- "Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi
The first two aspects were concerned with the moral compass of the Force, as manifested by the conduct and emotions of living creatures who were themselves part of the fabric of the Force. The light side of the Force was the facet aligned with compassion, selflessness, self-knowledge and enlightenment, healing, mercy and benevolence, while the dark side of the Force was the element aligned with hatred, fear, covetousness, anger, aggression, jealousy and malevolence.
The latter two aspects were defined by prominent Jedi philosophies: The Unifying Force essentially embraced space and time in its entirety while the Living Force dealt with the energy of living things. Though the Force was categorized in this way, there were no specific abilities or powers that were only usable by a follower of a different path of the Force; the Force partially existed inside the life forms that used it, and drew energy from their emotions.
Some beings, particularly the Sith, believed that the dark side of the Force was more powerful than the light, though it was possible that the dark side was just more tempting to those who used it (or desired to use it). Others thought of the Force as an entity capable of intelligent thought, almost as a sort of deity. Anakin Skywalker, who was believed to have been conceived by the Force itself, may have shared this belief; if this was indeed the case, it would add credence towards the view of the Force as a sentient entity.
Though the Force was thought to flow through every living thing, its power could only be harnessed by beings described as "Force-sensitive." This Force-sensitivity was correlated with, and sometimes attributed to, a high count of internal microorganisms called midi-chlorians that were found in a Force-sensitive's blood: the higher the count, the greater the being's potential Force ability, though there were some exceptions to this rule. Force-sensitive beings were able to tap into the Force to perform acts of great skill and agility as well as control and shape the world around them. Sometimes this ability was described as having a strong Force "aura".
In 36,463 BBY, philosophers and scientists from several Star systems gathered on Tython to share mystical knowledge. The Force was "discovered." Unfortunately, in 25,793 BBY, several Tythan scholars began using their knowledge of the Force to pursue power, leading to the beginning of the Force Wars. Peace-minded monks that survived the destruction on Tython established the Jedi Order in 25,783 BBY.
The Living ForceEdit
- "The ways of the Living Force are beyond our understanding… But fear not. You are in the hands of something much greater and much better than you can imagine."
- ―Qui-Gon Jinn
The Living Force was a view on the Force, accepted by the majority of Jedi throughout ages. The Living Force was thought to be present in most living beings, surrounding and penetrating them, thus making all living things connected by it. The Jedi believing in the Living Force relied on their instincts and were attuned to other living beings around them. They were mindful of the future and the possible consequences of their actions, but remained focused on the present. The Living Force was viewed as having both the light and the dark side. The Jedi always had to be mindful of their actions to avoid the temptations of the dark side. Through following the Living Force, several Jedi were able to retain their identities after their physical death, becoming one with the Force and able to manifest themselves as Force ghosts. Proponents of the Living Force view, such as Qui-Gon Jinn, espoused a philosophy of "living in the moment," relied heavily on their instincts and concentrated more on sensitivity to living things, rather than fulfilling destiny, which was one of the main tenets of the Unifying Force philosophy.
The light side of the ForceEdit
- "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense. Never for attack."
The light side of the Force was concerned with the ideals of good, benevolence, and healing. Followers of the light side strove to live in harmony with the world around them, acting out of wisdom and logic rather than anger and hasty judgment. In order to achieve harmony with the light side of the Force, its practitioners would often meditate to clear themselves of emotion; particularly negative emotions such as aggression, fear, anger, and hatred, since these were thought to bring on acceptance of the dark side.
The Jedi OrderEdit
The largest group of proponents and teachers of the light side was the Jedi Order, who strove to maintain peace and justice throughout the galaxy. The values of the light side were culminated in the Jedi Code. The Jedi accepted the view on the two sides of the Force: the dark side and the light side. A follower of the light side tried to live in harmony with those around him. Mutual trust, respect, and the ability to form alliances gave the Jedi their distinct advantage over the Sith. In contrast, a follower of the dark side uses the dark side of the force, usually for himself. Use of the dark side of the Force was forbidden within the Jedi Order, and was strictly considered the domain of the Sith.
Traditional Jedi were keen to keep the Force "in balance". They attempted to achieve this by destroying the Sith and denying the dark side, essentially "keeping balance" by restoring the Force to its natural state, as they viewed the dark side as "corruption". This involved the purging of negative emotions such as aggression, anger, and hatred, since they could easily bring on acceptance of the dark side. In contrast, positive emotions such as compassion and courage nurtured the light side of the Force. The Jedi Code compared such feelings and provided insight into the ethical use of the Force.
Passion was considered dangerous, as it could lead to strong emotions that could unbalance the Jedi and lead them to the Dark Side. Love was, curiously enough, seen as something both Jedi and Sith avoided. While the Jedi espoused a broad, all-encompassing, self-sacrificing love for all beings, love for another being romance, a possessive love by nature was shunned in post-Ruusan order. Possession of all types was also shunned in the post-Ruusan Reformation era Jedi Order, the only exceptions being a Jedi's lightsaber and clothes. The Jedi viewed love as a danger best left untouched. While the passion that came with love could lead to hatred and anger, as Anakin Skywalker demonstrated in becoming a Sith because of his love for Padmé Amidala, it could also lead to pity, mercy, self-sacrifice and compassion, emotions the Sith did not see as beneficial, as demonstrated by Darth Vader in sacrificing himself to save his son from the Emperor at the end of his life, thus bringing balance to the Force.
The dark side of the ForceEdit
The dark side of the Force was considered by the Jedi to be the element aligned with fear, hatred, aggression, and malice toward all living things. Such emotions seemed to increase the strength and abilities of a user of the dark side, providing a path towards personal power and the destruction or control of all opposition. It was generally accepted that use of the dark side of the Force was extremely addictive. Dark side Jedi were known as Dark Jedi. Some light Jedi, such as Luke Skywalker, Jaden Korr & Galen Marek, could use dark side powers.
The Sith OrderEdit
- "It has been said that anyone who knows the ways of the Force can set her- or himself up as a King on any world where only she or he knows the ways of the Force. Any Jedi could do this. But the Jedi, fools that they are, adhere to a religion in which the Force is used only in the service of others. How shortsighted of them. Is that not why they lost the galaxy to the dark side?"
- ―Palpatine, in The Weakness of Inferiors
The Dark Lord Darth Bane considered the Force to be finite and thus ideally for exclusive use by the Dark Lord. He eliminated the practice of having vast numbers of Sith at the same time, thereby aiming to concentrate the dark side of the Force into two individuals: a Sith Master and his or her apprentice. This tradition, or "Rule of Two," later underwent a small reformation by Dark Lady Lumiya, following the deaths of Darth Sidious and Darth Vader (the Sith Lords at the time) in 4 ABY. The Rule of Two was later rejected by Darth Krayt, who instituted the Rule of One, using "One" to refer to the Sith Order itself and encompassing many minions, acolytes/adepts and lords, led by only one Dark Lord of the Sith (or Dread Lord). Darth Krayt believed he gave the Sith and their power a purpose, unlike Darth Bane, who believed that power was its own purpose. The Rule of One called for cooperation and even some level of loyalty between the Sith. However, the Rule of One did not represent the Sith as a whole, and Krayt was even labeled a heretic by the holocrons of Darth Bane, Darth Nihilus and Darth Andeddu.
The Unifying ForceEdit
- "Jedi refer to the ‘light side’ and the ‘dark side’, but really, these are only words, and the Force is beyond words. It is not evil, just as it isn’t good—it's simply what it is."
- ―Barriss Offee
The concept of the Unifying Force found fewer supporters within the Jedi Order than the Living Force. The concept of the Unifying Force was that the Force is a single entity and has neither a light nor a dark side. The Unifying Force was viewed as a deity that neither had sides nor chose them, treating all beings equally. Followers of the Unifying Force always kept their eyes open for future possibilities. In the end, it resulted in them trying to fulfill a destiny rather than focusing on here and now, as the Living Force supporter would do.
Visions of the future were of particular significance to Unifying Force supporters. Yoda was one of the most adamant proponents of heeding visions of the future though never once acknowledged any of the other views common with the Unifying Force. Many of the Jedi held a similar philosophy, and focused on the flow of time as a whole, ignoring primary use of the Living Force. Voices for the latter espoused a philosophy of "live for the moment" and heavily relied on their instincts. This viewpoint might have allowed the Jedi Order to stave off the conflict that gave rise to the Galactic Empire, as its members lost themselves in looking forward rather than analyzing the unfolding events before them. Yoda later espoused beliefs closer to the philosophy of the Living Force when training Luke Skywalker on Dagobah.
Ironically for Unifying Force Jedi, Emperor Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious, also supported this belief. He claimed that there was only one Force: the only difference worthy of note was that the Sith saw the Force as a means to an end while the Jedi saw it as an end in itself. This view was also supported by Vergere, who taught Jacen Solo that there was no light side or dark side of the Force—only the Unifying Force. Vergere also told Solo that "the Force was everything, and everything was the Force"; that the Force did not have sides and never took sides.
The Potentium view of the Force, not to be confused with the Unifying Force, was strictly disapproved by the old Jedi Order. While similar to the Unifying Force, which suggested that there was only one Force that did not take sides, the Potentium view stated that the Force and the galaxy in general were inherently good. According to this belief, the so-called dark side was not made up of specific "parts" or "abilities" of the Force: as espoused by the Light Side, it existed inside the life form which used it, made from their emotions. By that standard, and unlike the Light Side, all Potentium followers could perform any action and use the Force in any way they saw fit, as long as the intention behind it was good. In contrast, the Old Jedi Order acknowledged the existence of Potentium, but made it clear that it was subverting of the Jedi teaching and a way to misguide people to the dark side, or a means to serve it. The living planet Zonama Sekot supported the Potentium theory of the Force as well.
Alternate views on the ForceEdit
Way of the DarkEdit
- "I have been trying to create. To build, when I should have destroyed. I abandoned the Way of the Dark, and the Dark abandoned me."
The Way of the Dark, or simply the Dark, was a view of the Force taken up by Cronal and those that taught him. It was effectively the polar opposite of the Potentium, but taken a step further. This Way of the Dark belief did not just deny the existence of the Light side of the Force; it stated that the Force itself was simply a small extension of the Dark. This system stated that destruction was the universal constant that all things worked towards, going so far as to call it the "will of the universe". An initiate was taught that if one made destruction his primary goal, with whatever scheme he was taking part in being a secondary objective, then the Dark would effectively reward the initiate for the devastation caused by pushing the secondary objective to success.
As a prime example of this, Cronal cited that Palpatine was able to achieve success against the Jedi and the Republic because his primary motive was the destruction of both parties. However, once he had achieved these goals and set about consolidating his rule and building the Empire, his focus shifted from destruction to creation, in total opposition to universal processes. Thus when before he could not fail, now he could never succeed.
The insidious ForceEdit
Darth Traya, a female Sith living during the Old Sith Wars, believed the Force to be akin to some sort of deceptively sinister, indifferent god. She pointed to the numerous wars fought by countless Force users, as proof that the Force cared nothing for the lives it consumed, so long as balance was achieved. This philosophy emphasized the belief that neither the light nor the dark side was truly superior to the other, and that if people were to be truly free, the Force had to be eliminated from the galaxy. This was generally a very unpopular theory with both the Sith and the Jedi, and this practice disappeared with Traya's death.
The Aing-Tii monks from the Kathol Rift viewed the Force in a way different, but similar to the view of the Jedi. Instead of the dark and the light sides of the Force, they viewed it as having many colors, much like a rainbow. They believed that the Force could manifest itself in different ways, which allowed a being to develop unique abilities, unknown to most of the Jedi and the Sith. They believed the Force was much too complicated to be just light or dark. According to their beliefs, Force-users were not strictly good or evil, but instead had their place in a larger spectrum.
The Fallanassi called the Force the White Current and saw it like the river flowing through the galaxy and all living beings. A single person could not alter the current any more than a being could divert a river with one hand. Thus, the Fallanassi immersed themselves in the Current, letting it flow through them. This way they managed to shape its flow without imposing their will on it, which also opened them a way for unique Force abilities.
Sorcerers of TundEdit
The Sorcerers of Tund shared most of the Sith beliefs, which was not surprising, given the fact that their order was founded by Sith mages. However, they viewed the force as the magical power and manipulated it mostly by arcane symbols and spells. The Jedi viewed the sorcerers as merely another Force sect, but would often try to "convert" the Sorcerers, attempting to convince them to use the Force without any of their trappings of magic and mysticism. However, they were unsuccessful, and eventually the Jedi contented themselves with making sure the Sorcerers did not descend into the dark side.
Killiks and the OnesEdit
The Killiks believed that The Ones represented the Force. They believed that the daughter represented the Light Side of the Force while the Son represented the Dark Side of the Force. Their father tried to maintain the balance between them on the planet they called home. Incredibly powerful, their fighting was destructive until another came to bring peace to the family, though this brought about the creation of Abeloth. In the Clone Wars, Anakin would meet the Ones in the Mortis Monolith, where the Father claimed it was the Chosen One's destiny to take the dying Father's place and control the Son and Daughter. An intense scene of power would bring about all the Ones' deaths. The Killiks were unaware of this and awaited for their arrival when they learned Abeloth, the Bringer of Chaos, was freed.
Manifestations of the Force, which were mentally-based abilities and tapped through the practitioner's willpower, could take all forms, and included telepathy, psychokinesis, and enhanced physical and metaphysical perception. The Force could be used to bend the will of weak-minded beings and guide an adept's body. Users who were very good at using the Force could cease merely reacting to their surroundings and actually predict events in the very near future, such as the next blow in a duel. Guidance like this enabled Luke Skywalker to launch a proton torpedo into an extremely difficult target on the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin. The Force could also be used to sedate. Qui-Gon Jinn used this power on Jar Jar Binks when traveling the dangerous underwater path to Theed. Qui-Gon placed a hand on Jar Jar's shoulder and asked him to relax causing the Gungan to almost lose consciousness. Obi-wan, observing the extreme change in Jar Jar's behavior, told Jinn, his master, "You overdid it."
In addition to enhancing their own skill, Force users were capable of channeling the energy of The Force directly into the world around them. The Sith were infamous for making heavy use of this ability to conjure Force-lightning, or Force-choke enemies by constricting their windpipes. The Jedi preferred to use their abilities to heal and protect; closing wounds and shielding others with barriers of Force energy. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn discovered that Jedi could achieve near-immortality through the Force by existing as a Force ghost after death.1
Some Force users even learned how to transfer their spirit into another body. Palpatine used this technique in order to prolong his life, and evidence suggests the legendary Dark Jedi Set Harth, who fell to the dark side in the aftermath of the New Sith Wars, used this power to leapfrog his essence between hundreds of clone bodies, lingering in the physical realm up until the Yuuzhan Vong invasion and beyond. Later Callista Ming transferred herself to the body of a dying friend so that she could stay alive. Callista, unlike Harth and Palpatine, lost her ability to touch the Force in the process of transference.
Others, such as Darth Nihilus and the Jedi Exile, could use the Force to feed off other Force users. Nihilus' power could encompass entire planets and drain them of life, like the Miraluka colony world of Katarr. Some dark side users could use a different and weaker form of this technique to drain the strength of others into themselves, occasionally to fatal results. Darth Nihilus' ability to do this originated from a "wound in the Force", which is essentially a rip in the fabric of the Force itself.
Palpatine mentioned that the Force could help one cheat death, or create life, a secret mastered only by Darth Plagueis. Another Sith Lord, Darth Sion, used a more indirect method to cheat death. As he could call upon his pain to strengthen his will and allow him to rise up again as strong as he was beforehand, he was arguably immortal.
The Force played a major part in the Jedi use of a lightsaber, in that their heightened awareness kept them from accidentally injuring themselves while using the weapon in combat, as the blade had no relative weight, making it difficult to judge its position. Similarly, the Force allowed a Jedi to use his/her lightsaber to deflect incoming blaster bolts. The Force also came into play during the construction of a lightsaber, both in assembling its intricate innards, and the initial charging of the power cell.
Manipulating the Force entailed significant risks, however. When a person used the Force beyond their body's ability to sustain it, the individual could suffer physical damage, accelerated aging, or in an extreme case, certain death by burning their own body cells from the inside out. Palpatine, and Dorsk 81 are prime examples of excessive Force usage and the consequences.
Disturbances in the ForceEdit
- "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, referring to the destruction of Alderaan
The Force existed in all life, and when great amounts of life passed away, a disturbance was created, running through the Force like a scream that Force-adepts could hear. This was how a "wound in the Force" was created at the battle of Malachor V during the Mandalorian Wars when the Mass Shadow Generator was unleashed. In addition, when the Mandalorians destroyed the cities of Serroco using nuclear weapons. This happened again when Alderaan was destroyed; Obi-Wan Kenobi sensed "a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.…". The students of the Jedi Praxeum felt a similar disturbance when the Carida system was destroyed. It was suggested that Yoda could not even stand on Kashyyyk as Order 66 was being executed. It was as if Yoda was being overpowered by the disturbance caused by the many simultaneous Jedi deaths. It is possible that those strong in the Force could have glimpses of what is creating the disturbance, though the severity that the adept would feel would depend on numerous variables, including both their training and their innate connection with the Force. This could explain why Yoda seemed to know what happened when Obi-Wan Kenobi was about to look at the security recordings of the Jedi Temple. However, while typically called "disturbances", they were sometimes be referred to as "tremors", as Darth Vader did about Obi-Wan's presence at Death Star I. Disturbances could also be felt lingering from a past event, such as when Leia Organa Solo felt a disturbance when she visited the place where Anakin Skywalker slaughtered an entire village of Tusken Raiders.
Unusual Force occurrences in natureEdit
The ysalamiri were a species of tree-dwelling lizard-like creatures that were immune to most effects of the Force. The creatures exuded a "bubble" which "pushes back" Force energy, making them useful tools for individuals (such as Grand Admiral Thrawn) requiring a means to nullify a Jedi's abilities. They originated on the world of Myrkr. It is mentioned that the ysalamir, when put together, create a much more extensive bubble, sometimes expanding a few kilometers outside their native forest. They evolved this trait to survive being hunted by the predatory vornskrs, pack animals that hunted by tracking down live prey using the Force.
A creature with a similar peculiarity was the taozin, a large, gelatinous predator. Though not widely known, at least one of these creatures was alive deep in the undercity of Coruscant approximately ten years before the Clone Wars.
Gurlanins could also 'hide' themselves from the Force, though they could also make themselves detectable in the Force at will if they chose to.
While not immune to the Force, Hutts were highly resistant, having an innate defense against Force-based mind manipulation.
Toydarians were immune to mind tricks as well. The Yinchorri and the Dashades were also largely unaffected by Force mental manipulation, and were thus both utilized to varying degrees by the Emperor; the Yinchorri during the period surrounding the Stark Hyperspace War and the Dashadi during the first few years following the Great Jedi Purge.
Additionally, Force-resistant creatures called terentateks were a major threat to the Jedi. Some suspected that they were created by the Sith to hunt down the Jedi. Periodically, the Jedi held a Great Hunt in an attempt to hunt down and destroy all of the terentateks. The monsters appeared to be extremely long-lived and resilient.
Although not natural, voxyn could hunt Jedi and other Force users by noticing their "Force scent."
Hssiss could influence Force-sensitive beings around them. If bitten by an hssiss, one would succumb to the effects of a dark side poison. Hssiss also had the ability to conceal themselves and become invisible, possibly doing so through the Force.
Sith magic was sometimes considered outside of the Force by some of its practitioners, though how much of that is true is unconfirmed.
Organized Force traditionsEdit
- "The Force is a river from which many can drink, and the training of the Jedi is not the only cup which can catch it."
- ―Luke Skywalker
The Jedi and Sith Orders taught the Force as described above, but there were other traditions which instructed different philosophies and uses of the Force, or use of powers similar to the Force.
Behind the scenesEdit
- "The Force evolved out of various developments of character and plot. I wanted a concept of religion based on the premise that there is a God and there is good and evil. I began to distill the essence of all religions into what I thought was a basic idea common to all religions and common to primitive thinking. I wanted to develop something that was nondenominational but still had a kind of religious reality."
- ―George Lucas on the Force
The principles of the Force resonate with those of some real world religions, including the Shinto religion of Japan, Buddhism, Taoism, and certain Celtic druidic concepts. The Force also bears a close similarity to the Chinese notion of qigong, or "chi," and the splitting of the Force into light side and dark sides echoes the concept of "Yin" and "Yang" in Eastern philosophy (though this is not a perfect translation, as the dark side is considered a force of evil by the Jedi and this moral duality is not the same as the Eastern concept). Along with the concepts of "Yin" and "Yang," the concept of a ubiquitous Force is concurrent to the real world concept of a "Tao" or "Way," which is said to flow everywhere in the universe. The concept of the Force also borrows heavily from Hindu theology, which also expresses a belief in a unifying Brahman energy that composes and is a composite of the Universe (and by extension, God), and can be used for either good or bad. In fact, this is particularly similar to the concept of the Potentium and the Unifying Force in that while the power can be perverted for evil, it ultimately leads only to a conclusion that is good.
A connection could be drawn to Zoroastrianism with the duality of the Force. The dichotomy between Ahura Mazda (the One God) and Angra Mainyu/Ahrima (the evil spirit) is nearly identical to the concept of the light and dark sides of the Force. Another connection can be drawn is spirits; in response to Christian philosophies: Jedi spirits resemble God's angels and/or saints, and dark side Sith spirits (most often of Sith Lords) as souls in purgatory or hell or even perhaps devils themselves.
Another connection that can be made is towards the Hebrew religion and how it treated blood: Blood is the life source of every living creature, and during temple sacrifices, the Hebrews make sure to spill as much blood as possible, to "return" the life force of the animal back to God. This coincides with the whole concept of the Force; the person's strength in the Force is found in the person's blood.
In truth, the Force is an amalgamation of many religions and philosophies, and is intended as a metaphor for spirituality itself. As in real world spirituality, there is the potential for a "light" and a "dark" side in each person as well as the universe at large.
It has also been quoted[source?] that George Lucas' study of the works of Carlos Castenda's books which followed Mexican Native American teachings may have help to lead to Yoda's description of the Force as a energy force that emanates from all beings luminous in appearance. Carlos Castenda's studies stated that we are all luminous "eggs" with "lines of power" that stretch from our bodies and connect us to the overlying "force of nature" that exists in our universe according to ancient Native American Shamanistic tradition. Only those trained in the tradition of the correct Native American traditions allow users to "see" the human's true nature as Luminous "eggs" not the "crude matter" we all exist as.
There is some indication that the Force is unique to the galaxy, and not a universal power. This is suggested by Obi-Wan's quote "binds the galaxy together" instead of "universe". This also explains why the Force was already known to several species before the formation of the Jedi, instead of the galaxy possessing a greater diversity of religions. However, Obi Wan's claim is most likely just a turn of phrase, such as when someone says "world" but really means "everything in existence." It has been revealed that the extragalactic Yuuzhan Vong were force immune, although they were Force-wielders once.
The non-canon film Willow, which was the subject of an April Fool's Day 2006 Databank update, presents species which use fantasy magic spells, a power nearly identical to the Force. According to the previously mentioned entries, the planet of Andowyne, which the Databank claims is the world seen in Willow, was the home of the midi-chlorian lifeform.
Despite great controversy regarding the truth of the Force in-universe, the matter was clearly settled in Wizards of the Coast's soucebooks, such as the Power of the Jedi Sourcebook and the Jedi Academy Training Manual, which established that the Jedi Order has the best understanding of the Force among all other Force traditions, and the Jedi way of classifying and viewing the Force is the correct one, as intended by the creators of Star Wars licenses.
The Force resides in all life forms and binds the galaxy together, therefore making at least indirect appearance in every Star Wars story. Below is an incomplete list of sources, in which the Force is actually mentioned.