3. Yoda: “[M]y ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force flow around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, yes, even between the land and the ship.”

This quote appears in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. This is Yoda’s most impassioned exposition of the nature of the Force, and he delivers it just as Luke is doubting his own gifts. When Luke’s X-Wing fighter sinks further into the mire of Dagobah, Yoda encourages Luke to use his levitation skills to salvage the ship. Luke is daunted by the task, so much so that when he does try to move the ship, he fails. Yoda then explains that Luke is going about the problem the wrong way: “Size matters not,” he tells Luke. Rather than focusing on the relative differential in size between himself and the ship, Luke should open up himself to the Force as it flows around and through him. Once he does so, says Yoda, he will feel connected to the ship in such a way that the relative size of it will not matter. He encourages Luke here to see himself, others, and indeed the entire world in terms of spirit, life, and energy, not “crude” matter. However, Luke becomes frustrated and angrily turns away.

To prove his point, Yoda then extends his arm and, using the force, rather easily lifts the ship completely up out of the swamp and levitates it over to dry land. Stunned by this awesome display of skill and power, Luke stammers, “I don’t believe it.” “That,” Yoda replies, “is why you fail.” Yoda’s point is that when it comes to mental powers and the horizon of the mind, the only limits we have are those we choose for ourselves. Luke told himself that it was impossible to move the ship, and so it was impossible—for him. Once Luke begins to set aside his ingrained notions of what is possible and impossible, once he begins to “unlearn” what he knows (as Yoda puts it), his powers begin to grow. Eventually the young trainee who fails to move the ship will become a Jedi strong enough to defeat Vader without giving in to hatred and anger.