Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Tao of Deception
Ralph D. Sawyer

King Wu queried his preceptor, advisor, strategist, and confidant, the T’ai Kung: “I want to overthrow the Shang but have three doubts. I am afraid our strength will be inadequate to attack the strong, estrange the close supporters within the court, and disperse their people. What should I do?”

The reply, as chronicled in Six Secret Teachings (Liu-t’ao), was as follows: “In order to attack the strong you must nurture them to make them even stronger and increase them to make them even more extensive. What is too strong will certainly break, what is too extended must have deficiencies. Attack the strong through their strength. Cause the estrangement of favoured officials by using favourites, disperse the people by means of people.”

On similar lines is a snatch from chapter 36 of the traditionally received Tao Te Ching: “If you want to reduce something, you must certainly stretch it. If you want to weaken something, you must certainly strengthen it. If you want to abolish something, you must certainly make it flourish.”

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