Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Righteous Non-Anger

Scott Bradley


Upon returning from Wei where tyranny had laid the land to waste, Jiao approached his teacher and said, "Master, I have heard you say that the sage does not allow anger to enter his heart, yet it fills me now as I think of the tyranny in Wei. What can I do?"

Zhouzi replied, "Sages have taught that there is an anger that is non-anger, just as there is action that is non-action. What difference do you think there is between them?"

"Master, I do not know."

"If you were to accidentally step on my toe and I became angry, would this be anger or non-anger?"

"Master, it would be anger, because it was unintended, yet you would have taken it personally."

"It is as you say, Jiao. But in what way would it be different if you were to purposely step on my toe and I became angry? Would this be anger or non-anger?"

"Master, it would still be anger because you failed to accept things as they happen. And because you still would have taken it as a slight on your person."

"Here you have discovered the difference between anger and non-anger; the one is rooted in self, the other in that harm has been done. But can harm be done to a sage? How can she who has nothing to lose be harmed? Or is it rather that the one who harms is harming himself? And if it is this latter, then the sage can be angrily non-angry that the world is self-harming."

"So, if my anger is rooted in the personal, it is an anger that has entered my heart," Jiao replied. "But though no harm has been done to me by the tyranny in Wei, yet still this anger I have seems to arise from a personal offence. My anger is anger, but I do not know why."

"The roots of our anger are deep beyond all finding. Thus, though I have no 'secret teaching', there remain things best not taught. Who but the sage can be righteously non-angry? But the sage has no need of the teaching. Thus do I teach the way of no anger."

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1 comment:

  1. this is very interesting, thank you. I came upon this by trying to distinguish the emotions of justice and rightousness vs anger. I know from personal experience that anger tastes like poison, while rightousness along with compassion feels like something in my chest is being removed.

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