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"Thorn bushes grow where armies have camped."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 30

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


30

Those who advice the ruler on the Way,

Do not want the world subdued with weapons.

Such deeds bring on retaliation.

Thorn bushes grow where armies have camped.

Battles are followed by years of famine.

Therefore, good leaders reach solutions,

And then stop.

They do not dare to rely on force.


Solutions without arrogance,

Solutions without scorn,

Solutions without pride,

Solutions without benefit,

Solutions without domination.


Things exalted then decay.

This is going against the Way.

What goes against the Way meets an early end.



Peaceful Solutions

We are all aware that war is the worst. Still, there are not many years in history when the world has been free of wars. Are there any countries that have escaped them completely?

       There have been recent claims that democratic nations have never been at war with one another. That might be true. It makes sense. The basic principle of democracy is that it's ruled by what the majority of the people want, and peace is certainly on the top of that list.

       Democratically governed nations are therefore very unlikely to commence war.

       Unfortunately, there are still plenty of nations governed differently, and there the statistics are less promising. Democracies have not avoided war, although they never initiated them. Other countries did. History, from ancient times to the present, tells us that we should not count on avoiding wars in the future.

       Lao Tzu comes to the same sad conclusion. There will be wars. What he advices is to avoid them, and if they commence anyway, to swiftly end them. It's accomplished by remaining with that priority. Additional ambitions are only likely to prolong the war. Victory may even turn into defeat, if the troops are not halted or the peace is not fair.

       Not victory, but a swift end to the war should be the goal. There is a difference. The warrior who hungers for victory will indulge in it and try to extend it. For each victory the hunger will increase, and each new enemy will be treated with less mercy.

       The one who longs to lay down arms will not stoop to arrogance, scorn, pride, and the like. Even in the midst of battle, the wish for peace must be vivid.

       War brings its own rhetoric. The enemy is said to be evil, so the war is just, no matter at what cost. Hatred arises in the pain and the fury, and it doesn't stop when the war does. The winners want to punish their former enemies, who become bitter and plot revenge.

       That's not peace. Although the war might have been started by the ones defeated, peace is always primarily the responsibility of the winners. The way they handle it decides how long it will last.

       This is no news to us. We have known it for as long as we have had wars. Still, it's easily forgotten at the end of the next one. That may be one of the major causes for the persistent reappearance of war. Forgive and forget, we say, but we rarely do.

       The last lines of this chapter give the impression of changing the subject, but the victorious are often exalted. That's the beginning of their downfall, which is accelerated if they encourage and participate in their own exaltation. We quickly get fed up with praising a winner who lacks modesty. Well, even the modest idols have a hard time keeping their fans for any length of time.

       Heroes of a battle do wisely to escape, well before the celebration becomes tiresome to those participating in it.

© Stefan Stenudd.

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Tao Te Ching Explained


Preface


Introduction


Literature


The 81 Chapters of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
translated and explained by Stefan Stenudd.
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Tao Te Ching Explained


James Legge's Tao Te Ching


Aleister Crowley's Tao Te Ching


The 1st Chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 Versions


Lao Tzu - Legendary Author of Tao Te Ching





My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



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Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:


Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


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Sunday Brunch with the World Maker. Novel by Stefan Stenudd. Sunday Brunch with the World Maker

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Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd


About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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