Starjumper

The ethics of revenge

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I had a discussion awhile ago and it brought up some questions concerning the ethics of revenge.  To be more specific, as it applies to myself, it appears that I'm a black dragon and black dragons are known for their power and revenge.  Hey, it's my nature, so OK!  So I can honestly say that sometimes I want revenge when I feel wronged in a blatantly unethical manner, and I can say that other times I have felt wronged when in fact it wasn't so wrong, it was some ugly egoism rearing it's ugly face which made it feel wronger than it really was.  Even wanting revenge when seriously wronged comes from a place of ego, BUT, as I was told by one real old Taoist feller who I deemed to be an immortal:  "A person's ego should be like a wild stallion racing free across the open plains."  That's Taoism, in Buddhism and Hinduism it's "kill your ego" which seems kind of sick to me, but I digress.  So, let that ego out of it's cage and let it go wild sometimes.  It's an education.

 

Taoism is a warrior tradition and if you meet someone on the road who wants to kill you then you just naturally try to kill them first. (you can substitute the word hurt for kill).  This is just plain common sense, but revenge is a little different, because it surfaces after the fact, and it comes from anger.  

 

So the question is, what is ethical?  Just letting it go and letting karma take it's course can be ethical, but letting them get away with treachery maybe isn't so ethical.  Assisting them by helping them to find their karma can be ethical too, maybe some people need to be taught a lesson, and warriors who are trained to be judge, jury, and executioner, can be just the ones to teach them the lesson they need, which is ethical too.

 

Something in the TTC touches on this.  "If you try to chop wood like the master carpenter you will hurt your hand".  Master carpenter is the official government executioner and chop wood means to snuff them.  But it doesn't say that you should never chop wood.

 

It seems to me that one of the main sticking points is whether or not something can make you angry.  As I become more of an old fart it happens less and less, but I ain't perfect nor do I care to be, and I'm not convinced that revenge is from the dark side.  It is possible to make a good ethical case for revenge in some cases, making it ethical conduct, so then it's from the light side, isn't it?

 

:)

 

Edited by Starjumper
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Well the first thing that pops into my mind is 'justice' but I'm going to look it up now.

 

This looks good to me and I find it agreeable:

 

1.  to exact punishment or expiation for a wrong on behalf of, especially in a resentful or vindictivespirit:

He revenged his murdered brother.

 

2.  to take vengeance for; inflict punishment for;avenge:

He revenged his brother's murder.

Edited by Starjumper

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I`m more of a hedonist than an ethicist, so I personally prefer to consider revenge in terms of how it feels.  Contrary to the impression a person might get watching Hollywood movies, I find that most of the time revenge feels lousy.  Well, actually I haven`t really revenged myself so much to know, but I`ve thought about it a lot.  I`ve fantasized.  My revenge fantasies have a certain dark momentum, but I find that they keep me energetically tethered to a situation I`d rather be free of. For me, revenge fantasies are like doughnuts: they taste good when I`m eating them but give me indigestion. 

 

What is revenge like for you?  Do you truly enjoy it -- before, during, and after?

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Don't post a dictionary definition -- describe what you mean when you say, "It is possible to make a good ethical case for revenge in some cases, making it ethical conduct, so then it's from the light side, isn't it?" What do you consider to be "revenge?"

 

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9 minutes ago, liminal_luke said:

What is revenge like for you?  Do you truly enjoy it -- before, during, and after?

 

Well I haven't done it much either but concerning the feelings:  At first the feeling is of adrenalin excitement, the fight of flight instinct calls for action and fulfilling the call for action feels like a completion which is satisfactory.  Later sometimes I feel some guilt.  Then after that I forgive myself and say that the cards fell as they would, it's all natural and spontaneous.  Plus the all important "I didn't start it",  Then I feel at peace, or neutral.

Edited by Starjumper
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7 minutes ago, Brian said:

Don't post a dictionary definition -- describe what you mean when you say, "It is possible to make a good ethical case for revenge in some cases, making it ethical conduct, so then it's from the light side, isn't it?" What do you consider to be "revenge?"

 

I said my own first feeling was 'justice' before I looked it up.

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29 minutes ago, Brian said:

Define "revenge" in your own words.

 

" May you have a long and    'interesting '  life  .  "   ;) 

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In Bruce Lee's  words ;    "  Dont  touch me ! " 

 

Bully ;   " Or what ? "

 

Lee ;     "    ..............       or   I   ' touch '  you back  . "   

 

'touch'    ... :D  

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4 minutes ago, Starjumper said:

 

I said my own first feeling was 'justice' before I looked it up.

And after you looked it up, has your understanding changed?

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1 minute ago, Brian said:

And after you looked it up, has your understanding changed?

 

No, not really, it still seems like an aspect of justice to me.

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I dont know if this is actually revenge , but it is something I 'delight'  in ;

 

Long line up at bank counter .... a approach the line and some 'business type' of guy  jigs forward to steal my spot ...... okay mate .  The he looks down at me and also seems pleased with his 'little victory' . 

 

Now he is getting agitated as its taking too long , even though he pushed in.   Now he makes a smart comment about service and looks to the others lined up and smirks . 

 

The window in front of the line up is clear, but the girl teller there has not called anyone over nor pressed the button to light the 'next please sign ' but he goes up to her anyway , and she  " Sorry Sir, I just need to finish off this last transaction, I will not be a moment ... or you can go to the next teller that turns their sign on . "

 

And the dick start abusing her !  She is polite and explains the system but he is being such a dick and demands to see the manager , Some guy comes out and he starts abusing this girl in front of the manager ,  who is taking the 'customer is right position ' .. and now the girl is getting upset . 

 

Fuck this  (and now its holding me up as well as everyone else )  , so I go over and stand next to him and say to manager ;

 

"Actually this guy was  being rude, not following procedure and is an arsehole, the bank is very busy and your staff are doing a good job, particularly this young lady "  and to 'dude'  .....  " Conclude your business and move along " and I moved back to the line. 

 

Manager was stifling a smile , girl was  (internally )   'Yessss !  "  and dude was going red .

 

When he left the counter he tried to give me a 'look'    ( but I have been told , by my lawyer of all people , that I look like a bulldog that is about to stab someone       :huh:  )   so I  ....    :angry:     at him  ... and he cowered and put head down and walked quickly away . 

 

Was that revenge  ?

 

If so  .... it was     sweet     :D  

 

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10 minutes ago, Starjumper said:

 

No, not really, it still seems like an aspect of justice to me.

Fair enough.

 

Next question -- how do you decide what is an appropriate response?  As a follow-up, are you OK with others doing likewise?

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6 minutes ago, Starjumper said:

 

Well I haven't done it much either but concerning the feelings:  At first the feeling is of adrenalin excitement, the fight of flight instinct calls for action and fulfilling the call for action feels like a completion which is satisfactory.  Later sometimes I feel some guilt.  Then after that I forgive myself and say that the cards fell as they would, it's all natural and spontaneous.  Plus the all important "I didn't start it",  Then I feel at peace, or neutral.

 

It sounds like revenge sits better with you than it would with me.  Perhaps part of your Black Dragon nature?

 

I suppose someone could consider themselves "an instument of the tao" exacting justice like a force of nature.  Can something that looks and smells like revenge happen in the natural course of wu-wei action/non-action?  Perhaps, though I`d say this is a very high-level calling.  Very few people can pull off such a state of consciousness, not to say you`re not one of them.  I`d be cautious though.

 

Rather than seeing oneself as a punisher, I`d prefer to focus on just having really super good boundaries.  My understanding of boundaries is that it falls under the category of the metal element -- being sharp like a blade, perfectly reflective like a polished mirror.  Having firm boundaries has a little bit of the same feeling tone as revenge.  There`s the same sense of standing up for yourself, of not letting anybody mess with you, of knowing your worth and refusing to be treated as anything less.  It`s a strong dragon-like stance in the world.  It`s about self-respect.

 

One more advantage of good boundaries: when you really have them, people instinctively sense it and treat you right.  Revenge becomes less necessary because you`re rarely victimized.

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A couple of other thoughts, one was that revenge also has a flavor or 'teach them a lesson'.

 

One of the gospels (I think it was one that was trashed by the church) reports that when Jesus cursed someone who had wrong him that person dropped dead on the spot.

 

One of my chi kung brothers found that he had this ability too, but not as fast,  He told me he had to be really careful about getting pissed off at people.

Edited by Starjumper

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23 minutes ago, liminal_luke said:

 

It sounds like revenge sits better with you than it would with me.  Perhaps part of your Black Dragon nature?

 

I suppose someone could consider themselves "an instument of the tao" exacting justice like a force of nature.  Can something that looks and smells like revenge happen in the natural course of wu-wei action/non-action?  Perhaps, though I`d say this is a very high-level calling.  Very few people can pull off such a state of consciousness, not to say you`re not one of them.  I`d be cautious though.

 

Rather than seeing oneself as a punisher, I`d prefer to focus on just having really super good boundaries.  My understanding of boundaries is that it falls under the category of the metal element -- being sharp like a blade, perfectly reflective like a polished mirror.  Having firm boundaries has a little bit of the same feeling tone as revenge.  There`s the same sense of standing up for yourself, of not letting anybody mess with you, of knowing your worth and refusing to be treated as anything less.  It`s a strong dragon-like stance in the world.  It`s about self-respect.

 

One more advantage of good boundaries: when you really have them, people instinctively sense it and treat you right.  Revenge becomes less necessary because you`re rarely victimized.

 

People don't mess with me in real life, it happens mainly on the internet and iit is infrequent, less frequent due to me feeling stronger and more self assured (Some may recall my actions here a few years ago, before that  =) .  Also, I don't feel like an instrument of Tao nor a punisher.  It's just a feeling I get, you know, because it's my nature.  I think most other people get this same feeling, of wanting revenge, so the question here is how they deal with it and then consider the ethics of it, which often comes after the fact.

 

What it has done for me is to teach me restraint, which is something you need more and more as you gain in power.

Edited by Starjumper
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 something to do with yellow emperor level understanding  ? 

 

That doesnt really help now does it ? 

 

The best time to attack any enemy is in between the moment they decide to start their attack on you  , and before they can finish it . 

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Most people will tell you that revenge does not make you feel better, rather just empty in the end. The subjective qualities of revenge have more to do with the practicalities of it, than the morality of it. Most people have wanted revenge at some point in their life, the reason many stop using it as a means of dealing with their emotions, is because of the repercussions that follow. Whether it's being spanked because you tripped someone who pushed you, or going to jail because you tried to run over your boyfriend or girlfriend. Those who don't learn these rules oftentimes lack the ability to, due to serious personality disorders. 

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7 hours ago, Starjumper said:

I had a discussion awhile ago and it brought up some questions concerning the ethics of revenge.  To be more specific, as it applies to myself, it appears that I'm a black dragon and black dragons are known for their power and revenge.  Hey, it's my nature, so OK!  So I can honestly say that sometimes I want revenge when I feel wronged in a blatantly unethical manner, and I can say that other times I have felt wronged when in fact it wasn't so wrong, it was some ugly egoism rearing it's ugly face which made it feel wronger than it really was.  Even wanting revenge when seriously wronged comes from a place of ego, BUT, as I was told by one real old Taoist feller who I deemed to be an immortal:  "A person's ego should be like a wild stallion racing free across the open plains."  That's Taoism, in Buddhism and Hinduism it's "kill your ego" which seems kind of sick to me, but I digress.  So, let that ego out of it's cage and let it go wild sometimes.  It's an education.

 

Taoism is a warrior tradition and if you meet someone on the road who wants to kill you then you just naturally try to kill them first. (you can substitute the word hurt for kill).  This is just plain common sense, but revenge is a little different, because it surfaces after the fact, and it comes from anger.  

 

So the question is, what is ethical?  Just letting it go and letting karma take it's course can be ethical, but letting them get away with treachery maybe isn't so ethical.  Assisting them by helping them to find their karma can be ethical too, maybe some people need to be taught a lesson, and warriors who are trained to be judge, jury, and executioner, can be just the ones to teach them the lesson they need, which is ethical too.

 

Something in the TTC touches on this.  "If you try to chop wood like the master carpenter you will hurt your hand".  Master carpenter is the official government executioner and chop wood means to snuff them.  But it doesn't say that you should never chop wood.

 

It seems to me that one of the main sticking points is whether or not something can make you angry.  As I become more of an old fart it happens less and less, but I ain't perfect nor do I care to be, and I'm not convinced that revenge is from the dark side.  It is possible to make a good ethical case for revenge in some cases, making it ethical conduct, so then it's from the light side, isn't it?

 

:)

 

First, Taoism is not a warrior tradition, it's a tradition warriors have followed. Taoism is a philosophy that, like many religions is oftentimes used to justify people's actions. Nowhere in the Tao Te Ching does it encourage revenge, in fact it does the opposite. It says, essentially, that one should strive to live a life that is in harmony with others and that, if you're succeeding at this, then there should never be the need for revenge, murder, or defending one's self. 

 

Edited by Aaron
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