The Living And Cosmic Force In Star Wars, Explained

The 1950s saw a boom of science fiction stories focused on the concept of psionics. Authors took nascent studies of the brain and its potential to wild places, exploring what could happen if humanity was able to use 100% of our brain capacity and gained superpowers. Everyone from Frank Herbert to Isaac Asimov, James Blish, and many more tapped into this concept.

When it came time for George Lucas to pivot away from doing a "Flash Gordon" movie and instead come up with his own fictional universe with enough worldbuilding to sustain a prequel trilogy, he developed his own version of psionics and combined it with elements of several world religions. The result was the Jedi and the concept of The Force, which are integral to the "Star Wars" universe and the success of its films. These movies gave audiences a unique yet also familiar imagery of samurai wizard monks. The Jedi were instantly memorable, cool, and inspiring. But while the Jedi have been well explored and explained in the movies throughout the years, The Force has not.

Sure, we've had rather specific explanations like the introduction of the midi-chlorians in "The Phantom Menace," but even then, things have been retconned, forgotten, brought back, and reworked. Two concepts that have survived in one way or another since 1977 are that of the Cosmic Force and the Living Force. These were first identified in a deleted scene from "A New Hope," but it wasn't until the "Star Wars" prequel films and animated series that audiences got a proper definition of each. And yet, these concepts are essential to the story of "Star Wars" and worth exploring. Without further ado, this is what the Living and Cosmic Force actually refer to.

One with the Force

When The Force was introduced in "A New Hope," it was described as an energy field that surrounds and penetrates everyone — a life force that allows the Jedi to do incredible things like move things with their minds. In "Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays," Laurent Bouzereau describes George Lucas talking about The Force as a force field generated by the act of living: "We are part of The Force because we generate the power that makes the Force live. When we die, we become part of that Force, so we never really die; we continue as part of The Force."

This would be identified as the Living Force in "The Phantom Menace," i.e. the living component of The Force that connects all living beings. That living force springs from and later feeds into what is known as the Cosmic Force. This is the wellspring of energy into which all life goes after death. It's the energy that binds the galaxy together. Hence, it's said The Force surrounds and penetrates all living things, as life comes from The Force and later returns to it in death, connecting us even after we're gone.

In canon, the Cosmic Force was first properly introduced in a season 6 "Clone Wars" episode where Yoda makes contact with the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn, who has managed to become a part of the Living Force and create a Force Ghost. He explains how the Living Force feeds into the Cosmic Force, explaining that the midi-chlorians communicate the Cosmic Force to living beings and manifest the ghosts.

This is why everyone, Jedi or not, is capable of using The Force in "Star Wars" if they take the time to learn. The energy field exists in all living beings.