Rules of Jedi Behavior

(I will add the descriptions when I can find my sourcebook)

Power of the Jedi Sourcebook (2002)

One of the keystones of Jedi behavior is self-discipline, and Jedi Masters instruct their students in this tenet very early.  Most of the lessons are no different from those taught to ordinary children, but as the student progresses, so does the complexity of the lessons.  The Jedi student learns that self-discipline is far more important to a person who can wield the Force than it is to those who cannot even feel its touch.

  • Conquer Arrogance: Jedi are special, but their ability to access the Force does not make them better than other people.  A Jedi is a Jedi only because someone else has taken the trouble to teach him.  A Jedi Knight is a Jedi Knight only because her Master determines that he cannot teach his student anything further.  A Jedi Master is a Jedi Master only because he has discarded his own sense of self-importance and embraced the will of the Force.  As Master Dooku explained to a class of Jedi students: “The acceptance of others is not a guarantee.  Like everyone else, a Jedi is accepted or not based on his behavior.  The Jedi who believes that he is more important than others only demonstrates that his opinion is to be ignored.”
  • Conquer Overconfidence: Many young Jedi students, on learning of the limitless potential of the Force, come to believe that they can accomplish anything.  They take on tasks that are too big for them, not realizing that the Force is only truly limitless to those who have a limitless understanding.  Scores of Jedi have died as a result of overestimating their control of the Force.
    Master Vodo-Siosk Baas spoke of overconfidence to his student, Exar Kun: “Overconfident thinking is flawed because the Jedi does not take all possibilities into account.  He may understand the task at hand, the support of his fellows and the ramifications of his success, and he may have even planned for unanticipated factors–but he has failed to understand his own capabilities.  He has planned only for success, because he has concluded that there can be no failure.  Every Jedi, in every task, should prepare for the possibility of failure.”
  • Conquer Defeatism: The opposite of overconfidence is defeatism: the belief that no effort, no matter how great, can possibly succeed.  Though this might seem contradictory with the goal of conquering overconfidence, it amounts to a question of priorities.  A Jedi should plan for success first, and failure second.  The Jedi who plans excessively for failure expects to lose.  Indeed, the Jedi who approaches each task as though failure is the most likely option puts forth only the minimal effort–enough to say that she tried.  Master Yoda once told Luke Skywalker: “Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try.”
  • Conquer Stubbornness: A Jedi should be willing to accept defeat if the cost of winning is greater than the cost of losing.  Master Rekpa De, who taught basic lightsaber training at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant while Yoda was still just a Jedi Knight, told his students: “Do not see a lightsaber duel as a choice between winning and losing.  Every duel can have many, many outcomes.  When you concentrate solely on winning–in lightsaber duels as in everything else–you sully your victory.  Winning becomes worse than losing.  It is better to lose well than to win badly.  And it is always better to end a duel peacefully than to win or lose.”
  • Conquer Recklessness: Young Jedi in particular are always ready to ignite their lightsabers and plunge into battle, reach out impulsively with the Force to move heavy objects, or trick the minds of the weak-willed; such Jedi lack self-restraint.  They perceive a goal and rush toward it, heedless of unseen dangers or other options.  Master Wiwa told her first student: “Learn to recognize when speed is not important.  Race when being first is important; move at your own pace at all other times.  It is not necessary to always strike the first blow, to provide the first solution, or to reach a goal before anyone else does.  In fact, it is sometimes vital to strike the last blow, to give the final answer or to arrive after everyone else.”
  • Conquer Curiosity: It is unseemly for a Jedi to probe unnecessarily into the business of others.  All beings are entitled to their privacy, and intruding gives the clear message that the privacy of others can be sacrificed to satisfy a Jedi’s curiosity.  Using the Force to discreetly uncover the secrets of others might be occasionally necessary, but it should never be a matter of course, for it causes distrust of the Jedi in general.  Master Odan-Urr said: “Use the Force to satisfy the will of the Force–not to satisfy your own curiosity.”
  • Conquer Aggression: Master Yoda was fond of saying to his students: “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”  Jedi, especially while they are still training, confuse the meanings of attack, defense, and aggression.  A Jedi can attack without aggression, especially if she acts without recklessness, hatred, or anger.  A Jedi can even kill in self-defense if her opponent leaves her no choice.  However, these occurrences should never become commonplace.  To conquer aggression, even in combat, a Jedi must explore every other option–including surrender–before resorting to lethal force.  The Jedi who regularly employs lethal force courts the dark side.
  • Conquer External Loyalties: After the Battle of Ruusan, Master Hoche Trit said: “A Jedi is a Jedi, first, foremost, and only.  For a Jedi to divide his attention between the will of the Force and the will of others is to invite disaster.”  Every Jedi must strive to excise external distractions from his life.  For this reason, the Jedi Order takes potential students while they are still too young to have formed relationships and forbids them from forming relationships later in life.  A Jedi may not marry without the special dispensation of the Jedi Council.  A Jedi may not take a political appointment or accept gifts that are not necessary to his mission.  A Jedi’s loyalties must be to the Force, to the Jedi Order, to the Republic, and to himself, in that order.
  • Conquer Materialism: Jedi keep few personal possessions.  Not only are such belongings a distraction from the study of the Force but once a Jedi becomes a Jedi Knight, her missions may take her far away on short notice, and numerous possessions become burdensome.  Consequently, few Jedi keep more than what they can carry on their person.  In the words of Master Kargoro: “I wear my robe so that I am warm; I carry my lightsaber that I am safe; and I keep enough credits for my next meal, so that I am not hungry.  If the Force wants me to have more, it finds a way of letting me know.”

Once a Jedi learns self-discipline, she can begin to accept responsibility for her actions.  No Jedi who shuns responsibility should be trained, and no Jedi who embraces responsibility should be denied training.

  • Practice Honesty: Honesty is the first responsibility of the Jedi.  A Jedi can allow others to believe incorrectly, lead others to incorrect conclusions by playing on their suppositions, or stretch the truth if the situation demands it.  A Jedi must always be honest with herself, her Master, and the Council.  The Caamasi Jedi Knight Surenit Kil’qiy spoke wisely when he said: “Let there be truth between your heart and the Force.  All else is transitory.”  A Jedi who is honest with her beliefs and her motives finds responsibility to be almost second nature.
  • Honor Your Promises: A Jedi who makes a promise should always be prepared to keep it or, failing that, to make amends.  Thus, a Jedi should never make a promise he is not certain he can keep.  Before making a promise, a Padawan learner should consult his Master, a Master should consult the Council, and the Council should meditate on the will of the Force.  As Master Tho-Mes Drei said: “Deliver more than you promise.  The best way to be always certain of this is to delivery much, even when you promise nothing.”
  • Honor Your Padawan: Every Master has an awesome responsibility to her Padawan learner in bringing him to the end of his training.  A Jedi Master must always remember that a Padawan is an individual who deserves respect.  A Master should not reprimand her Padawan in public, nor punish her Padawan for disagreeing with her.  On the other hand, the Master should praise her apprentice when he does well, especially in the presence of others.  Doing this builds the Padawan’s confidence and strengthens the bond between Master and apprentice.
  • Honor Your Master: By the same token, a Padawan should endeavor to show respect to his Master at all times, especially in the presence of others.  A Padawan should not disagree with his Master to the point of argument.  In discussions with others, a Padawan should address only his Master unless he is directly addressed.  In all other ways, the Padawan should defer to the Master and not invite censure.  This spares the Master the burden of apologizing to others for the Padawan’s behavior.
  • Honor the Jedi Council: Although the Jedi Council embodies the ultimate authority in the Jedi Order, it cannot be everywhere at once.  Therefore, when the Council sends a trusted Jedi on a mission, the Jedi speaks for the Council.  This is an awesome responsibility, and no Jedi should abuse this trust.  The Council must answer for the Jedi’s words and actions, and it shows tremendous disrespect to put the Council in an untenable position.  Master Yoda, on being invited to join the Council, said: “Now must I keep the word I made when only a Jedi Knight I was–a promotion, this is not.”  Yoda meant that when Jedi make decisions, the Jedi Council must ratify and uphold those decisions.  Thus, a Jedi Knight should never make the job more difficult for the Council than necessary.
  • Honor the Jedi Order: A Jedi’s every action reflects on the Order.  Good deeds serve the reputation of the Order, but poor behavior does incalculable damage.  Every Jedi should try to remember that each person she meets might never have encountered a Jedi before.  How she behaves establishes a first impression of the Jedi, as a whole, in the person’s mind.  Master Odan-Urr reflected: “When a Jedi behaves badly in public, an observer might think, ‘If this Jedi is representative of the whole Order, then plainly no Jedi is worthy of respect.’  On meeting a second Jedi, who behaves better than the first, that same person might think ‘Does this say that half of the Jedi are good, and half bad?’  On meeting a third Jedi, who behaves as well as the second, the person thinks, ‘Was the first Jedi an exception, then?’  In this way, only by the good behavior of several Jedi can the public be certain that the poor behavior of one Jedi was unusual.  Thus, it takes many Jedi to undo the mistakes of one.
  • Honor the Law: For the Jedi to protect peace and justice, they must be bound by those same tenets.  No Jedi is above the law.  A Jedi may break the law if he feels it is necessary, but he must then be prepared to accept the consequences of his crimes.  Because the Jedi Council does not generally send Jedi out into the galaxy to be arrested and imprisoned, Jedi have a responsibility to the Council to avoid situations that leave no choice but to break the law.  Fortunately, the Republic tends to understand the exigencies of Jedi missions and is usually willing to overlook so-called “victimless crimes” a Jedi might perpetrate in pursuit of his mission.
    Jedi on missions outside the Republic’s reach, on the other hand, must be careful.  Crimes committed in the Corporate Sector, for example, fall under Corporate Sector jurisdiction, though the legal process is generally slow enough that defense representation from the Republic has time to arrive.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hutt space is more problematic in that the Hutts have little conception of “due process.”  A wrongdoer (or perceived wrongdoer) can expect swift and severe punishment.  Paradoxically, the Hutts admire daring and resourcefulness, and unless a crime is particularly severe (by Hutt standards), they are liable to forget all about it if the culprit survives long eough to escape their grasp.  The main danger in Hutt space lies in committing a crime that provokes the Hutts (or even a single Hutt) to hire bounty hunters to bring the culprit back–alive or dead.
  • Honor Life: A Jedi should never commit murder, for any reason.  When confronted with a life-or-death struggle, however, a Jedi may have to kill to complete her mission.  This act is always unfortunate, because deliberately ending a life strengthens the dark side.  However, if the cause is justified–if the Jedi is protecting others, serving the will of the Force, or even merely acting in self-defense–then the light side is equally strengthened.  A Jedi should spend some of her daily meditation reflecting on every life she has taken, until she knows that the loss of life was necessary.  As always, if a Jedi is unsure of the will of the Force, she should consult her Master or the Jedi Council.  A Jedi never should assume that any sentient life she takes is no cause for concern.  When a Jedi finds that she doesn’t care that she has killed, then she finds herself on the path to the dark side.

Public Service
While Jedi exist to study the ways of the Force, they are allowed to exist because they serve the public interest.  Were they unable to use the Force–indeed, if the Force did not exist–the Jedi would go on serving, because this is their mandate.  The fact that the Force is real, and that the Jedi are its most devoted practitioners, only strengthens their resolve to use it in the service of the common good.

  • Duty to the Republic: The Republic and the Jedi Order are not the same, and the Jedi hold no authority in the Republic.  Nevertheless, the Jedi serve the Republic.  The Jedi act to preserve the Republic, to uphold its laws and ideals and to protect its citizens, but they hold no rank in the Republic hierarchy.  The Jedi serve when asked and stand aside at all other times.  This arrangement between the Jedi and the Republic is so old that no one can remember how or why it came about.
  • Render Aid: A Jedi is obliged to assist those in need of aid whenever possible, and must be able to quickly judge the priority of doing so.  Saving one life is important; saving multiple lives more so.  This tenet does not require a Jedi to abandon other goals in every circumstance, but the Jedi must do her best to ensure that those in need of aid receive it.
  • Defend the Weak: Likewise, a Jedi should strive to defend the weak against those who seek to oppress them, from one person suffering at the hands of another to an entire race held in thrall.  A Jedi should always remember, though, that not all might be as it seems.  The customs of other cultures should always be respected, even if they offend the Jedi’s moral or ethical code.  In every case, though, the Jedi should carefully consider the ramifications of her actions.
    Master Marspa once visited Nal Hutta with his student Imina, on a diplomatic mission.  While there, they observed numerous acts of brutality directed at the slaves of the Hutts, though Master Marspa said nothing.  Later, Marspa and his apprentice visited Ord Mantell, where they witnessed a shopkeeper beating a servant.  This time, without hesitation, Master Marspa stepped in and restrained the shopkeeper.
    Afterward, Imina expressed confusion.  “Master, you stopped that shopkeeper from beating his servant, but on Nal Hutta, we saw many, many acts far more heinous.  Yet there, you did nothing.  I do not understand.”
    Master Marspa signed.  “Were it within my authority on Nal Hutta, I would have set every last slave free and personally escorted them back home to their loed ones, far from Hutt space.  But to interfere with the culture of the Hutts on their homeworld would have been to pass judgment on them on behalf of the Republic.  The Republic Senate knows that slavery goes on in Hutt space.  When they decide to do something about that, I will support them wholeheartedly.
    “On the other hand, slavery is not legal on Ord Mantell.  For that shopkeeper to beat his employee was simply an unnecessary display of dominance.  Were the Republic aware of his actions, they would have acted immediately.  I am sad that there is a difference between the two, but it is not our place to correct the discrepancy.
  • Provide Support: At times, a Jedi must stand aside to let others render aid or defend the weak–even though the Jedi could perhaps do a better job.  The Jedi should assist by word or by action as required by the situation, offering advice when asked for, warning when necessary, and argument only when reason fails.  Otherwise, the Jedi must remember that she wields a marvelous and potent tool in the Force, and she should be ready to use it on behalf of a good cause.