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Yoda is a character and a protagonist in the Star Wars universe, who appears in five of the six films of the two trilogies. Yoda dies in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, when he is 900 years old. Although not specifically defined as a Buddhist, the teachings, actions, and style of this character place him similar to a Zen master or Samurai knight.
Buddhist type quotes and teachings
“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” Yoda
The Jedi Order of celibate knights base their lives on such things as mindfulness, serenity, and the mysterious “Force”. Not unlike the celibate forest monks of Thailand, if one replaces the “Force” with the Dhamma. There are also the obvious similarities to the Samurai who vehemently adopted Zen.
"You must unlearn what you have learned."
“Nothing more will I teach you today. Clear your mind of questions.” (Similar to the preparation for meditation, clearing the mind to focus on the breath, sensations, etc.)
At one point Luke enters a cave for meditation to confront his demons and then states:
Luke Skywalker: “What’s in there?”
Yoda: “Only what you take with you.”
Luke Skywalker: “But how am I to know the good side from the bad?”
Yoda: "You will know. When you are calm, at peace. Passive.”
And one of the best quotes by Yoda:
“Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try.” (Similar to the Zen concept of succeeding or feeling as if you will face death used in sports, etc.)
The name Yoda
The name itself, Yoda is very similar to the Pali word "Yodha" and is pronounced the same. "Yodha" means 'soldier' and the character in the movie was a sort of Samurai master (Jedi) as well as a philosopher and teacher.
The word is also similar to the Greek word iota which also means very small.
The name is also Hebrew: Yoda is a nickname for Jodea (similar to Jediah or Jedediah). The Hebrew meaning: "One who knows."
In Freemasonry, the name Jota is a hidden master; and a wizened, short entity with pointed ears which looks very much like the film character.
- Article by Dr. Alexander Berzin, 1998
- The Dharma of Star Wars by Matthew Bortolin. Wisdom Publications, 2005.
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