[FOUNTAIN]Tough words to stomachThe Greeks say the “stomach is a most abominable beast.” According to a Chinese proverb, when a man feels full and warm, he becomes lewd, and when a man is hungry and cold, he is tempted to steal. Chinese writer Xiao Chun Lei wrote in the “Body” that we find the most intense darkness of our bodies, namely starvation, poverty and failure, in the stomach. This darkness controls not just the behavior but also the reasoning of a human being. All kinds of desires, from appetite to sexual desire to lust for power, are coiled inside the stomach.
One man who hid fierce hostility in his stomach was Li Linfu, who was the chancellor under Emperor Xuanzong of Tang China. One day, the emperor asked, “Where is Yen Tingchi?” Yen Tingchi was a vassal loyal to the emperor, and Li Linfu had transferred him to a position in a regional government. Li Linfu was jealous of the emperor’s concern for Yen Tingchi and was afraid that he would be promoted to an important post in the central government. So he devised a trap. Li Linfu convinced Yen Tingchi’s brother that in order to get a high position in the central government, Yen needed an audience with the emperor. So Yen wrote to the emperor that he wanted to come to the capital because of an illness. When Yen heard Li’s advice from his brother, he wrote to the emperor.
Li Linfu told the emperor that Yen was old and fragile, and was unable to hold an important position and recommended him for a less demanding job. When Yen realized the wicked design of Li Linfu, he was so furious and frustrated that he became ill and died.
If you reveal your belly, it means you have nothing to hide. Bu Dai, or Calico Bag Arhat, was a Zen monk in the Later Liang Dynasty who always had his belly exposed. He lived a life of sharing and giving with nothing to hide. A loyal vassal during the Tang Dynasty cut his stomach to prove that he hadn’t taken part in an act of treason.
Japanese writer Inazo Itobe defended disembowelment in “Bushido: The Soul of Japan” and wrote, “I am opening the window of my soul, and it is up to you to impartially judge if the inside is red or black.” Again, the act of cutting off the stomach is to prove innocence.
“I will gladly cut off your stomach.” Whether or not a Blue House official made that type of remark is the most controversial issue today. The insulted person claims that he had been threatened, while the accused insists that he was not a doctor and had never made such a comment.
I hope the truth will be revealed soon. Isn’t it terrifying if someone steps up and proposes to open “the window of the soul?”
by You Sang-chul
The writer is the Asia news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.