The Jedi Code and the Yamas
Nerds Do Yoga Too!
The Jedi Knights are basically yogis…prove me wrong!
Star Wars and Yoga
Star Wars has become mainstream again in these past few years thanks to new movies, and a whole new crew of Star Wars nerds has arisen! Myself, I’ve been a fan since I watched the original trilogy on VHS in the early 90s and then skipped school to see the new trilogy. My love for Star Wars has lasted into my adulthood and has intertwined itself into all areas of my life…even yoga!
I have seen many bridges between the yogic path and thematic elements to the Star Wars universe, so I have created a workshop series to discover these! This article is from the first workshop I threw in February of 2021.
The Jedi Code and the Yogi Lifestyle
There are so many parallels between the Light Side of the Force and the yogi lifestyle, so this may expand eventually into multiple workshops. For today I want to focus on the bridge between the Jedi Code, which governs how a Jedi behaves, what they can and cannot (or should and should not) do in order to best protect and serve the galaxy, and likewise, a yogi lives on the principles first of the Yamas, the first limb of the yogic path, which explain ways to live a kinder life and tell us as yogis how to treat other beings.
So first, the Yamas. When I say the word “yoga”, you may think handstands on the beach and super bendy hot chics on Instagram. Everything you know to be yoga is really only one limb of the 8 limbed path, the third limb. The third limb is asana, which translates to posture. The whole point of the asana practice is to find a comfortable seated posture for meditation, but before we do any of that…what about the first two limbs of the yogic path?
Let’s focus on the first limb, the Yamas, which means restraints. There are 5 Yamas, and these are each reflected into the Jedi code as well. Let’s dive in!
Here are the five Yamas, or restraints, meaning actions a yogi ought to restrain from taking in order to live a peaceful life and grow closer to the divine –
Ahimsa – Nonviolence
Satya – Truthfulness
Asteya – Nonstealing
Brahmacharya – Nonexcess
Aparigraha – Nonpossessiveness
And here is the Jedi code, notice there are also 5 main points,
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.
Now I’ve studied the Yamas enough to see immediate parallels between each point, so let’s look a little deeper:
Ahimsa / There is no emotion, there is peace.
Ahimsa, means nonviolence. And this can be taken literally from the yogic point of view. We do not act, speak, or think harmfully toward others (or towards ourselves. Each of these yamas can be turned inwardly as well). And for the Jedi, there is peace. Peace is well-known as being in opposition to violence, and for the Jedi they do not act out of emotion. We know the common saying “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering…”
So for the yogi and the Jedi, we do not act out of our emotions. We do our best to practice nonviolence, to practice peace towards ourselves and towards all other beings.
Satya / There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
Satya means truthfulness. This yama has many layers. We are honest with others, and with ourselves. But the yamas also build upon one another, meaning we are honest, yes, but only as long as it is not harmful. Do you see? Satya turned inwardly means we are honest with ourselves. We know ourselves, we seek and search out the truest form of ourselves and we live it to the fullest we can, that brings us closer to the divine.
What have we heard so many Jedi say? “Search your feelings…” The Jedi spend centuries, if they are lucky to live so long, getting to know The Force. Their knowledge of themselves, their desires, their feelings, allow them to further connect with the Force and let those things go (see, reverting back to number one…!), so they can be more in tune with The Force.
Asteya / There is no passion, there is serenity.
Asteya means non stealing, and while yes this does mean literally “do not steal physical things”, theft goes way deeper. We steal of ourselves and our life experiences when we are not true to ourselves (referencing Satya). We steal from other people when we try to control them, have expectations for how they should behave, try to manage them. We steal from their life experience. This usually comes from a place of seriously misplaced passionate care for others, or from deep fear of unknowns. These passionate feelings, when dropped, lead to peace.
For the Jedi, passion, good or bad, leads to imbalance. Look at Anakin Skywalker. His extreme passion and love for his mother, and later his wife Padmé, led ultimately to their untimely deaths and his turn to the dark side. With extreme passion, comes great love or great fear, oftentimes both. These extremes do not lead to serenity.
Brahmacharya / There is no chaos, there is harmony.
Brahmacharya means literally, non excess. This behavior lends us to a path to Brahman, or in yogic and Hindu thought, the creator, so you could say the divine, or God. Brahmacharya covers all manner of sins. Brahmacharya can mean practicing sexual purity of thought and action, balance of our use of worldly things (when not in balance, we are in our addictions), and therefore a balance of energy. When not practicing brahmacharya, and getting caught up in negative energies, so to speak, our lives can be quite chaotic and out of balance.
For the Jedi, this looks like finding balance in The Force. Chaos in extremes, such as extreme Light side or extreme Dark side forces in their lives do not bring harmony. The Jedi do not create chaos, they help to balance chaos that exists elsewhere.
Aparigraha / There is no death, there is the Force.
The final Yama, Aparigraha, translates literally to non possessiveness. For the yogi, this can mean being careful to not let physical things own or control us, quite literally possessing fewer things. There are some sects of renunciates in India that give up all personal belongings, including a home, so that these attachments do not block them from their connection with the divine.
You might say a Jedi does just the same thing. Jedi renounce so many things in life that they could become attached to, or possess, including relationships, that would block them from their connection to The Force. The Jedi must also detach themselves from any attachments to life. Jedi become one with The Force when they die, some having learned how to still exist on this physical plane in that form (think blue Obi-Wan and Yoda from the original trilogy!). So the Jedi must not be attached to life, they must accept non possessiveness in any form to remain one with The Force.
Now We Integrate
I invite you to take a look at these principles in your own life. Here are some questions for you to ponder, after all this yogic way of life is all about finding oneself, and living in alignment with the Divine, on the pathway to nirvana:
Where can you practice nonviolence?
Are you being truthful to yourself?
Where are you stealing energy or time from others? Where are you allowing others to steal it from you?
Where are your addictions taking your life out of balance?
Where are you living in possessiveness? What can you let go if?
How can you take all of these principles, either the Yamas or the Jedi code, into your life?
How do you think these principles could affect your life?
Do you see any other parallels between the Yamas and the Jedi Code?
There are so many more spiritual and yogic parallels throughout the Star Wars universe (and other Sci Fi and fantasy worlds), so there will be many more blogs like this one! Stay tuned…you can also join my nerdy yoga community on Patreon and get exclusive early access to more content like this.