In Star Wars, the Force—which was known as the Way in ancient times—had many aspects to it.
The two most recognized energy forces are the light side and the dark side. Although the light side is never actually talked about in Star Wars, these two aspects were the moral compass of the Force, and they defined the emotions and conduct that was held by either side.
Although there were effectively two sides, they both emanated from the same energy. Ultimately, we choose whether we go towards the light or the dark side. Opting for the light side is governed by our ability to overcome powerful and addictive “dark” emotions.
The light side of the Force aligns with love, compassion, empathy selflessness, self-knowledge and enlightenment, self-sacrifice, healing, honesty, mercy and benevolence. The dark side of the Force aligns with hatred, greed, covetousness, resentment, anger, aggression, jealousy and malevolence.
The Sith held the belief that the darker side was the more powerful side of the Force, although this belief is likely held as the dark side was seductive to those with the desire to use it. The dark side can be extremely dangerous, as those who sway to it have no boundaries and will go to any length to gain status and control. It is a destructive force, and dark emotions—when they are unleashed—can devastate and cause ruin. Those who are consumed by darkness have a desire for power, so they will destroy anything that prevents them from achieving it.
In Star Wars, both sides are constantly at war, and it is mostly because they deny the other side exists, so they therefore reject one another. The light side try to dominate using mind control, manipulation and persuasion—while the dark side uses violence, cruelty and sadistic acts throughout the battles.
When our dark emotions are dominant, they can very easily intoxicate us and run amok as fear fuels many negative emotions such as anger, hatred, bitterness and rage. However, these dense emotions also cause weaknesses, as when we are consumed with emotion, our minds are impaired and limited. This can leave us open and susceptible to unexpected attacks. We are not more powerful or skilled when we are solely on the dark side—neither are we when we are out of touch with the dark side and exist in the light. We have to understand both sides, so that we are prepared for our own—or other people’s—negativity. Darkness can creep up on us at any time, so we must always remain alert and aware.
Rather than solely aligning with one side over the other, we have far more power when we are in touch with all shades of the spectrum—not just dark or light—as we are then able to gain control over all of our emotions, rather than suppressing or denying that they exist.
We cannot pertain to be “good” when we are suppressing emotions that are part of all humans. We cannot retain balance and harmony when we try to destroy something that is part of ourselves and the whole of humanity.
Although Star Wars is based in science-fiction, it reflects the same principles as Buddhism and Taoism and works on the premise that we are all one, connected through energy. All of the emotions that are expressed in Star Wars are drawn from the same energy—the Force.
This Eastern philosophy of yin and yang show how opposites—dark and light—provide balance and are complimentary when they work together. To be able to coexist means that they need to accept that the other side exists.
The dark side, and the emotions that are connected to it, are only powerful when they are in the wrong hands. Dark emotions hold no power if the person that understands them knows how to work with them, so they are guided through them rather than having them raging out of control.
We have been conditioned to believe that it is not acceptable to discuss or express our dark thoughts, feelings and actions. We are advised to keep them safely contained to prevent being judged, ostracized, berated or belittled.
When we are unaware of our darker side, we are afraid. When we do not understand something, our instinctive reaction is one of fear.
When we have a strong connection to our inner light—our positivity—we can roam, venture into the dark and know that—at any moment—we can step back to the security of our light.
Therefore, we mustn’t be afraid to explore our dark side and get to know it, so that it is not seen as an enemy, but a comrade which helps us to balance our inner scales. When we have no control over something, it then has the option to control us. We can have absolute control over all of our own emotions as we can override them with our conscious and rational mind.
Our negative emotions are not our nemesis. Neither do we need to feel ashamed of ourselves or judge ourselves harshly when they creep up on us. We all have dark emotions, and by denying them, we are giving them more strength.
When we are secure in who we are and have developed a broad perspective, we will not only be in touch with our lighter more positive side, we will also have compassion and acceptance as we seek to understand and accept our darker side too.
We cannot escape the dark side. It exists, constantly seeking validation and recognition. Even if we are not fully in touch with our own darkness, we are subjected to the shadow side of others constantly as we come into contact with people from all walks of life.
Whilst we are in denial—and reject who we are at our core—we also deny anyone else the opportunity to get to know us fully, and we will live in fear of their rejection should they ever witness our darker side.
Rather than allowing a full connection, we cause a separation and disconnect to ensure that we are not in touch with who we are—which means that others only see the superficial side we portray to the world.
When we try to suppress our dark traits and emotions, they will manifest within our subconscious mind and also transfer to our physical body. The build up will continue, until our body takes on too much, as the emotions that have been generated inside us take a toll on our physical health.
Our emotional health also suffers as the stored up emotions lie dormant until something triggers them and causes them to explode or seep out when we are least expecting it. This is portrayed in Star Wars, as those who are aligned with the dark side have skin pigmentation, marks on their eyes and their aging process is accelerated.
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” ~ Sigmund Freud
We may wonder what good can come from bringing the darker side of who we are to the surface. We may feel safer when it is rejected, as we feel in control and able to behave in ways that we deem to be positive. However, this is an illusion—it is just our idealistic ego that is telling us this.
The more we look down at our shadow with disapproval, and neglect it—the darker, heavier, more negative and more repulsive it becomes. Only when we remove some of this dense energy, can we then free it—so that we are light and liberated, and so that we can grow and transform.
We can integrate our dark side, so that it weaves in to our light and allows for us to become more balanced, whole, compassionate, accepting, forgiving, understanding and non-judgmental—not just of ourselves—but of all of humanity.
When we fearlessly open up, so that we can view ourselves with clarity, and we are willing to take accountability for what we see, we will stop projecting our darkness onto others and accusing, blaming or shaming them for what essentially is the denial of ourselves.
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina