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Jay’s Galactic Espressions:  Attachment and Star Wars…IS It the Jedi Way?

Jay’s Galactic Espressions: Attachment and Star Wars…IS It the Jedi Way?

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Empire Day” is probably my favorite episode of Rebels so far. Not only did the storyline, animation, music and attention to detail in that episode knock it out of the park, one particular aspect of that episode continues to play in my head like a Vine on a constant loop:

 Ezra: [Sighs] Sorry. I just don’t see the point of this.
 Kanan: The point is that you’re not alone. You’re connected to every living thing in the universe. But to discover that, you have to let your guard down. You have to be willing to attach to others.
 Ezra: And what if I can’t?
 Kanan: If you hang on to your past, if you always try to protect yourself, you’ll never be a Jedi.

Woah…stop. Rewind…Did Kanan just say “You have to be willing to attach to others?” ATTACH?

Empire day pic

Attachment has always been a hotbed issue with the Jedi Order, and has been discussed and debated in many forums over the years.

With the era of Jedi that existed prior to Empire Day, attachment was all but forbidden. Passion was forbidden. Love was forbidden. Yet, the Jedi were taught to have compassion and empathy. How can one have either of these if love and attachment does not exist? We are born to love. We are born to interact with others in ways that touch our lives – both good and bad. That’s what makes us human. Without attachment, we are nothing.

Examine The Clone Wars movie: Yoda’s whole purpose for giving Ahsoka to Anakin as a Padawan learner was to make him learn how to sever attachments. How could he sever something that was not supposed to exist in the first place?

anakin ahsoka clone wars movie

It is in the absence of attachment that we are not whole beings. Granted, attachments also make life more complicated, and can sometimes feel like they are ripping your heart out, but I truly believe I am healthier in every way because of them. No one said attachment was easy. Nothing worth having ever is.

One of my favorite attachment quotes comes from the novel Revelation by Karen Traviss. It was said by the Mandalorian warrior and healer Gotab:

“Attachment – and you inevitably use your powers to serve your own family…Avoid attachment – and you become an enactor of ritual, a sterile creature unable to truly understand love and sacrifice.” (Traviss, Revelation p. 403)

The Old Jedi Order was full of contradictions and incongruity concerning basic human nature. I get that it was a discipline. I get that it was supposed to be a practice of mastery, both within and outside of oneself. But to deny attachment? To deny mourning when one experiences loss? Cruel. Let’s quote Yoda:

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”

yoda

My mom passed away recently. In November. Was I attached to my mom? Ummmm….yes. Does it make me greedy and all dark-side-ish to mourn for her? I think not. As much as I do, in fact, rejoice that she is no longer in pain, being attached to her did not cast some horrible shadow over me. I am moving on, day-by-day, and the mourning will eventually get easier. I will always be attached to her in some way.

THAT’S what I think Kanan was getting at in this episode. We’re all connected in some way: living, dead…it’s what makes us who we are. We NEED to be attached to each other…to the universe. I believe Kanan understood this quote from The Empire Strikes Back better than anyone (also spoken by Yoda):

yoda1

“For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.”

See, Kanan got it. The Force IS attachment. To BE a Jedi, you must be willing to “let your guard down and attach to others.” To everything.

The new era of Star Wars seems to be all about encouraging attachment. Keeping families together. Forging bonds with others aboard Rebel cruisers…

I like where this is going. Do you?

I would love to hear from you.

Leave your comments below. You can also “attach” to me by e-mail: jayk@coffeewithkenobi.com, or follow me on Twitter @JoyceKrebs

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15 Comments

  1. adelphotheos
    January 19, 2015 at 08:34 Reply

    Thanks for the post. I have been thinking a lot about this subject as well. As I think about the Jedi, I tend to think that they were growing too powerful and institutional and lost the connection to the value of relationships – even while everyone of them was encouraged to form a master/padawan relationship. So I think they were mistaking attachment for obsession. Only the Sith deal in absolutes? Well, look what happens on the other side of the equation! These absolutes that they philosophically held to were contradictory to the nature of the Force. The agent which binds together the universe ought to be what unifies the universe rather than create individuals on a storm tossed sea fending for themselves.

    1. Jay Krebs
      February 8, 2015 at 14:08 Reply

      Glad you enjoyed my thoughts, here!
      I totally agree that the Old JO dealt much more more in absolutes than they cared to admit. They just “filtered” their views to fit their own parameters.
      I loved your last sentiment there…very well-said!

  2. Pam Bruchwalski
    January 19, 2015 at 17:06 Reply

    What a great subject! I could copy and paste a good bit of this and use each quote to explain my own philosophies on life. So well said….

    That snippet of conversation from Rebels that you quoted would have thrown me for a loop as well! (I am, sadly, still not caught up on Rebels) You know how strongly I believe this: “We are born to love….Without attachment, we are nothing.” So it makes sense that in the ever-evolving GFFA, the powers-that-be are figuring this out.

    To attach to others IS to let go, to allow others to hold you up when you’re weak and to do the same when they are. Without attachment we are adrift.

    I only met your mom once and certainly didn’t know her well, but just in that one afternoon, I saw a good bit of her in you, I saw the ways in which some of her traits have attached to you. Beautiful. Always.

    Such a great flow to this entry. So well written. Bravo!

    1. Jay Krebs
      February 8, 2015 at 14:13 Reply

      As always, I appreciate your sentiments on all of my posts! 🙂

      I know how deeply you love and treasure your attachments…!

      “Without attachment, we are adrift.” …Beautifully said, my dear. this actually sparked my memory into something else I read once. I had to do a bit of research to find it, but I knew Ben Skywalker said it:

      “That’s what attachment is, isn’t it? It’s not loving somebody. It’s not marrying somebody. It’s not having kids. It’s being where, if something goes wrong, there’s nothing left of you.” – Ben Skywalker, Fury

      Powerful stuff, indeed.

      Thank you SO much for what you said about my mom…. XOXO!!

  3. Becca Benjamin
    January 20, 2015 at 11:30 Reply

    OMGoodness! Total goose bumps!

    “Without attachment, we are nothing.”
    Gah! Exactly and I know we’ve had this discussion a million times over lol! Talk about unnatural things, NOT attaching to those we hold dear (even the Jedi (Padawans, Knights, Masters, and High Council were “close.” That is undeniable.) would be inhumane and in my own opinion, an impossible feat. So yes, I couldn’t agree more with you on this.

    “How could he sever something that was not supposed to exist in the first place?”
    Again, the Jedi were at a loss when it came to Anakin. He went against everything that they had become as an “Order” and their typical dogmatic ways proved to be unlearned by him as well. Yoda, in a sense, fumbled when it came to training Anakin and how to detach him from his attachments. It was unknown to any of them within those temple walls on how to handle such a raw emotional and affectionate being.

    Wonderful Entry, Jay!! 🙂

    1. Jay Krebs
      February 8, 2015 at 14:18 Reply

      Thanks, Becca! 🙂

      As you know from our many blogservations in the old Hyperspace blogs, I have a definite issue with the way attachment (among other things), was handled in the old JO, ESPECIALLY when it came to Anakin (“It’s All Yoda’s Fault” – remember that one?!).

      …Instead of being flexible with this youngling, they remained rigid in their ways, thinking that would contain him, and eventually break him. Wrong. So wrong. Even skyscrapers, built to withstand years and years of use and elemental attacks, sway lightly in the wind so as to keep from crumbling. The Jedi needed just that little bit of sway…

  4. Melinda
    January 23, 2015 at 09:05 Reply

    Wow! What a wonderfully written — and powerful — message you put forth here, Jay! 🙂

    I’ve always looked at the Jedi from a military point of view. Well, at least in the way the Jedi perceive attachment. This may sound contradictory, but please bear with me…

    You go into (one branch of) the military, and are stripped of who you were “before”. It’s called “breaking you down to rebuild yourself” (under the watchful eye of your drill instructors). You unlearn what you have learned, and emerge a stronger individual, one forged in the ideals of whatever branch you have joined. Through your training (and there’s a lot of it!), you learn that, when engaged, there is nothing more important than completing the mission. You have to ignore the fact that your brothers/sisters-in-arms may be falling all around you. Your survival and the mission’s survival depend on you turning a blind eye to what is going on around you.

    Yet, in the Marine Corps (truly the only subject on which I can speak with any authority since I was a Marine … when I was much younger, and in much better shape 😉 ), Marines (NEVER soldiers!) are schooled, too, that we don’t leave anyone behind. We shouldn’t have attachments (so to speak), but we should. And do. It can be very confusing to some.

    The Jedi — throughout the Saga (including the Prequels when we got more of an idea what the Jedi went through in their training) — may have perceived they could exist without attachments, but attachments occurred all the time! 🙂 The first that pops into my mind is Obi-Wan’s attachment to Qui-Gon. Before the revered Jedi Master was cut down by Darth Maul. Obi-Wan thought so highly of his master that he (Obi-Wan) always looked to Qui-Gon for approval. When young Anakin came on the scene, Obi-Wan was jealous of the boy who now was garnering Qui-Gon’s attention. Jealousy comes from attachment to another (whether that attachment is real or not … sorry, I’m going a little afield here as my mind meanders to those who attach themselves to others who don’t know they exist. I must get back on track! 😉 )

    more…

  5. Melinda
    January 23, 2015 at 09:22 Reply

    continued…

    If Obi-Wan’s reaction to Darth Maul cutting down his master isn’t an example of a Jedi’s attachment, I don’t know what is! And despite ALL the lessons he had to the contrary, Obi-Wan’s declaration of love for his brother, Anakin, is evidence that yes, Jedi have attachments. I suppose they just aren’t supposed to acknowledge them. 😉

    Anakin, trying to wrestle with the whole idea of attachment — whether a Jedi should have them or not — put it quite succinctly when he explained the whole premise to Padme when the two were aboard the transport en route to Naboo in AOTC. Anakin’s perception of whether Jedi should or should not have attachments really was very logical.

    Maybe it just was easier for the Jedi to teach the theory of NO attachments rather than school the padawans how to temper attachment (there’s a whole can of worms to open!).

    I equate it — to a certain degree — to being a parent. One day, this beautiful, innocent being comes into your life. From the moment your son or daughter is born, you KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that one day — in the not too far off future — you will have to let him or her go. Not necessary sever all ties to this little bundle of joy, but let him or her go to find his or her own way in the world. It will be painful. It IS painful. But do it you must. If one is wise (like a Jedi Master? 😉 ), one will prepare oneself for the eventual parting — if for no other reason than to make that parting a little easier to bear.

    I know one mother who has tied the apron strings so tightly to her children that, even in their 20s, they have found it difficult to go off on their own. It is an unhealthy kind of attachment that stunts growth. This is the type of attachment I think the Jedi tried to avoid.

    more…

  6. Melinda
    January 23, 2015 at 09:34 Reply

    continued…

    Maybe, on Dagobah, Yoda saw attachment in a different light. Yes, he tried to school Luke in the notion that Jedi don’t have attachments, but he also acknowledged that through the Force, attachments result. Yoda, too, realized that Luke had very strong attachments to his friends. He (Yoda) didn’t tell Luke he shouldn’t have attachments to them, but rather he shouldn’t rush off to rescue them (at that point in his training, at least) if he honored that for which they were fighting. I do believe that Yoda knew Han’s, Leia’s and Chewie’s suffering was merely a ruse to entrap Luke. Luke’s rashness almost cost the “good guys” EVERYTHING. There is something to be said for being prepared.

    Well, I’ve taken enough of your time. I hope you have a great weekend. 🙂 I am happy to hear that you are doing well. My heart goes out to you with the loss of your mother, I hope you know. May each day get a little easier.

    Wonderful, wonderful blog! 😀

    MTFBWY 🙂

    1. Jay Krebs
      February 8, 2015 at 14:25 Reply

      So many great examples of attachment, Melinda!! 🙂

      I’m seriously so glad you pointed these out, because although I could have gone into much more detail myself, I wanted to keep things reader-friendly 😉

      Thank you for sharing your military experiences and attachment in that medium. It does sound a bit perplexing, the way attachments are both encouraged and discouraged, if I’m understanding what you said there. VERY much like the Jedi! No wonder Anakin – among others – were confused by where to draw the line.

      Parenting and attachment is always a tricky one. You’re right – there is definitely a “healthy” and an “unhealthy” type of attachment. I actually teach the theory of “Attachment Parenting”, made famous by Dr. William Sears, in my Child Care class! 🙂

      Thanks also for your kind words about my mom. Every day does get a bit better, but then there are those other days…like taking two steps forward and one back. But she’ll always be attached to my heart – no doubt!

  7. Pandu Poluan
    February 5, 2015 at 00:07 Reply

    I think the “rules” of “no attachment” was flawed, and that led to the downfall of the Order.

    Attachment is important. More important is: Learning to Let Go.

    Perhaps that is the underlying problem with the “no attachment” rule: No one truly understands how to “Let Go”, so they took the easy way out and just forbid attachment.

    1. Jay Krebs
      February 8, 2015 at 14:32 Reply

      Great thoughts here, Pandu. You nailed a great point in saying that the Jedi “took the easy way out and just forbid attachment.”

      Just like the first line in the Jedi code: “There is no emotion, there is peace.”

      Is it really true that lack of emotion = peace? I think not. DEALING with your emotions and learning to balance them creates peace.

      …and isn’t THAT what the Jedi were supposed to be striving for? Balance??

      1. Pandu Poluan
        March 20, 2015 at 12:50 Reply

        Just wanting to add: The oldest, original Jedi tenet actually said, “Emotion, yet peace.” It was only later on ‘refined’ to be “There is no emotion, there is peace.” ( http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Jedi_code#Mantra )

        I’d dare say that Kanan had returned to the ‘root’ of what a Jedi is.

  8. ladylavinia1932
    September 11, 2015 at 12:41 Reply

    I had no problems with the Jedi’s initial beliefs concerning attachments. In order to “move on” character wise and spiritually, one has to let go of attachments in certain situations and eventually, eventually learn to let them all go.

    I had a problem with the way the Jedi dealt with attachments. Their modis operandi seemed to be about letting go of all attachments . . . all at once. In a way, their approach to attachments proved to be just as unhealthy as Anakin’s unwillingness to let go of attachments at all costs. It was too extreme. Which for me, would explain why the Jedi failed to noticed their own unhealthy attachment to the Order.

    1. Jay Krebs
      September 12, 2015 at 20:58 Reply

      Great points you make here, ladylavinia. There was definitely an extremity to the way the Jedi handled attachments, which is ironic…isn’t it only Sith who deal in absolutes? Seems like an oxymoron to me. It’s definitely unhealthy NOT to have attachments, indeed. There needs to be a “happy medium”, to say the least.

      Thanks so much for your comments and thoughts!! 🙂

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