For study material please see the attachment. For the Chinese text, please see WikiSource.
War is of vital importance to the life or death of a state. So begins the classic text on the nature of conflict in general and warfare in particular.
One may ask what warfare has to do with who we are here and and how it plays in our individual and collective quest for a better life. It is simple. War is a state of dysfunction within society. The Art of War is a masterwork on recognizing and dealing with this peculiar kind of dysfunction.
The syllabus is pretty simple. One chapter a week. The week will start off with a couple thoughts and some questions, mostly subjective in nature. It is about your understanding, and not so much mine. With that being said, crazy conspiracy theories and anything likely to show up on Art Bell will get deleted immediately. BTW, an additional source will be the Widdel translation. He does an excellent job in including commentary from various students of Sun Tzu. At the end of the week I will respond to your thoughts and we can go over discussions that have taken place in the meantime.
Each week will be in its own discussion, so that the sections can be kept separate from each other for ease of reference.
So, with that on to Week One:
Chapter One - Introduction and Laying Plans
Laying plans. If one wants to get to the gist to any successful endeavor it is in the skill of laying plans. There has never been a large enterprise of construction or destruction that has succeeded without a plan.
Let's think about planning a bit. Where does planning take place? Where doesn't it? What do good plans look like? Likewise with bad planning.
What is meant by Moral Law? How can we apply moral law to current situations?
And what is meant by leadership? What qualities do good and bad leaders exhibit? The reason leadership is such an issue is that, as Juddu Krishnamurti correctly stated, "People follow leaders out of their own confusion, therefore the leaders are also confused." What do we see and feel from confused leaders and what do we see from those who lead effectively? Where have you seen this in your own life, whether it be with a boss, a political figure or other person in charge?
For now, those are my thoughts. Let's hear yours!
Dear Joe ,
This book is a classic one and very sublime , It has contributed quite a lot to my life and living as afr as ideas and direction were required- It does hold a very special place in my heart - It is quite sublime and works on all the three levels of our human existence - they are more like sutras which are applicable to the Physical , mental and the intellectual levels in keeping with the fact that a person becomes moral only when there is right thinking, feeling and action . It is a war in every way , normally an ethical or good person is faced with a strange dilemma , after having had contact with what is right , he is faced with a tremendous inner contradiction if he does not choose to be an ascetic and decides to be in the world , since people find him naiive and mostly having lost his "keeness" or clarity on how the world actually is - many a times he is called upon to take steps which though knowing what is right makes him torn internally as he percieves them to be contrary to the truth , and people do find such persons a soft target , then there is the worldy man who does wrong despite knowing that there is a better or morally superior life but is torn as the man of knowledge is since the moral means as he sees it would not be perfectly applicable , so these two are stuck in a strange juxtaposition - one wants to be good but cannot and the other is good and is asked to act against those convictions which in itself has been gained to with great effort and struggle !!.And they are confronted with the spectacle of the ignorant man who is worldly and savvy , who so easily slides between the two without a thought and jut enjoys , not bothered in either an unknown future nor on a metaphysical past ,LIfe mocks at strife and reduces it to meaning less actions , yet provokes one to strife on a hazy belief of good , Even the so called bad man discerns his good in his acts.
I have due to peculiar circumstances approached this book in a manner which was in consonance with what I knew of Philosophy , A small digression is warranted as , its impact can be understood as it was to me which may or may not be peculiar . It presented the greatest wisdoms , very succintly and was knowledge all along due to the peculiar angle of vision that I approached it with.
In the Greek masterpiece of Platos" Republic" and the Vedic Epic "Mahabharata" which deals with spies how to use them and detect them , how a kingdom is run, its break up, Ethics of the king, the subjects and duties , military and the Civil and dispensation of justice - as also "The Art of War " make sense (at least to me ) when we consider the fact that all these are not normal novels but sublime literature and so was seen as such .
Sun Tsu is a direct and more terse way of approaching life and the preparation for it - which makes it so appealing unlike Plato and Vyasa , but for me the key to reading and understanding the art of war lay in the latter two writers .
Just to give a peep into my approach and how it helped me , In the Republic of Plato he clearly delinests how it is to be st up and various types of people with certain characters to look after certain affairs of the state etc etc. In the Mahabharata we too have the caste system (which we are still being blamed by the world for continuing) . Now what was understood by me was that these being in the nature of an internal dialogue within the authors (both who wrote on war ) that it was a display of how our total instincts have to be gathered and divided within us into 4 or 5 divisions or "castes" and then control effected . We rely on our own instincts and nature to bring about a peaceful "state" or "world " within us . It made sense since to me both these books exhorted a person to establish a peaceful state within one self , through a war , now how was this war conducted ? it was a war with shadows since it was oneself only , but strangely both coincided with how it was to be done in the practical world ! and history sufficed to convince me that the view afforded to me was a big one , by just looking into the world , thus I was introduced to the sublime study of shadows , It was then having found a happy coinccidence (and practice within me ) I found that peace and calm was the result , it was this that attracted me to Chinese and the Far Eastern philosophies ,having experienced a shadow war and which gave me an exact view of the identity of the Greek and Vedic views and how the outside related to the inside , the chinese had a lot of references to shadows and so I dug earnestly into Chinese literature to find the common thread , It was in The art of war that it emerged , that it was nothing but the same eternal things , I really do not know how to explain the whole , but there is apreparation for war before peace can be enforced , One envisages the state to be established and , divides the whole inner world within which is our nature consisting of conflicting emotions - the priestlly or divine who advise the kings or the noble sentiments , the righteous anger sentiments within us do well directed by reason and sagely advice, the inimical ones which are the enemy consisting of hordes of emotions , in a way we atke stock within and divide the totality of our nature into these general ctegories - "secure the piece of land or kingdom" and then fight - the increase in will, purity in thought and clarity in reason leads to the establishment of a perfect state . It becomes easy over time to eliminate the "spies" who wander in , The art of war provided me with great views into the nation , its thinking, mine own and a common thread of knowledge .
It would take years as Meegan has found out , he has been researching one word and the knowledge is overwhelmingly kept him in occupation for so many man years - so too one line form each of these books would suffice to ignite the lamp of knowledge in one turning it into a celeberation and fireworks of that is never ending .
There is a story I do not know if it is true or not m but it is sufficient for me to tell everything about this book
The emperor having heard of the author called him and asked him - will your teachings help me win a war and Sun replied in the affirmative , his next question was will it teach women to win and he affirmed the same . Sublimity is the essence of this book and then it becomes a feast of knowledge - the parallels are all around us in the world , for confirmation - since it was Mahayogi Aurobindo who said that "Look in the world and see if there are parallels ", in which case the thinking has been right as everything that is in the intellect settles on the world as a reality .
Dear Joe ,
I will play along with you - with my connections (not necessarily my own )
SunTzu :Laying plans : The meeting is to be held in the Temple used by priests or in a Tent
Mahabharata : Meetings may be held in the kingdom and kings conferred with , first the various kings who are pro have to be brought to our side and the enemies determined ie,those kings against us .
Temple or Tent for Sun Tzu = the material body .As also for the Vedic Epic Kingdom is the whole place where the King wants to establish peace within . In both it means the same .
But the Vedic one then goes on to a long dissertation as to how long planning must take place - with the references to time in matters of Justice , and deliberation among men and Gods and how it is not to be exceeded in the interests of the state and a battle won would bring people over to the side and ultimately how the war can be won . The lines for laying plans and for brow beating weak kings, marrying into others (joining of similar ideas) to neutralize them , and etc etc .
Sun Tzu says that the means at hand are5 fold Moral law, heaven ,Earth ,Commander and method of discipline
Vyasa says then says that an anticipation of a long drawn out struggle has to be there and so each soldier : has to stick to his Dharmas , rely on his Intellect in Danger when a commander falls , and becomes a king himself in Battle till authority comes in .
The peace of the state is paramount for once a course is decided -there is no going back to the status quo ante - this is there in both books . The man is changed forever as is the land .
Heaven is the seasons , earth is the distances moral is duty of king so that people will stay by him and follow him ,Commanders are cardinal virtues of uprightness, sagacity etc etc This in Art of war
In Vyasa - he goes a little deeper and portrays an image of the emotions that will be our enemies , the names given to various people and kings are that of emotions .
If my knowledge of the Chinese literature were as solid as that of the Indian ones maybe closer parallels could be found .
There are great mind s who have recognized the similarities and the divine behind these manifestations - in fact Nietzcshe who was a classical philologist of Greek says - The fist thought is honoured like a king and then as a king will send out the prince into the kingdom it is honoured as a prince and sent out , and we look to wed ideas as if we are arranging or looking whether a possible marriage between two thoughts could be achieved favourably !!.He was not unaware of the subtleties so of these literatures.
A student of Confucious was asked by a king , do you know military and civil domains he said yes , the king was surprised and asked does your master teach these , and he got the same reply , upon which the king remarked - I thought he only taught peace !!!
A warrior understands peace more than a pacifist .And the true pacifist understands that peace cannot be gained to without a war - which is why it is so valuable .
Moral law could mean an unquestionable following of the people that the commander has on a basis of their allegiance to the commander / state / government..
but it could possibly mean in the terms of Morale? By having the built up trust and honor in the following of the commander by keeping the confidence of the soldier?
At first when I read 'Moral Law' I thought it might be referring to Moral views as in good/bad & right/wrong then I was thinking this might not be so true, after all it is War! Unless of course it's by establishing the rite[sic]right of why the war should be in place. From a business perspective I thought this would fit, because the businessman HAS to believe in the product/service they are offering to be good or true. So in this case, they would HAVE to believe that it is true and just to be at war. Hopefully, I'm gaining ground on this battlefield, it seems I have a mixed bag here! LOL
"The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler"
they have to have a true following... so how is this enforced is what I'm wondering too... By example? Thru fear or deception? Training, Honor, Discipline maybe?
To start, before laying plans, identify objectives, etc... one must be organized. One must begin with who they are and how they fit into the greater whole, this includes life as well as military objectives. What is my place in the grand scheme? What are my skills, strengths, powers, etc? How can I best contribute to the overall success of the objective? Organization is one of the basic keys to any success in any endever and good organization depends on flexibility, as does laying plans, for any eventuality.