Wednesday, February 23, 2011

31: Victory Is Cause for Grief


Weapons are ominous tools.
They are abhorred by all creatures.
Anyone who follows the Way shuns them.
In peaceful times, the noble ruler honors the left side.
At war, he honors the right side.
Weapons are ominous tools.
They are not the noble ruler's tools.
He only uses them when he can't avoid it.
Peace and quiet are preferred.
Victory should not be praised.
Those who praise victory relish manslaughter.
Those who relish manslaughter
Cannot reach their goals in the world.
At times of joy, the left side is honored.
At times of grief, the right side is honored.
At battle, the second in command stands to the left,
And the commander in chief to the right.
This means they stand as in funerals.
When many people are killed
They should be mourned and lamented.
Those who are victorious in war
Should follow the rites of funerals.

Victory Is Cause for Grief

Lao Tzu continues his reflections on war, begun in the previous chapter. Again, he protests any tendency to glorify it. War should be entered reluctantly and in grief. This is true for both parties, whatever the outcome...

Here is my full commentary on this Tao Te Ching chapter:
Tao Te Ching Chapter 31 Translation and Commentary

1 comment:

  1. I'm getting another translation about human beings not being demons, but men like the reader. It also leaves out the portion about the right and left hands. Are these based on separate copies of the manuscript?