The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu, a high-ranking military general, strategist and tactician. The text is composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare. It is commonly known to be the definitive work on military strategy and tactics of its time. It has been the most famous and influential of China's Seven Military Classics, and "for the last two thousand years it remained the most important military treatise in Asia, where even the common people knew it by name. The first annotated English language translation was completed and published by Lionel Giles in L'art de la guerre is a translation of this work.
De kunst van het oorlogvoeren is a translation of this work. Umetnost vojne is a translation of this work. L'Art de la Guerra is a translation of this work. Die Kunst des Krieges is a translation of this work. L'arte della guerra is a translation of this work. Om krigets konst is a translation of this work. Savas Sanati is a translation of this work. The Art of War is a translation of this work. Sztuka wojny is a translation of this work. Art of war is a translation of this work.
Philosophy certainly doesn't numb the mind to make the pain go away but it does activate the mind to prevent someone from abusing or possibly even using drugs in the first place. Therefore, let's m ake learning philosophy available and accessible as much as drugs, and provide people with more options to manage life's problems.
Of course I have considered the real physical pains people deal with in my thoughts today. Prescriptions for physical pain relief, including depression, will always be needed. But the matter of abusing them is a psychological condition that philosophy is adeptly designed for. I have also considered young people needing to go through the natural process of maturity. Overcoming emotions takes much practice and experience. There is no way around that. Young people will inevitably have to go through life's stages in order to mature. But by teaching them philosophy and thus presenting to them smart, effective methods on how to tackle everyday issues, such as strong emotions, they don't necessarily have to experience hardships to learn and grow.
They would be more prepared, which increases their chances of success. Likewise, the philosophy of Sun Tzu's Art of War with good guidance provides students, young and old, time-tested methods on how to handle everyday conflict, a source of pain for many people. By learning how to plan out a strategy to resolve differences that are causing that conflict, people have a better chance of making that pain go away. This kind of education promotes better relationships at home and at work. This kind of education promotes a society where more people are able to function and contribute to a greater good, as we were born to do.
Thank you for reading my blog today. I will see you again real soon. Photo credit: Netaly Reshef. This is similar to why veterans who have seen the horrors of war firsthand are usually the biggest doves. In every sense, I believe this is the admirable human drive for redemption. Avoiding something isn't only a matter of being sick of something or having had too much of something, but is also coming to our senses and finally seeing a path that is closer to where we want to be.
We can see the bigger picture of the world and it's clearer, too. This is the very process of learning and maturing. To Sun Tzu, this accumulation of learning and maturing translates to practicality and effectiveness. It gives us strength, which in turn gives us the power to make things happen for ourselves and for the people around us. When someone has strength, he or she can't help but exude it. For example, Sun Tzu advised the military leader:. Here, Sun Tzu is referring to the opposition's army strength indicated by its impressive well-ordered flags and well-regulated formations.
A trained and disciplined army is a formidable army. But sometimes, strength is much more subtle. It can even be the opposite of what people expect. An enemy's display of anger and aggression, for instance, seems to project strength but we know it's quite the contrary, as explained by Sun Tzu in Chapter Nine Army Maneuvers :. Conversely, if the opposition is calm, it doesn't mean he or she is weak but in actuality might be in a position of great strength also found in Chapter Nine :. And right between the two verses described above from Chapter Nine, Sun Tzu speaks about humbleness:.
Humbleness, like calmness, indicates someone being in control and not in a state of extreme emotion. Humbleness prevents someone from making rash decisions. He or she is cautious and prudent. Since this mindset is from the objective of defense, one can achieve invincibility:. Because Sun Tzu believes humbleness is a trait of strength, he even feels the need to convert the opposition's emotional state from being humble to being arrogant in order to shift the balance of power:. It is apparent here that Sun Tzu is trying to move the enemy from a position of strength to a position of weakness: from humbleness to arrogance, from relaxation to exhaustion, from unity to separation.
The Jin army invaders above didn't retreat only because of an ideal or morality. They retreated also for pragmatic purposes because they suddenly became aware of the strong leadership present in the state of Chu, as evidenced by all the leaders' exemplary humbleness. It was obvious to them that Chu's leaders must be of sound mind; they can see reality clearly. Ultimately, it means Chu is capable of creating sound strategies appropriate to successfully defend Jin's attack.
Thus, Jin made the right decision to go back home. If Jin didn't have the wisdom to determine Chu's true strength and instead attack and somehow manage to occupy Chu, it would still be at a tremendous cost. The Masters of Huainan states:. This is exactly why Sun Tzu said the highest excellence isn't winning battles but to win without fighting at all. The goal isn't to simply win battles because battles are costly. In business terms, battles produce a poor return for our investment. This is true victory. One way we can gain consistently is to learn from our past mistakes because we would prevent future losses.
To act like this, like how the king and ministers of Chu acted, we must remove our enlarged ego that has been obstructing our view of the world that is much bigger and clearer than we think it is. Without seeing the possibility of our fallibility, we won't have the foresight to actively solve problems when they are still small and manageable. In essence, being humble is a redeeming quality that makes us want to change our behavior for the better. And if we can improve on our behavior, we can become stronger and become capable in both defense and attack.
We would have no enemies under Heaven, balance would be restored, and everyone can go home in peace. This is the world in its natural calm and humble state. Photo credit: Chevanon Photography. On the subject of war, it is no surprise that Sun Tzu warned us about the dangerous consequences of anger. What can we take away from Sun Tzu's emphasis on anger?
First, it would seem Sun Tzu believes that anger is a powerful emotion. If anger wasn't a common problem for leaders, he wouldn't mention it at all. But since he mentioned anger numerous times, we can surmise Sun Tzu had personally seen the devastation that it has caused. I can't help but think it is personal to Sun Tzu because he had made tragic mistakes due to his own unsuccessful battles with anger in the past. Second, Sun Tzu believes that anger is temporary. To make decisions that are permanent for a temporary condition isn't very wise.
Thus, he reminds us over and over to be cautious and prudent. There is no need to rush. Whatever gains we might have missed will come back again, but what we would lose due to anger will never come back. Instead of being angry, how can one behave? But of course this is easier said than done! W hat is unrealistic is believing you cannot ever feel angry. Even sages feel anger at times.
The difference, however, is how quickly and effectively someone defeats anger when it appears. Sages are like Sun Tzu when it comes to dealing with extreme emotions. They take on these enemies with great seriousness. And it is all-out war with menacing emotions like anger. As Sun Tzu said, we cannot depend on the enemy never attacking us but for us to always be prepared for its attack at any time. One such sage is Plato. Below Seneca the Younger recounted how Plato handled one bout of anger:. He was capable of being aware of his incapability.
Sun Tzu was also aware of his incapability when facing a walled city. Anger is like conquering a walled city. It is formidable. Underestimate and take it for granted at your own peril. In order to take on anger, like in a walled the city, we must muster up enough strength. Sun Tzu advised us to take the time and diligence to build strength:.
Being strategic like Sun Tzu, we too can utilize time to conquer anger. Count to ten. Sleep on it. Keep busy doing something productive, such as cleaning the house. Listen to music. Do whatever it takes to divert your mind away from the matter at hand when you find anger getting an upper hand. Time can serve as a valuable ally. Sun Tzu knew the importance of timing in success, and we can all learn from that. Let's not forget about diligence. A wise person can consistently defeat anger because he or she had plenty of practice, having underwent a "winter's training" as Epictetus would say.
As I mentioned earlier, I believe that Sun Tzu has the wisdom to warn us about anger not because he never felt anger in his life. He likely made horrible mistakes due to anger and had profoundly learned from them. What is more important was his diligence in making sure not to make the same mistakes again. The Art of War translator Dr. Thomas Cleary tells a story about a samurai candidate up for a promotion and the elders of the clan were discussing among themselves whether it would be a wise decision to promote him. One elder reminds the group that this particular samurai made a bad mistake in the past, and it would be dangerous to promote him.
But another elder responded by saying what is truly dangerous is a warrior who never made a bad mistake and is due to make one in the future. Therefore, don't let the past hinder your future progress. Be cautious and prudent but be not afraid to survey a difficult problem -- push forward to build strength by putting in the hard work to create a sound strategy to match. Building strength is a virtuous cycle if you decide to not let strong emotions like anger overpower you.
You know anger's weakness of being temporary, and so you can employ time to vanquish it. I hope in its place you then have more time and space for tranquility, even joy. And what a joy it is for you to be here with me today at Sonshi. I appreciate your stopping by and learning along with me Sun Tzu's wisdom. Sun Tzu disobeying commands. Good idea or bad idea? Tao views Sun Tzu favorably. His book offers numerous accounts from Chinese history to support his arguments. For example, although Gen. Tao was an ardent supporter of Sun Tzu and his wisdom, which he demonstrated throughout much of the book, he did manage to offer a few critiques.
One was how he thought Sun Tzu seemed to look down upon laboring people when Sun Tzu said to kick away the ladder behind soldiers and to move them to and fro like a shepherd herding sheep. In his second critique Gen. Tao concluded that Sun Tzu's principle, "There are occasions when the commands of the sovereign need not be obeyed" is obsolete.
He argued that since war is a part of politics, "[this principle] often causes irremediable damage to the nation if long-term and overall interests of the state are given up for the sake of local interests in the battlefield. Tao was trying to balance his admiration for Sun Tzu with a rather brief, almost half-hearted attempt to appear less zealous. I respect that attempt, but they don't hold up when we consider three concepts from The Art of War itself.
The interests of the people are what gives someone political power. So if both the general and the people are aligned, it would only mean the ruler would be out of touch if he and the general disagree. If the ruler is out of touch, then his commands can, should, and must be ignored. Second, in Chapter Three, Sun Tzu explained at relative length how a ruler who erroneously administers the army like he administers civil matters can bring trouble and disaster onto the battlefield. When this happens, how could this possibility serve the nation well in the long-term?
Third, in Chapter Twelve, Sun Tzu speaks to the possibility that leaders themselves can make horrendous, irreversible mistakes. Sun Tzu was obsessed with being cautious when wielding the instruments of warfare, and for good reason:. Therefore, what is truly obsolete is the notion that a leader's decision is infallible, like it comes from the Heavens, such that others, like a military general, cannot help but obey.
However, from Sun Tzu's perspective, the military leader's job is just as crucial, if not more so, because in his hands are the lives of hundreds of thousands. And in modern times, it has meant the lives of millions. As such, it is the duty of the upright military general to convince and persuade the civilian leader, and only failing that, to disobey in its execution for the benefit of the nation. The former is the preferred objective, and the latter is the deliberate choice between a rock and a hard place.
Let's now take a look at the verse in Chapter One where Sun Tzu mentions if the general follows his principles and applies them, he will prevail so keep him, and if not, dismiss him. Because of the arrangement of the Chinese characters, another plausible translation of that verse is if the ruler follows his principles and applies them, he will stay, and if not, he will leave.
However, from my analysis of Sun Tzu's character, his integrity, confidence, and strength are beyond reproach, and so I believe his bold stance is indeed a possibility -- especially for a general who would have the fortitude to disobey a ruler's command. Interestingly enough, if the ruler and the general don't see eye to eye in the first place, a general like Sun Tzu would not be around to assist in the ruler's objectives, much less be around to disobey commands. In this situation, it would seem leaders aren't put in leadership positions, and so what you have is a situation that lacks leadership.
What you have is a bunch of yes-people incapable of thinking for themselves. Have you ever experienced that in the corporate world? Furthermore, Sun Tzu disobeying an order isn't about being audacious or even about being "right," but about fervently subscribing to wisdom and sound judgement. He believes that an order that lacks reason, and thus does great harm to others, is an order to be ignored.
Imagine how beneficial it is in our society to have wise and thinking people in leadership positions who can determine the fate of so many. They would be a treasure worth keeping. We would want them to stay. Optimism and Sun Tzu's Art of War. Do they mix? Credit: Max Pixel. Masahide's quote above captures well the idea of optimism. It is being positive even when there are things to be negative about.
It isn't ignoring reality but focusing on the possibility, no matter how small, because nobody knows what the future holds. In short, it's very much the act of living, and that is to choose our path instead of allowing outside forces to choose it for us. Perhaps it's reading too many Zig Ziglar books growing up. Whatever the case, I tend to be confident and hopeful that things will work out in the future. When I am armed with Sun Tzu's practical strategies, I have a more tangible reason to be confident and hopeful.
Since youth, my confidence and hope depended upon a tremendous amount of preparation. In school, I wanted a deadline date that is far off, not because I wanted to wait, but I wanted to have more time refining and perfecting my work before the teacher sees it. Needless to say, the grades I received would make any Asian parent happy. There were numerous instances when I would forget to eat and lose track of time completely. That continues to this day. Part of that is because I enjoy working, and part of that is because I want the satisfaction of achieving something outstanding.
Overall, t he harder I work, the more confident and hopeful I get. But as a warrior, he understood that strength lies not in things but in people, namely within himself. To still not forget our heavenly gift despite misfortune is analogous to maintaining a small beachhead despite an enemy attack to later build upon. With time and diligence, one can imagine the progress that can be made from a seemingly humble beginning. With optimism, we give it the old college try against the odds.
And should we fail, as Teddy Roosevelt once said, "at least [we fail] while daring greatly, so that [our] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. In much of life, especially with many people involved, there are simply too many variables to account to truly determine failure or success in the future. And so logically we choose not to make a decision at all. Doubt causes us to stop working. And stop working is something I can't imagine myself doing.
I would argue there is another warrior with plenty of optimism, even in the midst of considerable danger and concern:. It could be based on past experience. But it is more to do with knowing his army, the enemy's army, and the environment they engage in. Business leaders can learn from this lesson. If they aren't constantly setting the stage for their team to do great work, then they aren't doing their jobs.
Notice Sun Tzu doesn't depend on superstars to produce the results he seeks. He depended upon rather ordinary soldiers to produce extraordinary results, thanks to the strategy he conceived. Strategy leverages limited resources and enables the leader to calculate if they are sufficient for success. Leaders who treat their people like their own beloved children would always be concerned, no matter how certain they feel. Yet he stayed and pushed his troops forward. Furthermore, if we believe Sun Tzu lived in the real world, we would also have to believe he knew there are no guarantees in life.
Except death and taxes. But victory isn't one of them. Anything that can happen might or will happen. Failing to calculate an unknown factor is a possibility. That factor contributing to defeat is a possibility. Sound strategy can only assure our success in the long run; the chances of making costly mistakes in the short-term, in one battle, are significantly greater. He would use more moderating words. It simply doesn't make sense -- unless Sun Tzu was indeed an optimist.
Therefore, Sun Tzu's principles don't run counter to optimism -- they run beside and parallel to it.follow site
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They complement it. This complementary mix then demands that along with our optimism we must do the hard work to plan and prepare. Things will likely go well but there will be unforeseen setbacks, which we will learn from as we move forward. No matter what, we must not stop being proactive. So if we continue on our mission, our gains will outnumber our losses. In baseball as in life, going home most of the time would be considered an extraordinary accomplishment. And in warfare as in life, going home at all would be considered an even greater accomplishment.
Was Sun Tzu a pacifist? The likely answer is more nuanced, and would depend on what the exact definition of "pacifist" is. So let's start with a definition of pacifist: holding the belief that war and violence are unjustifiable. If that is the definition then Sun Tzu straight away isn't a pacifist. Although his goal is to win without fighting, he has explained in several chapters on what to do in times of battle.
To Sun Tzu, war isn't the only response, not even a preferred response, but it is a cautious and begrudging option. Thus, he certainly believes that war at times is justifiable. Yet Sun Tzu was no war monger. The overall impression of The Art of War is a guide of what to do when provoked or in danger. It isn't a book about using war for gratuitous gain. What might confuse some Sun Tzu students is that although the objective is to defend and preserve, Sun Tzu's strategies call for the leader to be extremely proactive, to take the initiative, and be very much on the offense.
To quote an old cliche -- the best defense is a good offense -- would be appropriate here. Anybody who has ever implemented this strategy, or be on the other side, would know how effective it truly is. Epictetus, a philosopher of the highest order, states that it would be shameful that a person doesn't attack an enemy approaching. An image he gives is a bull rushing toward an attacking lion to defend his herd. The bull somehow understands his capability as well as his duty.
This doesn't happen overnight. It takes a winter's training and the confidence to take action. Those who cannot are not only incapable of harming, but also incapable of helping. Therefore, an effective leader isn't only someone who is kind but also has the ability to protect, promote, and make things happen.
Do not be like those who are only strong in good times but wither in bad times. Anybody can do that. Leaders are strong at all times because they understand nothing stops their noble response and noble behavior, even during great hardship or abundance, when the average person would be discouraged or arrogant. Thus perhaps it would not be helpful to label anyone a pacifist or a war hawk but rather see how he or she acts in times of trouble and success. They are one and the same. Because conflict, disagreements, and yes, even fighting are a part of life.
To be able to handle them with aplomb is what a person needs to truly practice the Art of Peace. This is analogous to a doctor who specializes in cancer treatment. Nobody can claim he or she promotes cancer just because he or she writes about cancer. That is exactly Sun Tzu's situation when it comes to warfare. You don't want to go to people who merely speak of peace all the time. They tend to have a habit of avoiding conflicts instead of bravely facing them and gaining the hard but beneficial experience of resolving them. Instead, you want to go to a person who has vast experience in solving real-life problems and asking him or her how he or she did it.
Practical wisdom that Sun Tzu offers takes on reality instead of only focusing on the ideal. One cannot reach the ideal without first fixing what needs fixing. It takes great courage. I believe such high level of courage originates from a high source, which interestingly enough, is present in your heart and mind since the moment you were born.
'The Art Of War' Graphic Novel (PHOTOS)
Take a look at the two ancient Chinese characters at the top of today's blog entry. They represent "Sun Tzu. The first character shows a person reaching up to the heavens holding a weapon. The second character shows a person reaching up to the heavens without a weapon. They are in war and in peace, yet both characters exude benevolence. It is a symbol of significant importance, an ideal that's in alignment with Sun Tzu. To him, it is a more uplifting symbol, a symbol of hope and triumph.
Is this not a divine revelation? It is where epiphanies come from. It is what sound strategies are made of. It is acting with great wisdom -- whether in war or in peace -- where everyone around you would all be better off because you exist in the world. Thomas Huynh, founder of Sonshi. Much like young Minamoto Yoshitsune's experience, the words that Sun Tzu wrote eventually resonated with me so completely that I wanted to go out and share my enthusiasm with everyone through my own writing on the World Wide Web back in My writing on the Web later led to a book.
As mentioned in the last blog post, Sonshi. That apparently was a huge compliment since 1 he knows many outstanding authors and 2 he was rather stoic, not the sort of person who praises others. Frankly, I never thought my writing to be all that great. My secret is simply I write as I speak in business: to be clear and to be understood easily. Miscommunication causes many problems and I want to prevent them as much as possible. I'll let you in on another secret. When I was a freshman at the University of Washington in Seattle, my writing was so bad that the professor had to sit me down and explain to me basic grammar rules.
It wasn't always like that though. As far back as elementary school, I was writing full stories. I loved to write. However, as I grew up, I wrote significantly less. Other things were of greater concern. Like cars and girls. So the less I wrote, the worse I got. Fortunately, as I progressed in college, I wrote more. Pretty soon I was back on track. After graduation, it was on to working in companies and communicating clearly via memos and emails. There was no excuse for not being professional because the efficiency and effectiveness of projects depended upon it.
I want to share with you what I saw or learned.
That means, then, that I must possess experience or knowledge worth sharing with you, even if it's only for entertainment value. At the very least, it forces me to constantly step out of my comfort zone. That's just not me. It's not the life I want to lead, either for myself or for others. So I will strive and continue to write, hopefully as often as I can. Happy Chinese New Year! For the last few weeks I visited my family in Guilin, China. The beauty of the area -- from its karst topography to its bamboo groves -- cannot be overstated as exemplified by the two quotes below:.
Guilin in the city is surprisingly like Shanghai or Beijing. The people are industrious. The lone Guilin noodle shop that was opened during New Year's Day ended up being my favorite. Businesses usually close for six to eight days after New Year. There were many more popular noodle places but this particular humble shop run by a husband and wife team had the best noodles in terms of flavor.
They did! In fact, it might very well be the best chicken dinner I ever had in my life. Everything they offered was spectacular. Whatever decor they lacked, they more than made up for it in food quality. Our other option was to go to a fancy hotel restaurant but the food would certainly not be as good. Therefore, no matter the appearances, being truly exceptional will always be in style. A business can copy what everyone else is doing or it can ignore the norm and the generally accepted rules and be vastly better.
Such excellence is rare, of course. For every Sun Tzu, there are countless leaders who aren't really leaders at all. They follow policies blindly without ever thinking about the overall goal and purpose. Or simply put, they don't think. Sun Tzu and students of Sun Tzu understand that doing the right thing is always better than doing things right.
China's social and economic progress is clear. There is no turning back. America isn't the only game in town anymore, even in Silicon Valley, the last leg of my trip. My only hope is that, like Messi and Ronaldo, both will raise each other's game as allies and competitors. They don't have to be enemies, especially if both are strong. Like in a superior army, strength isn't always about sheer quantities but in the soundness of its strategy, whether it can endure through stresses and challenges for decades to come.
If it must be the case, let our appearances be worse than what is truly underneath and not the other way around. As individuals, we can learn the same lesson on strength. On March 1, , Sonshi. It is also this year that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Art of War translation completed in What makes a person a superior person? Inside an early calculator.
Credit: Kevin Twomey. Yesterday, while I was thinking hard about an important matter, I was putting away leftover food after dinner. So my mind wasn't on the food. As a result, chicken and vegetables fell out haphazardly as I was transferring them from the large steel pot to a small glass container. Instead of the food inside the container, it was all over the kitchen counter.
The more I messed up, the more perturbed I was. And the more perturbed I was, the bigger the mess became. It was a scene of folly for this Sun Tzu student. I took it for granted that I could do a simple task such that I failed miserably at it. There were only a few effective ways, ways I call the narrow divine paths, but I veered away from all those paths because I was distracted. Therefore, to do things well, it takes this one thing to succeed at whatever we do.
What is this one thing? It is our ability to think. As much as I love sports, as human beings, our strength in the animal kingdom isn't our physical attributes but our mental ones. For example, Usain Bolt for the longest time was considered the fastest man on earth. He has many fans. Perhaps that's why we are also fans of cats. From playing the violin to doing accounting work, you cannot force your way into accomplishment.
It takes knowledge, patience, awareness, and focus. Even in activities such as football, weightlifting, and boxing, without having the mental wherewithal, one cannot achieve his or her physical aim. Is it any coincidence that in human biology, although the brain expends an inordinate amount of energy, it is the last part of the body to shut down if food were scarce or fallen off onto the kitchen counter?
Our body knows that our mental capability increases our chances of survival more than other capability. Sun Tzu knows this, too:. When we are lulled into thinking we have mastered something, we open ourselves to the possibility of failure. Failure itself usually isn't too bad, but when it is preventable, it can be. He chose men who drank but still kept their heads up to maintain their awareness of the surrounding; they understood and took seriously their task to protect the nation no matter the hardship or distraction. Gideon sent home the ones who simply drank water, those who lost track of their one job.
Similarly, whether in simple or complex tasks, you must pay attention to and think about what is before you. By doing so, you can complete it quickly and efficiently, allowing you to turn to other important tasks. Any automaton can follow orders or repeat past steps over and over but only a thinking person can choose to evaluate what is different about the situation this time around -- and it is always different from the last time -- to gain an advantage over the competition.
This is also the divine path to self-improvement, which I hope is a more narrow path than any opponent's. To be human is to think. To be humane is to think even harder and choosing your own path because you have a deep understanding that it is the right thing to do. That, my friends, is what makes a person superior.
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Credit: Universal Pictures. Today I encountered a passage from a common but inferior Art of War translation that said, "Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him. I translated it as, "If they seek advantage, bait them; if they are in chaos, capture them. One can also translate it as "take" them or even "invade" them, but "crush" them is careless and misleading. It seems like a small difference but it is not. It is a chasm. It is like hearing the commander say, "Seize this city" and interpreting it as "Destroy this city. If you consider the overall context of The Art of War, the book's advice is clear.
Below are five examples of passages that run counter to "crush him":. Sun Tzu prefers preservation of gains over crushing anybody or anything and losing those gains. Thus, if the enemy is in chaos and you have the initiative, why would you want to crush him when you can leave him whole? When the enemy is in chaos, it is in a disadvantaged and weak position.
In contrast, we are in an advantaged and strong position. As Sun Tzu advised above, the wise move would not be to "crush him," but to surround him. The enemy poses no threat and we are vastly superior. So it makes sense we would leave an outlet so they can retreat home.
This is analogous to a caring big brother holding off his sibling versus a mean bully pursuing his victim. Sun Tzu tops off this passage by saying it is a principle of war. The benefit of receiving Sun Tzu's instruction is to be a wise leader in situations of emotional conflict. We want to become skilled, controlled, and competent. As such, our goal as mentioned above is to "take All-Under-Heaven intact. According to Sun Tzu, one would never want to plan to crush the enemy.
That would be when there is a breakdown in the execution of our aim, something we would not want to happen, much less plan for. The quote above is hardly from a person who would promote crushing an enemy. It would seem he wants to not only capture the enemy unharmed but also try to incorporate them into his own forces. Again, the difference in the two ideas is vast. Sun Tzu was a man of great compassion, because he was a man of great strength and wisdom.
He understood the objective isn't to "crush" or destroy the opponent but to quickly achieve equilibrium. His desire seems focused on treading lightly, doing as little harm as possible, and return things back to normal again. In other words, war isn't normal. Peace is normal. Critics will say this sort of peace is only temporary. But everything is temporary. In a changing world, nothing is ever permanent. Sun Tzu had the ability to handle war and conflict with aplomb. Therefore, it is better for him to establish peace right now when violence has broken out than to achieve an idealized permanent peace later on.
Along those same lines, it is better to start building bridges and wait to be able to complete it in the future -- Sun Tzu's concept of timing -- than to induce, continue, or exacerbate hatred now and crush any hope of success in the future. It is amazing how many people know about Sun Tzu's Art of War. I would say that almost anybody who has been educated has at least heard of the book, not only in China but all around the world.
However, as ubiquitous as Sun Tzu's Art of War is, that doesn't necessarily mean its understanding is ubiquitous. Because of its title, people's perception of The Art of War is sometimes far off from reality, especially when they haven't read the book. There are too many misperceptions to explain fully in one blog entry -- perhaps this topic will become a series -- so today I would like to focus on just one.
Let me start with the following quote from Chapter One, Calculations:. If one were to not read the above quote carefully, he or she would think it is fine to be unable and appear to be able.
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Unfortunately this runs counter to Sun Tzu's principles. He stresses the importance of defense and achieving invincibility first and only then would the leader consider an attack. He or she must be completely prepared at all times in an anticipation of an enemy attack. Therefore, if you are unable, this would spell trouble. Furthermore, you would never engage in battle unless you are percent capable of winning that battle. If you are unable, you are putting yourself at risk unnecessarily, trying to bluff your way into a victory.
Sooner or later, the opposition would call that bluff. Instead, as Sun Tzu advises, build strength and be capable, and there will be more than enough opportunities to take afterwards.
It would simply be a matter of timing. So the sound approach would be to come from a strong, safe, and positive position and point of view. As I described in "What is the mark of peace? When you are strong, you tend to smile more, joke with others more, and spread the joy that is in your heart to others more, making the battles in life at least a little more bearable.
I hope your benevolence spreads all the way up to the Heavens and across All-Under-Heaven. What is the mark of peace? It would seem strange that a military state like Sparta would have citizens who display such kindness to strangers, but one could argue it is the fact they understood the hardships of war that they were able to understand the value of comfort. This is in accordance to Sun Tzu: "If one is not fully cognizant of the dangers inherent in doing battle, one cannot fully know the benefits of doing battle.
From birth, girls were educated and literate. In modern times, it is almost a certainty that the soldier who had seen the most battle would be the biggest dove. General Butler would spend the last part of his life educating people about the horrors of war and the profiteering of war. I'm sure he had his critics but I'm also certain they didn't have sufficient gravitas to challenge his position. He understood war inside and out, and thus was forceful and convincing in his opinion.
His opposition didn't have a fighting chance. For whatever reason, I had no car and had to rely on the bus to get home. When I was young, I rode the bus on a regular basis, whether it was to go to school or to go to work. So I am no stranger to public transportation. However, in my dream, I felt a heavy sense of helplessness. I had no money and no idea where I was or how to get back home. Every stranger I was able to talk with were either very mean or when they did try to help, it was wrong or inadequate. People had good intentions but didn't go far enough to ensure I was indeed on the right path.
It wasn't until I came across a poor woman with children was I able to get real assistance. She understood exactly how helpless I was feeling, and so had the empathy to make sure I finally got on the right bus that took me home. In the examples above, you can see that the mark of peace is having a deep appreciation of peace. And to truly appreciate peace, one must have experienced the grave absence of it, which can be found in loss, hardship, struggle, conflict, and, ultimately, violent combat. When people have experienced such pain, they tend to not only empathize with others who experience the same pain but they also have a firm and impenetrable conviction for peace.
Only someone ignorant of his or her weakness would try to oppose this position of strength, and he or she would fall flat. This is analogous to Epictetus's lesson about a bull that knows he can charge forward to protect the herd from an attacking lion. That capability doesn't happen overnight. It takes training, practice, and experience. Only then can awareness, reasoning, and empathy become strengths. Only then can those strengths be translated into tangible results. And only then can peace be possible even in the face of trouble, adversity, and misfortune. In , we are making good use of them.
We aren't about never fighting -- at times it is necessary for swift self-defense -- but about having such overwhelming strength that one doesn't need to fight. We are about doing no harm by taking the initiative. We ask that you join us in the effort. There are plenty of advice on the Web about the art of manliness, from how a man should dress to what skills he needs to have. Apparently, the art of being a man has been lost. The inference is there is actually a way to become a real man.
It is no wonder men nowadays are confused. Hopefully I can help to clear some of that confusion. First, there is no one way of being a man. Nobody who is reasonable would claim they know the art of being a woman -- so too the absurdity of someone claiming they know the art of being a man.
Men are as diverse as the environment they live in. This is especially true for men who live and work among other people, which is almost every man you know. The people and circumstances around each and every man are different. For all of them to follow a particular lost art of manliness, their actions would likely be untimely and inappropriate. Maybe there was a good reason why that art was lost in the past and needs to stay lost!
Second, success for a man is dependent upon his ability to think for himself and adapt accordingly. For him to not carefully evaluate his own situation himself and instead follow someone else's rigid regimen or technique, he will invariably make mistakes that would cost dearly him at home and at work. What he has to succeed hasn't been lost. Evolution would dictate that chances are good he already possessed what it takes to succeed as a man and it is within him from the time he was born.
And third, when a man worries more about himself than what his mission is, he ceases to become the person he wants to be. Since Abraham Lincoln had a beard, does that mean all men should grow a beard to become great leaders, too? You must not look for something that is unrelated to what you truly want. No need to simply look the part; it is enough that you think about your goal all day long because you would inevitably work to achieve it. Therefore, your objective isn't to be a man that someone else thought a man should be. Your goal is your goal. It is unique. It is different.
It is yours. In summary, t he real man or woman you want to be is the one who is daily striving for your dream and eventually reaching it. One of them can be found in your mirror each and every morning. What is your message to the world? Politics aside, I'm encouraged. The answer was what I've been waiting for. The answer was from the heart, which we all need more of. I've enough of cynicism and hate.
Related The Art of Parenting: Sun Tzus Art of War for Parenting Teens
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