The Art of War by Sun-Tzu translated by Thomas Cleary
-001- Translator’s Introduction: The healing arts and the martial arts may be a world apart in ordinary usage, but they are parallel in several senses; in recognizing as the story says, that the less needed the better, in the sense that both involve strategy in dealing with disharmony; and in the sense that in both knowledge of the problem is key to the solution.
-002- Plan for what is difficult while it is easy.
-003- Deep knowledge is to be aware of disturbance before disturbance, to be aware of danger before danger, to be aware of destruction before destruction, to the aware of calamity before calamity. Strong action is training the body without being used by the mind, working in the world without being affected by the world, carrying out tasks without being obstructed by tasks.
By deep knowledge of principle, one can change disturbance into order, change danger into safety, change destruction into survival, change calamity into fortune. By strong action on the Way, one can bring the body to the realm of longevity, bring the mind to the sphere of mystery, bring the world to great peace, and bring tasks to great fulfillment.
-004- To sense and comprehend after action is not worthy of being called comprehension. To accomplish afetr striving is not worthy of being called accomplishment. To know after seeing is not worthy of being called knowing. These three are far from the way of sensing and response.
Indeed, to be able to do something before it exists, sense something before it becomes active, see something before it sprouts, are three abilities that develop interdependently. The nothing is sensed, but is comprehended, nothing is undertaken without response, nowhere does one go without benefit.
-005-Those who assist a leader by means of the Tao do not use arms to coerce the world, for these things tend to reverse—brambles grow where an army has been, bad years follow a great war.
Weapons are inauspicious instruments, not the tools of the enlightened. When there is no choice but to use them, it is beat to be calm and free from greed, and not celebrate victory. Those who celebrate victory are bloodthirsty, and the bloodthirsty cannot have their way with the world.
-006- Those who are good at knighthood are not militaristic, those who are good at battle do not become angry, those who are good at prevailing over opponents do not get involved.
-007- In martial arts, it is important that strategy be unfathomable, that form be concealed, and that movements be unexpected, so that preparedness against them be impossible.
What enables a good general to win without fail is always having unfathomable wisdom and a modus operandi that leaves no tracks.
Only the formless cannot be affected. Sages hide in unfathomability, so their feelings cannot be observed, they operate in formlessness, so their lines cannot be crossed.
-008- A general must see alone and know alone, meaning that be must see what others do not see and know what others do not know. Seeing what others do not see is called brilliance, knowing what others do not know is called genius. Brilliant geniuses win first, meaning that they defend in such a way as to be unassailable and attack in such a way to be irresistible.
-009- Weapons are instruments of ill omen, to be used only when unavoidable.
-010- So nations have armies to help them, rulers have ministers to assist them. When the helper is strong, the nation is secure; the the helper is weak, the nation is in peril. Elena to Alex in Book 2
-011- Sun Tzu emphasizes the unity of wills as a fundamental source of strength.
-012- Like a drawn bow when still, like a machine starting up in action, he breaks through wherever he turns, and even powerful enemies perish. If the general has no foresight and the soldiers lack impetus, mere strategy without unification of wills cannot suffice to strike fear into an enemy even if you have a million troops.
-013- Have no hard feelings toward anyone who has not shown you enmity, do not fight with anyone who does not oppose you.
-014- Those who are skilled in combat do not become angered, those who are skilled at winning do not become afraid. thus the wise win before they fight to win.
-015- Get rid of the worthless, and the country can be peaceful, get rid of the incompetent, and the country can be profited.
-016- A skilled attack is one against which opponents do not know how to defend, a skilled defense if one which opponents do not know how to attack. Therefore those skilled in defence are not so because of fortress walls.
-017- This idea of knowing while being unknown, repeated again and again as a key to success, is one of the strongest links between Taoist meditation and The Art of War, the for secret to this art of “invisibility” is precisely the interior detachment cultivated by Taoist for attaining impersonal views of objective reality.
-018- The simultaneous appreciation of very different points of view is a powerful Taoist technique, whose understanding can resolve contradiction and paradox. The model of the paradox of The Art of War can be seen in the Tao-te Ching, where both ruthlessness and kindness are part of the Way of the sage.
-019- “Heaven and earth are not humanistic—they regard myriad beings as straw dogs; sages are not humanistic—they regard people as straw dogs,” wrote the philosopher of the Tao-te Ching. A horrified Western Sinologist working in the 1950s, shortly after the truce in Korea, wrote that this passage had “unleashed a monster,” but to a Taoist this statement does not represent inhumanity but an exercise in objectivity, similar to Buddhist exercises in impersonality.
-020- As Sun Tzu’s classic attests, the place of such an observation in the art of war is not to cultivate a callous or bloodthirsty attitude, but to understand the power of mass psychology. Understanding how people can be manipulated through emotions, for example, is as useful for those who wish to avoid this as it is for those who wish to practice it.
-021- I have three treasures that I keep and prize: one is kindness, second is frugality, and third is not presuming to take precedence over others. By kindness one can be brave, by frugality one can reach out, and by not presuming to take precedence one can survive effectively. If one gives up kindness and courage, gives up frugality and breadth, and gives up humility for aggressiveness, one will die. The exercise of kindness in battle leads to victory, the exercise of kindness in defense leads to security.
-022- In Taoist terms, success is often gained by not doing.
-023- The art of doing—which include the unobtrusiveness, unknowability, and ungraspability at the core of esoteric Asian martial arts—belongs to the branch of Taoism, known as the science of essence. The arts of doing—which include the external techniques of both cultural and martial arts—belong to the branch of Taoism known and the science of life. The science of essence has to do with state of mind, the science of life has to do with the use of energy. Like a classic Taoist text, it is in true balance of these two that The Art of War is most completely understood.
-024- “Coming to an impasse, change; having changed, you can get through.” — I Ching
-025- Sun Tzu states that when you know both yourself and other you are never in danger, when you know yourself but not others you have half a chance of winning, and when you know neither yourself nor others you are in danger in every battle.
-026- Inscrutability in this context is not purely passive, does not simply mean being withdrawn or concealed from others; more important, it means perception of what is invisible to others and response to possibilities not yet discerned by those who look only at the obvious.
-027- In The Art of War, readiness does not just mean material preparedness, without a suitable mental state, sheer physical power is not enough to guarantee victory. Master Sun here defines the psychological dimensions of the victorious leader indirectly, by enumerating five dangers—to be too willing to die, too eager to live, too quick to anger, too puritanical, or too sentimental.
-028- “When waiting on the fringes of a situation, before the appropriate time to go into action has arrived, be steady and avoid giving in to impulse—then you won’t go wrong.”
-029- “When you have means but are not getting anywhere, seek appropriate associates, and you will be lucky.”
-030- The Confucian sage Mencius said, “Those who send people on military operations without educating them ruin them.”
-031- “It is lucky when the rulers nourish the ruled, watching them and bringing out their talents.” –I Ching
-032- “Look upon your soldiers as beloved children, and they willingly die with you.” –Master Sun
-033- “Those above secure their homes by kindness to those below.” — I Ching
-034- “Be careful in the beginning, and you have no trouble in the end.” — I Ching
-035- Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu show that the man of aggressive violence appears to be ruthless but is really an emotionalist; then they slay the emotionalist with real ruthlessness before revealing the spontaneous nature of free humanity.
The ancient Taoist masters show how real ruthlessness, the coldness of complete objectivity, always includes oneself in its cutting assessment of the real situation. The historical Buddha, a contemporary of Confucius who himself came from a clan of warriors in a time when the warrior caste was consolidating its political dominance, said that conflict would cease if we would be aware of our own death.
-036- This “inhumanity” is not used by the original philosophers as a justification for quasi-ruthless possessive aggression, but as a meditation on the ultimate meaninglessness of the greed and possessiveness that underlie aggression.
-037- In Confucian idealism, a man does not participate in an organization or cause that he does not believe is reasonable and just. Once he truly believes it is right, however, a man should not abandon a course of action even if it brings him hardship and peril. — Emily
-038- According to the classics, loyalty does not mean blind obedience to an individual or state, but includes the duty of conscientious protest. –When E decides to leave the group: to Elena
-039- The quality of the relationship between the leaders and the troops is what cements loyalty, according to Master Sun, and this is reinforced by egalitarian adherence to established standards of behavior. –Elena does not expect more than she is willing to do.
-040- The Art of War similarly has the power to reveal a great deal about its readers through their reactions and interpretations.
-041- Do Mu: Five things are to be assessed—the way, the weather, the lay of the land, the leadership, and discipline. These are to be assessed at headquarters—first assess yourself and your opponent in terms of these five things, deciding who is superior. Then you can determine who is likely to prevail. Having determined this, only then should you mobilize your forces.
-042- Master Sun: The Way means inducing the people to have the same aim as the leadership, so that they will share death and share life, without fear of danger.
-043- Wang Xi (Quoting from Fan Li): This is the meaning of the saying, “Don’t go into another’s territory at an unfavourable time.”
-044- Zhang Yu: In any military operation,it is important first to know the lay of the land. When you know the distance to be traveled, then you can plan whether to proceed directly or by circuitous route. When you know the difficulty or ease of travel, then you can determine the advantages of infantry or mounted troops. When you know the dimensions of the area, then you can assess how many troops you need, many or few. When you know the relative safety of the terrain, then you can discern whether to do battle or disperse.
-045- Jia Lin: Reliance on intelligence alone results in rebelliousness. Exercise of humaneness alone results in weakness. Fixation on trust results in folly. Dependence on the strength of courage results in violence. Excessive sternness of command results in cruelty. When one has all five virtues together, each appropriate to its function, then one can be a military leader.
-046- Mei Yaochen: Organization means that the troops must be grouped in a regulated manner. Chain of command means that there must be officers to keep the troops together and lead them. Logistics means overseeing supplies.
-047- Master Sun: Therefore use these assessments for comparison, to find out what the conditions are. That is to say, which political leadership has the Way? Which general has ability? Who has the better climate and terrain? Whose discipline is effective? Whose troops are stronger? Whose officers and soldiers are the better trained? Whose systems of rewards and punishment is clearer? This is how you can know know will win.
-048- Du You: The Way means virtue. It is first necessary to compare the political leadership of nations at war.
-049- Mei Yaochen: The question regarding political leadership is, who is able to win the hearts of the people.
-050- Ho Yanxi: The ancient classic of documents says, “The one who treats me well is my leader, the one who treats me cruelly is my enemy.” The question is, which side has a humane government, and which side has a cruel government.
-051- Zhang Yu: First compare the political leadership of the two nations at war, in terms of which one has the Way of benevolence and good faith. Then examine the military leadership—who has intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, bravery and sternness. Now observe which side has the environmental advantages.
-052- Cao Cao: Set up rules that are not to be broken, do not fail to punish any offenders.
-053- Du Mu: When it comes to establishing rules and regulations, everyone, high and low, should be treated alike. — Rewards should not be out of proportion, punishments should not be arbitrary.
-054- Mei Yaochen: When people deserve reward, this should be duly noted even if you personally detest them. When people deserve punishment, this should not be foregone even if they are close to you.
-055- Master Sun: A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective.
-056- Wang Xi: Deception is for the purpose of seeking victory over an enemy; to command a group requires truthfulness.
-057- Du Mu: This is a matter of deceptively concealing your state. You should not let the opponent see what state you are in, for if the enemy sees your condition, he will surely have a response.
-058- Master Sun: Draw them in with the prospect of gain, take them by confusion.
-059- Du Mu: If the enemy’s government is fulfilled—meaning that there is mutual love between the rulers and the ruled, there is clarity and trustworthiness in the system of rewards and punishments, and the soldiers are well trained—then you should be on guard against them. Do not wait for a clash to make your preparations. When the enemy’s military is strong, you should avoid them for the time being, waiting until they slack off, watching for an opening to attack.
-060- Zhang Yu: Once the military power of the adversary is full, you should treat them as it they were unbeatable, and not attack lightly. As a military guide says, “When you see a gap, then advance; when you see fullness, then stop.”
-061- Master Sun: Use anger to throw them into disarray.
-062- Cao Cao: Wait for them to become decadent and lazy.
-063- Li Quan: When the military leadership is often angered, its strategy is easily thrown into confusion, for its nature is unstable.
-064- Du Mu: When their military leadership is obstreperous, you should irritate them to make them angry—then they will become impetuous and ignore their original strategy.
-065- Zhang Yu: If they are violent and easily angered, then use embarrassment to enrage them, so that their morale is upset—then they will proceed carelessly, without formulating a plan.
-066- Master Sun: Use humility to make them haughty.
-067- Li Quan: If they ply you with expensive gifts and sweet talk, they are up to something.
-068- Du You: When they are stirred up and about to make their move, then you should pretend to be cowed, so as to raise their spirits; wait for them to slack off, then regroup and attack.
-069- Wang Xi: Appear to be lowly and weak, so as to make them arrogant—then they will not worry about you, and you can attack them as they relax.
-070- Cao Cao: Use swiftness to wear them out.
-071- Wang Xi: This means making a lot of surprise attacks. When they come out, you go home; when they go home, you go out. When they go to the aid of their left flank, you head to the right; when they go to the aid of their right flank, you go to the left. This way you can tire them out.
-072- Zhang You: This way, your strength will remain intact, while they will be worn out.
-073- Master Sun: Cause division among them.
-074- Cao Cao: Send interlopers to cause rifts among them.
-075- Li Quan: Break up their accords, cause division between the leadership and their ministers, and then attack.
-076- Du Mu: This means that if there are good relations between the enemy leadership and its followers, then you should use bribes to cause division.
-077- Chen Hao: If they are stingy, you be generous; if they are harsh, you be lenient. That way their leadership and followers will be suspicious of each other, and you can cause division between them.
-078- Du You: Seduce them with the prospect of gain, send interlopers in among them, have rhetoricians use fast talk to ingratiate themselves with their leaders and followers, and divide up their organization and power.
-079- Meng Shi: Strike at their gaps, attack when they are lax, don’t let the enemy figure out how to prepare. This is why it is said that in military operations formlessness is the most effective. One of the great warrior-leaders said, “The most efficient of movements is the one that is unexpected, the best of plans is the one that is unknown.”
-080- Li Quan: Attack when they are unprepared and not expecting it, and you will surely win. This is the essence of martial arts, to be kept secret and not divulged.
-081- Du Mu: To divulge something means to speak of it. This means that all of the aforementioned strategies for securing military victory can certainly not be made uniform—first, see the enemy’s formation, and only then apply them. You cannot say what you will do before the event.
-082- Zhang Yu: When your strategy is deep and far-reaching, then what you gain by your calculations is much, so you can win before you even fight. When your strategic thinking is shallow and nearsighted, then what you gain by your calculations is little, so you lose before you do battle. Much strategy prevails over little strategy, so those with no strategy cannot but be defeated. Therefor it is said that victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
-083- Du You: Arms are tools of ill omen—to employ them for an extended period of time will bring about calamity. As it is said, “Those who like to fight and so exhaust their military inevitably perish.”
-084- Du Mu: Some may be clumsy in attack, but they get the upper hand through extraordinary swiftness, because they are not subject to the problems of wearing out their forces and using up their resources.
-085- Li Quan: Advantages and disadvantages are interdependent—first know the disadvantages, then you know the advantages.
-086- Do You: This means that if you are planning to mobilize your forces and embark upon a campaign, if you do not first think about the calamities of danger and destruction, you will not be able to reap any advantage.
-087- Zhang Yu: If you stir up your officers and troops so that they are all enraged then they will kill the enemy. If you reward your men with spoils, that will make them fight on their own initiative, so the enemy’s goods can be taken. That is why it is said that where there are big rewards there are valiant men.
-088- Zhang Yu: Captured soldiers should be will treated, to get them to work for you.
-089- Mei Yaochen: When you capture soldiers, give them responsibilities according to their strengths, take care of them kindly, and they will work for you.
-090- Ho Yanxi: If you use the enemy to defeat the enemy, you will be strong wherever you go.
Planning a Siege
-091- Ho Yanxi: The best policy is to use strategy, influence, and the trend of events to cause the adversary to submit willingly.
-092- Jia Lin: Best of all is when your troops are held in such awe that everyone comes to surrender. This is preferable to winning by trickery, violence and slaughter.
-093- Zhang Yu: If you can only prevail after doing battle, there will surely be many casualties, so this is not good. If you make it clear what is to be rewarded and what punished, make your directives reliable, keep your machines in good repair, train and exercise your officers and troops, and let their strengths be known so as to overcome the opponent psychologically, this is considered very good.
-094- Du You: “Those who are good at getting rid of trouble are those who take care of it before it arises; those who are good at overcoming opponents are those who win before there form.”
-095- Ho Yanxi: When the enemy begins to plot an attack against you, you first attack them.
-096- Meng Shi: If you carry on alliances with strong countries, your enemies won’t pare to plot against you.
-097- Wang Xi: It means if you cannot completely thwart the schemes of the enemy you should then work on his alliances, to try to make them fall apart.
-098- Du You: This means that when you attack cities and butcher towns, this is the lowest form of attack, because there are many casualties.
-099- Zhang Yu: Some say that Master Sun’s point here is that you shouldn’t get angry and rush to attack. This is why he says to take time.
-100- Cao Cao: If the general is so enraged that he cannot wait for the siege machines, and he sends his soldiers over the walls like a swarm of ants, this is killing and maiming soldiers.
-101- Jia Lin: Just ingratiate yourself with the people while causing inward rifts among the military, and the city will conquer itself.
-102- Ho Yanxi: This means attacking at the planning and attacking at the alliances, so as not to come to the point of actually doing battle. This is why classical martial arts say that the best of strategists does not fight. One whi is good at laying siege does not lay siege with an army, but uses strategy to thwart the opponents, causing them to overcome themselves and destroy themselves, rather than taking them by a long and troublesome campaign.
-103- Zhang Yu: If you do not fight, your soldiers will not be wounded, if you do not lay siege, your strength will not be exhausted, if you do not continue long, your resources will not be used up. This is how you establish yourself completely victorious over the world. Thereby there are none of the ills associated with garrisons and violence, and there are the benefits of a prosperous country and a strong army. This is the good general’s art of strategic siege.
-104- Master Sun: So the rule for use of the military is that if you outnumber the opponent ten to one, then surround them; five to one, attack; two to one, divide.
-105- Ho Yanxi: When you calculate and compare the strength of your forces and those of your opponent, take into account the talent, intelligence, and courage of the generals—if you are ten times stronger than the enemy, this is ten to one, and you can surround them, foiling any attempts to get away.
-106- Du Mu: If you are five to one against your opponent, then you should take three fifths of your forces, divie them into three units to attack the enemy from one side, keeping back two fifths, watching for points of unpreparedness on the opponent’s part, and taking advantage of them by surprise attacks.
-107- Master Sun: If you are equal, then fight if you are able. If you are fewer, then keep away if you are able. If you are not as good, then flee if you are able.
-108- Li Quan: If you calculate your power to be less than that of the opponent, then strengthen your defence, do not go out and get your edge snapped. Wait until the mood of the enemy gets sluggish, and then go out and attack by surprise.
-109- Du Mu: If your forces are not equal to those of the enemy, avoid their edge for the time being, waiting for a gap; then make a determined bid for victory. To be able also means to be able to endure anger and humiliation, not going out to meet the opponent’s challenges.
-110- Chen Hao: That is not so. It just means that is the enemy’s soldiers are more than yours, then you should run away from them, thereby making them haughty and using this in your future plans. It does not mean enduring anger and humiliation.
-111- Meng Shi: The small cannot stand up to the large—this means that is a small country foes not assess its power and dares to become the enemy of a large country, no matter how firm its defenses be, it will eventually become a captive nation. The Spring and Autumn Annals say, ‘If you cannot be strong and yet cannot be weak, this will result in your defeat.’
-112- Jia Lin: The strength or weakness of a country depends on its generals. If the generals help the leadership and are thoroughly capable, then the country will be strong. If the generals do not help the leadership, and harbor duplicity in their hearts, then the country will be weak, Therefore it is imperative to be careful choosing people for positions of responsibility.
-113- Ho Yanxi: Complete means having both ability and intelligence. When a country has generals that are thoroughly able and intelligent, then that country is safe and strong. This means that generals have to be completely capable and completely knowledgeable in all operations. Generals in the field must already be acquainted with all the sciences of warfare before they can command their own soldiers and assess battle formations.
-114- Wang Xi: To get rid of these problems, it is necessary to delegate unbridled authority, so it is imperative that officers who are to be generals be both loyal and talented.
-115- Mei Yaochen: Military and civil affairs are different, dealing with different matters. If you try to use the methods of civilian government to govern a military operation, the operation will become confused.
-116- Zhang Yu: A nation can be governed by humanity and justice, but not an army. An army can be guided by maneuvering, but not a nation. When there are among civilian officials attached to military commands those who do not know about military strategy, if they are allowed to share in the responsibilities of the military leadership, then the chain of command will not be unified, and the soldiers will become hesitant.
-117- Du Mu: Also, if a general lacks the planning ability to assess the officers and place them in positions where they can use the best of their abilities, instead assigning them automatically and thus mot making full use of their talents, then the army will become hesitant.
Huang Shigong said, ‘Those who are good at delegating responsibility employ the intelligent, the brave, the greedy and the foolish. The intelligent are glad to establish their merit, the brave like to act out their ambitions, the greedy welcome an opportunity to pursue profit, and the foolish do not care if they die.
If your own army is hesitant and confused, you bring trouble on yourself, as if you were to bring enemies in to overcome you.
-118- Master Sun: So there are five ways of knowing who will win. Those who know when to fight and when not to fight are victorious. Those who discern when to use many or few troops are victorious. Those who pace the unprepared with preparation are victorious. Those who generals are able and are not constrained by their governments are victorious. These five are the ways to know who will win.
-119- Zhang Yu: Among the methods of deploying troops, there are ways by which a few can overcome many, and there are ways in which many can overcome a few. It is a matter of assessing their use and not misapplying them.
Also, when the generals are all of one mind, the armies coordinate their efforts, and everyone wants to fight, then no one can stand up to such a force.
Be invincible at all times, so as to be prepared for opponents. As Wu Qi said, ‘When you go out the door, be as if you were seeing an enemy.’ And Shi Li said, ‘Be prepared, and you will not be defeated.’
When generals have intelligence and courage, the should be entrusted with the responsibility to accomplish their work, and not controlled by civilians.
-120- Du Mu: Wei Liaozi said, ‘The general is not controlled by heaven above, is not controlled by earth below, is not controlled by humanity in between. This is why ‘the military is an instrument of ill omen.’ The general is an officer of death.’
-121- Master Sun: So it is said that if you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
-122- Du Mu: You see the inner conditions of opponents by means of their external formations. The inner condition of the formless is inscrutable, whereas that of those who have adopted a specific form is obvious. The inscrutable win, the obvious lose.
-123- Zhang Yu: Making yourself invincible means knowing yourself, waiting for vulnerability in opponents mean knowing others.
-124- Du Mu: Keeping your own military in order, always being prepared for opposition, erase your tracks and hide your form, making yourself inscrutable to opponents. When you see that an opponent can be taken advantage of, then you emerge to attack.
-125- Wang Xi: Those on the defensive are so because they do not have enough t win; those on the offense are so because they have more than enough to win.
-126- Zhang Yu: When we are on the defensive, it is because there is some lack in terms of a way to seize victory. So we wait for what we need. When we are on the offensive, it is because we already have more than enough of what it takes to overcome an opponent. So we go forth and strike. This means that we will not do battle unless we are certain of complete victory, we will not fight unless we are sure it is safe. Some people think insufficiency means weakness and surplus means strength, but this impression is wrong.
-127- Du Mu: In defense, you hush your voices and obliterate your tracks, hidden as ghosts and spirits beneath the earth, invisible to anyone. On the attack, your movement is swift and your cry shattering, fast as thunder and lightening, as though coming from the sky, impossible to prepare for.
-128- Li Quan: Everyone can easily see armed conflict—this takes no skill. Knowledge that does not go beyond what the generality knows is not really good.
-129- Mei Yaochen: Great wisdom is not obvious, great merit is not advertised. When you see the subtle, it is easy to win—what has it to do with bravery or cleverness?
-130- Zhang Yu: A later chapter says that good warriors make others come to them, and do not go to others. This is the principle of emptiness and fullness of others and self. When you induce opponents to come to you, then their force is always empty, as long as you do not go to them, your force is always full. Attacking emptiness with fullness is like throwing stones on eggs—the eggs are sure to break.
-131- Du Mu: What this means is that if you want to feign disorder so as to lead opponents on, first you must have complete order, for only then can you create artificial disorder. If you want to feign cowardice to spy on opponents, first you must be extremely brave, for only then can you act artificially timid. If you want to feign weakness to induce haughtiness in opponents, first you must be extremely strong, for only then can you pretend to be weak.
-132- Chen Hao: The brave act quickly, while the timid drag their feet. When opponents see you are not moving ahead, they will assume you are timid, and will take you lightly. You then take advantage of their laxity to use the force of momentum to attack them.
-133- Du Mu: It does not only mean giving the impression of exhaustion and weakness. When you are stringer than your opponent, then you appear worn out to induce the opponent to come to you. When you are weaker then your opponent, then you appear strong to impel the opponent to go away. Thus the movements of opponents all follow your direction. When you move opponent with the prospect of an advantage, since opponents are following you, you wait for them in ambush with well-prepared forces.
-134- Li Quan: When you have the force of momentum in are, even the timid can be courageous. so it is impossible to choose them for the capabilities and give them the appropriate responsibilities. The brave can fight, the careful can guard, the intelligent can communicate. No one is useless.
-135- Mei Yaochen: It is easy to get people to act by means of the force of momentum, whereas it is hard to demand powe in individual people. The able have to choose the right people and let the force of momentum do its work.
Emptiness and Fullness
-136- Zhang Yu: If you make opponents come to fight, then their force will always be empty. If you do not go to fight, then your force will always be full. This is the art of emptying others and filling yourself.
-137- Zhang Yu: The only way to get opponents to come to you is to lure them with gain. The only way to enure that opponents will not get to you is to harm what they care about.
-138- Cao Cao: To bring them to you, lure them with gain. To keep them from getting to you, attack where they will be sure to go to the rescue.
-139- Du You: If you can cause them to run while you hold an essential pass, you can make it impossible for opponents to get to you. As it is said, ‘One cat at the hole, and then thousand mice dare not come out; one tiger in the valley, and ten thousand deer cannot pass through.’
-140- Li Quan: You attack unexpectedly, causing opponents to become exhausted just running for their lives. You burn their supplies and raze their fields, cutting off their supply routes. You appear at critical places and strike when they least expect it, making them have to go to the rescue.
-141- Wang Xi: Attack their gaps: incompetence on the part of the military leadership, lack of training among the troops, insubstantiality in fortifications, lack of strictness in preparations, inability to effect rescues, shortages of food, psychological disunity. Defend with fullness: competence in the military leaders, excellence in the soldiers, solidity in fortifications, strictness in preparation, ability to effect rescues, sufficiency of food, psychological unity.
-142- Master Sun: be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.
-143- Du Mu: If you are on your home territory and the opponents are invaders, then cut off their supplies and guard their return routes. If you are on the opponent’s home ground, then attack the civilian leadership.
-144- Li Quan: Set opponents off on the wrong track by baffling them so that they cannot fight with you.
-145- Du Mu: While being deeply entrenched and highly barricaded, not allowing any information about yourself to become known, go out and in formlessly, attacking and taking unfathomably. Harry and confuse enemies so that they divide their troops in fear, trying to cover themselves on all sides. It is like climbing a high mountain to spy on a citadel—seeing out from behind a veil, you know all about the disposition of the enemy personnel, while the enemy cannot figure out your offense or defense. Therefore you can be unified while the enemy is divided. The power of those who are united is whole, while the power of those who are divided is reduced. By striking diminished power with whole power, it is possible always to win.
-146- Du You: This means that when troops are on guard in many places, they are perforce scattered into small bands.
-147- Mei Yaochen: The more defenses you induce your enemy to adopt, the more impoverished your enemy will be.
-148- Meng Shi: If you cause opponents to be unaware of the place and time of battle, you can always win.
-149- Jia Lin: Even though opponents be numerous, if they do not know the conditions of your troops and you constantly make them rush about trying to cover themselves, they will not have time to formulate battle plans.
-150- Chen Ho: Do something for or against them, making opponents turn their attention to it, so that you can find out their patterns of aggressive and defensive behavior.
-151- Du Mu: Stir opponents up, making them respond to you; then you can observe their forms of behavior, and whether they are orderly or confused. The military wizard Wu Qi devised this strategy for assessing generals have brave young men lead crack troops on strikes and run away after skirmishing, without being punished for running away. Then observe the enemy’s behavior—if there is orderly rule, and the enemy does not give chase to the fleeing troops and does not try to take advantage to grab what it can, this means the general has a strategy. On the other hand, if the enemy behaves like a mob, giving chase in total confusion and greedily trying to plunder, you can be sure that the directives of the generals are not carried out, so you can attack them without hesitation.
-152- Du Mu: Compare where you are sufficient with where the enemy is sufficient, compare where you are lacking with where the enemy is lacking.
-153- Wang Xi: Compare the strength of the enemy with your own, and you will know where there is sufficiency or lack. After that you can assess the advantages of attack or defense.
-154- Master Sun: Therefore the consummation of forming an army is to arrive at formlessness. When you have no form, undercover espionage cannot find out anything, intelligence cannot form a strategy.
-155- Master Sun: Victory over multitudes by means of formation is unknowable to the multitudes. Everyone knows the form by which I am victorious, but no one knows the form by which I ensure victory.
-156- Li Quan: Determining changes as appropriate, do not repeat former strategies to gain victory.
-157- Li Quan: How can you ensure victory if not on the basis of the enemy’s own posture? A light brigade cannot old out long, so if you keep it under siege it will inevitably lose; a heavy brigade will unfailingly respond to a provocation and expose itself. If the opposing army is angry, shame it; if the army is strong, get it to relax. If the opposing general is proud, humiliate him; if the general is greedy, bait him; if the general is suspicious, spy on him right back—therefore the manner of victory is determined according to the enemy.
-158- Master Sun: So a military force has no constant formation, water has no constant shape: the ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius.
-159- Wang Xi: Struggle mean struggle for advantage; those who get the advantages are thereby victorious. One should first determine whether to use light or heavy arms, and assess whether to approach indirectly or directly, not allowing opponents to take advantage of one’s toil.
-160- Master Sun: The difficulty or armed struggle is to make long distances near and make problems into advantages.
-161- Jia Lin: When the road is long the people are weary; if their strength has been used up in the travel, then they are worn out while their opponents are fresh, so they are sure to be attacked.
-162- Master Sun: So if you do not know the plans of your competitors, you cannot make informed alliances.
-163- Du Mu: … this means that you have to know competitors’ plans before you can fight with them. If you don’t know their strategy, you should certainly not do battle with them.
-164- Li Quan: It is swift as the mind in that it comes without a trace and withdraws like lightning. It is like a forest in that it is orderly. It is rapacious as fire across a plain, not leaving a single blade of grass. It is immovable as a mountain when it garrisons.
-165- Mei Yaochen: Hard to know as the dark means beings unobtrusive and inscrutable. Moving like thunder means being so fast no one can get out of your way.
-166- Master Sun: So in night battles you use many fires and drums, in daytime battles you use many banners and flags, so as to manipulate people’s ears and eyes.
-167- Du Mu: Have your soldiers adapt their movements according to your signals.
-168- Mei Yaochen: The reason you use many signals is to manipulate and confuse the perceptions of enemies.
-169- Wang Xi: You use many signals to startle their perceptions and make them fear your awesome martial power.
-170- Zhang Yu: Energy is what battle depends on. Any living thing can be stirred to fight, but even those who fight without regard for death are the way they are because their energy compels them to be that way. Therefore the rule for military operations is that if you can stir up the soldiers of all ranks with a common anger, then no one can stand up to them. Therefore, when opponents first come and their energy is keen, you break this down by not fighting with them for the time being. Watch for when they slump into boredom, then strike, and their keen energy can be taken away.
As for taking away the heart of their generals, the heart is the ruler of the general—order and disorder, courage and timidity, all are based on the mind. So those killed in controlling opponents stir them into disorder, incite them to confusion, press them into fear—thus can the schemes in their hearts be taken away.
-171- Master Sun: Using order to deal with the disorderly, using calm to deal with the clamorous, is mastering the heart.
-172- Du Mu: Once your basic mind is settled, you should just tune and order it, making it calm and stable, undisturbed by events…
-173- Master Sun: Standing your ground awaiting those far away, awaiting the weary in comfort, awaiting the hungry with full stomachs, is mastering strength.
-174- Master Sun: Avoiding confrontation with orderly ranks and not attacking great formations is mastering adaptation.
-175- Jia Lin: If opponents suddenly run away before their energy has faded, there are surely ambushes lying in wait to attack your forces, so you should carefully restrain your officers from pursuit.
-176- Master Sun: Do not stop an army on its way home.
-177- Mei Yaochen: Under these circumstances, an opponent will fight to the death.
-178- Master Sun: A surrounded army must be given a way out.
-179- Du Mu: Show them a way to life so that they will not be in the mood to fight to the death, and then you can take advantage of this to strike them.
-180- Master Sun: Do not press a desperate enemy.
-181- Zhang Yu: If the opponents burn their boats, destroy their cooking pots, and come to fight it out once and for all, don’t press them, for when animals are desperate they thrash about wildly.
Zhang Yu: Adaptation means not clinging to fixed methods, but changing appropriately according to events, acting as is suitable.
-182- Master Sun: When on surrounded ground, plot. When on deadly ground, fight.
-183- Jia Lin: Being on surrounded ground means there is steep terrain on all sides, with you in the middle, so that the enemy can come and go freely but you have a hard time getting out and back. When you are on ground like this, you should set up special plans ahead of time to prevent the enemy from bothering you, thus balancing out the disadvantage of the ground.
-184- Li Quan: Place an army in a deadly situation and the soldiers will make it their own fight.
-185- Master Sun: There are routes not to be followed, armies not to be attacked, citadels not to be besieged, territory not to be fought over, orders of civilian government not to be obeyed.
-186- Du Mu: …if you are strong and the enemy is weak, don’t strike their vanguard, lest you frighten the rest into retreating.
-187- Cao Cao: It may be possible to strike an army, but not advisable, because the lay of the land makes it hard to persist, to stay there would mean loss of further gains, present gains would in any case be slight, and a desperate army will fight to the death.
When a citadel is small and secure, and has plenty of supplies, then do not besiege it. When a territory is of marginal benefit and is as easy to lose as it is to win, then don’t fight over it. When it is a matter of expediting your work, don’t be limited to the commands of the civilian leadership.
-188- Du Mu: Wei Liaozi said, ‘Weapons are instruments of ill omen, conflit is a negative quality, warrior-leaders are officers of death with no heaven above, no earth below, no opponent ahead, no ruler behind.’
-189- Jia Lin: Adaptation means things like avoiding a convenient route when it is realized that it has features that lend themselves to ambush; not attacking a vulnerable army when it is realized that the army is desperate and bound to fight to the death; not besieging an isolated and vulnerable city when it is realized that is has abundant supplied, powerful weapons, smart generals, and loyal administrators, so there is no telling what might happen; not fighting over territory that could be contested when it is realized that even if it were won it would be hard to keep, it would be or no use anyway, and it would cost people life and limb; not following the directives of the civilian government, which ordinarily should be followed, when it is realized that there would be disadvantage and consequent harm in direction from behind the lines.
These adaptations are made on the spot as appropriate, and cannot be fixed in advance.
-190- Master Sun: Therefore the considerations of the intelligent always include both benefit and harm. As they consider benefit, their work can expand; as they consider harm, their troubles can be resolved.
-191- Ho Yanxi: Benefit and harm are interdependent, so the enlightened always consider them.
-192- Du Mu: Wear enemies out by keeping them busy and not letting them rest. But you have to have done your own work before you can do this. This work means developing a strong militia, a rich nation, a harmonious society, and orderly way of life.
-193- Master Sun: So the rule of military operations is not to count on opponents not coming, but to rely on having ways of dealing with them; not to count on opponents not attacking, but to rely on having what cannot be attacked.
-194- Ho Yanxi: If you can always remember danger when you are secure and remember chaos in times of order, watch out for danger and chaos while they are still formless and prevent them before they happen, this is best of all.
-195- Master Sun: Therefore there are five traits that are dangerous in generals: Those who are ready to die can be killed; those who are intent on living can be captured; those who are quick to anger can be shamed; those who are puritanical can be disgraced; those who love people can be troubled.
-196- Cao Cao: Quick-tempered people can be lured into coming to you by anger and embarrassment, puritanical people can be lured into coming to you by slander and disgrace. And if you appear in a place they are sure to rush to defend, those who love the people there will invariably hasten there to rescue them, troubling and wearying themselves in the process.
-197- Chen Hao: Good generals are otherwise: they are not committed to death yet do not expect to live; they act in accord with events, not quick to anger, not subject to embarrassment. When they see possibility, they are like tigers, otherwise they shut their doors. Their action and inaction are matters of strategy, and they cannot be pleased or angered.
-198- Master Sun: Whenever the terrain has impassable ravines, natural enclosures, natural prisons, natural traps, natural pitfalls, and natural clefts, you should leave quickly and not get near them. For myself, I keep away from these, so that opponents are nearer to them; I keep my face to these so that opponents have their backs to them.
-199- Cao Cao: In military operations, always keep away from these six kinds of dangerous ground formation, while maneuvering so that your enemy is near them, with his back to them. Then you have the advantage, and he is out of luck.
-200- Master Sun: When the enemy is near but still, he is resting on a natural stronghold. When he is far away but tries to provoke hostilities, he wants you to move forward. If his position is accessible, it is because that is advantageous to him.
-201- Master Sun: Those whose words are humble while they increase war preparations are going to advance. Those whose words are strong and who advance aggressively are going to retreat.
-202- Chen Hao: Seeking peace without a treaty is a general statement about cases where countries have been behaving aggressively toward each other, with neither giving in, then all of a sudden one of them comes seeking peace and friendship for no apparent reason. It must be that some internal crisis has arisen, and one side wants a temporary peace to take care of its own problems. Otherwise, it must be that they know you have power that can be used, and they want to make you unsuspecting, so they take the initiative in seeking peace and friendship, thereafter taking advantage of your lack of preparation t come and take over.
-203- Jia Lin: They wouldn’t rush around for an ordinary rendezvous—there must be a distant force expected at a certain time, when they will join forces to come and attack you. It is best to prepare for this right away.
-204- Du Mu: They are fearful and uneasy, so they call to each other to strengthen themselves.
-205- Master Sun: When forces angrily confront you but delay engagement, yet do not leave, it is imperative to watch them carefully.
-206- Master Sun: The individualist without strategy who takes opponents lightly will inevitably become the captive of others.
-207- Du Mu: If you have no ulterior scheme and no forethought, but just rely on your individual bravery, flippantly taking opponents lightly and giving no consideration to the situation, you will surely be taken prisoner.
-208- Master Sun: If soldiers are punished before a personal attachment to the leadership is formed, they will not submit, and if they do not submit they are hard to employ.
-209- Master Sun: If punishments are not executed after personal attachment has been established with the soldiers, then they cannot be employed.
-210- Zhang Yu: When there are underlying feelings of appreciates and trust, and the hearts of the soldiers are already bonded to the leadership, if punishments are relaxed the soldiers will become haughty and impossible to employ.
-211- Master Sun: Therefore direct them through cultural arts, unify them through martial arts; this means certain victory.
-212- Cao Cao: Cultural arts means humaneness, martial art means law.
-213- Li Quan: Cultural art means benevolence and rewards, martial art means sternness and punishment.
-214- Du Mu: Consistent means all along: in ordinary times it is imperative that benevolence and trustworthiness along with dignity and order be manifest to people from the start, so that later, if they are faces with enemies it is possible to meet the situation in an orderly fashion, with the full trust and acceptance of the people.
-215- Mei Yaochen: The form of the land is the basis on which the military is aided and victory is established, so it must be measured.
-216- Zhange Yu: Generally speaking, the entire military leadership has to be of one mind, all of the military forces have to cooperate, in order to be able to defeat opponents.
-217- Master Sun: When the generals are weak and lack authority, instructions are not clear, officers and soldiers lack consistency, and they form battle lines every which way, this is riot. When the generals cannot assess opponents, clash with much greater numbers or more powerful forces, and do not sort out the levels of skill among their own troops, these are the ones who get beaten.
-218- Master Sun: These six are ways to defeat. Understanding this is the ultimate responsibility of the generals; they must be examined.
-219- Chen Hao: First is not assessing numbers, second is lack of a clear system of punishments and rewards, third is failure in training, fourth is irrational overexcitement, fifth is ineffectiveness of law and order, and sixth is failure to choose the strong and resolute.
-220- Master Sun: Therefore, when the laws of war indicate certain victory it is surely appropriate to do battle, even if the government says there is to be no battle. If the laws of war do not indicate victory, it is appropriate not to do battle, even if the government orders war. Thus one advances without seeking glory, retreats without avoiding blame, only protecting people, to the benefit of the government as well thus rendering valuable service to the nation.
-221- Master Sun: Look upon your soldiers as you do infants, and they willingly go into deep valleys with you; look upon your soldiers as beloved children, and they willingly die with you.
-222- Li Quan: If you treat them well, you will get their utmost power.
-223- Master Sun: If you are so nice to them that you cannot employ them, so kind to them that you cannot command them, so casual with them that you cannot establish order, they are like spoiled children, useless.
-224- Cao Cao: Rewards should not be used alone, punishments should not be relied on in isolation. Otherwise, like spoiled children, people will become accustomed to either enjoying or resenting everything. This is harmful and renders them useless.
-225- Wang Xi: If you know yourself but not the other, or if you know the other but not yourself, in either case you cannot be sure of victory. And even if you know both yourself and your opponent and know you can fight, still you cannot overlook the question of the advantages of the terrain.
-226- Cao Cao: On heavy ground, plundering means building up supplies.
-227- Li Quan added, ‘When you enter deeply into enemy territory you should not antagonize people by acting unjustly. When the founder of the great Han dynasty entered the homeland of the supplanted Qin dynasty, there was no rapine or pillage, and this is how he won the people’s hearts.’
-228- Master Sun: It may be asked, when a large, well-organized opponent is about to come to you, how do you deal with it? The answer is that you first take away what they like, and then they will listen to you.
-229- Chen Hao: What they like does not only mean the advantages they rely on, it means that anything enemies care about it worth capturing.
-230- Master Sun: So a skillful military operation should be like a swift snake that counters with its tail when someone strikes at its head, counters with its head when someone strikes as its tail, and counters with both head and tail when someone strikes at its middle.
-231- Zhang Yu: This represents the method of a battle line, responding swiftly when struck. A manual of eight classical battle formations says, ‘Make the back the front, make the front the back, with four heads and eight tails. Make the head anywhere, and when the enemy lunges into the middle, head and tail both come to the rescue.’
-232- Zhang Yu: If you get the advantage of the ground, you can overcome opponents even with soft, weak troops—how much the more with hard, strong troops? What makes it possible for both strong and weak to be useful is the configuration of the ground.
-233- Master Sun: Therefore those skilled in military operations achieve cooperation in a group so that directing the group is like directing a single individual with no other choice.
-234- Master Sun: The business of the general is quiet and secret, fair and orderly.
-235- Mei Yaochen: If you are quiet and inconspicuous, others will not be able to figure you out. If you are accurate and orderly, others will not be able to disturb you.
-236- Zhang Yu: His plans are calm and deeply hidden, so no one can figure them out. His regime is fair and orderly, so no one dares take him lightly.
-237- Zhang Yu: When people never understand what your intention is, then you win. The Great White Mountain Man said, ‘The reason deception is valued in military operations is not just for deceiving enemies, but to begin with for deceiving one’s own troops, to get them to follow unknowingly.’
-238- Du Mu: …the ordinary patterns of human feelings all change according to the various types of ground.
-239- Zhang Yu: If you do not compete for allies and helpers, then you will be isolated, with little help. If you do not foster your authority, then people will leave and the country will weaken. If you lash out in personal rage, threatening neighbors with violence, then in the end you bring destruction on yourself.
-240- Master Sun: Employ the entire armed forces like employing a single person. Employ them with actual tasks, do not talk to them. Motivate them with benefits, do not tell them about harm.
-241- Master Sun: So the task of a military operation is to accord deceptively with the intentions of the enemy. If you concentrate totally on the enemy, you can kill its military leadership a thousand miles away. This is skillful accomplishment of the task.
-242- Du Mu; If you want to attack an enemy but do not see an opening, then conceal your form and erase your tracks, going along with what the enemy does, not causing any surprises. If the enemy is strong and despises you, you appear to be timid and submissive, going along for the moment with his strength to make him haughty, waiting for him to become complacent and thus vulnerable to attack. If the enemy want to retreat and go home, you open up a way to let him out, going along with his retreat so that he will not have any desire to fight, ultimately to take advantage of this to attack. Both of these are techniques of according with the enemy.
-243- Master Sun: Matters are dealt with strictly at headquarters.
-244- Zhang Yu: It will not do just to know how to attack others with fire, it is imperative to know how to prevent others from attacking you.
-245- Master Sun: A government should not mobilize an army out of anger, military leaders should not provoke war out of wrath. Act when it is beneficial, desist if it is not. Anger can revert to joy, wrath can revert to delight, but a nation destroyed cannot be restored to existence, and the dead cannot be restored to life. Therefore an enlightened government is careful about this, a good military leadership is alert to this. This is the way to secure a nation and keep the armed forces whole.
-246- Cao Cao: Do not use arms because of your own emotions.
-247- Wang Xi: If you are inconsistent in your feelings, you will lose dignity and trust.
On the Use of Spies
-248- So what enables an intelligent government and a wise military leadership to overcome others and achieve extraordinary accomplishments is foreknowledge.
Foreknowledge cannot be gotten from ghosts and spirits, cannot be had by analogy, cannot be found out by calculation. It must be obtained from people, people who know the conditions of the enemy.
-249- Du Mu: Living spies are those that come and go with information. For living spies, it is imperative to choose those who are inwardly bright but outwardly appear to be stupid, who are inconspicuous in appearance but strong of heart, who are fast, powerful, and brave, who are immune to seduction, who can endure hunger, cold, and dishonor.
|by V. L. Craven|
The Art of War by Sun-Tzu translated by Thomas Cleary