Consequences of Jealousy

March 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Posted in Children's Stories, Culture, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | 2 Comments

By Zhizhen


( The Chinese are known for valuing the virtues of kindness, generosity, and tolerance. People are ashamed of acts of jealousy. When a generous person sees the merits of others, he or she compliments these merits, thinks about how he or she falls short, and learns to do a better job. Only those narrow-minded and selfish people, out of shortsightedness, would be jealous of others’ accomplishments. They worry about who will exceed them today, and who they will lose to tomorrow. They feel bad when others have shown outstanding character. Some less virtuous people would even go the extent of falsely accusing kindhearted people. They may have their way for some time. Yet, in the end, they will lose all their support and meet with retributions, as everything is governed by heavenly principles.

Shen Gongbao Ended Up Plugging the Hole in the North Sea with His Body

Shen Gongbao is a figure in the book Investiture of the Gods. He and Jiang Ziya were fellow disciples of the Primitive God of Heaven. When Shen learned that their master was to dispatch Jiang Ziya to help establish the Zhou Dynasty, which was to replace the Shang Dynasty, and assign titles to different deities, he was overtaken by jealousy. He pressed Jiang for an answer, “Which king are you to protect?” Jiang replied, “I am to protect King Wu of the Zhou people, whose merits are of the caliber of the ancient emperors Yao and Shun, whose kindness is in tune with the universal characteristics, and whose rise matches perfectly with the change in the heavenly climate. King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty lacks any merits; he is on the way out and will be the last ruler of the Shang Dynasty.” Shen retorted, “I am going to protect your opponent and thwart your plans.” Jiang sternly told Shen, “How dare you! No one can violate our master’s orders. Nor can people reverse heavenly changes.” Shen was angry and retorted, “Jiang Ziya, you want to protect the Zhou people? What abilities do you have? You have studied for merely 40 years. How can you match me? I can chop off my head, throw it into the air, and it falls right back on my neck as before. How can you dare to oppose me?” Jiang ignored Shen, and Shen left in anger.

Shen started to disrupt Jiang’s efforts. He called on different deities to kill Jiang. One day he was caught by the Primitive God of Heaven, who was about to throw him under a huge mountain. Shen begged his master to forgive him by swearing, “If I continue to call out deities to thwart Jiang Ziya, I am willing to plug the hole of the North Sea with my own body.” He was set free.

However, Shen did not repent. He continued to stir up disharmony. He asked the head of a cult to deploy 10,000 deities, which caused great trouble for Jiang’s King Wu. The Primitive God of Heaven knocked Shen down and killed the tiger he rode on. He told Shen, “You promised that if you continued to sabotage Jiang’s work, you would plug the North Sea. It is time you fulfill your promise.” That was where Shen ended up, at the bottom of the sea, where he could never see the sun rise again.

How Can a Man Outsmart Heaven?

In the book Examples of Supernormal Phenomena, Su Dazhang, who passed the first level of imperial examinations, was about to participate in the second level examinations. Su, who lived in the Song Dynasty, was known in the townships for his superb understanding of the I Ching, or the Book of Changes. One night he dreamed that he was ranked No. 11 in the upcoming exam. He told his dream to a fellow student. This student, who was also to take the same examination, was quite jealous that he did not have such an auspicious dream himself. He went to report to the official overseeing the examination, claiming that Su must have bribed one of the officials reviewing the exam papers, otherwise, how could Su be so certain he was to be ranked No. 11?

After all the students’ papers were graded, the official in charge pulled out the paper that was ranked No. 11. As was the convention at that time, the students’ names were covered up on the papers they turned in. The official in charge read the paper and turned angry. The paper discussed the I Ching, which was Su’s specialty. He interrogated the officials who had graded the paper, “Now how can you explain this? Did any of you take bribes from Su, the I Ching expert, who was so confident that he would end up with a rank of No. 11?” All the officials were quite upset. They had to come up with another paper from the remaining candidates to replace this I Ching paper.

Finally, on the day the results were announced, when all the candidates’ names were uncovered, to the astonishment of the official in charge, the newly selected paper that now ranked No. 11 was Su’s, while the jealous student who had made up lies to frame Su for bribery had been swapped out from his original 11th position. As a result, Su passed this second level of imperial examinations. The following year, Su passed the third and final level of the imperial examinations, while his fellow student who had made up false charges against him ended up humiliated and passed out.

Jealousy is a negative emotion caused by not accepting the fact that others can exceed us in the quality of their character, skills, achievements, or situations. When one badmouths others or does things to hurt others out of jealousy, this demonstrates a lack of kindness in one’s heart. This also creates karma for oneself, which will result in retribution. To be respectful and compassionate is a basic principle. When others accomplish things, we are glad for them. When others exceed us, we learn from them. When others need help, we do our best to help them. To truly treat others kindly so they can feel we are sincere, we have to be generous, which is the opposite of being jealous.

Posting date: 3/4/2012
Category: Traditional Culture
Chinese version available at文史漫谈-妒嫉的恶果-249085.html



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