At the surface, it sounds like a complete butchering of the Buddhist concept of attachment, which is not what most people think, and has more to do with more to do with denying ourselves suffering and pain (the dukkha) than forcing ourselves to become closer to fellow human beings. The tenet is most often expressed as the fact the Jedi don't marry - which is closer aligned to Catholicism with roots in theology.


  1. There isn't anything central to the "Light Side" which prohibits love, romance or marriage
  2. The Jedi's restrictions on Anakins emotions ...

... help create the greatest mass murderer that the Galaxy has ever seen

Is there some in-unviverse basis as to why this concept is even remotely a good idea? This is noting that the New Jedi Order seems to start a reversal on the idea. Is this because it was proven such a colossal failure?

  • 6
    That about.com article isn't very accurate. it expresses the fringe belief that Buddhist detachment involves the embrace of the Zen Buddhist concept of unity or monism, but that's not what traditional Buddhists believe. The traditional view of detachment is closer to what the word means in English, basically removing that which you're too bound to emotionally. Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 8:33
  • 4
    Probably worth noting that the current state of Roman Catholic Holy Orders involving no marriage is a refinement of the early Christian position that everyone should stay celibate if possible (due to believing that the Second Coming was coming Real Soon) and later developments where the Church stopped allowing marriage because of inheritance struggles where children of priests might inherit a bit of a cathedral.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 11:51
  • 1
    In-universe, I have no clue. But out-universe, personally my conception was that since the prequels seem to be just an excuse, this idea must have been invented in order to generate a passable plot.
    – n611x007
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 17:24
  • 2
    I think that's more semantics than suggesting the entire question is opinion based. I added "help" as a conditional, but considering the amount of time the prequels spend on this as core to his turning to the Dark Side - I don't see how it turns the entire question into an opinion. The question is about why the restriction seems like a good idea to the Jedi.
    – joshbirk
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 20:37
  • 1
    "...the New Jedi Order seems to start a reversal on the idea. Is this because it was proven such a colossal failure?" More likely because Jedi bloodlines are hard to establish in a culture of celibacy.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 20:51

4 Answers 4


In Episode IV Obi-Wan claims, "for a thousand generations, the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy." Taking at this at face value, if their traditions had worked for 20,000 years or more they must have been doing something right. Historical orders of warrior monks, such as the Knights Templar or Buddhist sects in Japan, have been quite successful for centuries.

In Episode I, Yoda believes Anakin is too old to be trained as a Jedi, at the age of nine or so. In Episodes II and III, we see younglings who are no more than four or five. This suggests Jedi begin their training at a very young age indeed, perhaps in infancy. The training (brainwashing?) to reject attachment may be more effective when the recipient starts so young.

That said, in Episodes I-III the Jedi are distinctly arrogant and complacent. In Episode II, Mace Windu asserts it is "not in his character" for Count Dooku to do anything evil, which turns out to be quite wrong. And of course, they fail completely to notice Palpatine's schemes.

As noted in Richard's answer, Obi-Wan seems blind to the possibility of a romantic relationship between Anakin and Padme. At the beginning of Episode III, Anakin is spending the night in Padme's apartment instead of some Jedi barracks, but no one seems to notice. (That, or the Jedi are deliberately turning a blind eye to it, which would be a colossal failure of judgment.) Later, when Anakin is in obvious distress (video in Richard's answer), Yoda fails to show compassion or give any helpful advice, instead just repeating Jedi doctrine at him.

All in all, the Jedi of the prequels are a pathetic lot. Their rules may have served them well in the past, but they are totally inadequate for the case of Anakin. So to answer your question, simply telling Anakin to reject attachment is a terrible idea, but the Jedi don't realise that until it is far too late.

In Episodes IV-VI, I think Obi-Wan and Yoda know this. They are old and haunted by their past failures. For them, Luke is a desperate throw of the dice to try and bring down the Empire.

  • It's a really good point to compare the Jedi's failure with Anakin versus a history of relative success. Even if Obi-Wan is waxing poetic, by the prequels the Jedi are known and clearly effective. That for three movies they seem to pretty much invite themselves to disaster is probably a completely different question...
    – joshbirk
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 19:03

Yoda is very clear that a "fear of loss" leads directly to the Dark Side of the Force, something that is directly borne out by Anakin's later actions.

Arguably, had Obi Wan taken greater steps to prevent Anakin's improper relationship with Padmé (which, bluntly anyone with half a brain could have seen), then he wouldn't have joined the Emperor and the Galactic Empire wouldn't have come about.

  • 28
    That always bugged me. "You there, young apprentice! We will continue your training later. For now, go hang out with this pretty girl in the gorgeous palace and gardens. You will be her bodyguard day and night, with no chaperones." I know the Jedi have led somewhat sheltered lives, but come on... Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 9:40
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    @Zibbobz, Anakin was the Chosen One, after all. He's going to bring balance to the Force...! Of course, at the time, there were hundreds or thousands of Jedi and you could count the Sith on one hand, so "balance" may not have been particularly ideal from the Jedi's point of view, if they had stopped to think about it.
    – Brian S
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 14:33
  • 1
    From what I've seen, a decent set of psychiatric counselors could have done a lot more (and a lot better) to save Anakin from 'The Fear of Loss' than all the Jedi could. Saying, "Winners don't do love" is a pretty poor solution to "Love gives us people we might fear losing".
    – Jeff
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 17:35
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    @terdon - Are we all trying to avoid mentioning Lucas' obsession with 14 year old girls?
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 17:52
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    @Richard - Agreed. And one of the reasons I like The Clone Wars show is that there are lot of subtle moments where his darker side shows up. He'll disobey an order, act selfishly, but since he wins the day he is usually rewarded for it. It feels like a more realistic preview to me than the prequels, where for two movies I kept wondering why nobody else noticed the psychopath in the room.
    – joshbirk
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 19:11

Let's read the Jedi Code:

There is no emotion, there is peace

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge

There is no passion, there is serenity

There is no chaos, there is harmony

There is no death, there is the force

and the Sith Code:

Peace is a lie. There is only passion

Through passion I gain strength

Through strength I gain power

Through power I gain victory

Through victory my chains are broken

The force shall free me

As we can see, the Jedi fear that sentiments can lead to the dark side through passion Siths uses passion to raise the dark side.

The "detachment" policy is meant to induce serenity.

In the "Dawn of the Jedi" and other books, the pursuit of the "Light Side" is not a constant. At the start, the Jedi pursued equilibrium and harmony between the dark and light side and, for some period of time, there were the "grey Jedi".

Luke could be seen as an example of a more grey Jedi; even they employed detachment to achieve serenity. Lastly, while these philosophies may not make sense to use, remember that we are not Jedi and these philosophies were not intended for us.

  • 2
    "Remember that philosophies are no intended to be accepted for no Jedi" you lost me there.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 13:21
  • My bad. I mean we, as not Jedi, are not supposed to accept that philosophies. We can try to understand it, sure. Anyone can try follow it but it's asking RL modern ocidental people to understand sec XIII bushido for example.
    – jean
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 13:33
  • Looks like the Jedi code forgot all about that "Only the Sith deal in Absolutes" stuff.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 22:24

In the extended universe, Luke has romantic encounters which do not bring him down towards the dark side. Similarly in Knights Of The Old Republic, a romance is possible with the main female character. I believe that what happens with Anakin Skywalker is proof that banning romantic relationships is bad for the Jedi Order. When Luke restarts it in the EU, he has no such ban. No Attachment as far as romance goes basically destroys the Jedi Order in EP3.

  • 1
    Yup. I don't know if Lucas intended it or not, but objectively, the Jedi order of the late Republic are profound screw-ups. They just miss everything important happening right under their noses. The Jedi would have been far better off teaching their students how to balance their emotions...how to do their duty when their emotions resisted, rather than teaching them to have no emotions at all. I think other EU stuff suggests that the Jedi have not always been so absolutist when it comes to that doctrine, an earlier version of the mantra reads "Emotion, yet peace", etc.
    – swbarnes2
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 19:07

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