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Camouflage

Part 69 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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There is the maxim of military strategists: I dare not be the first to invade, but rather be the invaded. Dare not press forward an inch, but rather retreat a foot.

That is, to march without formations, to roll up the sleeves, to charge not in frontal attacks, to arm without weapons.

There is no greater catastrophe than to underestimate the enemy. To underestimate the enemy might entail the loss of my treasures.

Therefore when two equally matched armies meet, it is the man of sorrow who wins.

(Tao Teh King 69)

There is the maxim of military strategists: I dare not be the first to invade, but rather be the invaded. Dare not press forward an inch, but rather retreat a foot. Mabry: “The military has a saying: ‘I would rather be passive, like a guest than aggressive, like a host. I would rather retreat a foot than advance an inch.’” Legge: “A master of the art of war has said, ‘I do not dare to be the host (to commence the war); I prefer to be the guest (to act on the defensive). I do not dare to advance an inch; I prefer to retire a foot.’”

Master Lao Tzu is not advocating that we should be passive and without initiative, but in relation to others we should never be aggressive or invasive, attempting to shape their thought or life. A good example of this is the traditional Eastern Orthodox way of establishing a church in a non-orthodox area. A missionary goes there, takes up residence and simply lives from day to day. If anyone shows interest he speaks to them about Orthodoxy. But if after some time (the recommended time is three years) no one has shown serious interest in becoming part of the Orthodox Church he moves on to another place or returns home. Lao Tzu would approve totally.

That is, to march without formations, to roll up the sleeves, to charge not in frontal attacks, to arm without weapons. Wu: “This is called marching without moving, rolling up one’s sleeves without baring one’s arms, capturing the enemy without confronting him, holding a weapon that is invisible.” Mabry: “This is called going forward without instigating, engaging without force, defense without hatred, victory without weapons.” That is really all there is to this: live peacefully and unobtrusively, friendly to all but respectful of them by never interfering or trying to influence them. If asked, opinion and help can be given, but only to the degree requested and with nothing more than continued good will.

There is no greater catastrophe than to underestimate the enemy. To underestimate the enemy might entail the loss of my treasures. Legge: “There is no calamity greater than lightly engaging in war. To do that is near losing (the gentleness) which is so precious.” Often people push in and meddle in other people’s lives because they think those people are malleable and inferior to them in understanding. This can have very surprising and unpleasant results as the pushed may not just push back, but punch back. Also, we should not underestimate those we think need our guidance or instruction.

Therefore when two equally matched armies meet, it is the man of sorrow who wins. Wu: “Therefore, when opposing troops meet in battle, victory belongs to the grieving side.” Legge: “Thus it is that when opposing weapons are (actually) crossed, he who deplores (the situation) conquers.” Chan: “Therefore when armies are mobilized and issues joined, the man who is sorry over the fact will win.” Since inevitably conflicts will arise, even if only from the side of others, the truly wise one in the matter is the one who regrets it and considers it a loss and a detriment. Often the wise one must apologize to the foolish in order to restore order.

The sum of it all is to live in self-containment and self-effacement, being the peacemaker even if not the cause of conflict.

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: They Know Me Not

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Introduction to The Tao Teh King for Awakening

Chapters of The Tao Teh King for Awakening

Preface to The Tao Teh King for Awakening

  1. On the Absolute Tao
  2. The Rise of Relative Opposites
  3. Action Without Deeds
  4. The Character of Tao
  5. Nature
  6. The Spirit of the Valley
  7. Living for Others
  8. Water
  9. The Danger of Overweening Success
  10. Embracing the One
  11. The Utility of Not-Being
  12. The Senses
  13. Praise and Blame
  14. Prehistoric Origins
  15. The Wise Ones of Old
  16. Knowing the Eternal Law
  17. Rulers
  18. The Decline of Tao
  19. Realize the Simple Self
  20. The World and I
  21. Manifestations of Tao
  22. Futility of Contention
  23. Identification with Tao
  24. The Dregs and Tumors of Virtue
  25. The Four Eternal Models
  26. Heaviness and Lightness
  27. On Stealing the Light
  28. Keeping to the Female
  29. Warning Against Interference
  30. Warning Against the Use of Force
  31. Weapons of Evil
  32. Tao is Like the Sea
  33. Knowing Oneself
  34. The Great Tao Flows Everywhere
  35. The Peace of Tao
  36. The Rhythm of Life
  37. World Peace
  38. Degeneration
  39. Unity Through Complements
  40. The Principle of Reversion
  41. Qualities of the Taoist
  42. The Violent Man
  43. The Softest Substance
  44. Be Content
  45. Calm Quietude
  46. Racing Horses
  47. Pursuit of Knowledge
  48. Conquering the World by Inaction
  49. The People’s Hearts
  50. The Preserving of Life
  51. The Mystic Virtue
  52. Stealing the Absolute
  53. Brigandage
  54. The Individual and the State
  55. The Character of the Child
  56. Beyond Honor and Disgrace
  57. The Art of Government
  58. Unobtrusive Government
  59. Be Sparing
  60. Governing a Big Country
  61. Big and Small Countries
  62. The Good Man’s Treasure
  63. Difficult and Easy
  64. Beginning and End
  65. The Grand Harmony
  66. The Lords of the Ravines
  67. The Three Treasures
  68. The Virtue of Not-Contending
  69. Camouflage
  70. They Know Me Not
  71. Sick-Mindedness
  72. On Punishment (1)
  73. On Punishment (2)
  74. On Punishment (3)
  75. On Punishment (4)
  76. Hard and Soft
  77. Bending the Bow
  78. Nothing Weaker than Water
  79. Peace Settlements
  80. The Small Utopia
  81. The Way of Heaven

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