China

The Art of Winning

Art of WarHow does one manage to win a war, to defeat an enemy large or small, easily and without enduring casualties?  How can one win a battle without ever setting foot on a battlefield?  The answer to that is provided by ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. The first step is to read Sun Tzu’s short and simple masterpiece, The Art of War. Even better if you read the Thomas Cleary translation in English.

 

 

Legacy of Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu Waterfall Scene

According to legend, Lao Tzu, an elderly 5th-century-BC archivist, grew weary of the Zhou dynasty’s increasing corruption.  He left the empire to live a more honorable, hermetic life in the far-west mountains.

Whether or not this tale is true — and whether it’s true that Lao Tzu, at the behest of the last mountain sentry, gave the guard his Tao te Ching, his poetic collection of ancient Chinese wisdom — is of no importance.

No matter the myth of the Tao‘s inception, what matters is the Tao itself.

And if, despite lacking evidence, generations have believed this tale, we might as well follow them and be like the Tao, to be like water and go with the flow — waving farewell to old Lao Tzu as he wanders off toward sunset.

 

China’s Gen Zen

 

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Looks like Chinese millennials are equally apathetic as their western counterparts.  That’s according to China’s Global Times.

Rather than focus on capitalistic careers or communist-party dogma, China’s so-called Zen Generation is turning away from money and Mao and looking farther back in history, back to Buddha himself and his image of inner peace.

Sounds like these twentysomething Chinese are lacking a little Confucian structure.  They prefer to lounge around in Lao Tzu’s Tao, waiting for wu wei to woo them off the couch.

Actually, this bodes well for China’s future.  If she can detach from imported ideologies, if she can return to her own ancient wisdom, the rest of the world would be wise to follow.

Wisdom of Confucius

Chinees Letters on Glass

Confucius lived during a time not unlike our own, around 500 BC, when the Zhou Dynasty, emerging from its peaceful and productive Spring and Autumn Period, entered its Warring States Period.

During that time, as Zhou authority waned, smaller states within its control began to re-position themselves, to exercise dominance over neighboring states.

Confucius, a mid-level bureaucrat, doing what he could to promote the peace, compiled and published volumes of historical poems and annals, preserving the knowledge and wisdom of earlier dynasties.

Eventually, his efforts helped unify the warring states, allowing the Chinese people to share a common ancient heritage — to create a new, more inclusive culture.

 

Dalai Lama Yo

 

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On October 5th, 1989, the Nobel Peace-Prize winner was announced —  his holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

That very night, I held a ticket to attend a lecture at UC Irvine, a lecture to be delivered by — his holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

During his talk, in response to a question from the audience, the Dalai Lama said something highly important.

“If Dalai Lama mad at China,” the Dalai Lama said, “China feel no pain.  Only Dalai Lama feel pain.  Dalai Lama no eat.  Dalai Lama no sleep –“

Then, pausing momentarily to confer with his robed Tibetan translator, his holiness continued:   “Dalai Lama feel up tight.”