Work Header

A Brief Reflection

Work Text:

Obi-Wan knew that the vast majority of sentient beings in the galaxy were not members of a Force cult of some stripe or stature. That did not prevent him from feeling like every planet in the galaxy was populated mostly with cultists, given how often he and Master Qui-Gon tended to run into them. Or be sent out on a mission specifically to deal with them. Only, in this case 'deal with' was far more literal than typical.

"They don't understand the danger of the forces they're talking about, Master! The Dark side is not some misunderstood philosophy, it is a very real and corrosive danger. They could do irreparable harm with their misled theologies." Obi-Wan did not understand why Master Qui-Gon was so blasé about the cultists involved in the territory dispute they had been sent to help deal with. Qui-Gon was strong in the force, and typically had very little patience for those who misrepresented it.

In retrospect, the continuing tirade against their hosts, who had been perfectly polite the whole length of their stay, was perhaps beneath Obi-Wan’s dignity. Nevertheless, Master Qui-Gon heard him out, let Obi-Wan get all of the frustration and irritation off of his chest. And then he raised an eyebrow in that (frankly, infuriating) way of his, and suggested that tomorrow Obi-Wan should absent himself from the treaty talks. That he should spend some time in the temple, perhaps talk to the priests there. That Qui-Gon would be fine for a day without Obi-Wan, he had been doing this sort of thing for a while after all.

It was not really a suggestion.

The temple was… nice. Obi-Wan couldn’t deny that - despite the dangerous and troublesome beliefs of the practitioners, the temple’s atmosphere was peaceful and introspective. The Force felt calm here - not quite like back home, or at temples of cults devoted to the Light side of the Force - it was sharper, somehow. Calm, but without any of the comfortable somnolence that sometimes creeped up on you in a place bathed in Light. It irritated Obi-Wan how much he liked it.

He wandered, a bit. Looking at the frescoes that decorated the walls, and the statuary. The temple was full of art. There were two main figures, repeated throughout; both women, one hard faced and dressed in functional black clothes, the other softer, and dressed in white Jedi tunic and the traditional robes.

The hard faced woman was associated with scrolls or books, and weaponry of all kinds - including lightsabers, in many images. Her face always looked the same - harsh, and expressionless.

The softer woman was always shown in the traditional garb of a Jedi, sometimes with her tunic shown, and sometimes not. Her face was always emotive - the whole range of emotion was shown, from grief to joy to terror; sometimes conflicting emotions were displayed in the same image. She was symbolically associated with flowers, and masks - both whole and broken.

On the wall behind the altar hung the two largest images in the temple. Representing the two figures featured throughout, the images showed them in a iconographic style, starkly contrasted. On the left, the hard faced woman stood in profile, wearing black and holding a scroll and a dagger, in front of a light blue background. Underneath the image was a name; 'Meetra Surik'. On the right, the softer woman looked directly out, dressed in Jedi robes and a white tunic, lotus blossoms falling from her hands; tears in her eyes and a smile on her lips, she was surrounded by red. Underneath was the name 'Darth Revan'.

It was surprising to Obi-Wan. Meetra Surik was a well known figure in the history he had been taught - she played a pivotal role in revitalizing the Jedi order after the events of the war with - well, with Revan, that followed the Mandalorian war.

Typically, in artistic representation Meetra Surik was not quite so... hard. She was a Jedi of the highest renown, it was far more common to see her in the robes and tunics. He supposed that this image of her did look focused, in the way of some Jedi Masters - but he had always pictured her far more serene.

The image of Revan was also very non-typical. It was generally accepted, by historians in the Temple, that the historic figure thought of as 'Revan' was in reality several different figures. This accounts for the wildly different physical descriptions of Revan, as well as the fanciful fairy tale of a Sith turning away from the Dark side. While there are verified historic precedents for a Force user who has dabbled in the Dark side turning away and coming back to the Light, it is well known that after a certain point, there is no hope.

The symbolism of the background colors was not lost on Obi-Wan; the artist clearly tied the focused, warlike figure of Meetra Surik to the light side of the force - and the soft, emotive figure of Revan to the dark. It reminded Obi-Wan of some of the more outré philosophical debates in the Temple. The warnings against attempting to eradicate emotion - that even being too aggressive in controlling emotions could lead to hardness and lack of compassion. He could, perhaps, see why Qui-Gon was intrigued by these people.

A soft sound startled Obi-Wan out of his thoughts.

An old man stood behind him. Clearly one of the priests at this temple, he gave Obi-Wan a look that was uncomfortably close to the knowing gaze Master Yoda gives young initiates with difficult philosophical questions, which Yoda would then proceed to not answer - except, possibly years later, the initiate would realize that he actually had. It was a somewhat irritating look.

The old man spoke with a soft voice. "Fascinating, isn't it, how even seemingly simple conflicts can have so many sides? Control versus release, action versus inaction, Light side vs Dark... But Revan and Meetra were friends, and worked together on many things, some good and some bad, and were never truly in conflict. And yet, seem to be in almost every way opposed."

Obi-Wan heard, but could not contain his complaint, "To use the title 'Darth'... you revere a Sith! The Dark side is evil and cannot be used for good."

The old man raised an eyebrow. "Is a sword evil? A blaster? There are precious few ways to use any weapon for good - what is important is intent and context."

Obi-Wan had heard this line before. Philosophical debates were, to a certain extent, encouraged at the Temple; and Master Qui-Gon encouraged them even more. He already knew his response. "Yes, but swords and blasters do not corrupt like the Dark side. To use the Dark side is to open yourself to the Dark side, until all that is left is uncontrolled emotion and dangerous power."

"You speak from personal experience?" The old man inquired dryly, and sighed, as Obi-Wan's expression seemed to tell him that his jest had hit a little bit too close to home. The old man continued, though in a gentler tone, "You're not wrong. Though, you should consider: violence is much the same. You have experienced far too much violence for your young years - both given and received. And our teachings here scare you - can you deny that your first response to that fear was to consider violence?"

Obi-Wan shifted uncomfortably. He couldn't deny that - the thought had crossed his mind more than once, even, that he wasn't sure why they were sitting and talking and arranging territory compromises with these cultists instead of fighting them. Or that he expected violence from them, despite there being no rational reason to, and no indication that they were inclined towards violent action, other than their attitudes towards what was for them an almost entirely philosophical question.

But still - "A Jedi does not allow fear to control him. In the Force we find the serenity to be wise, and use violence only when appropriate. The Dark side destroys that ability."

That look was back in the old man's eyes. "Hmm. It is to your credit that you recognize this about yourself. You are correct - as long as the serenity of the Light side is what prevents you from, ah 'inappropriate violence' then you should stay far from the Dark side. But be careful, Obi-Wan - your needs are not everyone's, and  your motivations are not everyone's. The lessons you have learned can look very different from other points of view."

The old man left, as suddenly as he had appeared. Obi-Wan was once again alone in the temple, with the statues, and the paintings. He stayed for a while longer, and meditated. He was... intrigued, and was planning on going back the next day.

Of course, then the territory dispute meetings were attacked by the droid pirates which had caused the dispute in the first place, and it was revealed the pirates had been working for the planetary governor all along, and Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were naturally caught up in the plot, which involved a kidnapping, and several crates of seeds of a species of plant previously thought extinct, and Obi-Wan never did get the chance to go back to the temple, or speak to the old priest again. The words they had exchanged stuck in his mind, and he spent several sessions of meditation musing upon them, but ultimately, the temple, and the priest, and the two paintings, were forgotten.