The Force is probably one of the most difficult subjects one could be asked to write anything about. One of the aspects I personally wrestle with is the whole idea of that the Force can be aspected. In terms of human beings, and are limitations when it comes to categorizing things, there may be a purpose for it. Outside of social code, I cannot see any reason for it.
The idea of categorizing the Force into “paths” always seemed wrong to me, mainly because I can see similarities in practically all things, even if they are suppose to be polar opposites in the most extreme sense. Often, the idea of seeing paths and perspectives on such an indeterminate subject rings to me of looking closely at one tree and ignoring the fact that it’s part of an entire forest. While there are times that paying attention to detail is useful and necessary, there are other times when it seems to be a lot more disruptive than beneficial. In my opinion, this happens to be one of those times.
Let me start of with the three main categories of paths as I have heard them described and (sort of) understand them:
You have the Light or Holy Paths, which basically states that the Force should be used to help others, preferably in a peaceful and non- intrusive manner. On an emotional level, this should be done as an act of compassion and love. This also implies that the Force should not be used for selfish ends and should not be used in harmful manners, particularly in terms of hate and anger. Major religions such as Christianity and Judaism fit into this category … along with lesser known philosophies such as certain sectors of Wiccanism and New Age.
You have the Dark Paths, which states that each person who learns to use the Force, something we should all be able to do inherently if we bother to cultivate the skill, has a negative side that they must learn to master in order to master their life. Now we have a wide range of definition here as to how much manipulation and control you might invoke on others. Control is a key issue here, but that doesn’t necessarily imply control over everyone else. Some philosophies push the idea you should be in control of everything and everyone else, while other philosophies tell you to mind your own backyard and just focus on yourself. The one thing all the philosophies have in common is this: the Dark Paths do not make moralistic calls on whether or not an action is right or wrong, but will state that an action can cause more liabilities than benefits if not properly considered. The key is thinking through one’s actions and taking complete responsibility for them regardless of what happens. You are in control of what happens, therefore you must act accordingly. Some philosophies of the more objective dark paths include Qlippothic study in Qabalism and Crone sectors of Wicca. The extremes are a given … such as Satanism, Setian practices, and so on.
Finally, you have the Shadow Path, which states that the Force is neither good nor evil, it just is. Any course of action can be taken in dealing with circumstances, but trouble will inevitably result if the balance between positive and negative (which is entirely subjective here) is upset. The primary focus is to develop a sense of balance with all aspects of the Force, perhaps even an acceptance as you will, and respond to a given situation with the most appropriate response. A lot of religions have more of a shadow connotation as they deal with all aspects of life and death … including Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Shintoism, the Qabalah in its entirety, Druidic studies and the majority of the Wiccan sects.
The funny thing about all of this is that I see some common threads throughout all of the philosophies. The only idea that changes is whether or not you can call things right or wrong, proper or improper, positive or negative. Since these terms are entirely subjective in nature, who is right? It’s all a matter of perspective. The Force is there regardless of what labels you would like to put on it and what direction you wish to take. If you keep in mind that the paths are only as useful as one allows the definitions of them to be, you begin to realize that they really have no inherent differences. The only difference seems to be in the language used to describe it.
This brings us to an interesting point about the truth. As it has been said, the truth is still the truth. The same thing would apply here. No matter how we try to describe something, or regardless of the type of spin we might put on a subject to get it to conform to our viewpoint, the truth is going to be the same no matter what. In this case though, the question we need to ask is what is the truth? Who has it right? Does any of us? Or perhaps each one of us is holding a piece of the puzzle, and when we gather enough pieces and learn to discuss differing viewpoints without becoming homicidal over it, we might just come up with the answer. Unfortunately, I think we are a far cry off from either of those two objectives.
With that in mind, there is only one thing left to do – make the decision for yourself. And understand that the decision you make is ONLY for yourself. It doesn’t have to apply to everyone else. It’s the best anyone is going to be able to do at this stage of the game.