It's fair to say the last year or so has been full of troubling circumstances. We're all living in an extraordinary time in human history as we continue grappling with the effects of COVID-19. However, some normalcy is finally returning to the entertainment industry, which was exemplified with the broad range of announcements coming out of Disney Investor Day.
Additionally, fans have been raving over the small amount of content they have received in the last few months. Productions have resumed filming, and others are just getting started. Of course, this isn't without careful consideration and methodically-set guidelines in place, something Diego Luna has mentioned in regards to the Cassian Andor series.
Navigating these uncertain times can be wearisome and grueling, so it's never discouraged to escape into George Lucas' colorful galaxy far, far away. However, The Direct wants you to take away a little more from this experience, so here are 17 lessons from beloved Jedi that can be directly applied to your real, everyday life.
1. “You must unlearn what you have learned…No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
I don’t think there’s any other way we can start off this list. It’s easily one of the most popular lines from the entire Star Wars franchise and for very good reasons. Episode V was the first time audiences witnessed and learned about the essence of a Jedi, and it all starts with Yoda. But how does the old master teach an older, stubborn, headstrong Padawan?
Although he’s in his twenties in the film, Luke Skywalker acts very much like an impatient child on Dagobah, and one who’s unwilling to truly immerse himself in the Force. In this moment, he struggles to believe in its vast powers, but more importantly, he lacks faith in himself.
What follows is a timeless lesson pertinent to anyone in every walk of life, which is to forget what you think you know, open your mind to new possibilities, and never let doubt determine the outcome of your actions. Whether it’s a poster on the wall or a senior yearbook quote, fans will always carry on the legacy of this line for years to come.
2. “If all I do is try, that means I don’t truly believe I can succeed.” – Kanan Jarrus
This quote bounces right off of the previous one, but it merits its own place on the list because of its impact on Rebels’ main audience: children.
When you’re a child, it’s harder to understand the larger philosophical concepts introduced in Star Wars. Most of the time, you’re merely there to get swept up in the flying ships, colored laser swords, and fantastical adventures with charming characters.
The team over at Lucasfilm, however, has done a brilliant job over the last decade in translating these essential themes from the series into simpler, direct storytelling that’s much more accessible for kids. Kanan Jarrus’ insight here is a prime example, explaining this Jedi teaching in straightforward terms to his young Padawan and young viewers.
Once again, it stresses the importance of trusting in yourself and committing to your effort. There’s nothing wrong with failing or not accomplishing a certain goal in life, but possessing this optimistic attitude ensures that you give it your all and don’t allow fear to inhibit your will to succeed.
3. “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda
This is the second piece of dialogue from Yoda on this list, and it certainly won’t be the last. There’s no denying that there are great evils that live on this earth and that they can come in many forms. More often than not, we see ourselves as the hero of our own story and never believe that we can become one of those evils.
I’m sure Anakin Skywalker thought the same thing, but here, Yoda paints him a clear picture on how slippery of a slope it is down the dark path. You may not consciously choose to follow it, but it’s something you consistently have to be aware of and check yourself.
Of course, there are those who intentionally embrace this darkness, yet Yoda has a response for that as well, emphasizing how this road will only lead to pain and loss.
4. “Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi.” – Luke Skywalker
That’s not to say it’s wrong to feel any of the emotions discussed in the last quote, as there’s always a bit of good and bad in all of us. Instead, what matters is what we choose to do with those emotions. At some point, Jedi or not, we all have to face these trials, and that’s exactly what Luke says to Rey in Episode IX.
Instead of facing her fear that she may become the very thing she hoped to destroy, Rey decides to run away and leave her problems behind. Luke then demonstrates that she’s not helping anyone with this decision, especially herself. Confronting fear, no matter how hard it may be, permits growth and the realization of one’s full potential.
5. “The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.” – Yoda
This confrontation isn’t a battle that occurs once in life. Just ask Luke Skywalker. In Return of the Jedi, Luke successfully defeats his ultimate enemy in Emperor Palpatine in valiant fashion, overcoming his fear of following the fate of his father. Nevertheless, thirty years later, he’s unable to face a different fear, instead hiding in the shame of his failure.
His old master comes back in gracious blue form to kick his apprentice back into gear. This time, he explains the actual role of any master, teacher, or instructor.
Yes, mastery and strength are important for your pupil to learn, but it’s failure and history they can learn the most from. In that way, they can become greater than their master ever was. Not necessarily in power, but in knowledge.
6. “They may be willing to die, but I am not going to be the one who kills them."– Ahsoka Tano
Entrenched in a bloody war with their fellow soldiers turned against them, Captain Rex and Ahsoka Tano find themselves trapped in their darkest hour. Even while every trooper in the Grand Army of the Republic is trying to kill them, Ahsoka refuses to abandon her morals.
In a world that can frequently be malevolent nowadays, that type of courage can easily be lost. Ahsoka reminds us, though, to look for the humanity inside both your friends and foes, as that too seems to be something we repeatedly fail to achieve.
7. “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Speaking about not seeing the humanity in our opponents, how often do people take the time to understand another’s point of view? As he does with Ezra Bridger in Rebels, Kenobi advises Luke that “the truth is often what we make of it,” and it’s dangerous to not look at things from other perspectives. Most villains’ perceptions get so twisted that they think they’re doing good. The entire plot of Revenge of the Sith balances on this notion, climaxed with the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker.
8. “Don’t center on your anxieties, Obi-Wan. Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs.” “Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
The first and only two-parter on this list comes from arguably the wisest Jedi in all of Star Wars: Qui-Gon Jinn. Speaking to Obi-Wan and Anakin in these two lines, Jinn underscores concentration and focus, as they will shape how your life plays out around you.
In The Phantom Menace, viewers get a quick glimpse of Jinn taking his own advice, meditating as the red energy wall splits him and Darth Maul. Instead of pacing like the Sith Lord in front of him and growing impatient like his Padawan behind him, Qui-Gon takes a moment to breathe.
He concentrates on the moment and centers his mind, focusing on his anxieties of the upcoming skirmish but not letting them control his fate. You don’t need to be in a lightsaber battle to feel the weight of this scene. In fact, every day is like a lightsaber battle, just in different ways, so we must never lose sight of and learn to fix our minds on the moment at hand.
9. “To say that if the Jedi die, the light dies, is vanity.” – Luke Skywalker
Yes, Luke was still in his grumpy, hermit-state when he uttered these words to Rey on Ahch-To. That said, it’s such an intriguing line that correlates perfectly to our own society. What he means is that just because the people who represent light and hope (the Jedi) are gone from the world, doesn’t mean that there isn’t still light out there.
Yes, our world may seem grim during times that you can’t quite see human decency and sympathy. But goodness doesn’t need to be shining like a star for you to know it’s there. General Leia would agree with that sentiment as she has a similar quote from the same film.
Light will always be present inside of us and civilization. Sometimes, you simply have to be the one to ignite it.
10. “It takes strength to resist the dark side. Only the weak embrace it.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
As stated earlier, the road to the dark side can be a slippery one, and no one ever said it would be easy to resist. While throwing shade at his rival, Obi-Wan makes a firm stand against his anger. Even at his most vulnerable, as Maul holds the fate of Kenobi’s one true love in his hand, the Jedi rejects the Sith philosophy, that hate will breed strength, and finds strength in his resistance and love.
11. “Wars not make one great.” – Yoda
Luke Skywalker was always in for a rude awakening when he traveled to Dagobah. Throughout his training on the swamp planet, Luke’s interpretation of the Jedi is completely deconstructed. Being a powerful warrior or hero that saves the day isn’t a Jedi’s purpose in life, and those qualities don’t always define who a person is.
The prequels and The Clone Wars make this line hit home even stronger because you see Yoda take the journey to realize this. War filled with violence and bloodshed takes its toll. Yes, Yoda was a great warrior, but he would undoubtedly trade all of that glory for the lives of his fallen comrades and a peaceful galaxy.
12. “In my experience, when you think you understand the Force, you realize just how little you know.” – Ahsoka Tano
You’re never too old to learn. Old age and tons of experience never means you’ve studied as much as you can. Physical and societal environments are continuously evolving and vastly growing around us, and just like Ahsoka Tano, we have to accept that the search of attaining complete wisdom will never be fully achieved.
We do ourselves a disservice by becoming rooted in past truths or ideologies that may be outdated, or at the very least, must be adapted to the current world that surrounds us. A curious nature and an open mind can go a long way and change our conceptions in massive ways.
13. “Remember, concentrate on the moment. Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
Once again, Qui-Gon urges staying in the moment when he warns young Ani of it before his big race in the Boonta Eve Classic. Overthinking is a common struggle for anyone, even in Star Wars. Sometimes, it’s best to let the “Force” flow through you, and trust your preexisting knowledge or muscle memory in these high-tense scenarios.
14. “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.” – Yoda
In Star Wars and in life, there is so much more to a person beyond their physical appearance. Green, small, old, disabled…none of it matters. Yoda is one with the Force, “and a powerful ally it is.” Our morals, integrity, and ability to love are just some of the true measures of character.
15. “No one’s ever really gone.” – Luke Skywalker
In the face of death and with the Resistance on its last breath, General Leia accepts defeat and the loss of her son. Almost everything she’s fought for has been destroyed, and in the process, she’s lost family and friends.
Good thing her brother makes his triumphant return to remind his sister that those she’s lost always remain in her heart. Their will and spirit live on within her, which is paralleled in the next film during Ben and Han’s gripping exchange after Leia passes away.
16. “If you define yourself by the power to take life, the desire to dominate, to possess…then you have nothing.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Older, shrewder, and humble. Kenobi brilliantly cuts through Maul’s facade of power and strength, pointing out that his unsatisfied need for vengeance will never be fulfilled because it will never be enough. Maul is a tortured soul twisted by evil, and he seemed destined to remain trapped in that hollow, cracked shell. This is yet another illustration of the dark side’s emptiness.
17. “It won't be easy. There will be loss and sacrifice. But we can't back down just because we're afraid. That's when we need to stand the tallest…Stand up together. Because that's when we're strongest—as one.” – Ezra Bridger
There wasn’t a better way to start this list and there’s no better way to end it. Ezra Bridger’s message to the citizens of Lothal is an inspiring emblem of bravery in the Empire’s cruel reign. It beautifully ties in themes scattered across the franchise, many of which can be found in the various quotes in this article. Above all, it speaks on the empowering nature of hope.