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Use the Force!

The concept of “the force” as presented in the movie, “Star Wars” is an intuitive projection of basic spiritual philosophy. In the movie, it was described as a psuedo-energy field created by all things and all forms of life, that binds everything together and penetrates and surrounds everything.

The Force seemed to act as a kind of ethical compass, with an ability to sustain and enhance from the “light side” or destroy and disrupt from the “dark side”. Drawing upon the “polarity” between the two sides seemed to offer a kind of “power” to manipulate thought, energy and matter. The power of the dark side was presented as being more easily accessible, creating temptation to use it more readily.

Around 600 BC in China, Lao Tzu founded a philosophy known as Taoism (or Daoism) that also describes an energy-like source and essence that is found in everything and has a two side nature described as yin and yang. Yin and yang are the contrary and opposing sides of the same thing, much as the force has a light side and a dark side.

I don’t see Star War as profoundly religious. I see Star Wars as taking all of the issues that religion represents and trying to distill them down into a more modern and more easily accessible construct that people can grab onto to accept the fact that there is a greater mystery out there. When I was ten years old I asked my mother I said ‘Well, if there’s only one God, why are there so many religions?’ And over the years I’ve been pondering that question ever since and it would seem to me that the conclusion I’ve come to is that all the religions are true. They just see a different part of the elephant.
George Lucas

Around 200 AD in Persia, Mani created Manichaeism, a religion based on Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Christianity. It taught about the dual role of good and evil, and described them as “the world of light” and “the world of darkness”. It associated matter with the side of darkness and urged followers to renounce property and material pursuits. The side of light was considered to be spiritual and good.

“The Force” from “Star Wars” is a composite of abstracted parts from other religions and philosophies as well. It serves well the purpose of providing a framework for a series of fictional stories. But it also has enough simple intuitive concepts to strike a harmonic chord with the audience of the stories.