As soon as the trailer for The Last Jedi broke, one comment stood out to Star Wars fans all over the world. In a fascinating sequence, we heard Luke speak as we saw mysterious images:
"Light." An image of the Resistance, with Leia Organa stood as leader.
"Darkness." The mask of Darth Vader.
"A balance." A group of mysterious books, believed by many fans to be the enigmatic Journal of the Whills.
But what does that word "balance" mean in relation to the Force? Anakin Skywalker was the Chosen One, destined to bring balance to the Force, but how did that actually work out? By Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi had come to believe that it meant he would be the one to destroy the Sith. That's why Obi-Wan tells Anakin that he was meant to destroy the Sith, not join them, and that's why Yoda muses that the prophecy could have been misinterpreted.
Anakin Skywalker clearly was the Chosen One. The Jedi clearly had misinterpreted the prophecy. But finally, the latest Star Wars novel — Guardians of the Whills by Greg Rucka — has given us a tantalizing hint as to just what "bringing balance to the Force" actually means.
This Is The Balance Of The Force
Set before #RogueOne and starring Chirrut and Baze, Guardians of the Whills is a fantastic story which takes place in the doomed Temple City of Jedha. It's a must-read for any Star Wars fan, diving into esoteric Force-traditions (even creating a few new ones), and fleshing out the culture of Jedha in a way that will make the Temple City's destruction all the more tragic.
Every chapter begins with a piece of Force-lore, collected by one of the Disciples of the Whills. The introduction to Chapter 11 is the most important, because it's possibly the first time we've ever seen someone define the term 'balance'...
"The moment between breaths
Is the balance of the Force.
Between life and death,
Rest and action,
Serenity and passion,
Hope and despair."
The quote is ascribed to Nartun Trecim, an "Ascendant of Mau" — and no, we have no idea what that means! Like many of the chapter introductions, the quote comes from a Force-sect we literally know nothing about. That does mean we should take it with a pinch of salt.
That said, let's face it; this is the first time we've ever been given a definition of "the balance of the Force." What's more, given Lucasfilm's increasing focus on the term (we've already seen it crop up in the trailers for both #TheLastJedi and #StarWarsRebels Season 4), we should sit up and take notice. Lucasfilm is using both the spinoff and sequel trilogy to fill in the gaps in our understanding of the Force, and this quote is clearly meant to be part of that.
What Does This Mean?
First of all, let's focus in on a single fascinating point; that, according to the Ascendant of Mau, to be balanced in the Force is to be between "serenity and passion". This is a radical statement, contrasting markedly with both the Jedi Code and the way of the Sith. Guardians of the Whills also includes a copy of the Jedi Code:
"There is no Emotion, there is Peace.
There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge.
There is no Passion, there is Serenity.
There is no Chaos, there is Harmony.
There is no Death.
There is the Force."
In contrast, the Sith insist the opposite; and, to stress the point, Guardians of the Whills gives us the Sith Code too:
"Peace is a lie. There is only Passion.
Through Passion I gain Strength.
Through Strength I gain Power.
Through Power I gain Victory.
Through Victory my chains are Broken.
The Force shall free me."
The Ascendant of Mau would reject both the Jedi and Sith Codes. The way of the light-siders is not balanced; the way of the dark-siders is not balanced. Balance is found between light and darkness.
This quote dovetails perfectly with one of the few clues #GeorgeLucas gave us as to the definition of balance: an episode of The Clone Wars that introduced us to two powerful Force-sensitive beings, "Son" and "Daughter," each of whom seemed to personify an aspect of the Force. Anakin proved himself the Chosen One by being able to master both.
What Does This Mean On A Galactic Scale?
Apply this principle on a galactic scale, and it's pretty clear that the yin of the light side needs the yang of the dark side. After all, according to this principle, 'balance' is somehow between life and death, between rest and action, between serenity and passion, and ultimately between hope and despair. This, then, is how Anakin Skywalker brought balance to the Force - after generations of imbalance, where the light had flourished, he ushered in an age of darkness. He destroyed both the Sith and the Jedi, leaving only his son behind, and left the galaxy fractured - between light and darkness.
Naturally, that balance couldn't possibly last; just as a person can't forever stay between serenity and passion, just as the living eventually die. If the Ascendant of Mau is correct in his interpretation, then the galaxy would inevitably return to some state of imbalance - as the light side attempted to exert the rule of law, as the dark side lashed out in fury. The state of conflict between the light and dark sides, broadly signified by the Rebellion / New Republic and the Empire, would inevitably result in another imbalance.
Is This Why The Jedi Must End?
The trailer for The Last Jedi featured Luke Skywalker declaring that it is time for the Jedi to end. Is this why? Has he realized that the Jedi Code is wrong, that each person needs to find a point of 'balance' between light and dark? If so, this fits perfectly with the first poster for The Last Jedi - which shows Rey standing between light (Luke) and darkness (Kylo Ren). Luke isn't training Rey to become a Jedi; he's training her to become something new, something balanced.
Perhaps even a Disciple of the Whills? That would certainly fit with the intriguing books from the trailer, which many fans believe are the Journals of the Whills.
After all these years, we finally have our first canon definition of what it means to be 'balanced' in the Force. Of course, because it's in-universe, it's entirely possible that the Ascendant of Mau is wrong in his definition. Given it's the first time Lucasfilm has troubled to give us much of a hint, though, we should take this quote pretty seriously...
Do you think the Ascendant of Mau's definition is correct?
(Poll Image Credit: Lucasfilm)