25 October 2016

Heaven on Earth - The Ideal Small Community of Love - DaoDeJing 80 six

What makes for heaven on earth? It is not the size, nor the wealth, nor the power of the community. It is a small community of love living in peace. This is the ideal of Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 80.
DaoDeJing Chapter 80 Text and Translation

The small country with a little population, even though they have weapons they don't use them.

Let the people value lives and relationship so that they don't have to go to far away places (to risk their lives to make a living.)

Though they have boats and cars, they never use them. (Because they never need to - small country and don't travel overseas.)

Though there are armors and weapons, there are not laid out.

Let the people return to the time of tying ropes for record keeping. (Too easy to write like today's technology only cause us to write too much.)

Let them have tasty food, beautiful clothes, secured homes and joyful traditions.

Neighboring countries are within view. The calls of roster and dogs can be heard. However, the people never have to interact during lifetimes. 

Small is Beautiful
The values of the present world are  "More" and "Growth". If we can't do it at home, we need to go overseas and to build global corporations. We measure the success by the size of its assets, the number of employees, and its worldwide presence. They don't think small can survive. Yet in the study of evolution, it is not size nor strength, but rather, it is adaptability that is needed for survival. In terms of adaptability, small is strength. Small means agility. Big corporate can only survive is their adaptability and agility can be like that of a small business. 

To Manage Big, divide it to be small.
This is the teaching of Lao Zi. If you cannot do the needful things that a small and stable community demands, you cannot scale up. It will only bring troubles and stress. Lao Zi in DaoDeJing chapter 60 says 治大国若烹小鲜 Managing large country is like cooking some small fish. Sun Zi in The Art of War Chapter 5 says 凡治众如治寡,分数是也;斗众如斗寡,形名是也;Managing large is like managing small, it all lies in dividing the numbers. Fighting with a large force is like fighting with a small force. It all lies on signals to enable communications. 

The Values of Lives
Lao Zi gives four basic values for living --- tasty food, beautiful clothes, secured home and joyful community traditions. These are like Maslow's lower three levels of physiological, safety, and belonging needs, and the higher ones of having happiness with people. There is also the level six needs of beauty and aesthetics. It does not have the 7th level of self-actualization and 8th level of transcendence. The highest level need is not of self but of community or joy of communal living.

Technology is No Guarantee for Happiness
More advanced weapons lead to greater destruction. The best is not to have the need to use them. More advanced technology in writing and other productivity only leads to greater waste of material production, pollution of the environment, greed and fighting for more. Even with the digital connection, our lives cannot be freed anymore. There are the constant interrupts from Whatsapp, FaceBook, eMails, and phone calls. Writing is so easy that people then write without thinking and we all suffer from information overload. We have so much productivity that gives us so much free time that we need to kill them! Lao Zi does not think technology is a solution for happiness. What use is there for a long life if we does not know to live happily in them? We must fix the basic problems of our values and then technology can then be managed and put to good use to enhance health and life.

The VUCAD World of Stress and Change
What is the cause of our present VUCAD (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous, and deceptive) world? It is because we are connecting a diversified world together. Unless we know the values and the means to achieve harmony (synergy of diversities and not uniformity. It is appreciating and valuing the differences and not merely tolerating), connecting together will only bring forth greater conflicts, where one race or religion insist on overcoming and dominating or eliminating others. If we can't learn how to live with others that are different from us, it is better that we separate.

Hope you have a good understanding of Lao Zi's small world that is not small at all!

Lim Liat (c) 25 Oct 2016

Winning Strategies for War - Caution & Surprises DaoDeJing 69

Philosophy about living also covers strategies for war! It is not about not to fight but rather how to win. Here lies the principles taught by Sun Zi's Art of War as well. Be cautious and yet be innovative to give surprises said Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 69.
DaoDeJing Chapter 69 Text and Translation:

0 用兵有言曰:
The "Art of War" teaches:

1 吾不敢为主,而为客;
We dare not take the initiative [impulsively] nor be self-centered. 
Rather, we plan carefully and be as objective as possible.
[Reading the situations, the seasonal trends , terrains, and forces at play etc]

2 吾不敢进寸而退尺,
We dare not advance an inch [recklessly] but rather withdraw a foot [to lure them into our familiar territory]

3 是谓行无行,攘无臂,执无兵,扔无敌。
This is what is called moving without any fixed patterns, take without showing the hands, holding on to weapons that are not seen, and attacking when there is no defense by the enemy

4 祸莫大于轻敌,轻敌几丧吾宝;
The greatest danger is to underestimate the enemy.
Underestimating the enemy will cause us to lose our treasures. 

5 故抗兵相加/若,哀者胜矣!
Hence, when two sides of equal strength are at war,
the one that is united with love and compassion will win
[or the one that is so pressured and the only way out is to fight to live, will win].

Sun Zi's Art of War and Lao Zi
Because Sun Zi's Art of War has a number of phases that are similar in DaoDeJing, some believed that Sun Zi could be a disciple of Lao Zi or a student of Lao Zi's books at the very least. 以奇胜 is found in Art of War Chapter 5 and also in DaoDejing 57 以奇用兵.  The Art of War Chapter 1 says, 兵者,诡道也。故能而示之不能 ...Warfare is about giving surprises/deception, hence able but shows unable.... This is very similar to verse 3 of this chapter, which Sun Zi also uses 无形 "no shape" to describe the conquering army. In fact, the key teachings of Sun Zi are captured here. These are the principles for winning:

1. Be Objective
Never look at things from one's own subjective viewpoint. We must be as objective and open minded as possible so that we can see clearly and have a factual understanding of the reality. "Garbage-in Garbage-out" shows us that any decision based on erroneous data will be wrong. We must always take the Outside-In approach of 审时度势 examine the timing and the forces at play at the various terrains that we want to move our forces. 

2. Be Cautious and Don't Act Recklessly - Take the One with Known Consequences
Advancing an inch into territory that we know not much riskier than we withdraw a foot in our known territory. Another way of saying it, doing something we have done before is much safer than trying something we don't know at all. Here is the threat first before opportunity teaching. 

3. Be Unseen - Act without Detection 无形  - Warfare is about Doing the Unexpected
Move without any detectable fixed patterns so that we are unpredictable by the enemy.
Take without even the enemy knowing about it because we did it hideously. We did not show our hand when we take it! We hide our weapons that the enemy sees not. We attack into where the enemy defense not. These are some examples of surprising the enemy.  See also Sun Zi Art of War-5: The Principles for Good StrategiesThe Patterns of Chinese 36-Strategies.

4. Never Underestimate the Enemy
Point 2 refers to the passive environmental factors, and this one emphasizes the intelligent and reactive enemy. Our strengths must not be self-claimed but must be measured against the enemy or competitors in the markets in the eyes of the buyers. If we underestimate the enemy we run the risks of losing our resources and treasures. In Chapter 67, Lao Zi tells us three types of treasures, namely love, frugality and not-be-first. In Chapter 68, Lao Zi tells us the virtues of not fighting to get our things. We should not let our greed causes us to underestimate the work that will bring us loses than gains.

5. The Power of Love and Power of Survival
There are two views on this verse about the winning army because of the word 哀. It means extreme sadness, also meaning remembering the loved ones, especially deceased mother. We are sad because we lost our loved ones. If we don't want to lose our loved ones, then we might fight with all our might to preserve them. Hence, the army who are united in love and given no way out but fight will fight will all their might and win. Hence, in Art of War, we have the famous saying of, 陷之死地然后生(Chapter 11) Put them in the place of death that they may fight and live and 围师遗阙 Surrounding Army must live a gap for escape (then they will run away instead of staying to fight you still their death!)
So we have the five principles for winning,  be objective (outside-in view), be cautious (overcome the threat then exploit the opportunity), do the unexpected (be unseen to give maximum surprises), never underestimate, and use the power of survival and love.

Lim Liat (c) 25 Oct 2016