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The Tao of Peace

Wang Chen

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ISBN 10: 1570625115 / ISBN 13: 9781570625114
Published by Shambhala, 2000
Used Condition: Acceptable Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Tao of Peace

Publisher: Shambhala

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Acceptable

About this title


     Wang Chen, a ninth-century military commander, was sickened by the carnage that had plagued the glorious Tang dynasty for decades. "All within the seas were poisoned," he wrote, "and pain and disaster was rife throughout the land." He wondered: How are we humans ever to rectify our self-destructive tendencies? How can we find a true pacifism, one that will end conflicts before they begin? For the answer he turned to a remarkable source: not to the prevailing theories of human nature and governance of Confucianism, but to the classic text known as the Tao Te Ching.
     The Tao Te Ching has been a philosophical linchpin of Taoism for more than a thousand years. Though it is often viewed as having a mystical, quietist, even nihilist dimension, Wang Chen found in the Tao Te Ching quite a different aspect: one that offered a cosmological anchor for the patterns of human society and an explanation for the dynamics of conflict. Penetrating the Tao and embracing its patterns, he believed, would lead to true empowerment in the everyday world of political realities – not in some transcendent, ethereal realm. Here is his own rendering of and commentary on the ancient text, elucidating the ancient classic's "Tao of peace." Wang Chen's commentary is amplified and expanded by translator Ralph Sawyer, a leading scholar of Chinese military history.


Students of Sunzi (Sun-tzu), author of the Art of War, tell us that he was more interested in peace than war and that he even had a Taoist slant. Wang Chen, a military commander of early ninth-century China, went a step further, turning Laozi's Dao De Jing into a manual for peace. Having experienced the horrors of war firsthand, Wang reflected on the causes of conflict and solutions for peace. Commenting on each chapter of the Dao De Jing, he elucidates his and Laozi's ideas. Wang is practical in terms of nonviolence, realizing that force can be necessary. Instead of strict avoidance of conflict, he emphasizes the paramount role of a leader. "To be able to gain the hearts of people, one must realize himself. One who is able to realize himself will certainly be pliant and weak." The obviously masculine characteristics of a successful leader must be balanced by feminine virtues. Equally important, a leader's desires must be reduced, because desire, leading to greed, is one of the root causes of conflict. The Sawyers, seasoned translators of China's military classics, include their own translation of the Dao De Jing, plus helpful comments on Wang's commentary. With more leaders like Wang Chen, we would need fewer like Sunzi. --Brian Bruya

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