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Quote and Commentary from – Musashi’s Book of Five Rings

“Denigrate the enemy constantly and with great spirit. Do not acknowledge the possibility that the enemy is stronger than you. Do not accept the possibility that the enemy is smarter than you are in any way whatsoever. If you are aware of the Way of the warrior, you are aware of the Way of the warrior. The Way of the warrior does not permit you to accept an inferior position to anything. You are either the best or you are not the best. If you are, then you will win; if you are not, then you will lose. There is nothing to argue about here. You must also remember your level of understanding. This falls into the area of knowing yourself as well as knowing the enemy by becoming the enemy. To become the enemy, see yourself as the enemy of your enemy. If you understand strategy, you will know how to beat the enemy. Think this over until it is clear in your mind.”

It is essential to understand what war is about. War is dependent upon individual perspective and personal cost in singular conflicts, but it is also dependent upon national perspective and national cost. They can be thought of as two different things when the specifics are considered, but they are the same. Without a fundamental idea of what conflict is about and, from a somewhat studied approach, the above quotation from my version of Five Rings has relevance and meaning based on the strategy of winning, which is the only reason to enter into a conflict, unless you are an idiot and do not consider winning for the benefit of all concerned.

By denigrating the enemy, you psychologically put them at a disadvantage, especially if they are not as heartily enthused about winning as you are. You may momentarily overwhelm an adversary even when you have real cause behind your actions, excepting personal self-aggrandizement and greed. Nonetheless, the conquered will generally attempt to rise up and foil all of your further attempts to subjugate them regardless of how you verbally address and define the issue to your own people. And, because that certainty exists, you must continue to insult and debase them to the entire surrounding populace. Here, too, unless you are thorough in your takeover, they will acquire support from places you may not find it productive to deal with at the time. Allies for the enemy will arise from dust if you do not continue your barrage of demeaning them and backing it up with action based on your intent; it must be done with sophistication.

When approaching a land for the taking of the resources, which is always the primary reason for war (forget idealistic platitudes, as they are false) and, again, regardless of how it is dressed and what words are being used to assuage detractors, you must commit yourself as a leader to your warriors to finalize any action so that it does not come back at you. If you do not approach and close in this manner, then you are setting yourself up for folly that will follow you for an eternity.

Becoming the enemy suggests that besides understanding your own reasons for conflict, you must also understand the ideals and psychology of the enemy in order to become a proper enemy and easily take the realm of choice. If you do not understand the enemy and the culture, you will find yourself at a loss to understand why the majority of your own people will not wish to comply with your bogus incursion. This is not taking into account those who would sell their mothers for a glass of wine in order to become your friend until they can overrun your best efforts from within your ranks. Never assume that your reasoning will prevail unless you are sincere in your desire to take the land of your chosen foe. Seeing yourself as the enemy of your enemy enables you to see their weaknesses, as well as their strengths, and to determine what will enable you to readily and easily overcome any resistance.

© SFKaufman

For more info on the author, visit http://www.hanshi.com

Rings

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One comment on “Quote and Commentary from – Musashi’s Book of Five Rings

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