Jealousy Harms Others and Hurts Oneself

In Culture, Editor Choice, Stories

Emperor Kangxi from the Qing Dynasty, one of the most respected emperors in Chinese history, once said, “For anyone who is a part of society, it is essential to be generous. That is, to feel happy when others’ lives go well and to feel sympathetic when others’ lives go downhill. Doing so will be good for oneself… heaven will bless this person.”

Some people do not share these feelings. Instead, they may feel unsettled when someone is better than they are. Out of jealousy, they may falsely accuse or harm the other person. The truth is, behaving like that will, in the end, hurt themselves. Below are two examples.

A Tale of Two Classmates

Sun Bin, one of the greatest generals who lived in China about 2,000 years ago, studied under the same master with Pang Juan. After Pang became a general in Wei State, he knew Sun would be the better leader. Out of jealousy, he framed Sun, branding him a criminal and ruining his future.

When a diplomat from Qi State came to visit, Sun managed to meet him and went back to Qi State with him. The king appointed him to lead the army with General Tian Ji.

Sun soon demonstrated his superior military skills. When Wei invaded another state, Zhao, Sun ordered the army to attack Wei’s capital instead of helping to defend the invaded state. This strategy worked well, and it became a classic case in Chinese military history, often referred as “besiege Wei to rescue Zhao.”

Later, Wei started to invade another state. After Sun began to attack Wei’s capital, Pang ordered Wei’s army to withdraw. To deceive Pang, Sun told the soldiers to reduce the number of cooking pots and fire that were set up day after day. Pang saw this and thought Qi’s soldiers were deserting. With a small troop, Sun set a trap in the narrow valley of Maling, where Pang’s troops were surrounded and defeated. Pang committed suicide and his last words were, “Too bad this war will make the brat [Sun] famous.”

Pang’s jealousy and ruthlessness endured until the last minute of his life. His behavior harmed others and also brought an end to Pang’s own life.

Honey-Mouthed and Dagger-Hearted


“Honey-mouthed and dagger-hearted” means that one praises the person he is secretly stabbing in the back. One example during the Tang Dynasty was Li Linfu.

The emperor of Xuanzhong did not like Zhang Jiuling, so he demoted Zhang and appointed Li Linfu to Zhang’s old position. Li quickly gathered his own forces to attack other officials more capable than he. He also found excuses to persuade the emperor to demote Zhang further.

Li Linfu was also jealous of Yang Shen, so Li told Yang’s political enemy to make up stories defaming Yang. After the emperor sent Yang to prison, Li fabricated evidence to further attack Yang, with the result that Yang and his entire family were killed.

Li appeared to be nice person, heaping praise on people in person, but in his mind he schemed against them. He did this to a large number of officials.

In the end, when Li wanted Yang Guozhong, Yang refused him. Yang in turn worked with other officials to frame Li, with the result that Li’s family lost their status and became commoners.


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