Yesterday, Conrad gave us three of his best Yoda quotes. Today he returns with three more, and continues to explain how Yoda’s wisdom can translate into our everyday working and home lives.
Okay, lets get started! Yesterday – in Yoda quotes part one – we learned a lot about how fear becomes destructive, how first appearances are deceptive, and how attitude means everything. Today we’re going to look at how conflict doesn’t determine who we are, how we can stop trying to do stuff and how we can give jealousy the boot. In doing so we’re going to crack open some wisdom from the movies The Empire Strikes Back and Revenge of the Sith. We’re also going to expand on some of the topics we discussed yesterday; if you haven’t yet read yesterday’s list perhaps do so now or straight after this one.
“Wars not make one great.”
The first of my best Yoda quotes today comes from his very first encounter with Luke Skywalker. A rather rattled Luke has crash-landed his starship into Yoda’s planet of Dagobah in his efforts to find him. However, having done so, Luke is beginning to despair. He doesn’t even know what Yoda looks like.
Then this imp-like character appears. He looks like a green rubber muppet, with all the mischief that goes along with it. He starts rifling through Luke’s make-shift camp and goading him and his droid, Artoo-Deetoo.
Even though the audience might not have twigged this imp is the Jedi Master Luke is looking for, we already get one of our best Yoda quotes in all the five movies he has appeared in.
Yoda: I am wondering, why are you here?
Luke: I’m looking for someone.
Yoda: Looking? Found someone, you have, I would say, hmmm?
Yoda: Help you I can. Yes, mmmm.
Luke: I don’t think so. I’m looking for a great warrior.
Yoda: Ohhh. Great warrior.
[laughs and shakes his head]
Yoda: Wars not make one great.
Even though Yoda is duping Luke whilst he tests the young hero’s patience, he still lets that wise zinger slip out.
First off, lets look at anyone who has started a war: they tend not to be the best people in the world. Often they are politicians or warlords making strategic decisions to consolidate power (see: Hitler). And often we are dismayed when her hear that our own political heroes were unable to keep their hands clean for one reason or another. As much as I respect Barack Obama, it saddens me that there are reports that drone strikes have gone up dramatically under his tenure and the President of the United States.
Of course, as we know, leaders hardly ever go to war. Hitler hid in a bunker when his war finally came to him.
But there’s another thing we need to consider in what the Jedi master says. It’s about the combatants themselves. Remember, the Vietnam War will have been a fairly painful resounding memory in the American public’s mind when The Empire Strikes Back was released. The movie came out only five years after that conflict had ended. Disillusionment about war was high.
What Yoda is actually saying is that wars don’t make combatants great. In other words they are great (or not) independently of circumstance.
Look at this roster of war heroes. They had to do brutal things. For some it destroyed their lives. But it’s not the war that made these people great – it’s their character before the war. It’s is who they bring into that arena.
Interestingly, there is a moment in Luke’s training where he has to venture into a cave filled with the Dark Side of the Force. Yoda warns him not to take his weapons with him to encounter whatever lies within. Luke takes them anyway – and in doing so confronts a vision of himself as Darth Vader – the arch-villain of the movies. Why? Because what you fight in the cave is what you take with you. You fight your attitudes and beliefs.
“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
This comes from a moment when Luke has to lift his starship out of a deep swamp using only the mystical Force to help him.
Yoda presses him on, ever the strict taskmaster. Luke tells him he will try. Yoda says no: “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Luke, still maintaining his doubt this incredible feat is even possible, clearly just gives it a try.
The starship rumbles – the water bubbles – but Luke fails to lift his craft out of the swamp.
Trying is a state of mind. A mental state of being. In many ways it is a state of struggling, of effort. It is not the task in hand. It is, instead, a place where you can go to flee the notion of failure: at least you tried, huh?
But achieving the task in hand is about simply doing. It is about committing to a series of actions that have an outcome. How you feel about those actions (effort or no effort at all – trying or not trying) is separate. It is good to acknowledge the hurdles we overcome to achieve great things, but at the same time we can be too embroiled in the mental effort to overcome our preconception.
Think of it like this – when you do a task well, it never feels like you are trying. I always tell myself that “if you do it right it’s easy.” Things are difficult – you feel like you are trying – because you are coming up against your own inner voice of doubt or because you simply don’t yet know the correct way to do a task. You may still get there, but you do so by fighting through a needless wall.
“Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”
The last of my best Yoda quotes taps into a theme which we have looked at in the previous post. Anakin Skywalker struggles with his attachments. He loses his mother, and then he begins to have nightmares about his wife dying also.
He goes to Yoda and converses with him in private.
Yoda: Premonitions, premonitions. These visions you have…
Anakin Skywalker: They are of pain, suffering. Death.
Yoda: Yourself you speak of, or someone you know?
Anakin Skywalker: Someone.
Yoda: Close to you?
Anakin Skywalker: Yes.
Yoda: Careful you must be when sensing the future Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.
Anakin Skywalker: I won’t let these visions come true, Master Yoda.
Yoda: Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is.
We have seen how fear can lead to a destructive path in the last post. Yoda continuously returns to this subject with Anakin – he knows it is a problem for the Jedi, and has been since he was a small boy. Now the possibilities have become more grave – Anakin is the Republic’s best warrior, and so if he loses his way the whole galaxy could pay the price.
What Yoda is talking about in this quote is the paranoia which can come with being too attached. In the less zen-like world we live in, attachment can still be a problem. Not when it is kept in check but certainly when it runs rampant. People who are too attached become controlling. They want to actively police what is happening with those they care for. And that care becomes selfish. It becomes about the person trying to control the situation.
When that happens paranoia then kicks in. Why? Because control is illusory. You can’t fully control anyone or anything, you can only influence it. So when Anakin wants to stop his wife from dying, we know that’s a big ask. But then, having turned to the Dark Side to find a way to save her life, he begins to suspect her of colluding with his one-time mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. When she denies it he lashes out. She collapses and eventually dies.
My best Yoda quotes – a conclusion
I hope you liked this collection of my best Yoda quotes. Not only do they sum up what makes for a very interesting cinematic character in my view, but they also give us important lessons about our lives as well. Looking over my best Yoda quotes together, they remind me that emotions can be wonderful: they are a creative thing we build in our minds. They make us like Yoda and become inspired by his words, after all. But we must find ways to cope with these wonderful and creative emotions so they do not run rampant. If not, we focus too much on our inner turmoils, we get distracted by exterior notions of what defines us and we can harm the things we care about.
As always, I’m not an expert. If these posts bring up anything that is a serious issue for you, you may benefit from speaking with a trained professional.
See you in the next post.