Study Guide

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back The Little Green Buddha

The Little Green Buddha

The religion we can draw the most connections to is Buddhism. Specifically, Yoda's little platitudes are reminiscent of Zen kōans, which are short sayings used in Zen Buddhism to illustrate hard-to-grasp spiritual truths. These sayings are typically used to show the uselessness of human logic when comprehending spirituality

Sound familiar? It should—it's the same tactic used by Yoda here:

LUKE: All right, I'll give it a try.

YODA: No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.

And here:

LUKE: I don't believe it.

YODA: That is why you fail.

In both instances, Yoda twists Luke's logic around on him to highlight his lack of faith. While this can be frustrating for Luke, it reminds him (and, by extension, us) that the Force can't be comprehended through logical means.

Also, Yoda defines the light side of the Force as being passive and emotionally detached. Although similar concepts can be found in countless religions, we again find the most similarities with Buddhism, as the religion states that all pain is caused by our attachment to people and things—because everything is impermanent, all attachment inevitably leads to pain. Sounds like the whole path to the dark side thing, huh?

While our understanding of the nature of the Force changes over the course of the Star Wars series, its depiction in The Empire Strikes Back is perhaps the most significant, as it set the standard that launched this sci-fi religion into real-life fame.

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