War was an important everyday context for people living in ancient China, and it was against the backdrop of constant war that Taoist thought arose, and it developed strategies to avoid such a disastrous outcome as war.
This week’s episode is concerned not just with Lao Tze’s thought on war, but also with Sun Tzu’s book on the Art of War, which was written from a Taoist perspective, with its emphasis on avoiding anger, understanding the enemy, and overcoming force with non-resistance.
The film also looks at the role of a much later Taoist master, Qiu Chuji, in converting Ghengis Khan from being a warlord bent on conquest, which allowed the country to recover some of its prosperity after decades of wars and conquests.
The Art of War should properly be understood in the Chinese context, as meaning The Art of Avoiding War. Anyone seeking to understand the tensions between the superpowers, and how they are unfolding, would do well to study Taoist thought on the subject.
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