Star Wars: The Spiritual Playbook of a Fantasy Universe

Feeling the Force

Its 30 years now since George Lucas brought Star Wars to our cinema screens.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away there might not have been any God. But if one wanted a Christian interpretation of the Force from a theological point of view there are some echoes of the Old and New Testament of “may God be with you”. And the spectral Jedi Master Obi-Wan's ‘The Force will be with you always' is reflective of Jesus comforting his disciples with “And remember, I am with you always to the end of the Age” ( Mt 28:20 )

At another level the Force is reminiscent of Carlos Castaneda’s Tales of Power although in later years Castaneda’s work was criticized as being fiction rather than truth.

But a more interesting theological interpretation of the Force is really the Eastern One. It is also the more plausible one given George Lucas’s several interviews with Aikido masters to understand the Ki philosophy . In Reiki and other Japanese arts , Ki represents the life force, and is called the vital and pervading energy of the Universe. When pressed to say something about the Buddhist influence on Star Wars, Lucas discloses: ‘I guess it’s more specific in Buddhism, but it is a notion that’s been around before that.’

The Force is also reminiscent of Prana in Yoga which means the original life force and this is very close to the concept of the Force in Star Wars. Ki, Chi, Prana, Mana, and life force are all words for the same thing. Prana is a Sanskrit word constructed of the syllables pra and an. 'An' means movement and 'pra' is a prefix meaning constant. Therefore, Prana means constant motion. This constant motion originates in the human being as soon as he is conceived in his mother's womb. Often also referred to as Prana Shakti, it takes on a meaning of strength or Force. Some people have less of it and some people have more. The spiritual masters often are endowed with infinite amounts of Prana.

In Star Wars Yoda represents complete control of the Prana. Yoda lifts an entire spacecraft in Episode V out of a swamp by closing his eyes in a meditative stance and focusing on this Prana. When he asks Luke to do it, he at first hesitates and is then able to move the spacecraft just a few inches before it plonks down again into the swamp. This sequence demonstrated Yoda’s Force as being several times that of Luke’s.

Spiritual-Fantasy Re-packaging

From another point of view, Lucas has engineered an interesting inflexion point, where spirituality meets science fantasy. In Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn’s teaching to the youngster Anakin Skywalker about the composition of The Force: ‘Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life-form that reside within all living cells ... inside your cells ... And we are symbionts with them.’

There is also a suggestion that spirituality may be a family trait. In the latest episode The Force Awakens, Luke Skywalker says ' The Force is strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. My sister has it. You have that power, too'.

Science Fiction is a mixed genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction with pseudo scientific principles as the base. Distinguishing between science fiction and science fantasy Rod Serling, American screen writer claims that the former was "the improbable made possible" while the latter was "the impossible made probable".

From a marketing point of view, Star Wars offers a curious mixture of science fiction with spirituality to give its viewers an awakening entertainment experience.
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