03 December 2017

Jesus' Teaching and Sun Zi's Art of War

Great people teaching us the same thoughts show the power of the thoughts. Here we quote from Jesus to show that Sun Zi's Art of War teaching is right on the spot.

Sun Zi started his famous book on "The Art of War" by saying warfare is a matter of life and death and must, therefore, be carefully planned and calculated right at the start. Later, he said, "Winners plan first to win and then start the war whereas the losers start a war and then plan to win". Such a plan to win mindset is also taught by Jesus in Luke 14. Let's examine it:

1. Count First - Enough money to complete it?

Luk 14:28  For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Luk 14:29  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Luk 14:30  Saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish.

You don't start a project only to find out later that you don't have the fund to complete it. You have in fact wasted the money.

2. Compute First - Can I win against a larger force?

A clearer illustration that parallels the Art of War is given in:

Luk 14:31  Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

Luk 14:32  Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. 

We learn the following important principles of Warfare:

  1.  Plan and Calculate to see if we can win first.

  2. You can win a larger force if you know how.

    The revealing part of Jesus' story is considering whether the smaller 10,000 force is still able to win against the larger, twice the size, 20,000 forces. Jesus did not give the idea that the larger size force will surely win. It was an open question. The answer can be yes or not. It depends on how you fight!

    Sun Zi's Art of War is precisely about how to win against, even a larger force.
    Jesus did not show us how because in the context, winning against the larger force is not the purpose of his teaching but counting the costs before making a commitment to be His disciple was. Plan first so that you don't have to give-up halfway.

    Art of War 9v36 兵非贵益多也,惟无武进,足以并力料敌取人而已
    Having a larger force does not bring benefits, only don't be reckless to advance, but to know how to concentrate your forces, predict the enemy, and get support from your staff to overcome can capture the enemy.
  3.  Strategize and Act Objectively and Accordingly.

    Wise men make decisions based on facts and calculation with risks taken into consideration. Jesus tells us that we should follow our factual evaluation and take the right action. In the case, if we can't win, then we negotiate for a peace treaty.

    Sun Zi tells us that winning every war is not the best. The best is to win without a war. The enemy surrenders and follows your terms. There is no destruction of resources and you effectively take over all the resources. So Sun Zi gives a prioritized strategy for the war. The best is win by strategy, next by alliances and negotiation, next to fight in the open, and the worse is having to attack a fortified castle.

    This is exactly what Jesus taught here. If you can't win your enemy by strategy, then at least go to negotiate the best terms for peace.
  4.  Do it as early as possible. Never wait until the last moment.

    Not that the computed outcome is clear, we should take the action as early as possible, "yet a great way off".  The earlier you take action, the greater the range of options. You can enjoy the better-negotiated result. That's why Air-tickets are cheaper the earlier you commit before your day of travel.

    Sun Zi emphasized must on taking speedy actions.

    Art of War 2v17. 故兵贵胜,不贵久。
    Hence, winning is the top priority, and having a long and lengthy campaign is not.

    Art of War 2v5. 故兵闻拙速,未睹巧之久也。
    Hence, we heard of defective but quick action, and skillfulness has never been associated with long delays.
The Winners Mindset - The Teaching of the Art of War

Here we can easily pick up four principles for winning:
  1. Plan 1st to win before taking any action.
  2. You can beat a larger force is you read the Art of War.
  3. Be objective and act on the computed result. Don't let it be an emotional prejudiced decision.
  4. Act decisively and Quickly.
Lim Liat (c) 3 Dec 2017
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