Welcome to the fourth and final installment on "thick face" and "black heart". If you've stumbled on this post and don't have a clue what I'm talking about, be sure to read the previous three posts FIRST.
What an abhorrent concept! What can possibly be good about having a "Black Heart" (BH)? Doesn't that describe a psychopath like Hitler, Stalin or Chairman Mao?
Nope. Not the way we're using the term here. Yes, they did use the same power of BH that you're going to. However, you're going to use it for transformative purposes, not destructive ones.
There are three aspects to BH. They all have one thing in common - they involve distinguishing between real compassion and false compassion. Let's have a look at them:
1. HELP THOSE WHO SEEK TO DO GOOD:
Have you ever seen a parent whose child developed serious behavioral problems all because that parent was too spineless to say "no!" when it was necessary? Did the child then start to push the limits, disrespect the parents and shamelessly manipulate them? And did the parents let the kid get away with it?
If you're nodding your head right now, you and I probably know some of the same parents! And the parents' excuse for this is always couched in terms of "compassion", of not wanting to scar their child for life by denying him a candy bar, or not wanting to "impose their views" on their child, of wanting to let him "find his own way".
This compassion is a mental fiction. It causes great harm to the child and to anyone that child will deal with over his or her lifetime. It has devastating consequences, perhaps for generations.
As a parent, it's your job to train your child to be a polite, respectful and self-actualized person. And that means saying "no" sometimes. It also means challenging your kids, allowing them to make mistakes and get hurt, not shielding them from the nitty-gritty of daily life in the "real world". A false compassion would shield them. Real compassion requires a "black heart". A BH means "tough love", it means knowing when it's more important to slap a hand than hold it.
In ancient Sparta, as in some native American societies, the tougher parts of the education were undertaken out of reach of the parents and especially the mothers, who wouldn't have wanted to watch their offspring be put through hardship, even if that hardship was extremely beneficial in the long run.
It's said that the 20th century Orthodox Christian holy man, Joseph the Hesychast, didn't have a kind word for his disciples. In reality, his disciples knew he love them deeply, but the feigned harshness of the old man was a vital element to help them discover the inner resources they would need to overcome their spiritual challenges later on.
Likewise, the great Taoist master, Wang Liping, always says he is deeply thankful for the unsparing, ruthless severity of his masters, because that's what allowed him to achieve his extraordinary life.
Joseph the Hesychast and Wang Liping's old masters are perfect examples of BH. They know what needs to be done and they do it, regardless of the immediate discomfort of their disciples or of those who were "offended" by their way of life.
In essence, they were putting the power of BH at the service of those who were seeking to do the right thing. Another scenario along the same lines is defending people who are unjustly attacked for doing the right thing. In the recent series of crises in my own Church, those of us who spoke up did so partly to protect others who had already stuck their necks out.
2. STOP THOSE WHO SEEK TO DO EVIL:
Black Heart also refuses the false compassion that would allow people doing evil to continue to harm others and wreak havoc.
There are many wonderful features of life up here in Canada. The criminal justice system is NOT one of them. Enslaved for decades to absurd ideas that the criminal is the "victim" of society, our system has a nasty habit of letting violent criminals go free. The penalties for real wrong-doing are a bit of a joke.
In her book, "Thick Face, Black Heart," Chin-Ning Chu illustrates this with the true story of two ancient Chinese warlords. One was the emperor of the time and the other a peasant and rebel leader trying to overthrow him. The emperor captured the rebel leader at one point, but refused to deal with him harshly, considering him a worthy opponent of sorts. This allowed the rebel leader to escape, muster his army again, and overthrow the emperor.
Chu points out that this act of "mercy" simply prolonged the civil war and the slaughter of innocents. So the emperor's "mercy" was self-indulgent and counter-productive. Likewise, nearly every great tyrant of the 20th century was in jail at some point, and some damn fool decided to release him. Hitler even wrote "Mein Kampf" in prison, explaining in detail his insane plans, and they still let him go.
One of my favorite examples comes from Star Trek: The Next Generation, where Captain Picard has a golden opportunity to destroy the Borg (the single most dangerous and sinister threat to civilization any sci-fi author could ever invent). Yet, he hesitates and finally doesn't do it, rationalizing his stupidity by comparing the act to "genocide". Excuse me. Time out! What about the hundreds of billions of people whose lives will be destroyed in the near future when the Borg overrun their planets, and all because of your bogus compassion, Captain Picard? I guess your "compassion" didn't extend to them.
If you look carefully, you'll see bogus compassion is all around you. In our Church, we were too soft-hearted to sack ALL the bishops who tried to cover up the financial scandal. Instead we only sacked the top guy. That has already come back to bite us. Real compassion involves cutting off evil - suddenly and definitely. That's the essence of BH. BH accords well with the old saying, "All that's needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
3. HONE YOUR KILLER INSTINCT:
The "killer instinct" is muted in our society. It's sublimated into other outlets like watching professional sports and playing video games. People who like to talk about inner peace may be horrified by the mere mention of killer instinct, considering it something to be programmed out of human beings.
Great spiritual traditions thought otherwise. They knew that the same power that you could use egotistically to kill someone who merely disagrees with you is the very power that you need to harness to overcome your inner obstacles. There is a war to be waged for inner peace.
Obviously, that same killer instinct is instrumental in "thick face" - it's the inner power that allows you to develop a powerful self-image, stick to your guns and resist the criticism and opinions of others.
It's also the power that allows you to become DEFINITE about your lifestyle, about who you are and what you stand for. It's the very power that brings clarity.
If you're a man, a male human being, you are a hunter and a killer by nature. Yes, society's gone to great lengths to program that out of you, to tell you you shouldn't have those feelings or act that way or think that way. Ancient Traditions took a different approach - they taught you how to harness and redirect that power, not repress it. Repressing it leads to neurosis and boredom.
And women need this too. It simply expresses itself differently. But find a mother protecting her child from physical danger and you'll see true killer instinct.
"Thick Face" and "Black Heart" express the reality of your mind-body organism. In your natural state, you're impervious to the opinions and agendas of others, you're definite with your life and clear on your purpose, you are "brutal" in defense of the good and "ruthless" in crushing evil. These are divine traits within the human being.
Yes, they can be perverted, as they have been by tyrants, corporate executives and jihadists throughout history, as well as by fascists and religious fascists of all kinds. That, however, is irrelevant. You already possess the energies of Thick Face and Black Heart within you. They will come out somehow. It's up to you to channel them in ways that transform your life and the lives of those around you.
And when you do that, you'll be a true WARRIOR.
To learn more about the Way of the Warrior as the ultimate life paradigm (and the one with the most historical evidence to support it), go to:
~Dr. Symeon Rodger
P.S. I hope you've enjoyed this series on the concepts of "Thick Face" and "Black Heart". Feel free to leave your comments below!