The generals have a saying:‘Rather than make the first moveit is better to wait and see.Rather than advance an inchit is better to retreat a yard.’

This is called going forward without advancing,pushing back without using weapons.

You are watching: When two great forces oppose each other, the victory will go to the one that knows how to yield.

There is no greater misfortunethan underestimating your enemy.Underestimating your enemymeans thinking that he is evil.Thus you destroy your three treasuresand become an enemy yourself.

When two great forces oppose each other,the victory will goto the one that knows how to yield.

-Lao Tzu-(Tao Te Ching, chapter 69, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Two chapters ago, Lao Tzu said his teaching can be distilled down into, what he called, our three greatest treasures: Be simple in your actions and your thoughts. Be patient with both your friends and your enemies. And, be compassionate toward yourself. I talked a lot in that chapter about my own “enemies”, agents of the State. Being patient with them sounds like a tall order. But I promised myself, what might be very difficult to do is something I CAN be. In yesterday’s chapter, Lao Tzu started helping to show me the way, when he talked about the virtue of competing without competing, being like children at play. Today, he really must have been thinking of my difficulty, when he says there is no greater misfortune than underestimating your enemy. And, by underestimating your enemy, he means thinking that he is evil. Ouch!

This has Lao Tzu talking about generals again. Remember, yesterday, he talked about the best generals entering the minds of their enemies. Today, he talks about the things that generals say about their enemies.

“Rather than make the first move it is better to wait and see. Rather than advance an inch it is better to retreat a yard.” I can’t think of a better way of expressing the importance of embodying patience.

And patience, while I know it is a virtue, and one of our three greatest treasures, is hard for me to muster, when I think about various agents of the State. I don’t think I have been subtle in expressing my desire that the State be abolished. I want current agents of the State to all be former agents of the State, who are now earning an honest living. Patience, I keep reminding myself, patience. The generals have some good advice, here. If I am patient, I will find myself “going forward without advancing,” and “pushing back without using weapons.”

The danger, in not being patient, is we run the risk of destroying our three treasures, and becoming an enemy ourselves. That is exactly what will happen if we underestimate the enemy, if we think that they are evil.

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But the State is evil! You won’t get any argument from me there. But, here, I remind myself to separate out its agents, who are still our fellow human beings. And, I also recall what Lao Tzu has said, before, of how to deal with the problem of evil. Don’t provoke it! Don’t give it anything to oppose! I remind myself that war is the health of the State. If I want to see the abolition of the State, I best not help to empower it more. This going forward without advancing and pushing back without using weapons is starting to sound more and more promising.

We, who champion liberty are at a crossroads. It seems we are always at a crossroads. Opposition to liberty may seem, at times, to be at an all time high; yet, people seem to be more receptive to the message of liberty than ever before. I think the State knows its days are numbered; and some of its agents are just looking for any excuse to make their last stand. But, there is one thing I know, thanks to Lao Tzu’s solid advice: “When two great forces oppose each other, the victory will go to the one who knows how to yield.”


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