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andymccoy

Ecletic Reader

I'll read just about anything that might be interesting and love to learn about new things.

The Art of Peace: Balance Over Conflict in Sun-Tzu's The Art of War

The Art of Peace: Balance Over Conflict in Sun-Tzu's The Art of War - Philip Dunn The introduction and first section almost put me off of this book completely. During the introduction, the stated purpose of the book sounded like the epitome of new age spiritual appropriation. A white European learns from a Tibetan monk and decides to translate an ancient Chinese text in a way that advances Zen principles. The example that he used to discuss the variability that exists in translating Chinese seemed to be quite a stretch. He notes that the generally accepted translation deals with using deception to fool your enemy into misjudging you, while he translates that same passage to read as statement on the necessity of honesty and acceptance. These don't seem like linked statements or even ones that could share some similar substance. They are complete polar opposites. Add to this that the first few pages from the actual text are essentially copy-pasted from the introduction, and I was expecting a disappointing and probably frustrating read. The only saving grace was that the book was short, with brief chapters and small pages.

After the first 50 pages I started to, not really enjoy the book, but at least view it as a more philosophical text than I had originally believed it would be. It was an interesting project and I believe that some of the translations really were close to what the original intent of The Art of War was. However, I feel like the stated goals of the adaptation led to a very forced effort. Some sutras in the Art of War may lend themselves to the authors goal, but not all. Trying to force a text on the nature of conflict between forces into a text on the nature of inner peace and balance is a difficult task to perform well. I don't think it succeeded in this instance. While the author definitely recites good tidbits of Eastern spirituality, there was no reason to use the frame of The Art of War. Honestly, there was no reason to draft this book. I am not a scholar of Eastern philosophy, though I have read a few texts. Despite my lack of any real knowledge or understanding, this text added no new information. It was no more enlightening than your average pop New Age book and seemed more interested in the conceit of adapting The Art of War into The Art of Peace than in actually providing useful information. If you are interested in Eastern philosophy and spirituality there are far better texts, including The Art of War.