In Star Wars, Gray Jedi were a group who split from the Jedi order. Their belief in using the light and dark side of the force is mostly misguided.
The Force is one of the central tenets of Star Wars mythology, as are those who wield it; in the Light stand the noble Jedi, in the Dark dwell the devious Sith. Between them, however, lie the Gray Jedi, those who study both the Light and Dark while exercising powers of both.
However, proving that sometimes the answer does not always lie in the center, the code followed by the Gray Jedi is riddled with problematic interpretations of The Force. Let us take a look at how this creed fails to measure up.
It states “The Force” isn’t divided. “There is no Dark Side, nor a Light Side. There is only The Force,” proclaims the opening passage of the Gray Jedi code. This statement embodies the Gray Jedi view of the Force, for they embrace a holistic study of its nature and power. However, to claim that no-division between Light and Dark exists in The Force is patently incorrect; aside from statements otherwise by practically every Jedi and Sith in Star Wars canon, the ethereal realm of Mortis was inhabited by three beings (pictured) who represented aspects of the Force, with the Daughter (left) embodying the Light and the Son (right) personifying the Dark.
The Jedi already seek to balance “The Force”. In Legends, the term “Gray Jedi” emerged from Jedi Knights who disagreed with the authority of the Jedi Council and their interpretations of Jedi tradition. However, their disagreements evidently did not diverge enough, as overriding virtue professed in the Gray Jedi code is Balance, something the Jedi themselves already seek; the ultimate goal of the order is to bring balance to the Force. This exposes how the Gray Jedi misconstrue what balance truly means, something which brings us to our next point…
It misunderstands what “Balance” in “The Force” means. A theme of the Gray Jedi code is describing “balance” as something wherein the Light and Dark exist in equilibrium. An understandable mistake, but a mistake, nonetheless. However, George Lucas has clarified that “balance” refers to the removal of the Darkness in the Force altogether, for the Dark Side is like a cancer that must be removed for the greater good of the universe. After all, Anakin Skywalker only fulfilled his destiny to bring balance to the Force when he killed Darth Sidious and destroyed the Sith in Return of The Jedi.
It equivocates The Jedi and The Sith. The Gray Jedi code positions its followers as “protectors of balance,” implying that they are the true guardians of The Force’s power, while those on both the Light and Dark would lead the cosmic power astray.
While the Jedi and their teachings are not flawless, to compare their oft-misguided attempts at preserving peace and justice to the ways of the Sith is simply wrong. The Sith are an order whose very existence is built off hate and greed. They desire only the pain of and power over others, which cannot be seen as anything but a lapse in judgement.
It leaves the door to corruption open. By permitting its followers to indulge in the Dark Side, the Gray Jedi code creates the potential for them to be consumed by it. To paraphrase Master Yoda, the Dark Side is not more powerful in-and-of-itself, but it is easier and quicker to gain power by embracing the Dark. This, mixed with the inherent, if fleeting, catharsis of succumbing to one’s passions, means the Dark Side is addictive. The longer one toes the line, the more likely they are to fall towards the Dark. The reason for the overly restrictive codes of behavior enforced by the Jedi was because often the temptation of the Dark Side is too great for even the strongest to resist.
The presence of Light and Dark does not bring inner peace. “The balance is what keeps me together” declares the Gray Jedi code, for apparently allowing both the Light and Dark to exist within you is the true path to inner peace. However, what we have seen onscreen in Star Wars proves this just is not true.
Look to Kylo Ren’s arc in The Force Awakens, where he feels himself being “torn apart” due to the Light still existing within him despite his devotion to the Darkness. Furthermore, when he finally does choose the Dark by killing his father, the act brings him no peace, but unbalances him more since he fails to defeat a girl who has never held a Lightsaber. Any flirtation with the Darkness will ultimately bring pain, for the only true path to peace is the Light.
“Serenity, Yet Emotion”. The Gray Jedi code preaches “Serenity, yet emotion” implying embracing both is the true way of The Force. Whilst such states of mind can of course exist in the same person, to believe they can simultaneously be off base. To achieve serenity, one must clear their mind and let go of passions, while giving into visceral emotions will rob one of serenity. If one tries to find both at the same time, they will achieve neither.
“Chaos, Yet Order”. The Gray Jedi further believe in “Chaos, yet Order” another attempt to bridge the Jedi and Sith codes that only show the philosophies as incompatible opposites.
The Jedi’s spiritual focus on inner peace and mission to maintain such peace throughout the galaxy provides a path to order, while the Sith’s quest for power above all else leaves the galaxy, and The Force, in chaos. To attempt middle ground between contradictory goals will, once again, bring you neither.
The Grey Code presumes The Jedi own The Light. Since the Gray Jedi arose out of the Jedi Order, naturally much of their philosophy reflects their disagreements with the Order. However, as a result, the Code comes off more as a rejection of the Jedi way than the Light Side itself. As Luke Skywalker himself puts it, “That Force does not belong to the Jedi. To say that if the Jedi die the Light dies, is vanity.” One does not need be a Jedi to stand in The Light, and disagreements with the Jedi certainly is not license to indulge in the Dark.
What It Gets Right: The Dark must not spread. “There is no good without evil, but evil must not be allowed to flourish;” at first glance this may read as typical Gray Jedi equivocation, but it is the only part of the code that firmly rejects The Dark Side, recognizing that its evil is a greater threat than the Light could ever be. The former part of the passage rings just as true, for it is only by rejecting evil that the side of good has any weight; the reason Luke declaring himself “a Jedi, like [his] father before him,” remains such a powerful moment is that with that statement, he is rejected Palpatine’s temptations and thus the easy path to power in favor of moral goodness.
The Jedi Code:
The Sith Code:
The Grey Code: