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The Jedi Code goes as follows:

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.

This version was written by Jedi Master Odan-Urr, a Jedi Librarian who made it his life's work to study the Jedi Code. He pointed out that if you asked a dozen Jedi about the meaning of the Jedi Code you'd get a dozen different answers. Many Jedi noted that they found the Code difficult to understand, and as such he set out to refine and clarify it, ending up with the above code (of which the fourth line is sometimes omitted). But the original in question goes as follows:

Emotion, yet peace.
Ignorance, yet knowledge.
Passion, yet serenity.
Chaos, yet harmony.
Death, yet the Force.

Note the difference: Odan-Urr's code is based on overcoming the negative by attaining the positive (so because you have peace, there is no need for emotion) while the original has you attain the positive while retaining the negative (so you know passion while being serene).

Doesn't this mean that the new Jedi Code pretty much means the complete opposite of the original code? Instead of knowing both harmony and chaos you know only harmony? Interestingly enough, according to the new Jedi Code something like Vapaad cannot exist (it requires emotion in a peaceful body) while the old Code actively encourages things like it. Or do I misunderstand the Jedi Code in either (or both) of its iterations?

I am aware that much of this information comes from the non-canon roleplaying games by Wizards of the Coast, and I am not very bothered by how canon or non-canon the answers are.

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    For the record, the earlier version seems to have been sourced from the (wholly non-canon) RPG game sourcebook; starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Odan-Urr#cite_note-Rulebook-10. I'm not sure how much consistency you can expect from something that is essentially a fan-work
    – Valorum
    Jan 14, 2015 at 23:28
  • Right, I missed that. Updated the question. Jan 14, 2015 at 23:31
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    @GrimmTheOpiner More likely you'd just get a 13th answer
    – Izkata
    Jan 16, 2015 at 0:20
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    The Jedi code has never changed. We have always been at war with Sithasia. Sep 22, 2015 at 15:38
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    @PaulD.Waite Are you quoting Big Bantha from -0000001984 (it was a long time ago)? Sep 22, 2015 at 16:30

6 Answers 6

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I think this answer depends on how you want to interpret the language.

I interpret the "old" code as this:

Emotion, yet peace

Into:

There is emotion, yet we seek peace instead

And the new code:

There is no emotion, there is peace

Into:

We do not seek emotion, we seek peace

Then, you can see, the meanings of the old and the new code are more closely aligned, and definitely not opposites.

It helps to think about the fact that when the new code says "There is no..." it isn't literally saying those things don't exist. They obviously do exist. So then, the purpose of the code is to express the fact that Jedi should guide themselves away from those things, and seek the other.

This is further evidenced with the famous saying that begins with, "Fear leads to anger." We see that a Jedi master is informing a young Jedi, in no uncertain terms, that emotions exist and those emotions are contrary to the Order. In the case of emotions still, the code is about mastering oneself and not letting the natural, or easy, way master you.

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  • Jedi are taught to Master Emotions, not to rid themselves of it.
    – Virusboy
    Jan 15, 2015 at 3:52
  • Yeah, I said that. the code is about mastering oneself
    – user31178
    Jan 15, 2015 at 5:30
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    Sadly it's much too easy to interpret the new code as 'active suppression' of the former. In essence, denying what makes the living alive. To limit on the line expounded here, which talks about emotion, without emotions one becomes an automaton. Your very simple (and very good!) explanation however does not explain why "Many Jedi noted that they found the Code difficult to understand"... :-)
    – pepoluan
    Jul 21, 2015 at 10:21
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I think that they're not complementary I also don't think it's saying anything about acknowledging the one but striving for the other. It acknowledges that there are both things in the universe, balance is attained by acknowledging them both. By focusing on one your philosophy is incomplete.

I much prefer the 'original' code because the later code is almost as tyrannical as the Sith's code. What's life without emotion and passion? It's good that ignorance exists because it makes us strive to overcome it. Yes, there is chaos, without it nothing would change. By denying these things you're massively misunderstanding existence and you're setting yourself up to fail. You're repressing half of what it is to live and that never ends well.

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    The Jedi Order became ignorant and haughty. Look at what that did for them. Sep 22, 2015 at 15:19
  • And dominating. There is no better way to control a human being then by convincing him or her that their humanness is sinful.
    – user430788
    May 12, 2020 at 7:02
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Like real world religions, the Jedi teachings are not static but the result of a historical process. Very often as religious documents are copied between versions and translated between languages they undergo significant changes through both outright errors and through cultural re-interpretation.

The more recent version points to a clear shift to Gnosticism at some point in the history of the religion. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism).

The gnostics believed that the world of flesh and the world of spirit were in conflict and that the spirit was the "right" answer. Medieval Christianity inherited concepts such as the mortification of the flesh and the sinfulness of physical desires from the gnostics.

The older Jedi code reads more like Buddhism and many pantheistic religions which believe that harmony and balance is the ideal spiritual practice. It says that multiple ways to approach the world exist and that they must all be used and kept in balance with one another.

One could speculate on why the Jedi religion evolved from one of balance to one of extremes, but it almost certainly had to do with shifts in politics and society.

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I read the updated version as being slightly more Zen, but saying basically the same thing as the older version. Just fleshed out a bit and with a little eloquence.


There is no emotion, there is peace.

Peace is the baseline, emotions stem from peace without permanence. Good/happy/helpful/etc in one direction, bad/depressed/angry/etc in the other.

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

Ignorance is not an absolute by definition, it is a measurement of your knowledge. True knowledge, true facts, remain. Ignorance fades with each new thought.

There is no passion, there is serenity.

Gradations, defined from light to dark. As the Jedi would do; aligning themselves light to the Sith's dark. Again, a baseline, but with spikes like a waveform. Passions can flare-up like fits of mania, but they can also cause intense focus on problem-solving or other matters. Obsession in general is usually not a good thing; at the least it causes narrow vision. Temperance is necessary here.

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

Looks disorderly, but does not mean there is no pattern or reason for the seemingly chaotic. Just because you may not understand it, does not mean it is beyond understanding.

There is no death, there is the Force.

Energy is never destroyed, it's merely displaced. (Obi-Wan is a good example.) Also, in the Zen sense, death can mean loss of one's ego. This loss of "self" is something necessary when becoming a Jedi, at least in the sense of eschewing the "normal" life of marriage, family, relying on creature comforts, and being self-absorbed.


NOTE: None of this interpretation is taken from anything but my noggin. No canon. I just want to be clear on that. I'm not claiming this to be "true" or "right." I see the Jedi Code to be more akin to a Koan than a Manifesto.

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There is no emotion there is peace. I think these means that when dealing with those situations that push as as people and define our character, our purpose in life, a Jedi, would not let emotion bring him to a rash or impulsive decision. This leads to mistakes on many levels from putting yourself at risk for death but more importantly others. Emotion does not make you stronger but sloppier in movement, sloppier in thought. Internal peace, or peace of mind would allow for faster reactions, but also clear thought. With training, clear thought would also be much faster, in the moment decisions,which in the case of the Jedi would allow them to trust in the force and give themselves to its will.

There is no ignorance there is knowledge. To act on ignorance creates pain and suffering. The more knowledge both general and specific the more likely the bigger picture will be seen. To serve relates to being just and how can a wise decision be made without complete knowledge, or as complete as can be ascertained. Judgments must be made especially when times are tough and lives are on the line. This level of responsibility requires clear thinking. Think before your act is a simple way of saying this idea. Think of young children or teenager who act impulsively and think they know what they are doing. Adults offer advice based on experience/learning because mature adults see where their choices can lead and act on this. The more knowledge the more likely we make a better decision. For Jedi and what they represent, they have to act in knowledge. This relates to having no emotion.

There is no passion, there is serenity. There are multiple ways to look at passion. Passion, however, can blind us to reality. We all have been with someone for the wrong reasons, or had a friend who really was not good for us, etc. Sometimes when you get so involved in your work your vision becomes so narrowed you miss the bigger picture. This speaks to a Jedi to not get carried away with any idea but be prepared to be open and receptive to the will of the Force. It is only with serenity that the Jedi can keep their thinking and action true. Serenity would help with both clear thinking and maintaining inner peace. Again the responsibility of the Jedi is beyond the immediate problem. Passion also implies ego or what you want and at your pleasure. This is not they way to serve, its the thought of others, Jedi strive for.

There is no chaos there is harmony. I think this is related to the Tao or the way in Chinese philosophy. Taoist to my understanding do not act against nature or the will of nature. They try to maintain a balance. Idea of flowing with the current not against, or at least redirect as opposed to facing head on. This would disrupt the will of the force to allow chaotic thoughts or actions to guide you because your facing down a raging river. But in harmony even the smallest force can defeat a much larger one. It is with training (knowledge), a serene mind, a mind at peace that true harmony exists. This may mean its time to act or its time not to act. The Jedi in the movies where lead to war through chaos. It weakened them. Listening to senators blindly also was chaotic, not harmonious. That is partially what lead to their unfortunate downfall.

There is no death there is the force. This means that the more in touch with the force a Jedi becomes, there is no need to fear death, because they are more then their lives. They are connected to everything, thus they are everything, yet they are nothing. Luminous being we are, at least according to Yoda. Beings of light, return to the light, of the force. They are never truly dead, because they are more then their bodies. There is a collective they are apart of, and depending on their mastery of the force and their level of knowledge, serenity, peace, and harmony the more aware they become as part of this collective such as Yoda or Obi Wan force ghosts. The force ghosts are like the ultimate level of achieving the mind, body, spirit of the code, the perfection of the Jedi ideal.

This is just my opinion and I'm no authority by any means. I just love the idea of a lightsaber :)

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    While you have a lot to say about the meaning Of the Jedi Code, this doesn't seem to answer the question of whether or not the two versions of the Code quoted in the question are compatible with each other.
    – Blackwood
    Jan 26, 2017 at 3:57
  • They are compatible, I think my explanation works with either version, but I guess the philosophical side of the code fascinates me. Jan 26, 2017 at 4:21
  • Okay, if you think the two versions are compatible, you should edit you answer to explain why that is so. Providing additional information is encouraged, but it is important to answer the question.
    – Blackwood
    Jan 26, 2017 at 4:26
  • I think you're missing the inferences. The explanation of the meaning works for both versions. The older version challenged Jedi to find the meaning, better for meditation. The newer version is more direct. It makes a defining statement; this is how you should be if your a Jedi. When lacking info (ignorance/There is no ignorance: you have to change that state), get it before acting (yet knowledge/there is knowledge). A code is a way to act, newer version addresses this better. Older version allows Jedi to find the way to act. Both have the same truths for a Jedi. Jan 26, 2017 at 5:03
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The original are paradoxical. Two states can exist at once. The over simplified newer version destroys that concept.

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    In other words, you're agreeing that the newer version contradicts the earlier one? To answer the question you need to get past your relative opinions of them and consider how they relate logically.
    – DavidW
    Oct 19, 2019 at 4:33

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