The Jedi Code was a code of conduct that established rules and modes of behavior for all Jedi. Although changing in style through the generations, the main tenets, context and meaning of the code stayed the same.
One of the key portions of the Code was a five-line mantra. Several versions of the mantra exist, though the original version was:
- Emotion, yet peace.
- Ignorance, yet knowledge.
- Passion, yet serenity.
- Chaos, yet harmony.
- Death, yet the Force.
The refined version established by Odan-Urr and transcribed by Homonix Rectonia during the Early Manderon Period was perhaps the best known:
- 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.
- —The Jedi Code (Based on the meditations of Odan-Urr)
(*)The fourth line "There is no chaos, there is harmony," is removed in some Jedi texts. At the Funeral of Mara Jade Skywalker, for instance, this line was omitted.
Another version of the code during 32 BBY read as follows:
- Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.
- Jedi use their powers to defend and protect, never to attack others.
- Jedi respect all life, in any form.
- Jedi serve others, rather than rule over them, for the good of the galaxy.
- Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.
- Jedi are the guardians of peace in the galaxy.
- Jedi use their powers to defend and to protect.
- Jedi respect all life, in any form.
- Jedi serve others rather than ruling over them, for the good of the galaxy.
- Jedi seek to improve themselves through knowledge and training.
- Here can be read a number of miscellaneous tenets which are not mentioned in the Code, but should be known for all Jedi.
- The Jedi are the guardians of civilization, yet do not allow civilization to destroy needlessly.
- A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for aggression or personal gain.
- A corollary of the Code was "A Jedi does not act for personal power."
- The lightsaber is the symbol of the members of the Jedi Order.
- Jedi do not marry (with some exceptions), in order to avoid attachment and—according to Vergere—so as not to create dynasties of those strong in the Force. However, in many periods of the Order's history, such as the era prior to Exar Kun and in Luke Skywalker's reformed Jedi Order, marriage was not forbidden. That being said, celibacy was enforced in many periods of the Order's history.
- Jedi respect each other, and all other life forms.
- Jedi must put the needs of the community above the needs of individuals.
- A Jedi must protect the weak and defenseless from evil.
- Jedi must always cooperate in battle or crisis.
- Jedi must not have wants; self-reliance must be shown.
- Jedi are forbidden from ruling others, although by the end of the Republic there was some debate over whether or not this was part of the actual Code.
- A Jedi Master may not have more than one Padawan. This particular rule developed after the Old Sith Wars, as most ancient Masters such as Arca Jeth, Thon, Vodo-Siosk Baas and Krynda Draay did not have to abide by it. Meetra Surik also trained many apprentices at the same time due to their Force-sensitivity and the galaxy's dire need for Jedi. However, one apprentice per master seemed to be the standard around 32 BBY. But due to the lack of Masters in Luke Skywalker's Academy, several Padawans per master was necessary, as seen in Jaden Korr and Rosh Penin training under Kyle Katarn.
- While the Code did not mention a maximum age for taking Padawans, Jedi Master Simikarty wrote influential interpretations of the Code that inserted such limits; over time, his interpretations of the Code became conflated with the Code itself. In Revan's era, apprentices were taken from early childhood. After the end of the New Sith Wars, it became policy to take apprentices from infancy, which proved controversial with those outside the Order. Conversely, Nomi Sunrider started her training as an adult, as did the apprentices of the Jedi Exile and many of the New Jedi Order.
- A Jedi will not kill an unarmed opponent, such as the way Anakin Skywalker executed Count Dooku.
- A Jedi will not take revenge, such as Anakin did against the Tusken Raiders
- A Jedi does not cling to the past, such as Anakin did when he used bad memories like when Padmé was almost assassinated to keep his resolve to defeat Nute Gunray and the Confederacy of Independent Systems
- The Jedi do not believe in killing their prisoners.
Following the code
- "The Jedi shackle themselves in chains of obedience: obedience to the Jedi Council; obedience to their Masters; obedience to the Republic. Those who follow the light side even believe they must submit themselves to the Force. They are merely instruments of its will, slaves to a greater good."
- ―Darth Bane, comparing the Jedi Code to the Sith Code
Self-discipline was one of the key concepts of Jedi behavior, and Jedi Padawans were taught this from a very early age. The lessons started off similar to what might be taught to an ordinary student; however, as the student progressed, so did the complexity of the lessons.
- "The acceptance of others is not a guarantee. Like everyone else, a Jedi is accepted or not based on his behavior. The Jedi who believes that he is more important than others only demonstrates that his opinion is to be ignored."
Jedi were required to learn that, although they were able to use the Force, they were no better than those who could not. Jedi were taught that they were only Jedi because some had taken the trouble to teach them, not because they were superior to others, and that a Jedi Master was only a Jedi Master because he had disregarded his own sense of self-importance and embraced the will of the Force.
- "Overconfident thinking is flawed because the Jedi does not take all possibilities into account. He may understand the task at hand, the support of his fellows, and the ramifications of his success, and he may have even planned for unanticipated factors—but he has failed to understand his own capabilities. He has planned only for success, because he has concluded that there can be no failure. Every Jedi, in every task, should prepare for the possibility of failure."
- ―Vodo-Siosk Baas
Many young Jedi students, while learning the ways of the Force, began to believe that they could accomplish anything. Many young Jedi died taking on tasks that were far too difficult for them, not realizing that the Force was only truly limitless to those who had limitless understanding.
- "Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try."
Young Jedi also learned that defeatism was just as dangerous as overconfidence. Although it might have seemed contradictory to the goals of conquering overconfidence, a Jedi would first plan for success, then for failure. Jedi who always plan for failure expected to lose, and usually only used minimal effort—enough to say that they had tried.
- "Do not see a lightsaber duel as a choice between winning and losing. Every duel can have many, many outcomes. When you concentrate solely on winning—in lightsaber duels as in everything else—you sully your victory. Winning becomes worse than losing. It is better to lose than to win badly. And it is always better to end a duel peacefully than to win or lose"
- ―Rekpa De
Jedi would always have been ready to accept defeat if the cost of winning was greater than the cost of losing. Jedi were taught that it was always best to end things peacefully than to win or lose.
- "Learn to recognize when speed is not important. Race when being first is important; move at your own pace at all other times. It is not necessary to always strike the first blow, to provide the first solution, or to reach a goal before anyone else does. In fact, it is sometimes vital to strike the last blow, to give the final answer, or to arrive after everyone else."
Many young Jedi lacking in self-restraint were always ready to ignite their lightsabers and plunge straight into battle. They perceived a goal and rushed towards it, without any consideration for unseen dangers or other options. And so Jedi were taught that speed did not necessarily lead to success.
- "Use the Force to satisfy the will of the Force—not to satisfy your own curiosity."
Many inexperienced Force-sensitives used the Force to satisfy their curiosity, probing into the business of others. Intruding gave the clear message that the Jedi felt they were above others' privacy. Jedi were taught that although using the Force to discreetly uncover the secrets of others may have been occasionally necessary, it should never become a matter of course, as it would cause great distrust of the Jedi in general.
- "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack."
A sizable number of Jedi, in training, confused the meanings of attack, defense and aggression. Thus Younglings were taught that it was possible for a Jedi to strike without aggression, so long as they acted without recklessness, hatred or anger. A Jedi was permitted to kill in self-defense—only if there was no other option. However, Jedi instructors taught their students that killing, no matter what the circumstances, was not to become commonplace. To conquer aggression, even in combat, a Jedi must have explored every other option, including surrender, before resorting to using lethal force. Jedi who depended on murder were close to the Dark Side of the Force.
Conquer External Loyalties
- "A Jedi is a Jedi, first and foremost, and only. For a Jedi to divide his attention between the will of the Force and the will of others is to invite disaster."
- ―Hoche Trit
Each Jedi was expected to remove as many external distractions from his or her life as possible. For that reason, the Order only accepted potential Padawans while they were still young children; they were too young to have already formed strong relationships and forbidden them forming attached relationships later in life. Jedi were not allowed to marry without special dispensation, like in the case of Cerean Jedi Ki-Adi-Mundi, who was allowed to marry several Cerean women because of his people's low birth rate. Jedi were forbidden from taking a political appointment or to accept gifts. They were taught that their loyalty was to be to the Jedi Order, and to nothing else.
- "I wear my robe so that I am warm; I carry my lightsaber so that I am safe; and I keep enough credits for my next meal, so that I am not hungry. If the Force wants me to have more, it finds a way of letting me know."
Jedi were forbidden from keeping more than a few essential belongings. There were two reasons for this; first because they distracted a Jedi from the Force, and second because, as they emerged through the ranks, Jedi were required to leave for missions with extremely short notice, and so having many objects was a burden. It was rare for a Jedi to possess more than they could carry on their person at one time.
Once a Jedi had mastered self-discipline, they could begin to accept responsibility for their actions. Jedi who shunned responsibility were never trained, and Jedi who embraced it were never denied training.
- "Let there be truth between your heart and the Force. All else is transitory."
- ―Surenit Kil'qiy
Honesty was the first responsibility that aspiring Jedi were taught. Jedi were permitted to stretch the truth if the situation required it of them, however this was to be done as sparingly as possible. An honest Jedi was always truthful with himself, his Master, and the Council.
Honor Your Promises
- "Deliver more than you promise. The best way to be always certain of this is to deliver much, even when you promise nothing."
- ―Tho-Mes Drei
Jedi were taught that if they made a promise, they should have always been prepared to keep it, or else to have made amends. Thus, a Jedi should never have make a promise he or she was not certain they could keep. Jedi were encouraged to consult their Master before making a promise.
Honor Your Padawan
A Jedi Master was required to know that he must treat his Padawan with respect. He should never reprimand his Padawan in public, nor punish his Padawan for disagreeing with him. On the other hand, a Master should praise his Padawan, especially in the presence of others. This built the Padawan's confidence, and strengthened the bond between Master and apprentice.
Honor Your Master
- "I'm sorry for my behavior, Master. It’s not my place to disagree with you about the boy. And I am grateful you think I'm ready to take the trials."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi to Qui-Gon Jinn
By the same token, Padawans were expected to show great respect to their Masters, especially in front of others. Padawans were taught never to disagree with their Masters to the point of argument, and that when they were in discussion with others, Padawans should only address their Masters when they had been addressed themselves. This spared the Master having to apologize for his Padawan's behavior.
Honor the Jedi Council
- "Now must I keep the word I made when only a Jedi Knight I was—a promotion this is not."
- ―Master Yoda after being invited to join the Jedi High Council
Although the Jedi High Council was the ultimate authority of the Jedi Order, it was not possible for the High Councilors to be everywhere at once. Therefore, when the Council sent a Jedi on a mission, the Jedi spoke for and was a representative of the Jedi Council. The Council was forced to answer for the Jedi's words and answers, and so the Jedi would have been careful not to put the Council in a difficult position, as to do so would be to show terrible disrespect for the Council.
Honor The Jedi Order
- "When a Jedi behaves badly in public, an observer might think, 'If this Jedi is a representative of the whole Order, then plainly no Jedi is worth respect.' On meeting a second Jedi, who behaves better than the first, that same person might think, 'Does this say that half the Jedi are good, and half bad?' On meeting a third Jedi, who behaves as well as the second, the person thinks, 'Was the first Jedi an exception, then?' In this way, only by the good behavior of several Jedi can the public be certain that the poor behavior of one Jedi was unusual. Thus, it takes many Jedi to undo the mistakes of one."
Every action a Jedi made reflected on the Order. Good deeds boosted the Order's reputation, but poor behavior sometimes caused incurable damage. Jedi were taught to remember that each person they met might not have set eyes upon a Jedi before, and that the acts of the particular Jedi that person would influence their perception of the Jedi Order as a whole.
Honor the Law
One of the most important roles of the Jedi was to protect the peace and justice of the Republic, and so no Jedi was above the law. Jedi were expected to follow the law the same as they expected others to. Jedi were permitted to break laws, but only when it was required, and only if they were willing to suffer the consequences…
- "Listen to the Force, Cade. A Jedi's first concern is to preserve life."
- ―Kol Skywalker
Jedi were expected never to commit murder, for any reason. However, if confronted with a life-or-death struggle, a Jedi was permitted to kill to complete their mission. This act was not encouraged, as ending life strengthened the dark side; however, if the act was justified—if it saved others' lives, or if the Jedi was acting on the will of the Force—then the light side was equally strengthened. Jedi were also expected to think of those they had killed, and to think of the suffering caused by their deaths. A Jedi who did not care about his victims was on the path to the dark side.
Although the Jedi existed to serve the Force, they were funded by the senate because they served the public interest. If Jedi were unable to use the Force, they would continue to serve, because that was their duty. The fact that the Force was real, and that the Jedi were its most prolific and devoted practitioners, only strengthened their resolve to use it for good.
Duty To The Republic
Although the Jedi and the Republic were dissimilar, and the Jedi Order had no authority over the Republic, the Jedi served the Republic, and were expected to uphold its laws and ideals, and to protect its citizens. However, members of the Order held no rank in Republic hierarchy, and only served when asked; at all other times they stepped aside. This strange agreement between the two parties had stood for so long that no one knew how or why it had come about.
Jedi were obliged to help those in need of aid whenever possible, and were expected to be able to prioritize quickly. Jedi were taught that while saving one life was important, saving many lives was even more so. This principle did not mean a Jedi had to abandon other goals in every circumstance, but merely that a Jedi must do his or her best to make sure that they aided those who were most in need of assistance.
Defend The Weak
Similarly, a Jedi was expected to defend the weak from those who oppressed them, ranging from small-scale suffering at the hands of an individual to large-scale enslavement of entire species. However, Jedi were taught to remember that all may not have been as it seemed, and that they should respect other cultures, even if they clashed with a Jedi's moral or ethical code. Jedi were also warned not to act in areas out of their jurisdiction, and to always consider the consequences of their actions.
At times, it was necessary for a Jedi to stand aside and let other people defend the weak, even if the Jedi felt that they could do a superior job. Jedi were taught that they should assist by word or action as required by the situation, offering advice when requested to, warning when necessary, and arguing only when reason failed. Jedi should remember that they wielded the marvelous tool of the Force, and that they should be prepared to use it only for good.
The Jedi also abided by other codes that were not part of the original Jedi Code:
The crystal code was a mantra traditionally recited by a Jedi while witnessing his/her student assembling his/her lightsaber. However, this was not a constant, as a separate tradition held that Jedi students should fabricate and assemble their lightsabers in private, without their master's guidance or intervention.
- The crystal is the heart of the blade.
- The heart is the crystal of the Jedi.
- The Jedi is the crystal of the Force.
- The Force is the blade of the heart.
- All are intertwined.
- The crystal, the blade, the Jedi.
- We are one.
Behind the scenes
The Jedi philosophy of non-attachment is paralleled in similar or identical tenets and principles such as asceticism and monasticism, found in many religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism). The Hindu Bhagavad Gita, states that "when a man dwells in his mind on the object of sense, attachment to them is produced. From attachment springs desire and from desire comes anger."
In the video game version of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, during the fight with Serra Keto, the training holograms that repeat the Jedi Code can be damaged, revealing a "Saber Crystal" power-up and thoroughly darkening the Jedi Code; e.g. There is no death, there is the Force replaced by Death…is the Force.
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance (Mentioned only)
- Darth Bane: Path of Destruction
- Legacy of the Jedi (Mentioned only)
- Jedi Apprentice series
- Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace junior novelization
- Jedi Quest series
- Outbound Flight
- (Mentioned only)
- Jedi Trial
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars 7: In Service of the Republic, Part 1 (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Voyage of Temptation" (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Counterattack" (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Citadel Rescue" (Mentioned only)
- "Padawannabes" (Mentioned only)
- "The Way of the Force" (Mentioned only)
- "The Dark Side Beckons" (Mentioned only)
- "A Mon Alone"
- "A Hero Seeks Not Vengeance"
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith video game
- Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight
- Coruscant Nights III: Patterns of Force
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Jedi Temple Mission DLC)
- Heir to the Empire (First appearance)
- Dark Apprentice
- I, Jedi
- Shield of Lies
- Junior Jedi Knights: The Golden Globe
- Junior Jedi Knights: Lyric's World
- Junior Jedi Knights: Promises
- Survivor's Quest
- Destiny's Way
- Dark Nest I: The Joiner King (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: Legacy 15: Claws of the Dragon, Part 2 (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: Legacy—War 4
- Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, First Edition (First mentioned)
- The Star Wars Sourcebook
- The Star Wars Sourcebook, Second Edition
- Galaxy Guide 9: Fragments from the Rim
- Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
- Tales of the Jedi Companion
- Star Wars Gamemaster Screen, Revised
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Movie Scrapbook
- Star Wars Episode I: I Am a Jedi
- Star Wars Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
- Star Wars Roleplaying Game Revised Core Rulebook
- Power of the Jedi
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 107 (JED7-10, The Jedi Code)
- Star Wars Gamer 2
- Star Wars Official Poster Monthly
- Coruscant and the Core Worlds
- Hero's Guide
- Roleplaying Game: Saga Edition Core Rulebook
- Threats of the Galaxy
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Jedi Academy Training Manual
- The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
- "Family Tradition"—Star Wars Insider 130
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural
- Totally 20: The Phantom Menace
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
- "Back from the Depths!"—Star Wars Insider 132
- The Essential Guide to Warfare