Lord Falcon wrote:
What? Am I missing something? Isn't ceasing to exist the same thing as losing your individual consciousness? I am not trying to offend people. Sorry if you were.
Ask a Hindu, or a Buddhist.
Philosophically, there's a difference between transcendence and dying. Insofar as it's defined, the Jedi concept of transcendence in the afterlife is very different from that of real Eastern religions, but it at least resembles them more than it resembles the Western concept of personal survival in a life after death. If you tap into that extra set of concepts and frames of reference, it becomes easy to imagine ways for the Jedi philosophy to work.
For example, the Jedi might reasonably hold that the very idea of self is an illusion: that there is no discrete "I," only a little localized plot of territory within the Force. Influences flow into the territory from outside, or out of the territory to affect the rest of the Force, and there's constant interaction- there is no sense in which we can draw a box around the territory and say "this territory is totally different and autonomous from the rest of reality."
Drawing such a box is exactly what we do when we talk about our own consciousness. There is "me," and there is "everything else," and never the twain shall meet. "My" decisions are discrete and distinct from all other processes in the universe, for do "I" not have free will?
But to someone who perceives the entire cosmos as bound together as I've described, the boxes are not real. To someone who has transcended the limits we experience walking about daily life, they are illusions. This is similar to how astronauts have sometimes noted that national boundaries appear illusionary from space. From space all you see of the land below is the terrain, not the lines people draw to decide which parts of it belong to whom. From the point of view of an extremely enlightened Jedi, as the Jedi define enlightenment, perhaps all they see of the minds 'below' is the Force. They see that, and not the boundaries people draw to define exactly which bits of the cosmos are "me" and which bits are "not-me."
And from that basis, one might say that drawing the lines is bad for you- trying to define which bits of reality are "you" versus "not-you" distorts your perceptions and your ability to do the things that uphold the proper order of the cosmos. Thus, abandoning your sense of individuality and accepting that "you" are the territory, not the arbitrary borderlines you drew on
the territory, can be viewed as a good thing.
It doesn't mean the territory goes away, either- it just means that the territory no longer makes a fetish out of being viewed as this totally discrete, autonomous thing and accepts its relationship to the larger world around it.
Note that I'm not saying this is true
, and I'm not trying to describe any real Eastern religious belief. I'm just saying I can easily imagine the Jedi believing it. It would give them a way to explain a difference between ceasing to exist and losing your consciousness, and why one might be considered bad while the other is good.
As to Force ghosts, the obvious explanation is that you're training yourself to leave an 'imprint' of your memories and persona on the 'territory' in the Force that you once occupied- something that can interact with the outside world as if you were still alive. This isn't necessarily doing yourself a favor, but if you still have work to do after you die or want to be able to leave some kind of connecting thread between yourself and the material world for a while, it's an option I guess.