This essay is from paraquem
Published on October 7, 2001
George Lucas & Carlos Castaneda in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Gaining an ally, and the Trials
"For my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is". Yoda
"Only a fully trained Jedi Knight with the Force as his ally will conquer Vader and his Emperor". - Yoda
"Fear is my ally". - Darth Maul
On the face of it, the above quotes would seem to be quite straightforward - the use of the word ally signifying nothing more than a weapon in one?s arsenal. Yet, here again, we are seeing Lucas quote from Castaneda, and in a way that provides the word with a greater meaning than would first appear to be the case. It also bears directly on Obi-Wan Kenobi?s assertion in The Phantom Menace that "I am ready to face the trials".
As mentioned in the prior section, tests and trials are commonplace in the quest for knowledge: a pre-requisite in fact. One such trial occurs when the aspirant sorcerer has accumulated enough personal power to meet the entity referred to as the ally. This encounter cannot be avoided - it is a mandatory, transitional event. Allies are essentially shapeless and featureless forms - all differing and quite terrifying. The aspirant must confront the ally, grab onto and overcome it. If this is done successfully, the individual has an ally - which essentially is a great step forward in the quest for knowledge. A scene, which comes from the first draft of "The Empire Strikes Back" refers to this idea I believe (though it has clearly been skewed from it?s original context to fit better into a Star Wars one) -
" ... Minch (Yoda) tells Luke that facing Vader is the real test for him. Luke concentrates, and suddenly two shapes rise from the swamp: one looks like Vader, and the other one is smaller, featureless but reminiscent of Luke. In ghostly voices they talk to each other. Vader says he wants Luke as an ally." (Annotated Screenplays, pages 182, 183).
The confrontation with the ally seems to be quite an illusory concept - Don Genaro Flores (another man of knowledge) describes his own encounter thus -
"It was a powerful jolt ... never would I have imagined it was going to be like that ... after I grabbed it we began to spin. The ally made me twirl, but I didn?t let go. We spun through the air with such speed and force that I couldn?t see anymore. Everything was foggy. The spinning went on and on. Suddenly I felt that I was standing on the ground again. I looked at myself. The ally had not killed me. I was in one piece. I was myself! I knew that I had succeeded. At long last I had an ally. I jumped up and down with delight. What a feeling! What a feeling it was!"
One thing, which becomes clear from reading Castaneda?s books, is that descriptions of events such as the one above have more impact when you allow yourself to consider them in an abstract way, rather than as literal, conventionally verifiable events. Unless Lucas chooses to further elaborate on these trials in the coming films, it appears he is employing a similar tactic - an ambiguous, personal encounter on the quest, faced alone and of great importance. (Perhaps we will come to regard Luke?s confrontation with Vader as an example of facing the trials).
The upshot of gaining one?s own ally is that there is no return to the world that the sorcerer once knew. This is important in comparing sorcerers/Jedi - it?s what separates them from others. They are not as everyone else because they are embarked on a solitary pursuit. Sorcerer & Jedi alike are both learning to expand their powers and knowledge while exerting complete control over themselves. It is a journey without end. There is a phrase found in Castaneda, which gives a good insight into this particular mindset - controlled folly.
Don Juan tells the story of how his son was killed (in an accident, as I remember it) - as he rushed over to the dying boy, he watched the last remnants of life flow from him, but rather than experience that moment as you or I would, he shifted his awareness so as not to be overrun by emotion.
Two instances in Star Wars would be relevant to the idea of this controlled folly, and both involve Obi Wan Kenobi. The first, when he watches his master killed by Darth Maul - he does not have the mastery or understanding of the Force, which allows him to see that this particular event is no more or less important than any other event; that all is equal in the flux. The second, in his ultimate encounter with Darth Vader, where he has complete serenity in the face of death - his mastery is great and his knowledge allows him the Star Wars equivalent of controlled folly.