I have been in the Jedi Community actively since 1999. Before that I haunted the websites and chats for four years (1995); reading, contemplating, testing (practicing exercises and ideas via trial and error). Because of this I find it hard to fully grasp what it must be like to find the Jedi Community. The questions, concerns, perhaps excitement and enthusiasm. Regardless I’d like to offer some thoughts and hopefully clear a few things up as you begin your exploration into this path/philosophy. Some of the things we will look at is the Jedi as a religion, the complexity of the online community, and what we here at the Jedi Academy Online focus on for the Jedi Path. I’ll seek to keep this short as possible.
First, this is a lifestyle path, not a religion. George Lucas stated in 1999 that he found Star Wars as great way to explore many of the concepts of religion via a new means. That he wanted to inspire the young and old to ask the big questions and take a deep look at the religious concepts in our world. Basically to explore and better our spirituality. “I didn’t want to invent a religion. I wanted to try to, explain in a different way the religions that have already existed.” – George Lucas
Just to be clear, this doesn’t mean one can’t use it/label it as their personal religion (often called Jediism). It simply means Jedi is not a religion as a whole. Jedi is an open and diverse group of individuals which share many religious beliefs. Some Jedi are Christians, some are atheists, some are agnostic, some are Buddhist, some call themselves Jediists. We have a variety of cultures and religious beliefs which are accepted and embraced here at the Jedi Academy Online. There is no need to change your religion and you are certainly not asked to make Jedi your religion. While we will be exploring concepts of spirituality, looking at different beliefs and religions out there, this is done to better help us understand our personal beliefs and strengthen our spiritual ideals.
When I first started in the Jedi Community it seemed rather intimidating. Seemed everyone knew everyone and I was on the outside with no way in. Times have changed, conversing on the internet is much more the norm, so this may not be the case for most people. However some places (websites) in the Jedi Community are much more active and confrontational than others. Here at the Jedi Academy Online we have a little Welcome Area, we have a small community, and a rather mellow atmosphere. Yet places like the Force Academy have a huge message board, a lot of information to explore at once, different aspects, and generally a very active forum. Different Websites/Groups/Communities take different approaches as well.
One website may not work for you as well as another. You may find the interaction between aspects a highly desirable and useful element, having hot debates as a required element to progression. Force Academy would be more your speed. Yet you may want a specific focus on Jedi as religion, with rites, rituals, and ceremonies so places like Church of Jediism may be more your flavor. Real Jedi Enclave focuses on certification and community, offering core practical guidance with a heavy focus on interaction between members. And of course you may find that mixing and being a part of more than one place is something you enjoy the most. If you have concerns on what place might be right for you feel free to contact any of the Administrators here at the JAO and we can explore that with you giving you in-depth knowledge on places based upon experience.
The last thing I’ll touch on is what the Jedi Academy Online focuses on. Jedi Philosophy for Everyday Life. Here we learn what it means to be a Real Life Jedi Knight. We learn this isn’t about lightsabers, this isn’t about Force Powers, instead it is a focus on bettering ourselves so we may better the world around us. Real Jedi Training consists of Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Well-Being. It means improving ourselves through the study, practice, and living of Jedi Ideals and Philosophy. We take the inspiration George Lucas created and use it as he said, a stone to explore the deeper layers of ourselves and the world around us. We use it to grow as individuals who are in a position to help others. We use it to become Real World Jedi – living by the philosophy is a practical and applicable manner to our everyday lives.