Love Without Attachment: A Jedi View on Romance and Intimacy
Jedi Family by Steve Denbo. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License. [source]
There are many misconceptions about the intersection of romantic love and the role it plays in the lives of those that subscribe to a Jedi Path. These misconceptions spring from unfamiliarity of Jedi Philosophy and teaching, misconceptions of the Jedi Code, and misconceptions about what love is, and misconceptions on what leads to a healthy romantic relationship.
The guiding principle for Jedi when it comes to romance is that of non-attachment. The attitude is usually summed up as being able to let go of anything we fear to lose. Being able to give up a romantic relationship, to many beings seems anathema to their perception of commitment and fidelity. A Jedi can be as committed to another (or many) as any other, but the motivation for that commitment can either be a healthy or an unhealthy one. What is the determining factor? Consider this quote, from George Lucas, during a story meeting for The Clone Wars television series:
“You’re [Jedi are] allowed to love people, but you’re not allowed to posses them.”
This is the first thing that one must recognize when one loves and enters into a relationship as a A Jedi, is that people are not possessions. A person cannot belong to you the same way that your lightsaber prop replica or blu-ray collection can. To treat another being as such, is to deny them their own agency and autonomy. Treating another person as a possession, leads to attachment, or to put it in another way, a fear of loss.
If one treats another person as a thing to be a possessed, then selfishness can become a motivating factor in a relationship, and result in feelings of jealousy, which is a shadow of greed. Again this is rooted in a fear of loss, and a loss of the pleasing feelings of having this relationship. This is not so much the fear of a loss of a relationship, as much as it is avoidance of the pain of not having one. This fear leads to anger, and anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering, usually the suffering of the person with selfishness.
So what, if not attachment, does a Jedi rely upon to bond one to those they love, and enter into a relationship with others? Instead of attachment, a loving Jedi relationship is based on CHOICE.
An ideal relationship would bring all sorts of positive benefits to those participating in the relationship. If each party takes an attitude of selflessness, and it is reciprocated freely, then this is very easy to come by. A true measure of love, is not how happy another makes you, but how vital another's happiness is TO you. When a relationship is in this state, it is no great effort to exercise the choice to continue the relationship. A healthy relationship, is akin to the relationship between the midi-chlorians and all life-forms in the Galaxy Far Far Away, a symbiosis. Life-forms, living together for mutual benefit.
It is this mutual benefit that is fully keeping with the ideals of the Jedi. When this balance is not present, why would one wish to choose to be in such a relationship? I would posit, that it is a mark of a strong relationship that one is free to leave it at any time. To demonstrate why this is so, let's look at the contrast.
If a relationship was not resulting in mutual benefit, or was a patently unhappy or abusive in nature, and one felt as if they did not have a choice to leave, what would we call this?
This is not to say, that the Jedi attitude is drop any relationship that does not meet ideal expectations, and joyfully walk away whistling a happy tune. The choice to stay in a relationship, and applying knowledge, self-discipline, and the Force towards improving any shortcomings, or even making good things better, is more in keeping with Jedi attitudes, than to cut and run at the first sign of trouble. But what IS important, is that everyone in a relationship has a CHOICE to do this. It is my humble opinion that a relationship based on a self-determined choice will be more fulfilling than any relationship based on the obligations placed upon one by others.
Once we free our minds from the misconceptions that people are possessions, and take into account that love is not a finite resource bounds to concepts of division or economy, it leads to some interesting questions, some of which may be:
Does loving one individual in any way have any bearing on the capability to love any other individual, or many other individuals?
Does another's love for others, in any way have any bearing on if they can love me?
If I feel that love for another is expressed in the desire for their happiness, how should I feel about things outside of myself that also lead to their happiness?
I have found my own answers to these questions, and their implications. You may come to completely different conclusions than I have, yet maybe you will come up with the same that I have, or maybe you will improve upon them. In the end, the choice is yours to make.