Described by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi as "an energy field created by all living things," some societies and organizations thought of the Force as a non-corporeal sentient entity that might be capable of intelligent thought—almost as if it were a sort of god—while others simply considered it something that could be manipulated and used as though it were a tool.
The Force potential of an individual was apparently measured in sentient creatures by a midi-chlorian count. While both the Jedi and the Sith used the Force to gain their power, there were as many different groups of users and views of the Force as uses of the Force itself.
Definition of the ForceEdit
- "An infinite mystery is the Force. Much to learn, there still is."
The Force was divided into four aspects: the light side, the dark side, the Unifying Force, and the Living Force. The first two aspects were concerned with the moral compass of the Force in its various manifestations. The light side of the Force was the facet aligned with good, benevolence, and healing, while the dark side of the Force was the element aligned with fear, hatred, aggression, and malevolence. The latter two aspects were defined by prominent Jedi philosophies. The Unifying Force essentially embraced space and time in its entirety. The Living Force dealt with the energy of living things. To some Jedi, "The Force was life, and life was the Force." 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 god. Anakin Skywalker, who was believed to have been conceived by the Force itself, gave credit towards the view of the Force as a sentient entity.
Though the Force was thought to flow through every living thing, it could only be harnessed by a minority of beings described as "Force-sensitive". This Force-sensitivity was attributed to a high count of internal micro-organisms called midi-chlorians that were found in a Force-sensitive's blood: the higher the count, the greater the being's potential Force ability. 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", and it is quite probable that the two traits were connected.
Sides of the ForceEdit
- "[Luke Skywalker] uses it like an advisor or sometimes a power source. Others use it like a vibroblade, some like an opinion poll, and yet others like a whole variety of tools."
- —Anakin Solo
The light side: orthodox Jedi philosophyEdit
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, anger, and hatred, since these were thought to bring on acceptance of the dark side.
The Jedi and others referred to two sides of the Force, a dark side and a light side. The dark side was not made up of specific "parts" or "abilities" of the Force: the dark and light sides of the Force existed inside of the life form which used it, made from their emotions. 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 was only interested in him- or herself. To strike down a living creature with the Force out of anger, fear or another emotion was of the dark side. To refrain and clear one's self of these emotions was of the light side. 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 denying balance, 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. Possession of all types was shunned in the post-Ruusan Reformation era Jedi Order, save for the individuality of a Jedi's lightsaber. 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, 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.
One might speculate that this indicates that love was the true binding factor between the light and the dark. Neither the Jedi nor the Sith accepted the views of the other, however.
It seems most Jedi were proponents for the Unifying Force, wherein they focused on the past, present, and future as a whole (however, visions of the future were of particular significance in the conservative Jedi mindset), 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. The organizational goal of the Jedi Order was to maintain peace and justice in the galaxy.
The dark side: Sith philosophyEdit
The dark side of the Force was the element aligned with fear, hatred, aggression, and malice towards all living things. Practitioners of the dark side of the Force sought to increase their own personal power and destroy or rule those who opposed them. Followers of the dark side usually acted only for themselves. The negative emotions of the dark side increased the strength and abilities of a user, and as a result use of the dark side of the Force was extremely addictive. Every time followers of the dark side called on its power, they became more and more attached to the corruption it brought.
Potentium and the Unifying ForceEdit
- Main article: Potentium
The Potentium view of the Force, considered heresy by Old Republic Jedi, held that the Force and the galaxy in general were given a master plan which was inherently good, and that there was no dark or light side to the Force. Also, Luke Skywalker stated in his days as Master that "the Force doesn't flow from us, but through us", which strongly suggests that it is the Force that creates life and not the other way around. Never passing beyond the padawan level and refusing to become a Jedi Knight, Jolee Bindo saw "everything gray" and left the Order, allowing emotion to guide his actions. Leor Hal and his followers were expelled by the Jedi for their belief in the Potentium in 132 BBY. This view gained greater acceptance under the New Republic, mostly due to the influence of Vergere, a surviving Jedi from the days of the Old Republic.
Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) 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 echoed by what Vergere taught Jacen Solo; she told him 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. Later, it was revealed that the living planet Zonama Sekot supported the Potentium theory of the Force. However, it was later suggested that Vergere was a Sith. The Potentium view of the Force could possibly lead either to manipulation by the dark side, or a means to serve it.
Many Jedi were thought to be proponents of the Unifying Force, wherein they focused on the flow of time as a whole, ignoring primary use of the Living Force. Visions of the future were of particular significance to most Jedi. Yoda was one of the most adamant proponents of the Unifying Force, yet he was a staunch opponent of the Potentium.
The Living ForceEdit
The Living Force was thought to be present in most living beings. The Jedi had the ability to sense the Living Force inside of life forms. Sick or dying organisms had little Living Force, while healthy ones possessed a level corresponding to their midi-chlorian count. The connection to the Living Force apparently also allowed Jedi Masters to retain their identity when they became one with the Force.
The only species known to exist without the Living Force were the extragalactic Yuuzhan Vong, on whom the Force had no effect. As the Yuuzhan Vong were still living they did possess midi-chlorians.
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 tenents of the Unifying Force philosophy. Had the Jedi Order adopted this stance, it might have allowed them to prevent the war that gave rise to the Galactic Empire, as many its members lost themselves in looking toward the future rather than observing the occurrences unraveling in front of them.
Yoda may have taught Luke Skywalker in his training to avoid making this mistake again, and to focus in the moment.
Other philosophical viewsEdit
The Force was thought to be the pure energy of awareness and consciousness itself. It linked all sentient and non-sentient things, all space, and all time. Thus, if you were aware of your contact with the Force, you were potentially aware of all things, places, persons and even all times: past, present and future.
The Force touched everything. The Jedi believed that if they were in touch with the Force they were in touch with the world around them — it was through the Force that a Jedi could move objects without physically pushing them. The Force was thought to reside in a person's mind and feelings, and the Jedi taught that knowing the Force would allow them to know the feelings hidden inside someone else. A Jedi could also use the Force to peer into the myriad possibilities of the future, for the Force permeated through the very fabric of time itself.
Life, the universe, and everything else existed within the Force, which supposedly originated from an ultimate and para-cosmic Will.
The Greater and Lesser ForceEdit
The Force existed in the universe by assuming two aspects: The Greater "Cosmic" Force, which was an expression of the Ultimate Will, and the Lesser "Living" Force; an intrinsically distinct emanation from the Greater Force, which constituted the individual wills of creatures.
The Greater and the Lesser Force were inherently linked, and were capable of interacting with and affecting one another. Their interaction left a "footprint" trace in the form of mysterious living particles in the blood known as midi-chlorians. These midi-chlorian traces also served to facilitate and enhance further communication between the Greater and Lesser Force.
In ancient times, many people believed that midi-chlorians were not distinct entities, but rays of the Greater Force itself. This view was held by many Jedi.
It was thought that there were an infinite number of Living Forces, each with a unique and intrinsic identity, emotional temper, cognitive bent, and will. Each individual Living Force could interface with or influence any other individual Living Force, whether sentient or not, through a "bridge" established in the Cosmic Force. This meant that a Jedi could understand and influence the people and objects around him or her in ways that often appeared to be mystical.
Destiny and the ForceEdit
The Cosmic Force was believed to witness the thoughts and feelings of the Living Forces, and to give them the ability to act of their own free will. The thoughts and actions of the Living Force were able to shape its destiny, which the Cosmic Force recorded and administered.
One could choose to embrace his own destiny or to defy it: a Jedi's sensitivity and courage allowed him to understand his own destiny and embrace it as the will of the Greater Force. Thus, the Jedi could open a channel linking the Lesser and Greater forces together more strongly. The power of the Greater Force could then flow into the Jedi, who was able to work with amazing power in the world around him.
The dark and light sidesEdit
The Lesser Force was divided into two aspects: positive and negative, widely known as "the light side of the Force" and "the dark side of the Force." These sides are further described in Sides of the Force, above.
The Insidious ForceEdit
Darth Traya, a female Sith practitioner 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 emphasizes the belief that neither the light nor dark side is truly superior to the other, and that if people were to be truly free, the Force must be eliminated from the galaxy. This was generally a very unpopular theory with both the Sith and the Jedi, and its practice likely disappeared entirely with Traya's death.
- Main article: Force powers
Manifestations of the Force, which were mentally-based abilities and tapped through the practitioner's willpower, could take many 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.
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.
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, like Darth Nihilus, 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 simplified form of this technique to drain the strength of others into themselves, occasionally to fatal results.
Palpatine mentioned that the Force can 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.
Disturbances in the ForceEdit
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 "hole" in the Force was created at the battle of Malachor V during the Mandalorian Wars when the Mass Shadow Generator was unleashed. Also when the Mandlorians destroyed the cities of Serocco 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.…". A similar disturbance was felt by the students of the Jedi Praxeum when the Caridan 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 can have glimpses of what is creating the disturbance, though the severity which 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 they are mostly called "disturbances", they can sometimes be referred as "tremors", as Darth Vader did about Obi-Wan's presence at Death Star I.
Unusual Force occurrences in natureEdit
The ysalamiri were a species of tree-dwelling slug-like creatures that were immune to 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.
While not immune to the Force, Hutts were highly resistant, having an innate defense against Force-based mind manipulation.
Toydarians, likely due to their genetic relation to Hutts, 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 picking up on their "Force scent."
Organized Force traditionsEdit
- See also:Force organizations
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.