Time to Learn
A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master:
“If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen?”
The Zen Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”
The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?”
Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”
“But, if I really, really work at it. How long then?” asked the student.
“Thirty years,” replied the Master.
“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”
Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”
I wish I could give a source for this story. I first read it in a book many years ago, when I first began training as a Jedi, but I have seen it many places, and in many variations. People have commonly applied it to Martial Arts as well, asking, “How long until I earn my black belt?” Whatever the discipline, whatever the goal, the message is the same.
Too often, students on the Jedi Path fall prey to this mindset. They want so much to be the knights they know of fiction, that they are more focused on the title than actually being what that title represents. Some people attempt to put time limits on the time a student must be a student, in order to control this. One person I knew applied decades; ten years as a student before becoming a knight, ten years as a knight before becoming a master. Others have begun to apply hours, but these measurements of time only add to the problem.
People now-a-days want instant gratification. Six months and you are a knight. Train two Padawans in the next year and you are a Master. Really?
Your basic college education takes four years, even an associates degree is two. The Jedi are supposed to be knowledgeable and well trained, at the very LEAST I would say the time it takes to become a Jedi Knight should equal a Masters degree, let alone be shorter than an associates. If you go back to the fiction, students spent on average 10-13 years training in just basic Jedi skills before even being considered for a Padawan; and the Temple had this training down to a science.
Regardless of what time you apply to it though, now the student has a time frame to work against, and whether you stress that these limits are a minimum or not…they will look to that time limit for their progression, not to their training. And, if they are not given their desired title after that time limit, they will focus on the why for the wrong reason.
Within the fiction, from what we know, there is a set amount of time that most students study in a class format at the Temple, however once they are taken as a Padawan, it seems the only measure, is when the master feels they are ready. Obi-Wan Kenobi was knighted during the events of Episode I, at the age of 25. Anakin Skywalker was knighted sometime between Episode II-III, somewhere between the ages of 20-23. If we had a list of all the Jedi Knights that existed, I am sure we would find a great range of ages in which they were knighted.
The honor of being a Jedi Knight is not something that can be measured by any amount of time, but in what a student has learned and achieved. Give the student goals in study and practice rather than giving them arbitrary dates that may or may not be enough. When the student fully embraces and lives the path, then they are a Jedi Knight.