Compassion vs. Selfishness
In a speech given by George Lucas, Lucas details how he views the dark side of the Force versus the light side of the Force. In his view, compassionate people live on the light side, while selfish people live on the dark side. There are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about Lucas’s words in this video.
Compassion For One’s Self
In Greg Rucka’s Guardians of the Whills, there are thirteen Force prayers told throughout the novel. You can view all of them here. One prayer in particular is important to keep in mind when thinking about compassion versus selfishness.
I perceive, in all things, this truth:
That we are forever bound to the Force,
And that the Force forever binds us together.
What we do to one, we therefore do to all.
And thus it is upon us to grant to all
What we would wish for ourselves.
—Karyn I’Yin, Sisters of Sarrav
This prayer expands upon the concept that the Force binds all life together, which was an idea explored in the Original Trilogy. It mentions that something done to one person affects all of life. So, you can think of life in the Star Wars galaxy as one, unified force that lives in symbiosis.
With this in mind, we come back to what Lucas was talking about in his video. Compassion, by definition, means: sympathy, pity, or concern for the well-being of others. This is distinct from what ‘selflessness’ means, which is: “concern more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.” There is a common misconception within the fandom that a person can go ‘too far into the light side’ by becoming too selfless. And that ultimately, the balance lies between the light side and the dark side. But this is an error in terminology regarding what compassion actually is.
Looking back to that Force prayer, we know that all life is bound together and what affects one person, affects all. So when an individual shows compassion for themselves, it’s in fact, benefiting the entire balance of the Force. It is not a selfless act by definition. Therefore, compassion for one’s self and others both are a net benefit for the Force, and both reside on the light side. It is pivotal that fans thinking about the Force avoid this error in thinking, because it leads down the path of considering the idea of ‘grey Jedi’.
Here is another interesting prayer to consider:
“We are awash in emotion, every day, every moment.
We are buffeted, we are confused, and sometimes,
yes, we are consumed.
When the pond is disturbed, we cannot see within.
When the pond is still, we can see with clarity.
In both instances, the water is still there.
So too is the Force like the water,
whether you see it clearly or not.”
—Dejammy Shallon, teacher and priestess of D’janis IV
One can truly see what it is to be compassionate towards themselves and others when the pond is still. You must look past your emotions, because they are temporary, and you will hear the will of the Force.