06 October 2016

The Greatest Power in the World - DaoDeJing 30

Most people think that the greatest power in the world is military might. Not so, said Lao Zi. Military power will just bring destruction and is self-defeating. Know the stronger and life changing power of Dao - Love is the greatest and undefeatable power.
Dao De Jing Chapter 28 Original Text and Translation:

Those who use the Way of Dao to assist their master will not build the greatest military power to dominate the world. Such use of Dao to rule bring great benefits.

The battlefields of the past had nothing but the growth of thorns and brambles. The raising of a great army will bring for disastrous years.

善者 果而已,不敢以取强。
The good leaders go for the right objectives and then stop there. They dare not exploit the situation any further.

Accomplishment does not bring forth self-confidence.
Accomplishment does not bring forth further expansion.
Accomplishment does not bring forth pride.

The accomplishment was made because there was no better choice.
The accomplishment was done without the use of violent forces [against people desires].

Anything that becomes strong will age quickly (The strong has a short life).
It is because they don't follow the Dao.
Anything that is against the Dao will perish quickly.

Lessons From History
From the long history of China, the rise and fall of dynasties, we can see that rulers who rise to power and continue in their use of force to bully people into submission did not last long, eg. Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC), Sui Dynasty(581–618) and Yuan Dynasty(1271–1368). The Han Dynasty that overthrew the Qin Dynasty pursued the policies of the Dao School of thoughts and later the Confucius' Ru School of thoughts lasted 426 years (206 BC – 220 AD). Tang pursued similar policies based on Dao and Ru School and lasted about 300 years (618–907). Recently, we have the two Irag Wars. The first one, The Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991) was about the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq. The victory by the Allied Forces was quick and they stopped after liberating Kuwait. Many people then asked why not continue to conquer Iraq? The answered was " the President made the decision that we'd achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq." The 2nd Iraq War was the invasion of Iraq and though the war was short and victorious. The outcomes were not as good as imagined. US was stuck in committing troops in Iraq for many years and the casualties and costs continued to rise. It also created the endless issues that the world is facing now. All these show that Lao Zi was right.

What is the Way of Dao?
Lao Zi described the Way of Dao in the 81 Chapters of Dao De Jing. The way of Dao is centered on endless love (Chapter 6), impartial, fair, and good to all. In this chapter, he emphasized the need to follow Dao and the bad consequences of not doing so. Dao is not by force against people desires and their benefits. If we just force to conquer, the success will be short-lived and the costs high. Never use force unless as a last resort. If so, do it but win decisively and quickly. Once victory is achieved, stop pushing it. Change the way to rule by considering the needs of the people.  He reminded the conqueror a quite a number things:
  1. Don't exploit it. Stop at the initial objective.
  2. Don't be over confidence of your own ability.
  3. Don't attack against and go further (a repeat of point 1)
  4. Do it only as a last resort. Seek better ways to handle the issue.
  5. Don't bully people by force.
Mencius, of Ru School, said that 仁者无敌, Love is undefeatable. Love is the cause and winning is the consequence just like what Lao Zi said here. It is not about me. my ego, but about the welfare of others.

The Bible has a similar saying. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit”, says the Lord (Zech. 4:6). The Spirit of God is love.

For more ways of the Dao, see Lao Zi and the Dao School

Lim Liat (c) 6 Oct 2016

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