Tao of Star Wars – Book Review
Today I will be reviewing a book named “The Tao of Star Wars” written by John M. Porter, MD. in which he explores the worldview and concepts of Taoism by drawing metaphors and examples from the Star Wars movies.
Dr. Porter has been practicing Taoism for the past couple of decades and integrates his Taoist practice with Aikido (which works on the same principles as Tai Chi). He is also the Professor of Clinical Surgery and is the Chief Trauma Surgeon at the University of Arizona.
Before I go on, I’d just like to note that Buddhism and Taoism are very similar and even influenced each other when Buddhism was introduced in China by the Indian monk named Bodhidharma. In fact, the people in ancient China viewed Buddhism as a foreign relative of Taoism.
The author spends the first part of the book defining all of the basic Taoist terminology such as Tao, Te, Yin & Yang, Emptiness, Acceptance, Patience, and many others referencing quotes from the Tao Te Ching.
After this overview, the rest of the chapters are devoted to using Star Wars metaphors and examples that relate to specific Taoist themes such as Acceptance, Patience, Simplicity, Humility, etc.
For example in Star Wars: A New Hope Obi-Wan tells Luke:
“The Force is what gives the Jedi his power.
It’s an energy field created by all living things.
It surrounds us, and penetrates us.
It binds the galaxy together.”
The author draws a parallel between the Force and the Tao and cites the following passages from the Tao Te Ching:
“The great Tao flows everywhere
All things are born from it…
It is merged with all things
And hidden in their hearts”
– Chapter 34 (Tao Te Ching)
“It flows through all things,
Inside and outside, and returns
To the origin of all things”
-Chapter 25 (Tao Te Ching)
I was really impressed by this book and the way the author seamlessly integrates the Star Wars examples into the text without missing a beat. The author writes in an engaging manner and presents all of the concepts in a way that is very easy to understand.
This is by far one of the best books on Taoism that I’ve ever read and since I also love the Star Wars movies, that made the book even better for me.
After reading this book not only did I have a better understanding of Taoism, but also a better understanding of how Eastern philosophy influenced George Lucas when he created the Jedi & Sith (which are like Yin and Yang) and the concept of the Force.
To illustrate this, the author includes a quote by George Lucas on how he developed the concept of ‘The Force’:
“I read a lot of books about mythology and the theories behind mythology; one of the books was ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ by Joseph Campbell, but there were many others, maybe as many as fifty books.
I basically worked out a general theory for the Force, and then I played with it. The more detail I went into, the more detracted from the concept I was trying to put forward.
I wanted to take all religions, major religions, and primitive religions, and come up with something that they might have in common. It worked better as I got less specific, so the real essence was to try to deal with the Force but not to be too specific about it.”
I would definitely recommend this book to both Star Wars fans as well as those who are interested in learning more about Taoism and how it influenced the Star Wars mythology.
Get your copy today!