Comparative review: The Art of Peace and The Art of War
Something I’m starting is a series of comparative reviews of books. My aim is to compare and contrast these seemingly opposite books.
The first pair of books is The Art of War by Sun Tzu, and The Art of Peace by Morihei Ueshiba.
The Art of War is basically like a general’s guide to war. It was written for generals, and its general principle is simple: STRATEGY. Plan, plan, plan, and that is the way to victory.
The Art of War, which is less well-known, was written by an Enlightened master and founder of the martial art Aikido. His premise is that the Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood as the path to kill, but a true warrior’s quest is to prevent killing by practicing the Art of Peace (Aikido).
On the surface, both books do deal with fighting, and there are some similarities between them. The Art of War advises the general to “let his methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances,” and The Art of Peace says that “the best strategy relies on an unlimited set of responses.” So vary your tactics depending on the situation.
This is really where the similarities end. The Art of Peace reads more like a spiritual book, with some poems included in it, and pointers to the Truth. The Art of War is, well, a war book, and has information pertaining to that field of life.
Let’s examine these books separately now.
The Art of War has some very good advice, especially for the lower levels of PD, some of which appear in the 48 Laws of Power. For instance, according to Sun Tzu, the “essence of war is deception.” War, when you think about it, could also refer to business or other facets of our lives.
I found it to be an excellent book on strategy (not t be neglected even if you’re a spiritual person!), and even lays out the pitfalls many generals fall into.
Now, imagine being the general of your life.
There are five pitfall you can fall into:
- “Recklessness, which leads to destruction.
- Cowardice, which leads to capture.
- A hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults.
- A delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame.
- Over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.”
There is also a stoic element to this book: “Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline, simulated fear postulates courage, simulated weakness postulates strength.” Familiarize yourself with the worst in order to reap the benefits of the best.
Finally, there is one golden nugget of advice for anybody, spiritual seekers included:
“In war, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.”
This applies to spiritual seekers, too. Often, we get so caught up in seeking that we forget that we’re supposed to be “finding” “something.” I prefer the term “finders-to-be.”
Now for The Art of Peace.
The essence of this book is peace and love and practice. An overall much more positive book than the other one.
Its philosophy of fighting is very different from most martial arts. “A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing.” At the highest levels of spirituality, there is no other, and certainly no other to fight. Because the Art of Peace is the principle of non-resistance, “it is victorious from the beginning.” Not wishing for an outcome makes any outcome the right one.
Coming back to the idea of non-duality, Ueshiba says “to injure your opponent is to injure yourself.” Fight without meaning to hurt, fight with the goal to pacify. He even goes as far as to use the beautiful verse in one of his poems: “Guide your partner.”
One last point of the book I’d like to mention. One of the phrases in it says “Always practice the Art of Peace in a vibrant and joyful manner.”
We often forget to just ENJOY ourselves sometimes, especially when practicing.
Be happy when you meditate. Be grateful for that you even are able to meditate, and don’t live in a place where you’re in constant physical danger.
That’s it for these books. Both pretty short, easy to read.
The Art of War: The Verdict
Shows how powerful strategic thinking can be, but does not address any other aspects of PD.
“Now the general who makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.”
The Art of Peace: The Verdict
Good spiritual read with a lot of the classic pointers.
“Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything.”