Originally posted by LemonJello
i'm still reeling after the newest installment of the star wars saga. i really liked revenge of the sith. the religion of the jedi, with the force and all, is quite intriguing and i am hoping that some of you can provide some insight ...[text shortened]... ssing? does anyone have some light they can shed on this subject?
Lucas got many of his ideas from the mythologist Joseph Campbell, mostly Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Faces". If you haven't seen the famous Campbell interviews with Bill Moyers, I strongly recommend them (readily available on video, probably at your library).
Yes, the Jedi are closely modelled on the old wandering Taoist adepts of ancient China, and somewhat on the Shaolin Buddhist monks and Japanese Samurai. (Some of the names are blatantly Oriential, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Qui-Gon, Padme, etc).
The "Force" is known in Chinese Taoism as "chi". ( In Japan as "ki" ). Developing a relationship with this "energy" or "force" is a big part of traditional martial arts training (contrast the flying martial artists of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", with a Jedi's powers -- it's basically the same idea). Although, in North America this part of martial arts training is rarely taught or even understood, from what I've seen.
Indian metaphysics explores the nuances of this universal force even more, categorizing it in different ways ("kundalini", "prana", "shakti", etc). And that would be predictable because much of Japanese and Chinese spirituality originates in India, including martial arts.
Chinese Taoists adepts were believed to have had the ability to extend life, although ironically nothing of this is taught in Lao Tzu's source book, the "Tao Te Ching". These were later on additions, much as how the entire teachings of Tantra and Zen were later on additions long after the Buddha had gone.
As for Anakin/Darth ending up a good guy at the very end after he throws the Emperor down the shaft, I think that's symbolic of the idea of redemption; only in this case Anakin redeemed himself by saving his son's life (Luke). Perhaps a Christian parallel would be that of the thief on the cross who verbally defends Christ, and is then told by Christ that he will "soon be in paradise" with him.
I'd say that the reason Lucas's stories work so well is not just special effects and jazzy characters, but because everything in his stories are echoes of ancient universal themes and archetypes found in our oldest wisdom traditions.