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Sun Tzu & The Art of War

"Peace is a consequence of war, of struggle, of the intimate ascetical struggle which each Christian must keep up against everything in his life which does not belong to God. He is called to overcome pride, sensuality, selfishness, superficiality and meanness of heart." St. Josemaria Escriva from Christ is Passing By, 73
   War is a part of life. War is life.  You can't deny this.  A large part of life consists in fighting wars.  I am not talking only about conventional warfare which consists in two competing armies.  I am talking about a different war; the type which is fought daily, the type which is fought within one's soul, the type which is fought hand to hand, close quarters, a war of attrition. The type that never ends while one is alive.  This is the war that everyone has to fight.  This is the war that everyone must win at all costs.

   A little while back my wife purchased for me on my birthday Sun Tzu's military masterpiece, "The Art of War." Even though the treatise was written for actual warfare, many of its lessons can be applied to daily living.  In the subsequent posts I will be selecting my favorite quotes and writing brief commentaries on them.

"All warfare is based on deception."

   This is the fundamental truth about warfare.  All warfare is based upon deception, and the enemy's ability to catch one off guard.  Isn't it interesting that whenever you commit to doing something worthwhile how your enemy (the mind) will try to talk you out of it? Your mind will conjure every scenario to get you not to commit. The truth is that we are all inherently lazy, and when given the chance we will choose the most comfortable option, not the best one.  This is deception.  Your mind (the devil) at these moments is "deceiving" you into thinking that you don't possess the resources necessary to accomplish your goals.  The truth however, is that we are far more resilient and stronger then what our mind wants us to believe.

  "If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself, but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.  If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."

   One of the most important things in life is self knowledge.  Every great spiritual master has spoken about this. Why? Because knowing one self is half the battle. A good general surveys first his entire army, its strengths and weaknesses.  The same is true about yourself, if you know your strengths, weaknesses, limitations, and talents, you will be better able to compete and beat your enemy.

   In the spiritual life my greatest enemy is the devil.  Through self knowledge I know that I can't compete against his powers. But through faith I know that if I unify my weakness to Christ's strength I will always beat out the devil.  This would be the same as a weaker army joining a stronger one to rout a common enemy.

Stay tuned in my next post I will speak about strategy, and practical tactics that one can apply in warfare.


 

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