Anger and Focus in Dragon Ball
Pain 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.
There 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
Goku’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.