A fair and valid question, despite the obvious – NO! Star Wars is a movie! – answer that may screamed at you or from you. First, yes real Jedi do exist. Now before people get all listing reasons as to why not, there are two main things to consider. The first is simply that mythology and story-telling (a.k.a. Fiction) has been a way to explore the human experience. It is a way to dive into reality by dissociating a bit. Allowing people to touch on some of the more bigger topics in a way that feels safer and is a bit more engaging. Star Wars and thus the Jedi are no different in this. They are reflections of our reality. They look at the human experience and allow us to explore several concepts of morality, spirituality, and so forth. To say Jedi are purely fictional is to deny the very real-world inspirations that aided in their creation (e.g. Samurai, Knights Templars, Stoicism, etc.). Concepts such as Peace, Knowledge, Serenity, and Harmony are very grounded and accepted as real. Even the Force has been used by a lot of major religions to introduce people to spiritual concepts.
The second thing to remember is that fictional inspiration does not automatically negate validity. You can be inspired by a story. This is the whole principle behind Aesop Fable’s and Jesus’ parables. I mean, if someone changes their life for the better because of A Christmas Carol would you say their new life isn’t real? Sure, I get it. Calling yourself a Jedi is a bit further than just living a life inspired by the films (or tv shows, books, comics, games, etc.). Yet really that is just labeling the lifestyle. When you live your life by clear guidelines and a Code having a label helps people make sense of why you do what you do. Why are you bending yourself into a pretzel? Yoga. Why are you kneeling in front of a half-naked man nailed to a cross? Catholic Praying. Why are you sitting in front of a wall doing nothing for an hour? Zazen. Why do you live the way you do? I’m a Jedi. We are paying homage to the inspiration and keeping it very close to the heart so that we do not lose our way. As the movies shows us, falling to the dark side can be pretty easy. Which again, fiction as a reflection. How many times in life do we see people lose their way and wander a dark path? We realize, as George Lucas once wrote, our focus determines our reality, so we have chosen to focus on the light also labeled Jedi.
So are Jedi real? Yes. Since the mid-1990s the online Jedi Community has worked to make it a reality. Something more than just fans reciting the Jedi Code and quoting Yoda. Building an actual lifestyle that is positive and beneficial and true to the inspiration. Here is a quick breakdown and see if anything seems fake or fictional to you.
Main Practices: Meditation, Physical Fitness, Diplomacy, Awareness, and Self-Discipline.
Main Tenets: Peace, Knowledge, Serenity, Harmony, the Force.
Main Traits: Patient, Objective, Reliable, Grateful, Helpful.
So what sticks out as fake or unrealistic? Maybe the Force? But what is the Force? What is meant by it? Even within the Star Wars universe, what is the Force and is that idea so beyond our own universe? Midiclorians? Mitochondria could be a real-world view. Remember that the Force is never truly explained within Star Wars (I have a whole midiclorians don’t ruin the Force rant – I’ll spare you for now). The point being that even using the terminology “the Force” doesn’t diminish the idea being conveyed and explored. We can see elements of a very positive lifestyle being expressed within Jedi ideology. Really touching on five key areas of personal well-being (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and social).
The Jedi Path, world-betterment through self-betterment wrapped up in Star Wars terminology/inspiration. So yep, we earth-bound movie inspired Jedi are very much real with very real practices and ideology. And if that speaks to you, I hope you’ll join us on this amazing journey. May the Force be with you.