The following selection is this writer’s rendition of Chapter Five of Sun Tze’s “The Art of War”.
1. Managing a large force is no different than managing a few troops: it is simply a matter of splitting up their ranks into smaller Divisions.
2. Fighting a large army is no different from fighting a small one: it is merely a question of positioning and communication.
3. To ensure that your whole host may withstand an Enemy attack and remain undefeated — this is achieved by combining direct and indirect maneuvers.
4. By having your troops flank the Enemy, you may smash the Enemy like an egg; this is achieved by the science of knowing your own strengths and weakness.
5. In all fighting, the direct Method may be used for joining Battle, but indirect Methods will be needed in order to secure victory.
6. Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.
Some translate the term “indirect tactics” as”Surprise Tactics” Nowadays we call this Technique “Shock and Awe”.
7. There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.
The Pentatonic Scale is still in use in Modern China and surrounding areas.
8. There are not more than five primary colors, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.
These are: blue, red, yellow, white, and black, in accordance with the Five Elements.
9. There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.
These are: sour, acrid, salt, sweet, and bitter. These Three lines are highly reminiscent of Chapter Twelve of Lao Tze’s Tao Te Ching.
The Five Colors confuse the eyes, Five Tones the ears, and Five Flavors the tongue.
Pursuing what one lacks, causes madness.
Therefore, the Sage relies on his Inner Mirror, and not his senses, to make choices.
10. In Battle, there are not more than two Methods of attack, the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers.
11. The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn. It is like moving in a never-ending circle. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?
12. The arrival of troops is like the rush of a torrent which will even roll stones along in its course.
Notice the continuation of the Water Symbolism.
13. The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its prey.
14. Therefore the good fighter will be terrible in his arrival, and prompt in his decision.
15. Power may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of its trigger.
Sun Tze appears to have understood the difference between Potential Power and Kinetic Power long before Science discovered it.
16. Amid the turmoil and tumult of Battle, there may be seeming disorder and yet no real disorder at all; amid confusion and chaos, your array may be without head or tail, yet it will be proof against defeat.
17. Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.
18. Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent Power; masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions.
19. Thus one who is skillful at keeping the Enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the Enemy will act. He sacrifices something that the Enemy may snatch at it.
20. By holding out baits, the Master General keeps the Enemy on the march; then with a body of picked Troops lies in wait.
21. The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined Power, and does not require too much from individuals. Hence the ability to pick out the right Troops and utilize combined Power.
Notice that Master Sun is continuing his constant Theme of winning battles with minimum of action..
22. When the Master General utilizes combined Power, the fighting Troops become like rolling logs or stones. For it is the nature of a log or stone to remain motionless on level ground, and to move when on a slope; if four-cornered, to come to a standstill, but if round-shaped, to go rolling down.
Sun Tze also seems to have understood Inertia long before Galileo and Newton.
23. Thus the Power developed by good fighting men is as the momentum of a round stone rolled down a mountain.
Notice how Master Sun continues to preach minimizing violence. There are deep Spiritual Truths here for the Metaphysician to discover!