The Art of War: Translation, Essays, and Commentary by the Denma Translation Group
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Conflict is an inevitable part of life, according to this ancient Chinese classic of strategy, but everything necessary to respond to conflict wisely, thoroughly, and victoriously is right before us at all times. The key to skillful action in any situation is in knowing those things that make up the environment and then seeing the patterns they form so that their power becomes available to us. It is not necessary to change the nature of things to find victory. Since, as Sun Tzu teaches, aggression and response in kind can lead only to destruction, we must learn to work with conflict in a more profound and effective way. The Art of War shows us how.
The Art of War gives us proven strategic skills to apply when we need to take action and overcome obstacles in rapidly changing, chaotic situations. Though ancient in origin, these strategies are accessible because they are based on the ways we already do things. As Sun Tzu shows, rather than getting mired in conflict, we can create momentum and bring about the tipping point to achieve success.
shih come together in this example, also from chapter 5: One who uses shih sets people to battle as if rolling trees and rocks. As for the nature of trees and rocks— When still, they are at rest. When agitated, they move. When square, they stop. When round, they go. Thus the shih of one skilled at setting people to battle is like rolling round rocks from a mountain one thousand jen high. Here is power-in-movement, the right configuration and the release of potential energy. Rocks have
sees the wholeness of the chaotic battlefield as of the potter who catches the unique form arising from the spinning lump of clay. Contemplation fosters a direct experience of things rather than relying on theory alone. For the reader of the Sun Tzu, it creates a space where the sloganlike lines of the text can mix with the basic awareness and intelligence of his or her mind. This opens a dialogue between the text and the reader that continually reveals new meaning as the reader’s understanding
deceives and throws his troops into death ground. He holds to no standards of behavior save what will bring the genuine victory of taking whole. He is not what others expect, not where others look and not predictable in any way. The sage commander acts without care for others’ opinions of his methods or his own reputation. Always keeping victory in the forefront, he is not restricted to reasonability and negotiation but will use whatever motivates people in order to create favorable shih.
in longstanding practices of massed frontal assault upon the enemy’s center of gravity. Like a deep wound, the gap remained open long enough for Lawrence’s friend B. H. Liddell Hart to develop what he would call the indirect approach, an assault that followed the line of least expectation and resistance. And here is synchronicity. In 1927 Liddell Hart received a letter from a British officer serving in China describing the Sun Tzu. The letter drew special attention to the Sun Tzu’s image of
consequences. This weapon is so sharp that it must be kept concealed. Otherwise it may unpredictably injure itself or you. This has its own rules. One must be a sage to use spies, to feel their vulnerability, to keep oneself and them from jeopardy, to manage the delicacy of their operations amid the enemy, to interpret and apply their knowledge, to handle reversals and false information. Things can go quickly and disastrously wrong. In sum, The army one wishes to strike, the walled city one