The Force and its Sides in Star Wars and Theosophical Literature

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Media, Occult Philosophy, Theosophy

George Lucas spoke recently to James Cameron in a special on the connection between Star Wars and his feelings during the Vietnam War period, and the Anti-Authoritarian message of his vision.

George Lucas specifically created and used these concepts in Star Wars, not as mere fiction, but to awaken spirituality in young people. Stars Wars blends eastern metaphysics, the bushidō, and martial arts, and pays homage to films and directors that came before it.

Here are two central concepts similar between Star Wars and Theosophy.

[1] The Force
[2] The Two Paths


 The Force

Star Wars

“The Force” is a metaphysical binding principle that connects all living things in the fictional universe of the Star Wars galaxy. It was created by George Lucas, and inspired by both a 1963 abstract film 21-87 (Silberman, Steve (May 2005). “Life After Darth”); and the universal concept of the life force held long among ancient traditions. It is the object of study among the Jedi and Sith orders. The Force has different aspects, such as the Cosmic Force, that binds the galaxy and living things together, and communicates through the midi-chlorians. The cosmic force is a ubiquitous presence, and energy field, that can be sensed, and living things effect “turbulence” in the field. It is connected with the awakening of latent force abilities in the force-sensitive. The living force, another aspect of the Force however, is described as force fed from the energy of living things, which makes possible, e.g., the phenomenon of Force spirits. A knowledge of this dynamic side of the Force, among both the Jedi, Sith, and other users, give them different abilities, “some consider to be unnatural.”

The simplicity of the teaching through Star Wars come from more than 2,000 years of traditions and beliefs.

Theosophy

Fohat” is a misleading spelling, that has been identified with ’pho-ba (verb form) or spros-pa (noun form) in Tibetan transliteration. Blavatsky first uses this term in 1885, spelling it pho-hat, in a conversation on the concept of 魂 (hun) and 魄 (pò), whichshe spelt “hwun [hun]and “pho” (Chinese philosophy). It represents the symbol of the “root of matter” and manifestation, or of Motion (Spirit). It asserts that this unified force animates and electrifies the atoms into life, and permeates every nerve of Nature.

Like the Force in Star Wars, it has many aspects, and thus has force-correlations with every force in the cosmos, being but its own aspects, because it is the aggregate of all these.

“In reality there is only one force, which on the manifested plane appears to us in millions and millions of forms. As said, all proceeds from the one universal primordial fire, and electricity is on our plane one of the most comprehensive aspects of this fire. All contains, and is, electricity, from the nettle which stings to the lightning which kills, from the spark in the pebble to the blood in the body. But the electricity which is seen, for instance, in an electric lamp is quite another thing from Fohat.” (Helena Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 10, 1889, pg. 379.)

This FORCE, or Cosmic Energy is the synthesis of all the primary Energies, with the centripetal and centrifugal forces of nature representing two aspects of one Primordial Force. It is the synthesis and guide of those primary differentiations of MATTER.

“Be mindful of the living Force, young Padawan.”
(Qui-Gon Jin, The Phantom Menace: Episode I)

“ALL IS LIFE, and every atom of even mineral dust is a LIFE, though beyond our comprehension and perception, because it is outside the range of the laws known to those who reject Occultism. “The very atoms,” says Tyndall, “seem instinct with a desire for life.” Whence, then, we would ask, comes the tendency “to run into organic form”? Is it in any way explicable except according to the teachings of Occult Science?” (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1., pp. 248-249.)

The Universal Mind and the Illimitable “Force”: In Mahatma Letter no. 22, 1881, K.H. argues for the philosophical necessity of the powers of voluntary and conscious attributes to the mind, further asserting that its underlying involuntary and unconscious (or mechanical) power has its basis in MOTION. Motion, it posits, governs the laws of Nature, and like MATTER, or its root, is eternal and uncreated, but nothing governs that MOTION or MATTER. This is a clear theoretical position, that connects Theosophy and Star Wars, but carries it on much further, arguing that what they’re discussing is not the God-theory:

“…did you ever suspect that Universal, like finite, human mind might have two attributes, or a dual power — one the voluntary and conscious, and the other the involuntary and unconscious or the mechanical power. To reconcile the difficulty of many theistic and anti-theistic propositions, both these powers are a philosophical necessity. (…) There are some modern philosophers who would prove the existence of a Creator from motion. We say and affirm that that motion — the universal perpetual motion which never ceases never slackens nor increases its speed (…) but goes on like a mill set in motion, whether it has anything to grind or not (for the pralaya means the temporary loss of every form, but by no means the destruction of cosmic matter which is eternal) — we say this perpetual motion is the only eternal and uncreated Deity we are able to recognise. (…) Meanwhile we may say that it is motion that governs the laws of nature; and that it governs them as the mechanical impulse given to running water which will propel them either in a direct line or along hundreds of side furrows they may happen to meet on their way and whether those furrows are natural grooves or channels prepared artificially by the hand of man. And we maintain that wherever there is life and being, and in however much spiritualized a form, there is no room for moral government, much less for a moral Governor — a Being which at the same time has no form nor occupies space!

(…) Study the laws and doctrines of the Nepaulese Swabhavikas, the principal Buddhist philosophical school in India, and you will find them the most learned as the most scientifically logical wranglers in the world. Their plastic, invisible, eternal, omnipresent and unconscious Swabhavat is Force or Motion ever generating its electricity which is life.

“Yes: there is a force as limitless as thought, as potent as boundless will, as subtile as the essence of life so inconceivably awful in its rending force as to convulse the universe to its centre would it but be used as a lever, but this Force is not God, since there are men who have learned the secret of subjecting it to their will when necessary.” (K.H., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Letter No. 22, Received Autumn, 1881.)

 The Two Paths

Star Wars

The dark and the light-side are two aspects of the Force — a metaphysical power that binds the Galaxy together. In Star Wars Legends (non-canon), at the dawn of the Galactic Empire a discussion and investigation between scientists, priests, warriors, and philosophers of an ambiguous energy in the universe, led to the discovery of what would come to be known as Ashla (the Force, or light side of the force). Later, the dark side of the force was discovered. Both aspects have a particular nature. The light side is described as a flowing river with hidden strength, aligned with love, benevolence, happiness, joy, or calmness. The dark side is often aligned with darker emotions, but appears to be a pathway, that claims to embrace everything the Force offers, and darksiders gain this by not repressing emotions. Lightsiders however, are taught to be aware of the dark side of the force, claiming that the darksiders have much to learn about the Force.

Theosophy

Mainly, the two paths have different ultimate objectives; and refer to the difference between two kinds of adepts on the path of compassion versus the path of selfishness (or selfish attainment of Buddha-hood), which is a recognizable set of concepts in Buddhism. Helena P. Blavatsky, a Buddhist and Theosophist differentiated this, between: (a) the Bodhisattva; and (b) the Pratyeka Buddhas. The two paths, does not also only come from the Buddhist tradition, in Modern Theosophy, but it is also a Stoic and Pythagorean conception:

“The Pythagoric Letter two ways spread,
Shows the two paths in which Man’s life is led.
The right hand track to sacred Virtue tends,
Though steep and rough at first, in rest it ends;
The other broad and smooth, but from its Crown
On rocks the Traveller is tumbled down.
He who to Virtue by harsh toils aspires,
Subduing pains, worth and renown acquires;
But who seeks slothful luxury, and flies,
The labor of great acts, dishonored dies.”
(The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library, compiled and translated by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, 1987, pg. 158)

In the Hesiod (Chapter I, Book II), Xenophon details in the youth of Herakles, how he had to make a choice between two paths.

In The Secret Doctrine, Helena P. Blavatsky curiously asserts:

“The Bible, from Genesis to Revelations, is but a series of historical records of the great struggle between white and black Magic, between the Adepts of the right path, the Prophets, and those of the Left, the Levites, the clergy of the brutal masses (…) That there were two schools of Magic, and the orthodox Levites did not belong to the holy one, is shown in the words pronounced by the dying Jacob.” (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2, 1888, pg. 211)

T. Subba Row, an Indian theosophist and scholar, had differentiated the two paths, as a safe path of steady development, from the occult path of dealing with the inner forces. It is a difficult and dangerous path. It is the “narrow path,” the Secret path of the “Heart Doctrine.” The doctrine of the heart, the Secret Path they teach, leads to Parinirvana. The Buddha of Compassion, like the Vedantist, feels no man is liberated until all beings are liberated, similarly to the Jesus of The New Testament. In psychology, this is identified as ‘pathological altruism’ in persons, and cases of the God-complex.

The OPEN PATH, as it is called, leads to the goal of LIBERATION, and second — the Secret path (of RENUNCIATION) to Self-Immolation (though it is the “Path of Woe”). This might lead students to self-destruction, and “sorcery,” if they fail, T. Subba Row warns. Many proclaim they are prepared, but have failed, and fallen into the traps. The adepts hope this path in Nature will make of its candidates: adepts or great philanthropists — beneficial to the epoch. Hence, theosophy states, that the ethics of theosophy is much more vital, than the divulgence of psychic laws.

This post was updated May 4, 2018 (Star Wars Day)

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