In Star Wars mythology there is a sect of Jedi known as Gray Jedi who walk the razor-sharp line between the light and the dark side of the force. The title is used to refer to unorthodox or dissident Jedi who did not meet the strictest requirements of being either a Jedi (light side) or a Sith (dark side). Gray Jedi are vigilante Jedi who tread the periphery of the force by manipulating loopholes and taking advantage of gray areas pertaining to myopic black and white justice.
Gray Jedi are walking, talking, force-wielding, Middle Way, renegade yin-yangs moving against the currents of the extreme piety on both sides of the force—and in the face of these two behemoths, they surf the waves of nihilism toward the eternal power of sacred humor.
Gray Jedi can be a powerful metaphor that we can use to shine light into darkness, set fire to high-horses, and curtail the extremism of our time. The main function of a Gray Jedi is to puncture the ego of power by reminding the powers that be of their own fallibility, while also reminding those who are not in power that power has the potential to corrupt absolutely if not balanced by other forces. They poke holes in things that other Jedi take too seriously.
They create a cultural dissonance born from their gray-walking strategy, from which anxiety is free to collapse on itself into a humor of the most high. It is precisely the evolution of this high humor that leads a Gray Jedi to his/her mastery of the force: assuming the form of the Jester Jedi. They declare to all users of the force, “Gray-walking doesn’t mean out of control; it means out of their control.”
Jester Jedi takes the power of the middle-gray to the next level: Cosmic humor. Jester Jedi laugh at all things, with a humor of the most high, backed up with a power in the force that would make Loki curl up into a ball and cry. They are Gray-walkers par excellence, blurring the lines drawn between black and white, between love and hate, between light and shadow, between masculine and feminine, between Apollonian and Dionysian. They are the trickster-gods of the force, the sacred shamans of the Jedi order, tapping the power between opposites, while laughing at the cosmic joke of life in order not to be the butt-end of it.
They embrace the esoteric power of shamanism, paraphrasing Alberto Villoldo: “The shaman (Jester Jedi) demands that you take your own steps with courage, compassion, and vision. The priest (Jedi and the Sith) is interested only in answers; the shaman (Gray Jedi or Jester Jedi) is more interested in provoking you to ask the questions that will lead you into paradox and duality.
The task of the shaman (Jester Jedi) is not to pursue meaning but to create it, to bring the sacred to an otherwise profane and mundane reality. That takes a daily act of courage and a willingness to make mistakes.” Jester Jedi are willing to make mistakes, and through those mistakes they become wise beyond the limited value-structure of their Light or Dark side counterparts.
Jester Jedi are the personification of trial and error by fire and laughter. They personify “rolling-with-the-punches,” knowing intuitively what Darwin surmised years ago when he said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor is it the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” They realize that the primary force within adaptability is having a good sense of humor. They understand that the real enemy isn’t the dark or light side, republican or democrat, Muslim or Christian.
No, the true enemy is extremism. They laugh at this extremism. They mock this extremism. They even count coup on this extremism. They do it through acts of high humor: civil-disobedience, non-violent acts of resistance against tyranny. And they don’t care who they piss off. They understand, as William Blake did, “If the fool would persist in his folly, he would become wise.”
Moderation through a good sense of humor is the key. In between the cracks of light and dark, in the shadows and within the brightest lights, Jester Jedi discover the profound secret of the self: impermanence. And they roll with this impermanence. Like Carl Rogers said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Jester Jedi are willing to give up what they are in order to become what they must.
Whether they were once a Jedi Master or a Sith Lord, they give it up; they let it go in order to maintain a balance (both personal and universal) within the force. They don’t fear change, they change fear through the power of a fluid and adaptable sense of humor.
It’s all just one big giant metaphor anyway, and the Jester Jedi are riding that metaphor like a cosmic hover bike through time, unbound by the past, present, or future boundaries that limit other Jedi, as they have mastered the ultimate power hidden within the force: imagination. Just as “nothing can stop an idea whose time has come,” nothing can stop a Jester Jedi whose time has come.
No so-called Jedi Master or shortsighted Sith Lord can possibly fathom the power of a Jester Jedi, because where the typical Jedi and Sith practice within boundaries, the Jester Jedi practice stretching those boundaries toward greater and greater horizons, using both light and dark sides of the force, blending them into an intoxicating and liberating middle-gray.
Jester Jedi are reaching through space and time, through the boundaries of mythology, into our world, begging us to stop worrying about good and bad, happy and unhappy, light and shadow. They are advising us to go beyond good and evil, to move past the immature structures of the parochial past, and to look outside the outdated box of our forefathers.
They are the perennial mystics of the cosmos and they need our help. Don’t drown in the polluted, militant waters of our time. Rise up into the fresh air of a more profound way to be a human being in this universe: cosmically humorous. Like Joseph Campbell said, “The schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.” Such delight awaits us all, we need only laugh, and laugh hard, at all the gods and men we’ve propped up into positions of power.
We need only laugh so hard that the vibration resonates at such a frequency that it topples their high-horses to the ground, and leaves their false authority a mere puddle of mud beneath our feet. Yoda (overly, self-righteous good) & Darth Sidious (diabolical evil) be damned.
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