The Tao of peace: lessons from ancient China on the dynamics of conflict
Wang Chen, a ninth-century military commander, was sickened by the carnage that had plagued the glorious Tang dynasty for decades. "All within the seas were poisoned," he wrote, "and pain and disaster was rife throughout the land." He wondered: How are we humans ever to rectify our self-destructive tendencies? How can we find a true pacifism, one that will end conflicts before they begin? For the answer he turned to a remarkable source: not to the prevailing theories of human nature and governance of Confucianism, but to the classic text known as theTao Te Ching. TheTao Te Chinghas been a philosophical linchpin of Taoism for more than a thousand years. Though it is often viewed as having a mystical, quietist, even nihilist dimension, Wang Chen found in theTao Te Chingquite a different aspect: one that offered a cosmological anchor for the patterns of human society and an explanation for the dynamics of conflict. Penetrating the Tao and embracing its patterns, he believed, would lead to true empowerment in the everyday world of political realities – not in some transcendent, ethereal realm. Here is his own rendering of and commentary on the ancient text, elucidating the ancient classic's "Tao of peace." Wang Chen's commentary is amplified and expanded by translator Ralph Sawyer, a leading scholar of Chinese military history.
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Ta o C h 1N
The Highest Good Is Like Water
Holding and Filling
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