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Monday, August 3, 2009

The Tao of Peace

Came across a book titled 'The Tao of Peace' by Wang Chen that may lay some clues for the dissertation. I was born into a family with Taoist ancestry (not of the teachings, but of religion), and have now found much joy in the study of Zen, and Tao, the way it was supposed to be, just sharing of teachings and not organised, popular, religion. Combining these two ancient Chinese philosophies have been most helpful in my personal development as a budding academic, and the middle path is what I have come to strive for, though I have most definitely, not arrived. Not that the final destination matters of course, but I digress.

The middle path and its virtues/teachings (highly evident in high Chinese culture, at least it was a desirable dream for most) have thus shaped my 'early' belief that the true China 'threat' may be unsubstantiated, or will arrive in a form most unexpected by antiquated expectations that China's rise would be one through muscle, bullying or direct imposition. Of course, time for such 'lofty' aspirations would only come after the dust settles from the initial rumblings of China's rise, but I believe if the seeds are planted early enough, then all good things will come. Yes, I have come to realise the official mandate from the powers that be speak of a harmonious and peaceful rise. At the same time, I suspect that the highly evolved Chinese administration may be deft enough to manipulate these facets of their cultural background to conceal their true nature, that these philosophies are one, supplicant, and two, enablers to justify means to 'expand'.


"Those who excel
as warriors are not martial.

Those who excel
in combat do not get angry.

Those who excel
in conquering the enemy
do not do battle.

Those who excel
in employing men act
deferentially to them.

This is what is termed
the Virtue of nonconflict.

This is what is termed
employing the strength of men.

This is what is termed
matching Heaven,

The pinnacle of antiquity.


Here's the blurp about the book - have to line it up for the next acquisition! It is available thru Amazon here.
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 the Tao Te Ching.
     The Tao Te Ching has 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 the Tao Te Ching quite 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.