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8. The Dao of Peace

Born and living in a chaotic age subject to repeated wars and conflicts among the kingdoms, Lao Zi valued peace and social order more than anything else. This is reflected in his persistent anti-war position. He looked upon weapons as instruments of evil and kept warning people of the danger in the use of military force, because "whenever great wars are over, years of famine at sure to afflict the land." Accordingly he denounced any excessive military operations and discouraged any delight in military victory. In addition, he even went so far as to advise the winning side to practice humanism by mourning all those killed in the battles. We read, for instance, in Chapter 31 of the Dao De Jing "Weapons are nothing but instruments of evil. They are used on when there is no other choice. Therefore, he who wins a battle is not praiseworthy. If he thinks himself praiseworthy, he delights in the victory. He who delights in victory delights in the slaughter of men. He who delights in the slaughter of men will not succeed under Heaven. For those killed in wars, let us mourn them with sorrow and grief...." Contextually speaking, his criticism of the exultant victors has here changed into sharp and strong condemnation.
Then there arises naturally the Dao of peace as underlined in the statement, "He who assists the ruler with Dao never seeks to dominate the world with military force." The Dao as such is closely associated with the principle of "take-no-action." That is, it is against taking military action as a risky solution to social problems. That could be the main reason why Lao Zi insisted that "the sharp weapons of a country should not be displayed." This suggests that they should not be shown off to frighten people or utilized to destroy others. The application of the Dao of peace, Lao Zi imagined, would lead to the creation of ideal states featuring small areas of territory and small populations. In such states people would have armor and weapons, but no occasion to display or use them. Plainness, simplicity and self-contentment would be characteristic of the people's way of life. Above all, neighboring states would enjoy a peaceful environment and embrace the policy of co-existence such that although they "can see one another, and the crowing roosters and barking dogs can be heard, the people may live and die without ever meeting each other" (Ch. 80). It is worth pointing out that the expression "without meeting each other" does not mean prohibition of international visits or mutual communication, as often caused by closed-door policies; rather, it means the elimination of clashes. In short, the states would be free from warfare and their peoples would live in peace.
In the final analysis, it is rationally assumed that Lao Zi's doctrine of the Dao can be reasonably approached and apprehended in terms of the eight dimensions explained above. It is, as it were, open to new investigation and reinterpretation by means of both textual and contextual analyses.

Taken in traditional Chinese society, "Dao of Peace" can materialized by valorizing harmonious life within the family as absolute condition to build up social success, but also healthy physical condition as the basic level of any martial arts adept. This basic requirement has even overcome nowadays the aspect of martial arts for Tai Chi Chuan. But it may consider it also as a mental preparation exercise for sparring or real aggression situation.

[12] A distinction is made between Daoism as a philosophy (Dao Jia or Dao Xue) and Daoism as a religion (Dao Jiao), according to Chinese philosophic tradition. Cf. Feng Youlan (Fung Yu-lan). "A Short History of Chinese Philophy," in Selected Philosophical Writings of Fang Yulan. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1991, pp. 193-198; also cf. Wang Ming. Dao Jia Yu Dao Jiao Si Xiang Yan Jiu (Studies of Daoism as Philosophy and Religion). Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 1987.
[13] Cf. Mencius. "Jin Xin Shang" (Chapter 7A), in Meng Zi (The Book of Mencius). Beijing: Zhong Hua Shu Ju, 1988.
[14] Cf. Dong Zhongshu. "Yin Yang Yi" (The Meaning of "Yin" and "Yang"), in Chun Qiu Fan Lu (The Book of Dong Zhongshu). Shanghai: Shanghai Gu Ji Press, 1990.
[15] Cf. Liu Shuxian. "You Tian Ren He Yi Xin Shi Kan Ren Yu Zi Ran Zhi Guan Xi" (The Relations Between Man and Nature in View of the Newly-Interpreted Heaven-Man Oneness), in Ru Jia Si Xiang Yu Xian Dai Hua (Ideas of Confucianism and Modernization). Beijing: China Broadcasting and Television Press, 1993.
[16] Cf, Wang Keping. "On the Social Development and the Rediscovery of the Doctrine of Nature-Man Oneness," in Research Journal, Beijing Second Foreign Languages Institute, No. 2, April, 1995. (Note: The article is based on a paper delivered al the 1994 Beijing International Symposium on Social Development and Oriental Culture.)


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