Fine weapons are implements of ill omen:
people may despise them,
so those with the Way do not dwell with them.
Therefore the place of honor for the cultured is on the left,
while the honored place for the martialist is on the right.
Weapons, being instruments of ill omen,
are not the tools of the cultured,
who use them only when unavoidable.
They consider it best to be aloof;
they win without beautifying it.
Those who beautify it
enjoy killing people.
Those who enjoy killing
cannot get their will of the world.
The left is favored for auspicious things,
the right for things of ill omen:
so the subordinate general is on the left,
the top general on the right.
That means when you are in ascendency of power
you handle it as you would a mourning.
When you have killed many people,
you weep for them in sorrow.
When you win a war,
you celebrate by mourning.

– Thomas Cleary

 

Weapons are not auspicious tools
some things are simply bad
thus the Taoist shuns them
in peace the ruler honors the left
in war he honors the right
weapons are not auspicious tools
he wields them when he had no choice
dispassion is the best
thus he doesn’t praise them
those who praise their use
enjoy killing others
those who enjoy killing others
achieve no worldly rule
thus we honor the left for happiness
we honor the right for sorrow
the left is where the adjutant stands
the commander on the right
which means as at a funeral
when you will another
honor him with your tears
when the battle is won
treat it as a wake

– Red Pine

 

Weapons of war are omens of doom,
To be loathed by every living thing
And shunned by those who keep the Way.
Presiding at court the leader honors the left.
Resorting to war he honors the right.
But weapons are never the leader’s choice.
Weapons of war are omens of doom,
Not to be used unless compelled.
Above all, with mind and heart unstirred,
To arms give no glory:
For to glory in arms
Is to sing and rejoice in the slaughter of men.
And singers in praise of the slaughter of men
Shall not in this world gain their ends.
Thus the left is for deeds that are blessed,
The right is for deeds that bring death.
To the left the minor commander,
To the right the chief general:
Placed for the rites to honour the dead.
When the slaughter is great,
Let the leader come forth to keen for the slain;
The victory won,
To perform solemn rites in mourning the day.

– Moss Roberts

 

Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.

Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter of men?

He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and with great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.

– Stephen Mitchell

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