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The Dharma of Star Wars Paperback – April 15, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (April 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0861714970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861714971
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bortolin, an ordained member of Thich Nhat Hanh's Buddhist community, may be the ideal person to write about the Buddhist themes in Star Wars: he camped out for tickets to all of the movies—even the less than stellar ones—and possesses his very own set of Jedi robes. In short, consistent chapters, Bortolin explores themes such as suffering, mindfulness, karma and transcending the dark side. One especially helpful chapter examines what nirvana is, comparing it to the all-pervasive Force of Star Wars, and clarifying that nirvana isn't a sort of Buddhist heaven or a blissed-out mental condition. Rather, Bortolin asserts, it is "the very absence of ideas and conceptualization." Bortolin looks to Jedi meditation as a parallel discipline to the Buddhist practice of mindfulness meditation. In this state, Jedi knights "get in touch with reality as it truly is," observing their minds with calm compassion and allowing greater understanding of the present moment. One of the book's greatest strengths is Bortolin's stubborn determination to find something redeeming about the two most recent Star Wars films, and he does actually recover enough of these nuggets to make some fans take a second look at those overhyped flicks. With humor, strong examples and timeless wisdom, Bortolin offers a new way to think about a pop culture phenomenon. Lead us to Yoda, he does. (Apr.)
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Review

"With humor, strong examples and timeless wisdom, Bortolin offers a new way to think about a pop culture phenomenon. Lead us to Yoda, he does." (Publishers Weekly)

"Whether you interpret 'The Force' as being Nirvana or the Holy Spirit, finding spirituality in 'Star Wars' can bring that galaxy far, far away a lot closer to home." (Newsweek)

"A light-hearted exploration of the Star Wars movies, providing a new take on the six-part space fantasy epic. It's a good introduction to teachings of Buddha, and how they infuse the characters of Star Wars...on both the light and dark sides of the force." (SFRevu)

"The Dharma of Star Wars is, simply put, many of life's little lessons wrapped up in Jedi robes. You don't have to be a believer in the Buddhist way of life to appreciate some of the wisdom that emanates from these pages." (StarWarz.com)

"Star Wars fans will find Bortolin's pleasant humor and simple directness immensely enjoyable and thought provoking, while longtime spiritual practitioners will discover a new and profound avenue into self-transformation."-- (Robert A. Johnson, author of He and She and We and Owning Your Own Shadow)

"A must-read for anyone ever inspired by the wisdom of Yoda, the courage of Luke Skywalker or drawn to the dark side by Darth Vader." (Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx)

"This will be a welcome and enlightening addition to Star Wars fans' world, opening up a new way to understand the narrative of this beloved series. Bortolin's Padawan Handbook is especially useful." (Sumi Loundon, editor of Blue Jean Buddha: Voices of Young Buddhists)

"Whether you are a fan of Star Wars or not; whether you are a newcomer to Buddhist thought or a long-time practitioner, his light, yet richly rewarding approach provides a fresh perspective that should encourage deeper thinking and practice." (Frank Jude Boccio, author of Mindfulness Yoga)

"This entertaining and insightful primer provides a useful service to future film buffs who want to better understand the real-life religion behind this popular fictional world. Bortolin succeeds in ferreting out some real wisdom from [the films], providing a Buddhist interpretation of the Jedi Way." (Tricycle)

"A clear and clever introduction to Buddhism. The work will also broaden anyone's understanding and appreciation of the subtle underpinnings of Lucas' films. Bortolin's work is an important contribution to the lexicon of modern Western Buddhist studies. The book draws an arc of meaning and wisdom across the centuries from the deer park to the pinnacle of 21st century pop culture." (Ashe Journal)

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Customer Reviews

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I love this well written book!
Reiko J. Enomoto
SO when I saw Bortolins book "The Dharma of STar Wars" I had to flip through it.
tirednow
If the book can help you in little ways like that, then this is a good thing.
Lou Tambone

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on April 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book. Matthew Bortolin uses the story of Star Wars (across all six movies) to illustrate Buddhist concepts and uses Buddhist concepts to highlight deeper themes in the Star Wars saga. The result makes Star Wars more profound and moving and Buddhism more accessible. Avid fans of Star Wars will appreciate all the detailed references provided by a true fan devoted to the series, while more casual Star Wars viewers will find the movies much more compelling after reading this book. Those new to Buddhism will learn a lot from Bortolin's accessible, human way of presenting these ideas, while those with more familiarity will likely experience new insights from Bortolin's novel approach. It's nice to read something that is funny and entertaining yet also contains real wisdom and insight. I find myself thinking about things mentioned in the book as I'm dealing with various situations in my life. And now I'm really looking forward to seeing Episode 3!
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Carroll on June 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
I immediately bought this book when I saw it on display in the bookstore, without needing to flip through and read passages. I believe that the "Star Wars" films are the most spiritual films ever made, as the story is soaked in classic mythological motifs with heavy borrowing from Buddhist ideas about how our universe works. This book is written by a "Star Wars" fan, so he knows his material, and because he's also a Buddhist, he is able to write the main tenets of Buddhism in easy to understand concepts for anyone familiar with the Star Wars characters.

When I saw "The Phantom Menace" in 1999, I was baffled by the amount of backlash that film inspired in fans. The film expanded our knowledge of "the Force" and I remember getting chills when Qui-Gon Jinn told Anakin: "remember, your focus determines your reality." That line sums up my spiritual beliefs in a perfect phrase and I'm glad to read that the author of this book mentioned that several times as well. Another thing that the author brilliantly picked up on was the character of Jar Jar Binks, which so many fans HATED with an unbelievable passion. I happened to love Jar Jar Binks and I don't think it was accidental that Lucas made him as annoying as he was. The name "Jar Jar" should clue anyone in to Lucas' point...being so close to the word "jarring". This book will have you seeing Jar Jar Binks in a totally new light and I'm glad someone pointed it out so Lucas doesn't have to spell it out for everyone.

In "Attack of the Clones", my favorite of the new trilogy, I got chills when I saw the ethereal glowing blue in the Jedi library and the scene where Obi-Wan tries to find Kamino with his three dimensional galaxy map. Those scenes are some of the most spiritual-intuitive scenes I've ever seen in ANY movie.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lou Tambone on January 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Dharma of Star Wars is, simply put, many of life's little lessons wrapped up in Jedi robes. You don't have to be a believer in the Buddhist way of life to appreciate some of the wisdom that emanates from these pages. Author, Matthew Bortolin, seems quite qualified to write the piece and it shows in the writing and the examples he uses, pulled straight from the Star Wars films.

This book, much like The Tao of Star Wars, was a learning experience for me. I enjoy reading about the parallels between different religions and Star Wars. George Lucas went to great lengths to make sure that his films were not religion-specific, meaning that they didn't cater to any one belief system outright. You can watch the films and find elements of Buddhism, Catholicism, Judaism, and more. Therefore, just about any belief system could be the basis for countless books comparing it to Star Wars, and I feel that this book won't be the last.

Bortolin never fails to impress you with his knowledge of Buddhism and of Star Wars. He colors each page with many phrases from the film or replaces the more cliche every day words you might use with some kind of Star Wars reference or term. That's where Star Wars fans will have the most fun here - relating the important lessons learned within the pages to their favorite films. Sometimes it's easier to teach something to someone by using familiar examples. Jesus did this with the parables he told and likewise, Buddha told many similar stories, some of which you'll read in this book.

This book definitely caters to fans but I feel anyone can read this work and learn a thing or two. There's a lovely section near the end called "The Padawan Handbook" that contains "Zen Contemplations for the Would-Be Jedi.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By tirednow on June 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm a Star Wars fan. Not a crazy, angry, I know more about STarWars then anyone you ever met, I spend 18 hours a day on Fanboy message boards Star Wars fan, but a fan. SO when I saw Bortolins book "The Dharma of STar Wars" I had to flip through it. AT first I thought "this guys just yanking us into his hokey Religeon with the everpowerfull starwars tractor beam". But the first lines of the book "Snaphiss! the red-bladed lightsaber arches through the air toward its target. At the last instant green-blade rises to meet it, locking the two into static tension. The battle of the Jedi and the SIth is rejoined" made me keep reading, and reading and reading. My first instinct about the book was right. BOrtolin does use Star wars to talk about Buddhism, and I'm glad he did, because I probably wouldn't have read a Buddhist book otherwise. SOmehow using jar jar binks to describe how my mind is always running off in a million directions rather than being "concentrated on the here and now where it belongs" made perfect sense to me and I started to appreciate that I could get to know Buddhist practice and enjoy myself at the same time..
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