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    Chapter 6
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    [Ts'ao Kung, in defining the meaning of the Chinese for the
    title of this chapter, says it refers to the deliberations in the
    temple selected by the general for his temporary use, or as we
    should say, in his tent. See. ss. 26.]

    1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to
    the State.
    2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to
    safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on
    no account be neglected.
    3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant
    factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations, when
    seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.
    4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth;
    (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.

    [It appears from what follows that Sun Tzu means by "Moral
    Law" a principle of harmony, not unlike the Tao of Lao Tzu in its
    moral aspect. One might be tempted to render it by "morale,"
    were it not considered as an attribute of the ruler in ss. 13.]

    5, 6. The MORAL LAW causes the people to be in complete
    accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless
    of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

    [Tu Yu quotes Wang Tzu as saying: "Without constant
    practice, the officers will be nervous and undecided when
    mustering for battle; without constant practice, the general will
    be wavering and irresolute when the crisis is at hand."]

    7. HEAVEN signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and

    [The commentators, I think, make an unnecessary mystery of
    two words here. Meng Shih refers to "the hard and the soft,
    waxing and waning" of Heaven. Wang Hsi, however, may be right in
    saying that what is meant is "the general economy of Heaven,"
    including the five elements, the four seasons, wind and clouds,
    and other phenomena.]

    8. EARTH comprises distances, great and small; danger and
    security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and
    9. The COMMANDER stands for the virtues of wisdom,
    sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.

    [The five cardinal virtues of the Chinese are (1) humanity
    or benevolence; (2) uprightness of mind; (3) self-respect, self-
    control, or "proper feeling;" (4) wisdom; (5) sincerity or good
    faith. Here "wisdom" and "sincerity" are put before "humanity or
    benevolence," and the two military virtues of "courage" and
    "strictness" substituted for "uprightness of mind" and "self-
    respect, self-control, or 'proper feeling.'"]

    10. By METHOD AND DISCIPLINE are to be understood the
    marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the
    graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads
    by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military
    11. These five heads should be familiar to every general:
    he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will
    12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to
    determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of
    a comparison, in this wise: --
    13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the
    Moral law?

    [I.e., "is in harmony with his subjects." Cf. ss. 5.]

    (2) Which of the two generals has most ability?
    (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and

    [See ss. 7,8]

    (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced?

    [Tu Mu alludes to the remarkable story of Ts'ao Ts'ao (A.D.
    155-220), who was such a strict disciplinarian that once, in
    accordance with his own severe regulations against injury to
    standing crops, he condemned himself to death for having allowed
    him horse to shy into a field of corn! However, in lieu of
    losing his head, he was persuaded to satisfy his sense of justice
    by cutting off his hair. Ts'ao Ts'ao's own comment on the
    present passage is characteristically curt: "when you lay down a
    law, see that it is not disobeyed; if it is disobeyed the
    offender must be put to death."]

    (5) Which army is stronger?

    [Morally as well as physically. As Mei Yao-ch'en puts it,
    freely rendered, "ESPIRIT DE CORPS and 'big battalions.'"]

    (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained?

    [Tu Yu quotes Wang Tzu as saying: "Without constant
    practice, the officers will be nervous and undecided when
    mustering for battle; without constant practice, the general will
    be wavering and irresolute when the crisis is at hand."]

    (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in
    reward and punishment?

    [On which side is there the most absolute certainty that
    merit will be properly rewarded and misdeeds summarily punished?]

    14. By means of these seven considerations I can forecast
    victory or defeat.
    15. The general that hearkens to my counsel and acts upon
    it, will conquer: --let such a one be retained in command! The
    general that hearkens not to my counsel nor acts upon it, will
    suffer defeat: --let such a one be dismissed!

    [The form of this paragraph reminds us that Sun Tzu's
    treatise was composed expressly for the benefit of his patron Ho
    Lu, king of the Wu State.]

    16. While heading the profit of my counsel, avail yourself
    also of any helpful circumstances over and beyond the ordinary
    17. According as circumstances are favorable, one should
    modify one's plans.

    [Sun Tzu, as a practical soldier, will have none of the
    "bookish theoric." He cautions us here not to pin our faith to
    abstract principles; "for," as Chang Yu puts it, "while the main
    laws of strategy can be stated clearly enough for the benefit of
    all and sundry, you must be guided by the actions of the enemy in
    attempting to secure a favorable position in actual warfare." On
    the eve of the battle of Waterloo, Lord Uxbridge, commanding the
    cavalry, went to the Duke of Wellington in order to learn what
    his plans and calculations were for the morrow, because, as he
    explained, he might suddenly find himself Commander-in-chief and
    would be unable to frame new plans in a critical moment. The
    Duke listened quietly and then said: "Who will attack the first
    tomorrow -- I or Bonaparte?" "Bonaparte," replied Lord Uxbridge.
    "Well," continued the Duke, "Bonaparte has not given me any idea
    of his projects; and as my plans will depend upon his, how can
    you expect me to tell you what mine are?" [1] ]

    18. All warfare is based on deception.

    [The truth of this pithy and profound saying will be
    admitted by every soldier. Col. Henderson tells us that
    Wellington, great in so many military qualities, was especially
    distinguished by "the extraordinary skill with which he concealed
    his movements and deceived both friend and foe."]

    19. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when
    using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we
    must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we
    must make him believe we are near.
    20. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder,
    and crush him.

    [All commentators, except Chang Yu, say, "When he is in
    disorder, crush him." It is more natural to suppose that Sun Tzu
    is still illustrating the uses of deception in war.]

    21. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If
    he is in superior strength, evade him.
    22. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to
    irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

    [Wang Tzu, quoted by Tu Yu, says that the good tactician
    plays with his adversary as a cat plays with a mouse, first
    feigning weakness and immobility, and then suddenly pouncing upon

    23. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.

    [This is probably the meaning though Mei Yao-ch'en has the
    note: "while we are taking our ease, wait for the enemy to tire
    himself out." The YU LAN has "Lure him on and tire him out."]

    If his forces are united, separate them.

    [Less plausible is the interpretation favored by most of the
    commentators: "If sovereign and subject are in accord, put
    division between them."]

    24. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are
    not expected.
    25. These military devices, leading to victory, must not be
    divulged beforehand.
    26. Now the general who wins a battle makes many
    calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought.

    [Chang Yu tells us that in ancient times it was customary
    for a temple to be set apart for the use of a general who was
    about to take the field, in order that he might there elaborate
    his plan of campaign.]

    The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations
    beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few
    calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It
    is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to
    win or lose.

    [1] "Words on Wellington," by Sir. W. Fraser.
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