Space Buddhism: The Adoption of Buddhist Motifs in Star Wars

  • Author(s): Christian Feichtinger
  • When: 2014-03
  • Where: Contemporary Buddhism
  • The Star Wars film-series has been an unprecedented commercial success in the history of cinema and has made a huge cultural impact. This is not least because of its creator George Lucas making wide use of religious and mythological elements, in his search for a new spiritual and moral guidance for a young audience. In this process, Lucas also adopts Buddhist symbols, values, and ideas in his concept of the order of the Jedi and their spirituality. These include sitting meditation, mindfulness, compassion, interdependence, or the overcoming of attachment. Thus, Star Wars represents and promotes Buddhist elements, but deprives them of their Buddhist origin, as Buddhism as a tradition does not exist in Lucas' 'galaxy far, far away'. Although Star Wars might serve as a vehicle to bring Buddhist ideas to Western audiences, in fact Lucas uses the distance of Asian and Buddhist culture to the Western world to also enact the Jedi as the Other, mysterious and fascinating, in an approach that can be defined as orientalistic.

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