In honor of the date, I thought I'd delve a bit into Jediism! Today is May the Fourth, also known by many in the Star Wars Fandom as Star Wars Day ("May the Fourth" be with you...). Though I have watched Star Wars since I was a little child, I don't actually consider myself part of this fandom. I do enjoy the movies, they just aren't on my top list.
So why do I want to write about Jediism, the faith that grew out of the Jedi from Star Wars? Firstly, I think that the tenets of Jediism are quite worthy of discussion. And secondly, I am endlessly fascinated by any system of philosophy or faith that grows out of a fictional source and becomes something real and usable. And I think that Jediism does just that.
What exactly is Jediism? While many consider Jediism to be a religion, I think it is more of a Philosophy (but I also consider Buddhism in it's truest form to be a Philosophy). From what I understand, there is no deity worshiped by the Jedi (and yes, followers of Jediism are called Jedi). The Force is acknowledged, but not as a divine source, rather an underlying energy present in all things.
The biggest theme of Jediism seems to be to do service to the world. A Jedi should strive to do their best in all things, not to benefit themselves, but to benefit others. Justice is very big, and doing the right thing is something that is quite important. In order to know what is right, a Jedi is expected to have a clear mind, and to approach things from a non-personal perspective, not letting their own motivations sway their decision.
In a lot of ways, Jediism shares many tenets with other religions. I definitely feel that it has a more monastic approach than is common for lay people. There is a definitely call to rise above, not other people, but your own past self.
I definitely see a lot of focus on peace in Jediism. Not only peace on earth (between people) but inner peace as well. And I definitely think that both are very admirable goals. It is really easy for people to get so caught up in their own perspective and desires that they cease to notice when their actions are hurting other people. I honestly believe most people would like the world to be a happy, peaceful place. I just think that sometimes we loose sight of that bigger picture...or we forget that happy doesn't mean the same thing to everyone.
Though practicing Jedi maintain that Jediism is only inspired by the Star Wars universe and the ideas contained within, they point out that they do not view the movies, books or other fictional sources as religious material. I think this speaks not only to the author and director, that their world became so real as to inspire people to want to live up to the ideals they learned from them, but also to the creators of Jediism, for having the bravery to take a concept from a fictional source and refine it into a working, living path to follow.
I think that it takes a lot of courage to do something like this. Many people will look down on Jediism as a 'made up' religion, not worthy of anything but ridicule. I don't agree with that at all. In fact, when I was reading through the Temple of the Jedi Order's Doctrine of the Order, I found that I agreed with pretty much everything I read. I could see myself walking a Jedi path.
I have seen a lot of discomfort in the Pagan world before when belief systems crop up that are rooted in fiction. And I understand where the fear comes from. It is still a fairly common belief that Pagan people believe in made up things. And so systems that are actually inspired by made up things can be used as 'proof' that what we do isn't legitimate. However, instead of discounting such systems simply because they have fictional origins, perhaps it is time to actually look and see how they function.
Jediism not only gives a pretty solid guidelines for living a good life, but it also encourages Jedi to create a better world. And that, to me, is a pretty worthy goal.