for the unexpected. We cannot pick and choose what our path presents us with: life is all or nothing, and no denial will change that. Think of it like being a fish in a river. We may swim left, or swim right, but the current brings what it brings. To be filled, we must first become empty.

Advertisements