Anger and Focus in Dragon Ball

goku child ragePain sharpens focus. Comfort dulls it.

Anger and pain narrow the mind. Compassion and tolerance broaden the mind.

Pain and anger drive one to take immediate actions. Comfort and pleasure pacify the mind to linger in non-action.

In Dragon Ball, villainous forces run amok. Different beings vie for power and control of planets.

Both the Guardian named Kami and North Kaio are passive deities, wrapped in idyllic comfort. They are supposed to protect the people within their domain, but most of the time they don’t do anything.

Placed above the living world in stations of authority, they look out with a broad view at the sentient beings below. Yet they are more dedicated to watching events unfold then changing them. They pass time with voyeurism.

They do not use their vast powers and supernormal abilities. Laws are in place that state how they can interact with the lesser beings. Thus, with restraint in their heart and a broad long term perspective that things will work out on their own, they do not act. They only lament the current state of affairs. The beings below are left to fend for themselves.

Goku’s life is uncomfortable. Whether under attack or in training, Goku is forced to become angry in order to ascend. Goku is a genuinely nice person, but when he is pushed to the limit he becomes filled with rage. He is a true spiritual warrior who directs short term anger in explosive waves.

Goku rage wavesThere were only a couple cases in Dragon Ball when Kami became angry enough to act.

The first was when he descended to earth to fight Piccolo Daimao in the Tenkaichi Budokai martial arts tournament. Filled with rage against his spiritual lesser half, and frustrated with himself for his lack of previous actions to solve the problem, Kami sought to kill his other self.

But even while taking action it was through indirect means, as Kami possessed a pure spirited human’s body to enter the tournament.

In the end, he wasn’t strong enough to win the battle, and Goku had to finish the job.

The second was in the Dragon Ball Z movie called Dead Zone. Kami fought against Garlic Jr., a being who sought to usurp the throne of Guardian. Kami became angry, gained focus, and descended to the earth once again.

But even with his holy powers, Kami was too weak of a fighter to offer a serious challenge.

If Goku and his son Gohan weren’t around to defeat this villain, then Kami’s old age and lack of battle power would have meant the destruction of the world.

The responsibility is repeatedly left to Goku to fight, sacrifice, and endure in order to overcome increasingly greater challenges. As a result, Goku grows in power exponentially and surpasses all the gods, including his martial arts masters.

Burst Through Limits

super saiyan goku attacksGoku’s masters do not help him ascend. They only provide the environment and means to do so.

Goku learns by doing. Because Goku is a self-enlightening student, his teachers cannot help him enlighten through lecturing. Rather, they passively provide him with difficult external situations. The training consists of physical suffering amidst external stimuli.

His masters only take direct action after Goku passes one of their challenges and are therefore forced to set up another. Eventually they have no more to offer and he moves onward.

The few martial arts techniques they do teach are ultimately self-taught anyway. Goku’s painful martial arts training forces him to focus on the higher states of mind required to perfect each technique.

His masters are ensconced in comfort, have no focus, and do not grow. They do not cultivate themselves. For ages they stay in their positions and fulfill their roles. Yet as time cycles onward, their lives come to an end. Soon they are replaced by another, who again maintains the status quo.

Goku’s continual progress is the combined result of deadly external circumstances and an internal drive to burst through limits. Even when external scenarios do not provide a barrier to overcome, he finds one within.

This is why Goku is #1.



5 responses to “Anger and Focus in Dragon Ball”

  1. Gabe says:

    Very insightful. I really like your perspective on how anger and pain tend to focus us while peace and passivity tend to lead to laziness and a lack of unprepairedness. I think this is all true, but I would say that at a certain spot there is a point of diminishing return. Look at Vegeta, he is a great fighter and a tactical genious, but when he loses focus do to unrestrained anger and rage he gets beat pretty quickly. The same thing though I feel goes with peace and passivity, it isn’t good to be lazy and passive, but we do have to have times of peace and rest to let our minds and body heal and grow. Just like when working out you end up hitting a wall and don’t proceed unless you either force yourself to do more and/or go longer, or you take a break for a little while and come back to it. Both work, but doing the latter first then going back and doing the former is generally the best way to grow, its also safer. Atleast that is how I see it in my own mind. ^__^

    I have to say Derek I love this blog.

  2. Derek Padula says:

    That’s true, Gabe.

    I think a wise sage is someone who resides in the middle and yet is able to walk between the extremes. Being still while moving. Or the opposite; being dynamically static.

    • Tarbel says:

      Reminds me of when Goku trained with Mr. Popo to be as quicker than lightning and as calm as the sky. But I believe it may be residing in the extremes (anger, pain, peace, and passiveness) that create the middle, a balance so to speak; of course that is what I feel is what one should look to be able to do.
      I can actually find a lot of analogies that relate to this, one being the theory that a vacuum in space, what we think to be nothing and w/o matter or energy, is actually filled with vast virtually limitless amounts of energy. Kind of like nuclear fission.
      I think this just helped me with my essay… dragon ball is awesome. Should there only be good in this world?

  3. Dave says:

    WOW ! Dynamically static ? Is that a physical possibility ? Is that comparable to the positive ends of a magnet being unable to meet due to opposing energy ?

    • Derek Padula says:

      Energetically, yes, it is possible, although rationally it appears to be in contradiction to itself. Dynamically static is a term I came up with that refers to the duality of all particles, which are both individual particles and also waves.

      It also has to do with seeing past the illusion of static objects. The objects we interact with, such as our desks, computers, and even our own bodies and the air we breathe are all composed of vibrating and rotating particles. These particles (molecules, atoms, electrons, quarks, neutrinos) are bouncing around at a rapid pace, but our eyes make it seem like they’re still. That’s the false concept our eyes give us from being born in this world and composed of molecules. If we could see into the realm of atoms then we’d see a huge amount of space between each one of these particles, and each atom would be vibrating and rotating in its own cloud. So in that sense, everything is dynamically static.

      On another level, an analogy can be made to a tree, which appears static when you look at it in one specific moment of time, but what you can’t see going on inside are all the moving cells and the expansion of the tree in the microcosm. It’s constantly growing taller and wider, branching out in all directions, but we can’t see it. So it seems static, but it’s actually dynamic.

      Philosophically you can also liken it to the Taiji, with Yin and Yang in dualistic opposition, yet simultaneously one.

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