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Duality of the Force

However alien their ecosystems may be from each other, all living creatures encompass both creative and destructive impulses. Just as birth is just as much a part of life as death is, the Force also has a dual nature with aspects of both creation and destruction. Sentient beings have been aware of this division ever since they began accessing the Force; for it is an inherent part of its nature. Names were given to these opposed sides, inspired by a basic understanding of the most intuitive of relationships: that between light and dark.

Those who draw upon the light side know it by the feelings that invite its presence: peace, understanding, compassion, and even love. Its use is typically tied to selfless actions and intentions that are based upon preserving life and its sanctity. For those who have gained the deepest understanding, wielding the light side is not so much about imposing their own will as it is about allowing the will of the Cosmic Force to shape destiny.

The strength of the dark side rushes in from raw emotion. Fear, anger, jealousy, and hatred are all conduits for the power of the dark side. It is most effectively bent to the will of the wielder when used for destructive actions and focused by unchecked passion and burning desire.

The Jedi and the Sith, the major Force-wielding traditions of the galaxy, each developed following the path of one side while completely exluding the other. Their exact origins are ancient and mysterious; however, what is known is that they have remained diametrically opposed enemies of each other throughout galactic history. For this reason, some believe that the creation of the Jedi and the Sith in the distant past is the embodiment of the opposition between the light and dark sides of the Force. Another deeply held belief about the Force is evidenced by the waxing and waning of each side's power and influence over the years--the believe that the Force has a balance, and that this balance can shift over time.

While Force-sensitive beings such as the Jedi and the Sith have the greatest influence over the balance of the Force, it is worth noting that they are not the only ones who are capable of interacting with it, even if they are among the few with the ability to manipulate it. All sentient beings can choose to act in a way that either destroys or preserves life. Most view their actions (or lack thereof) within the scope of their own personal convictions, whether these are influenced by cultural or family beliefs or not. This does not mean that the Force has not acted upon them, or that their actions do not affect the balance between light and dark. By embracing one side over the other, they are actively engaging in the eternal conflict between the light and the dark.

The Nature of the Force

The Force has existed for as long as living beings have flourished in the galaxy, and will continue to endure as long as life remains. It has been called an energy field, and in many ways this is true. However, it cannot be defined or quantified by any conventional or technological means. It binds the galaxy together, in more ways than just the physical. Force users over the millennia have struggled to understand the concept, as it somehow seems to both elude and embrace intellectual definitions at the same time.

The Force consists of two elements that are related yet distinct: the Living Force and the Cosmic Force. The Living Force is life energy, created by living beings throughout the galaxy. It is this aspect of the Force that allows for many of the impressive abilities that have given rise to the legends around the Jedi and Sith, and that excites the galaxy’s collective imagination to this very day. The ability to sense the presence of other lifeforms, manipulate or access their minds through telepathy, and to enact one's will upon physical objects are all abilities that are enabled by the Living Force.

All life in the galaxy is constantly moving through an endless cycle of death and rejuvenation, and so does the Living Force. It waxes and wanes, growing stronger in some places while fading in others. This ebb and flow forms the foundation for the Force’s other half—the Cosmic Force.

Energy from the Living Force ultimately passes into the Cosmic Force. This includes not only the energy of the Living Force at any given point in time, but the energy of every being that has ever lived in the galaxy. As such, the Cosmic Force transcends the typical conceptions of time and space. It connects all things that ever were, are, and will be.

The Cosmic Force is more difficult to access than the Living Force. It requires meditation, openness, and harmony to attune oneself to its rhythms. As one may have deduced from this, some of the most powerful Force abilities are fueled by this aspect of it, such as the ability to see distant places and events, or to learn of a myriad of potential futures. Only a select few of even the most experienced Force wielders are able to reach the fullest potential of physical and mental attunement to the Cosmic Force.

Due to the intimiate link between life and the Force, only living organisms can feel its presence. Beings who are sentient have the potential to be born Force-sensitive or become so during the course of the course of their lives. The Force may be stronger in some individuals than in others, and some say that this trait may be hereditary. Indeed, certain family names have been associated with the most famous, or infamous, Force users in the galaxy’s history.

The Force even appears to have a will of its own. Many skilled Force wielders have spoken of this phenomenon after communing with the Force or experiencing events of mystical significance. It has been said that the Force not only derives its energy from life, but also guides living beings' actions at times. Some have stated that it responds most strongly to actions taken by those who deliberately seek to use it, and that it aids or opposes individuals according to its own enigmatic orchestrations. As such, Force sensitives understand the indisputable role that the Force has in the entire galaxy's destiny.

The Ways of the Force

The Force represents one of the greatest sources of power in the galaxy; however, requires the will of a Force-sensitive being to effectively wield it, as technology is not a viable approach. To those with the appropriate sensitivity, it can be applied in a seemingly infinite variety of different ways. Individuals who are strong in the Force are able to enhance their own abilities, understand their environment on a deeper or supernatural level, or even use it to impose their will upon their physical surroundings.

Learning About the Force

However, this ability is quite rare. Further, though an individual may manifest sensitivity to the Force at any time, such a talent most be developed, rather than taught as a skill. For most species, it typically appears at a young age. Although even untrained Force use can sometimes grant insights or physical capabilities far beyond those considered normal, to effectively wield the Force in combat or in a more controlled manner requires a high level of training and discipline.

Therefore, communities of Force users are relatively small and isolated from the rest of the galaxy. The Jedi Order seeks out young and impressionable Force-sensitive children for instruction at one of their many temples throughout the galaxy, although they are usually reluctant to begin training anyone who is deemed too old. Even so, not all children who are sought by the Order to begin training are ever able to finish it; only a select few ever reach the rank of Knight.

The Powers of the Force

The power that the Force grants to a wielder may vary widely, but the types of abilities imparted are traditionally broken into three broad categories.

Powers of the Body

Force users can harness the Living Force within themselves to enhance their own physical prowess beyond natural levels. Abilities of this type allow the Jedi and Sith powers such as astounding agility and strength, healing from injuries that would have been meant certain death for a normal member of their species, or hibernating through long periods of deprivation from basic physical needs.

Powers of Manipulation

These powers allow Force users to bend the surrounding physical environment to their own will. This allows for supernatural feats such as telekinesis, energy redirection and projection. Such abilities can also involve the subtle manipulation of the minds of other beings. Those enthralled by raw power have always been particularly attracted to this type of Force manipulation.

Powers of the Mind

Powers of the mind include those that allow an awareness of the greater galaxy around the Force user. To witness events of the past, present, and future through visions achieved via meditation or other means is among the capabilities imparted by attunement to the Cosmic Force. At their fullest potential, these abilities may even grant the wielder the power to orchestrate or influence events according to his or her own desires.

Lightsabers and the Force

Force sensitivity also allows an individual the ability to effectively wield the lightsaber, the ancient weapon of the Jedi and Sith. Lightsaber prowess is signature skill of a successful Force wielder, as it draws upon all three aspects of Force mastery. Only those capable of a supernatural level of finesse and control are able to wield a lightsaber’s massless blade without endangering themselves. Furthermore, to be truly effective in combat, they must also have a high caliber of spatial awareness gained through a deep connection to the Force. Furthermore, a lightsaber is difficult at best to construct without the use of the Force, as it requires incredibly fine adjustments to align its focusing crystals. In fact, the completion of this task has been a rite of passage for young Jedi since ancient times.