The Living Force
“Be mindful of the Living Force, my young Padawan.”
This piece of dialogue is often missed by viewers. It is one of the first exchanges in Episode I — The Phantom Menace.
It is too early in the movie and, seemingly, unimportant. However, for George Lucas to open his new trilogy with it must mean something, right? It does.
Let’s have a look (starting at 2:39):
What Is the Living Force?
In Wookiepedia, you can find detailed explanation on the different aspects of the Force:
The adepts of the Living Force believe in:
- Living in the moment.
- Relying on your instincts and on the will of the Force.
- Being sensitive to all living things.
Qui-Gon Jinn is a follower of the Living Force, opposite to the Jedi Order.
According to Obi-Wan, Yoda teaches that a Jedi should be mindful of the future.
The Jedi Order during the prequels lost their connection with the Living Force. They only worried about the future, about discovering who the Sith Lord is.
The Sith Lord is in front of their noses all the time, but they are too self-absorbed in their rules, traditions and arrogance. The Jedi Order downfall is another beautiful lesson from Star Wars. But that is another story.
Qui-Gon trusted his instincts. He trusted the Force to to guide him on what is right or wrong. Even cheating on a dice roll that was rigged against him is acceptable.
Anakin is taught early on what has to be done to connect to the Living Force.
Obi-Wan, on the other hand, is a reflex of the Jedi Order’s mindset at the time.
For a common Jedi, both Jar Jar Binks and Anakin were “pathetic life forms”. Qui-Gon, on the other hand, trusted his instincts. Those are good people, worthy beings. Jar Jar was fundamental in bringing the Naboo and the Gungans together. Anakin was key in obtaining the parts needed for the Naboo Royal Starship and in the space battle against the Trade Federation ships.
Yes, I know Anakin’s involvement in this battle is goofy. Guess what? Boba Fett’s death also is.
Qui-Gon was so sure, so connected with the will of the Force, that he dared to defy the Jedi Council.
Obi-Wan still had much to learn.
Why Is the Living Force Important?
So, Qui-Gon dies. Obi-Wan takes Anakin as an apprentice because he gave his word. The Council approves reluctantly. They have a more pressing matter: meditate on the future, discover who the Sith Lord is and what are his machinations.
Palpatine executes his master plan:
- Becomes Chancellor.
- Gets an army.
- Destroys the Jedi.
- Turns the Chosen One into his Sith apprentice.
During the Clone Wars, Yoda hears a familiar voice from beyond.
Obi-Wan and Yoda survive Order 66. They failed. The Jedi Order failed. They were wrong. They knew nothing. What to do now? Yoda figures that maybe Qui-Gon was right after all.
They decide to follow Qui-Gon’s teachings, to “become more powerful than you could possibly imagine”.
To connect with the Living Force, they assume a passive position. They react on the signals of the Force. To be able to disappear before dying, and to become Force Ghosts. This way, they can have much more influence as tools of the Force.
Qui-Gon meditates before dying. Yoda and Obi-Wan go into isolation and when it comes the time to die, they commune with the Force, abandoning their physical life.
When two droids fall from the sky on Tatooine, Obi-Wan knows it is time. The Force is ready to regain its balance.
When Luke lands on Dagobah, Yoda knows his help is needed by the Force, to train this kid.
No more strict rules, no more arrogance. Trust the Force. A powerful ally it is.
How symbolic it is that Darth Plagueis, Sidious and Vader were so obsessed with immortality and, in the end, the Jedi were the ones who were able to live forever through non-attachment to their physical form.
How representative it is that the Jedi Order had so many strict rules about family, marriage, love and, in the end, it was compassion and Luke’s love for his father that ultimately saved the galaxy. Luke was an apprentice of the Living Force. He trusted his instincts all the way. He went against his Masters to pursue what he felt to be right.
In the end, the Living Force saved the galaxy from the dark times.
What Did I Learn?
The Living Force teaches to focus on the now, on your surroundings. Trust your instincts and act upon them. Stop thinking so much of what might happen in the future or what has happened in the past. Make today a better day. Pay attention to the good things around you at this moment.
Losing yourself in the past can make you dive into regret. Daydreaming on what the future might hold can imprison you in anxiety.