Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Chapter 30

By Lao Tzu

Chapter 30

  • Now it's time to criticize the military and the use of force in general.
  • According to the TTC, there's not much point in using soldiers to solve problems since eventually somebody else's soldiers are going to attack you in retaliation.
  • We're told that thistles and thorns grow where armies camp—sounds like a metaphor for how military force is bad, right?
  • Even though the TTC is saying that violence is a bad idea, it also gives advice on how a good military commander behaves.
  • We could see this as showing that the TTC recognizes that sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
  • Anyway, the TTC claims that a good commander achieves the necessary results and then stops.
  • They don't overreach and dominate their enemy.
  • They don't brag about their victories and they only fight when it's absolutely necessary.

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