Here’s a longer excerpt from “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction” (2018) where George Lucas talks about his intention to put the Whills in Episodes VII, VIII and IX.
Thanks to Alexrd for sharing this.
Here’s an older quote from Lucas in Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays (1997), about the Journal of the Whills:
“Originally, I was trying to have the story be told by somebody else; there was somebody watching this whole story and recording it, somebody probably wiser than the mortal players in the actual events. I eventually dropped this idea, and the concepts behind the Whills turned into the Force. But the Whills became part of this massive amount of notes, quotes, background information that I used for the scripts; the stories were actually taken from the Journal of the Whills.”
Qui-Gon mentioned “a Shaman of the Whills” in this deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith.
222 INT. POLIS MASSA-OBSERVATION DOME-NIGHT
On the isolated asteroid of Polis Massa, YODA meditates.
YODA: Failed to stop the Sith Lord, I have. Still much to learn, there is …
QUI -GON: (V.O.) Patience. You will have time. I did not. When I became one with the Force I made a great discovery. With my training, you will be able to merge with the Force at will. Your physical self will fade away, but you will still retain your consciousness. You will become more powerful than any Sith.
YODA: Eternal consciousness.
QUI-GON: (V.O.) The ability to defy oblivion can be achieved, but only for oneself. It was accomplished by a Shaman of the Whills. It is a state acquired through compassion, not greed.
YODA: . . . to become one with the Force, and influence still have . . . A power greater than all, it is.
QUI-GON: (V.O.) You will learn to let go of everything. No attachment, no thought of self. No physical self.
YODA: A great Jedi Master, you have become, Qui-Gon Jinn. Your apprentice I gratefully become.
YODA thinks about this for a minute, then BAIL ORGANA enters the room and breaks his meditation.
BAIL ORGANA: Excuse me, Master Yoda. Obi-Wan Kenobi has made contact.