The Art of War

This article is about the great military strategist, Sun Tzu, and his classic treatise The Art of War. I still have the James Clavell edition with me which I purchased more than 25 years ago. There is much in the book which I did not understand when I read it but even one insight – if applied to your situation – will revolutionize your life. One fact mastered is a thousand enjoyed, as the English saying goes.

As you read the book you may not understand much of what is written or you may find it too abstract and inapplicable to your life. But stick with it and read it carefully. It is a small book of less than a hundred pages and just one insight will repay you a thousand-fold for your time and money.

The Art of War was written more than 2,500 years ago. Originally a text for victory on the battlefield the book was vastly transcended its original purpose. This is a work on the philosophy of successful leadership that is as applicable to contemporary business as to war. To quote James Clavell from the foreword of the above edition:

I truly believe that if our military and political leaders in recent times had studied this work of genius, Vietnam could not have happened as it happened; we would not have lost the war in Korea; the Bay of Pigs could not have occurred; the hostage fiasco in Iran would not have come to pass; the British empire would not have been dismembered; and in all probability World Wars I and II would have been avoided. Certainly they would not have been waged as they were waged, and the millions of youths obliterated unnecessarily and stupidly by monsters calling themselves generals would have lived out their lives

… Like Machiavelli’s The Prince and Miyamoto Musashi’s The Book of Five Rings, Sun Tzu truths contained herein can equally show the way to victory in all kinds of ordinary business conflicts, boardroom battles, and in the day to day fight for survival we all endure – even in the battle of the sexes! They are all forms of war, all fought under the same rules – his rules.

When I started this article, I was thinking of expanding on one or more of Sun Tzu’s insights but I think I can do no better than ask you to read the book yourself. There are many translations of Sun Tzu – there is one by the scholar Thomas Cleary which is also worth buying and reading. As I had mentioned in an earlier blog post we cannot avoid the battles and struggles that we face in life. Ahimsa may be the highest morality but I – at any rate – need my creature comforts and standard of living and I will need to do battle for these material benefits.

I’ll end this article by just quoting a few insights from Sun Tzu:

In peace prepare for war; in war prepare for peace. The art of war is of vital importance to the state. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected.

Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.

If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.

The true object of war is peace.

I’ll end here. Hope this helps someone. Please explore this blog for more articles on Politics, Spirituality and Self Help. If you liked this article then please share it on Facebook and Twitter and feel free to post your comments or contact me. Link to contact is below.

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3 Comments

  1. Great to be visiting your blog again, it continues to be months for me. Nicely this article that ive been waited for so long. I will need this article to complete my assignment inside the university, and it has same subject with your write-up. Thanks, great share.

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