Thursday, December 22, 2005

tao teh ching 68

A good soldier is not violent.
A good fighter is not angry.
A good winner is not vengeful.
A good employer is humble.
This is known as the Virtue of not striving.
This is known as the ability to deal with people.
This since ancient times has been known as the ultimate unity with heaven.

Lau's version is far more cogent:

One who excels as a warrior does not appear formidable;
One who excels in fighting [1] is never roused to anger;
One who excels in defeating his enemy does not join issue;
One who excels in employing others humbles himself before them.
This is known as the virtue of non–contention;
This is known as [2] making use of the effort of others;
This is known as matching the sublimity of heaven[3].

The Ma wang tui text reads chapters 67, 68 and 69 as a unit and thus begins this chapter with 'Therefore...'

[1] The Ma wang tui text has 'in battle'
[2] The Ma wang tui text adds the word 'correctly' here
[3] The Ma wang tui text adds the line 'It is the high point of the past.

Wang Pi's commentary says:

'Warrior' refers to a commander of troops 'Warlike' describes a fondness for aggressive action.
One who is good at warfare holds back and does not go first, joins in but never starts the singing (cf. ch. 10). Thus he has nothing to do with anger.
'Joins with' means 'contends with'.
If one attempts to use men but does not place oneself below them, their power will not be one's to use (cf. ch. 66).

Professor Cheng says: The quiescence of the female always wins over the male, hence the lower position is victorious. The Tao acts through softness. 'Never confront the enemy directly' means to avoid wrangling or resisting. The gate of All Mysteries — the Mysterious Female — is what is 'in accord with the most ancient heavens'.

Shantideva, in his Bodhicharyavatara, 'Entering the Path of Enlightenment', points out that, although external enemies may be conquered a hundred, a thousand times, they will always regroup to attack one again, ever fiercer in their determination to win, yet, if one dissolves the internal cause of conflict which is one's own anger and hatred — once dissolved it has nowhere else to go and thus will not arise again.

Truly anger, grasping–desire, close–mindedness and the continuing possibility of falling back into these are the only things we should be on the look out for, the only things that should cause us concern. At least until such time as we know for sure that they have lost all hold on our mindstreams.

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