Tao Te Ching #69: “No fate is worse than to have no enemy”

There are sayings on the use of arms:
“Let us not be aggressors,
but defend.”
“Let us not advance an inch,
but retreat a foot.”
This is called carrying out no action,
shaking no arm,
facing no enemy,
wielding no weapon.
No calamity is greater
than underestimating opponents.
If you underestimate opponents,
you’re close to losing your treasure.
So when opposing armies clash,
the compassionate
are the ones who win.

– Thomas Cleary


In warfare there is a saying
rather than a host
better to be a guest
rather than advance an inch
better to retreat a foot
this means to form no ranks
to put on no armor
to brandish no weapons
to repulse no enemy
no fate is worse than to have no enemy
to have no enemy is to lose one’s treasure
thus when opponents are evenly matched
the remorseful one prevails

– Red Pine


Those who wage war often say:
“We prefer response to invitation,
The span withdrawn to the inch gained.”
This is formation that does not go forward,
Deflection with hand unraised,
The firm grip that holds no sword,
And the thrust that cannot be countered.
But “having no foe” is the greatest threat.
It leads to the loss of our triple treasure.
Once battle is joined, who gives way wins.

– Moss Roberts