from Book Four – How to Think of War
Those skilled in the arts of war permit the Spirit of the Heavens to flow within and without themselves. They do not try to coerce Heaven into thinking in their own favor, but seek to do that which they believe and accept to be the correct action of Heaven. The wise and great warlord never goes against Heaven’s decrees. Heaven makes itself obvious to the man of wisdom.
When the seed of endeavor is planted with authority and conviction, Heaven will instruct him in the proper behavior to gain his desires. Heaven does not move when the man of wisdom wants it to move; he must reflect upon his attitudes and positions in life to see if there is some more appropriate action and intent to be gained through further reflection. If he can think of no other plan of action and truly believes that his cause is just, Heaven, by its very nature, will see his truth and will rush to bring about his dream. This is the nature of the universe. It has no choice but to cooperate with a man of true belief. He always keeps in mind the requirements for success in any endeavor. This attitude permits the Heavens to see more clearly into the warlord’s true desire. He will have shown the proper respect to the Heavens by knowing the virtues of a noble. He is aware of the distance to be traveled on earth and in Heaven if victory is to be attained. He knows how far he must travel and knows how far his troops must carry his desire. He loves them openly and cares for their needs. He knows the value of the supplies to be carried into battle and those that should be left behind as reserves if Heaven should turn aside from his favor. His calculations of manpower are estimated by considering the strengths and weaknesses of each warrior’s ability. The warlord knows when each man is in proper position and which weapons he can use. He does not make arches of cooks. He considers the cost of battle on all levels. He examines the possibilities of defeat as well as victory. He does not place himself or his men in positions of needless danger under any circumstances. This is not to be confused with placing troops in positions of peril where they must fight well or die.
When these virtues are understood, his excellence will cause him to emerge victorious from conflict. His armies will revel in glory and see him as a great leader. He will acknowledge their tribute but will not dance in his own light. It is because of his understanding of these things that he will see his men fight with fury, joy, and expectation of victory. As a result of this mentality, the warlord will be respected by his enemies.
Study this significant aspect of the warlord’s mentality completely: it contains the genius of accomplishment.
The Art of War – The definitive interpretation of Sun Tzu’s classic book of strategy is available at:
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