For millions of people the world over “Star Wars” is much more than a film franchise, it is a way of life.
Back in 2001, lifelong fan Daniel M. Jones became so caught up in the world of Jedis, Siths, and the galaxy far, far away that he set out on a journey that just six years later would see him found the Church of Jediism, a spiritual movement that looks to empower the mind, body, and soul, all of which can then easily be incorporated into daily life.
Ahead of the release of “The Last Jedi” I spoke to Daniel about the Church Of Jediism, its formation, what its members take from it, and how it really connects to “Star Wars.”
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What was the catalyst for setting up the Church Of Jediism?
“I set up the Church Of Jediism back in 2007. The catalyst for it was, I’d been a huge researcher on UFOs, conspiracy theories, the meaning of life, all that kind of bizarre mystical stuff for years and years.”
“I was an avid ‘Star Wars’ fan, too. I even rented the VHS from the movie rental store so much that I broke the tape. I just thought that these two things fuse together so brilliantly. I wanted to build a community of people that could relate to what I was thinking about. Because there were a bunch of people online that were doing something similar. But I didn’t think it was organized as well, or as accessible as it should have been.”
“And that’s exactly what the Church Of Jedism is all about.”
How many members do you have?
“Our members are worldwide. Apart from places like North Korea and Antarctica, I am pretty sure we have members on every continent on the world.”
“This is really difficult. Our estimated followership is about half a million to a million worldwide, but our registered active members on our website is about 32,000. It’s difficult to put down exactly, but that’s about it.”
What does being part of the religion entail?
“We wanted people to have a study book, so there’s a study guide, you read the book, and then you can progress beyond that. We’ve released the book now, which is ‘Become The Force,’ and the book is the basis of the church, the background of me and how it started, and then there are 9 core lessons that everyone needs to learn first.”
“Then you move onto the website, and on the website you have a bunch of online video training from a host of UK and US specialists that are part of the Jedi training portal. The more you do the more points you get, and that builds into a mastership I suppose.”
“It’s more a personal growth thing. The more you do the more you feel like you’re a master at what you’re doing.”
What are the specific links to ‘Star Wars’?
“You have a philosophical element to ‘Star Wars’ that talks about the good and the bad. You have this huge political thing going on. But all this political talk is driven by a spiritual prophecy. The politicians are up front, but in the back there are these evil overlords and sorcerers that are trying to do bad with magic basically. That’s a really dumb way of saying it.”
“On the flip side you have the Jedi Knights that are hired by the Rebellion to help these people in that aspect. Because they realize that it is not a political war it is a spiritual war, and that prophecy needs to be fulfilled to bring balance to the Force. And ‘Star Wars’ relates to the Force, a supernatural light Force energy.”
“Which is what I was talking about when I was talking about being connected to the universe, and unity, and oneness, and we all feel it. So ‘Star Wars’ really tells us what it is. It doesn’t say it is a deity, doesn’t say it is dogmatic, or it is clinical, or it is secular. It is what it is. It’s spiritual. It’s there. It’s something that you can feel and tap in with.”
“Jedi’s meditate daily, and look to themselves for inner intelligence and wisdom. They don’t just act on impulse, because that’s a stupid thing to do. When they do act on impulse or anger stupid things happen.”
“I always just tell people that if they want to get the Church Of Jediism just watch how Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn react to things, they’re so good. They also see the inspiration in things, they see qualities in Anakin that they want to develop and push his creativity.”
“People lose sight of their own ability to want to strive to do something. ‘Star Wars’ tells you to look at your creativity, look at what you’re good at, and really tune to that. I tell people to get stoked about life. To focus on what you’re good at.”
“I’d rather live a short life full of happiness than a long life full of misery.”
What have your members told you is the most important aspect of the religion to them?
“It’s important to them because it is a way of life that they resonate with. A lot of people have been searching. I feel like we are the blanket arm of all the millennials that have been lost.”
“Millennials have been looking for ways to get stoked about being alive again. Ways to get spiritually awakened. Every millennial I know says, ‘I’m not religious. But I feel a connection to the universe’.”
“They check out yoga, meditation, they love mindfulness, they always go to the gym, they know that there is something bigger there. Veganism, vegetarianism are so popular because these people are becoming more spiritually awaken.”
“Spirituality has had a really bad name, because of religion and terrorism and all this rubbish. But spirituality is a way of you connecting to the universe and nature and having that relationship so it is an open kind of bond. So you can communicate and communicate back, and you can feel that love for everybody.”
“That feeling of oneness is exactly what I am trying to grow. I feel like everybody is looking for that. So when people come to us they understand because we speak the same language. When people go to church people believe that there’s a guy in the sky sitting on a cloud. But I’m like God is everyone.”
“It says in the bible that the kingdom of God isn’t in one man, or a couple of men, it is within all men, which means that it is distributed everywhere. It’s those attributes that speak to so many people.”
Have other religions inspired it?
“It takes its roots from all religion really. Apart from the odd few crazy ones like Scientology. You can take good parts out of Christianity, like doing good for other people. It’s all about that good positive vibe.”
“It’s learning that you are important to the universe, just as it is to you. There’s also the meditation and training technique of Buddhism. I always tell people that the book is Buddhism for idiots. But it’s about finding that resonance for you.”
“I want people to get rid of the mist of reality and give them the tools to progress.”
You can head to The Church Of Jediism website to learn more.