It is no small matter to join the ranks of the Jedi. To live as part monk, part ambassador, part lightsaber-wielding warrior is no walk in the park, either. The Jedi live by the Jedi Code: “There is no emotion, there is peace… there is no death, there is the Force.” Many implied precepts, trials, and rules of engagement guide their actions and destinies as well. While the iconic Order has an appealing, zen-like lifestyle, there is much to be desired in the regulations that govern the Jedi. Whether in cannon or in legend, some Jedi practices leave us scratching our heads. There are rules that don’t seem to be defined, and yet it is a grave thing to violate them.
Some rules have excellent intentions but lead to serious problems if followed to the letter of the law. Some rules were so wrong that certain Jedi were despised wherever they went. Others rules were done away with after the new order, and still other rules were reasonable but incredibly hard to live by. From the archives and holocrons of both cannon and legend, we’ve found 15 Jedi rules that are vague, unclear, unfair, or just plain hard to keep.
15. RECRUITERS HAD TO KIDNAP FORCE-SENSITIVES
As the representatives of the light side of the Force, we like to think Jedi spend their days performing good deeds and defending the galaxy. There is one type of Jedi in legend, though, who have slightly less upright duties. The Jedi recruiters travel the galaxy in search of young force-sensitives to ensure the Jedi’s future. Some families are willing to give up their small children and never see them again. They are convinced it is an honor for their child to become a Jedi.
When a family doesn’t want to part with their child though, a Jedi recruiter is expected to take the child by any means necessary.
It’s not exactly what you’d expect from the good guys, but according to The Jedi Path, the law permitted Jedi to take force-sensitives without their parents’ consent.
14. BARASH VOW
When does finding your purpose look exactly like punishment? When you’re a Jedi taking the Barash vow. The Barash vow is a self-inflicted penance, although it could also be used as a way to seek clarity and purpose. As explained in the second issue of Darth Vader (2017), it is “complete disengagement from anything but the Force…a type of penance.”
Like much of the Jedi way, it’s a nice thought when not taken to an extreme. This disengagement is so complete though, that a Jedi would only have been able to take action if actively sought out. During Order 66, the Jedi Kirak Infil’a was able to sense the ongoing purge but wasn’t able to take any action against it since he had taken the vow. Not exactly the most useful rule when facing extinction.
13. THE JEDI TRIALS
Most of what we know about the Jedi Trials comes from Legends, and the number and types of trials vary by source. In Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, there are nine trials: teamwork, isolation, fear, anger, betrayal, focus, instinct, forgiveness, and protection. The Jedi Path lists five: Skill, Courage, Spirit, Flesh, and Insight.
What’s frustrating about the trials is that many of them are too obscure to prepare for. One trial can be hidden inside another, and the Padawan is expected to be prepared for anything vaguely associated with the trial (take Skill for instance, which could mean almost anything). It’s similar to a professor giving a final exam without any study guide, and they never do well on their class evaluations. Granted, the Jedi Trials should be hard, but a Padawan should also know how to prepare for them.
12. NO MARRIAGE
According to the Jedi Code “There is no Passion, there is Serenity.” One of the more famous ramifications of this is that Jedi cannot marry. The Jedi saw personal attachment as a means to stumble. As Yoda warned Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, “Fear of loss is a path to the Dark Side.” We saw just how well this rule served the Jedi during the Star Wars prequels. Jedi who succumb to romantic inclinations are left with two choices:
They can leave the Order or they can keep their love a secret, inviting additional temptation to Join the Dark Side of the Force.
Thankfully, this particular rule did not stand the test of (retconned) time. As we see in Star Wars Legends, Jedi were allowed to form relationships and marry when Luke Skywalker established the New Jedi Order.
11. NO CONTACT WITH FAMILY
Another measure taken to avoid the fear of loss was that Jedi were not allowed to contact their family at any point in their service. This was a logical step for a group that sanctioned removing children and infants from their homes. It certainly wasn’t the most uplifting precept ever though, and it ignored the fact that a Jedi could draw strength and support from those outside of the Force.
At the same time that these emotional bonds were forbidden, The Jedi Path explains that all Younglings were placed in a family-structured clan before they became Padawans. Jedi Initiates were instructed to view members of their family as “colleagues in the Force, closer than any brother or sister.” Younglings were also told to “never forget the bonds you make here,” despite the ban on deep, personal attachments.
10. JEDI COULD ONLY HAVE ONE PADWAN
At first glance, this sounds likes a good idea. With only one Padawan per Jedi, there is no opportunity for jealousy amongst the ranks, and it allows the Jedi to devote their full attention to their Padawan. On the other hand, it makes for some difficult situations. Younglings who pass the Initiate Trials must be chosen by a Jedi Knight or Master before they become Padawans, so limiting a Jedi to only one Padawan could put other capable Force-sensitives years behind in their training.
A Jedi could also have their Padawan face the Jedi Trials earlier than desired to be able to train a promising Initiate. This almost happened in The Phantom Menace, when Qui-Gon Jinn suggested Obi-Wan take the trials so he could train Anakin.
9. THE COUNCIL COULD KEEP A PADAWAN FROM BECOMING A JEDI
Whether it consisted of five tests or nine, passing the Jedi Trials was no small feat. The trials tested everything from lightsaber skills to courage and virtue. If a Padawan was able to pass all of the trials, they had to be a highly skilled and controlled individual, ready to serve the Force with their entire being. As noted in The Jedi Path though, passing the trials did not guarantee the rank of Jedi Knight.
All promotions had to be approved by the Jedi Council, and many Padawans were denied promotion by the council.
Typically, the reason was the Council sensed this was not the will of the Force. However, a rejection after completing the trials would mean taking a much less exciting Corps or Staff job, or going where your skills with the Force would be more appreciated — like the Dark Side.
Honesty is a nebulous concept in Star Wars. Obi-Wan lies to Luke about his father in A New Hope and then justifies it in The Empire Strikes Back by saying it was true “from a certain point of view.” Jedi are not above bending the truth, influencing other people’s minds and even going undercover for information. However, there are circumstances where dishonesty and espionage would equate to breaking the Jedi Code.
In Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi Council appoints Anakin to their ranks in order to spy on Chancellor Palpatine. The request is made out of session though, as the request was both confidential and against the Jedi Code. Exactly how this violated the Code is up for debate, but the general consensus is that it violated the Jedi’s concept of honesty. The general confusion about the topic reveals that the Jedi precepts could benefit from advising.
7. JEDI CAN ONLY ACT IN DEFENSE
Is the best defense a good offense? Not according to our lightsaber-bearing peacekeepers. While Jedi always sought to find non-violent solutions to conflict, they could only to use their combat and Force skills to defend. Along similar lines, Jedi could not attack an unarmed enemy.
While these rules sound zen and honorable, they are not exactly practical when you’re fighting a war. When Anakin killed Count Dooku in Revenge of the Sith, he immediately tells Palpatine that his actions were against the Jedi Code. And while Anakin may not have been the best choice for killing the Dooku, the Count still needed to die, and his actions previous actions had certainly warranted his execution. This unilateral and dogmatic approach to the use of aggression and force definitely crippled the Jedi.
6. CANNOT USE THE FORCE FOR PERSONAL REASONS
As thrilling as having the Force would be, it would be far more rewarding to have if the Jedi could use it outside of performing their duties. As we saw in Attack of the Clones, even using the Force to complete harmless, everyday tasks like cutting fruit would have been seen as a misuse of a Jedi’s powers.
While there is certainly an argument for only using power to help others, is casually using a power for trifle task that terrible? Will moving something from one end of the room to another with your mind just for the fun of it convince you to join the Dark Side? Sure, Jedi shouldn’t use the Force to acquire wealth or influence others. At the same time, they train hard to hone abilities and should be able to use them when it won’t cause any harm.
5. MUST FORSAKE ALL INDULGENCES
A Jedi is a selfless servant and enjoys the honor of serving the will of the Force. Along with this noble calling is the expectation that the Jedi will forsake all indulgences. Jedi couldn’t acquire wealth or excessive possessions. They were also expected to adopt a monk-like lifestyle and wear course, less than flashy clothing (although their cloaks are just awesome).
The worldly sacrifices a person would need to make in order to join their ranks would also weed out those without resolve and dedication.
Considering the commitment that the Jedi had to make and the mindset needed to connect with the Force, this rule makes perfect sense, and it makes our list because however justified it might be, it would certainly be a hard lifestyle to adopt.
4. MIND IN THE PRESENT
Many of the Jedi’s guidelines are useful until they are followed to the letter of the law with room for exceptions. In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon rebukes Obi-Wan for sensing “something elsewhere…elusive,” and tells him to keep his mind in the present. Obi-Wan says that Yoda told him to mindful of the future, to which his Master clarifies “but not at the expense of the present.”
The Jedi are supposed to be mindful of the present and their surroundings. Focusing on the present is a good way to not get killed when you’re out on a mission. But if Obi-Wan picked up on something that far away and that unusual, wasn’t that a good indication that something was off in the galaxy and the Jedi should investigate?
3. THE DARK AND LIGHT IN ALL THINGS
Yet another of one the Jedi rules that leave us with more questions than answers. According to The Official Star Wars Fact File, one of the Jedi Rules of Engagement is to “Understand the dark and light in all things.” It’s a fair and noble sentiment, although a strange one considering the rest of the Jedi mentality.
The Dark Side is not considered a missing piece in the Force, it’s the corrupted, misguided expression of it. The Jedi avoid the Dark Side at all cost. It is not part of their training, and young Jedi are warned against curiosity in that area. Exactly how a Jedi is to see the light and dark in all things is not explained, although it sounds like it would be quite a challenge considering the Jedi’s aversion to the Dark Side.
2. LIBRARY RESTRICTIONS
The Jedi Archives had a vast amount of knowledge on a wide variety of subjects. In addition to the extensive literature on the Jedi, these vast records included everything from engineering diagrams to start charts to detailed information about cultures across the galaxy. Most libraries have a leg up on the Archives though, as no one was allowed to check out any of the material found there, not even through remote access.
So if you liked to read late at night, you were out of luck unless you went to the Archives in person. Studying material off-world was was only possible if you had copied the information you needed beforehand. Not exactly the best library customer service ever, nor the most convenient for a group that championed wisdom and knowledge.
1. ELECTRONIC JUDGEMENT
Whether you’re a Sith Lord, a gray Jedi or a good old-fashioned Jedi Knight, there’s no denying that lightning shooting out from your hand is downright awesome. The Force Lightning we see in the movies is strictly a Sith attack, but the Jedi have their own form of lightning, the Electronic Judgement.
Also known as Emerald Lightning, a Jedi channels this green-tinted Force power while in complete control of his emotions and with a determined feeling of justice.
Plo Koon is the first recorded Jedi to have used Emerald Lightning, although it is speculated that other Jedi have used it as well. Nevertheless, Electronic Judgement was highly controversial at best, as it was considered a form of attack. In The Jedi Path, this power was included on the list of forbidden Force moves.
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