One who assists the ruler of men by means of the way does not intimidate the
empire by a show of arms.
This is something which is liable to rebound.
Where troops have encamped
There will brambles grow;
In the wake of a mighty army
Bad harvests follow without fail.
One who is good aims only at bringing his campaign to a conclusion and dare
not thereby intimidate. Bring it to a conclusion but do not boast; bring it to
a conclusion but do not brag; bring it to a conclusion but do not be arrogant;
bring it to a conclusion but only when there is no choice; bring it to a
conclusion but do not intimidate.
I’m arrogant and boast to compensate for a deep inner sense of weakness. These attitudes serve almost like ammunition in life’s struggle. And thus, the more secure I feel in life’s struggle, the less arrogant I am. Intimidation also helps counter-balance feelings of inadequacy. That’s why bullies intimidate the weak; it enhances their own sense of worth, without risking defeat.
As I age, I really do aim only at bringing my campaigns to a conclusion and then, only when there is no choice. Campaigns require energy. Expending more than necessary is a waste, and just increases life stress.
Intimidate by a show of arms is overkill. It actually provokes an increase in the others defensiveness which can only escalate the campaign. Escalating campaigns bring on bad harvests without fail. This reminds me of Christ’s message: ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’.
It’s all very simple really. When confronted by a challenging situation I react both emotionally and rationally. The more emotional I am, the more I take it personally, end up arrogant, and do something which is liable to rebound. I lose perspective, which I can only regain after I begin returning to an emotionally neutral state. Only then can I aim ONLY at bringing my campaign to a conclusion with as little harm as possible.
Whether I react emotionally or rationally to a situation depends on the nature of my awareness at the moment of challenge. If I’m reflective, I have a better chance of seeing things as they are, and not as personal threats. The deeper and wider this perspective the less I’ll over-react. I direct more will to being vigilant now because I’m tired of being dragged down into chaos by my emotional instincts.
The impulse to intimidate the empire by a show of arms wells up in me when I lose perspective. My view narrows and I take sides. I lose sense of the cyclic nature of reality. Assisting myself or others by means of the way means not forgetting, for example, that it is on disaster that good fortune perches; it is beneath good fortune that disaster crouches. [see ch. 58]. Knowing and keeping in touch with reality is the most effective path to any end.
A creature in its prime doing harm to the old
Is known as going against the way.
That which goes against the way will come to an early end.
A creature in its prime doing harm to the old reminds me of our species, especially in modern times. Our technology enables us to do harm to old Mother Nature. The harm we do is a consequence of our unrelenting pursuit of comfort and security. Of course, we are no different than other creatures; all life strives to optimize it’s niche. What makes us prime, is our tools. The instinct to survive at all costs plus tools permits us to go against the way. How can we turn back so as to avoid coming to an early end?. Alas, we mostly point our the finger at others and avoid taking responsibility; it’s not me, it’s you that’s doing harm. We are indeed children.
Not doing harm to the old really requires giving up some of our advantages. One creature’s advantage comes at the expense of another. We still want it all, and so we contrive clever ways to ‘have our cake and eat it too’, like indulging in a consumer lifestyle and then comforting ourselves with recycling programs. Adopting a simpler life is the only way to avoid going against the way, and that requires sacrifice.
Whenever I neglect my own present and past moments, I’m doing harm to the old. I get bored when I’m un-aware of the ‘mysterious sameness’ which fills each moment, so I neglect my moments and grasp at fantasy for stimulation.