Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 31
Victory Funeral

Weapons of war
Are instruments of fear,
A spread of plague,
Hateful to living things.
Therefore the wise shun them.

Weapons are not auspicious tools,
And should be used only when no choice,
Then with only a calm, still mind
That doesn’t rejoice at victory.

To rejoice at victory
Is to enjoy killing people.
And to enjoy killing people
Is to lose share in the common good
And the possibility for worldly success.

The death of so many
Is cause for mourning.
Victory in war should be received
With funeral ceremonies.

Commentary

“war is always a dangerous thing and brings with it destruction and devastation. Therefore it should not be resorted to rashly but, like a poisonous drug, should be used only as a last resort”

Fu Xi 伏羲 via Richard Wilhelm, Hexagram 7
c. 2852–2737 BCE
Emperor/shaman progenitor of civilization symbol
from I Ching

Themes: War

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“Defend and one has a surplus. Attack and one is insufficient…Taking whole is victory over aggression… It preserves the possibilities. Victory is ongoing, a way of being rather than a final goal.”

Sun Tzu 孙武
(Sun Zi)
544 – 496 BCE
HIstory's supreme strategist

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“This sets out the way of military strategy. Lao Tzu was disgusted with the use of military force at the time. Thus he took up himself to explain its principles.”

Heshang Gong 河上公
(Ho-shang Kung or "Riverside Sage”)
202 – 157 BCE

Themes: Strategy

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“The greatest victory involves no fighting.”

Xuanzong 武隆基
(Hsuan-Tsung or Wu Longji)
685 – 756 CE

Themes: Warriors

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“Isn't it clear that weapons are the tools of misery? The great sages never waited until the need for such things arose.”

Li Bai 李白
(Li Bo)
701 – 762 CE

Themes: War

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“Be grateful to everyone.”

Atisha ཨ་ཏི་ཤ་མར་མེ་མཛད་དཔལ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ via Chögyam Trungpa
(Atiśa Dīpaṃkara Śrījñāna)
980 – 1054 CE
from Seven Points of Mind Training, Lojong བློ་སྦྱོངས་དོན་བདུན་མ;

Themes: Appreciation

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“dispassion means to rest, and rest is the root of victory… passion means to act, and action is the basis of defeat.”

Li Xizhai via Red Pine
(Li Hsi-Chai)
12th century CE
from Tao-te-chen-ching yi-chieh

Themes: Victory

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“Make use of your enemies… The wise will turn ill will into a mirror more faithful than that of kindness”

Balthasar Gracian via Joseph Jacobs, Shan Dao chapter #84
1601 – 1658 CE
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

Themes: Hate

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“If religion no longer gives birth to civil wars, it is to philosophy alone that we are indebted.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet
1694 – 1778 CE

Themes: War Philosophy

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“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet
1694 – 1778 CE

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“what begins in fear usually ends in folly”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
1772 – 1834 CE

Themes: Fear

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“war is robbery, commerce is generally cheating”

Karl Marx
1818 – 1883 CE
from Das Kapital; Capital: Critique of Political Economy

Themes: War Business

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“Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War… He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

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“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.”

W.B. (William Butler) Yeats
1865 – 1939 CE

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“There is a war going on at the present moment. What does it signify? It signifies that several millions of sleeping people are trying to destroy several millions of other sleeping people. They would not do this, of course, if they were to wake up. Everything that takes place is owing to this sleep.”

G. I. Gurdjieff
1866 – 1949 CE

Themes: War Ignorance

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“Our true religion is a monotheism of consciousness, a possession by it, with a fanatical denial of the existence of autonomous partial-systems… This leads to collective delusions, instigations to war and revolution, in a word, to destructive mass psychoses… this narrowness of consciousness is always the shortest way to the insane asylum.”

Carl Jung
1875 – 1961 CE

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“that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor… This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed… and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriots – how passionately I hate them!... this bogey would have disappeared long ago had the sound sense of the peoples not been systematically corrupted by commercial and political interests.”

Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955 CE

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“Let my country die for me.”

James Joyce
1882 – 1941 CE
from Ulysses

Themes: War

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“There have been only 268 of the past 3,421 years free of war.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant
1885 – 1981 CE

Themes: War

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“we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes… Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower
1890 – 1969 CE

Themes: War Power

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“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”

Ariel Durant
(Chaya Kaufman)
1898 – 1981 CE

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“Desire killed that man, as desire has killed many before and after him If this earth should ever be destroyed, it will be by desire, by the lust of pleasure and self-gratification, by greed.”

John Fire Lame Deer via Richard Erdoes
1903 – 1976 CE

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“To meet someone who really hurts you is to meet a rare and precious treasure. Hold that person in high esteem, and make full use of the opportunity to eradicate your defects.”

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche དིལ་མགོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེ།
1910 – 1991 CE
"Mind" incarnation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo

Themes: Skillful Means

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“What if someone gave a war and Nobody came?”

Allen Ginsberg
1926 – 1997 CE

Themes: War

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“It's only terrorism if they do it to us. When we do much worse to them, it's not terrorism.”

Noam Chomsky
1928 CE –
from Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda

Themes: Projection

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“Even the best weapon is an unhappy tool.”

Ursula Le Guin
1929 – 2018 CE

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“Every war results from the struggle for markets and spheres of influence, and every war is sold to the public by professional liars and totally sincere religious maniacs, as a Holy Crusade to save God and Goodness from Satan and Evil.”

Robert Anton Wilson
1932 – 2007 CE
from Cosmic Trigger II

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“Once you leave the womb, conservatives don’t care about you until you reach military age. Then you’re just what they’re looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers.”

George Carlin
1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

Themes: War

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“Going beyond challenge is learning the art of war… when you do not produce another force of hatred, the opposing force collapses,”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Martial Arts and the Art of War

Themes: War Hate

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“It is the war that is going on inside our own heads to which we have to call the truce.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from The New Age

Themes: War

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“Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting my friends.”

John Lennon
1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: War

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“Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs…
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.”

Bob Dylan
1941 CE –

Themes: War Aggression

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Comments (2)

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  1. Shan Dao
    While the USA now spends more on defense than the next 8 largest-spending countries combined ($611 to $595 billion), the new Trump Budget plan increases military spending by 10% ($54 billion), Homeland Security spending by 6.8%, and the National Nuclear Security Administration by 11.3%.
  2. OceanWind
    It's the ultimate cowardice to project your shadow onto others and attempt to destroy them instead of exposing your vulnerability and hypocrisy to your self.