Was Lao Tzu an Anti?


January 5, 2003, 01:00 PM
The 'Tao Teh Ching' is my favorite bathroom book... lots of wisdom in short snippets... today I re-read #31, and thought to myself, my gosh, maybe Lao Tzu was an anti!

You be the judge:

Fine weapons of war augur evil.
Even things seem to hate them.
Therefore, a man of Tao does not set his heart upon them.
In ordinary life, a gentleman regards the left side as the place of honour:
In war, the right side is the place of honour.
As weapons are instruments of evil,
They are not properly a gentleman's instruments;
Only on necessity will he resort to them.
For peace and quiet are dearest to his heart,
And to him even a victory is no cause for rejoicing.
To rejoice over a victory is to rejoice over the slaughter of men!
Hence a man who rejoices over the slaughter of men cannot expect to thrive in the world of men.
On happy occasions the left side is preferred:
On sad occasions the right side.
In the army, the Lieutenant Commander stnads on the left,
While the Commander-in-Chief stands on the right.
This means that war is treated on par with a funeral service.
Because many people have been killed, it is only right that survivors should mourn for them.
Hence, even a victory is a funeral.

What do you think?

Personally, I think fine weapons of war are pretty cool.


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January 5, 2003, 01:38 PM
As weapons are instruments of evil,
BS. They are tools used by men, who may or may not have evil intentions.

January 5, 2003, 01:45 PM
Only on necessity will he resort to them.
If he were an anti, he would acknowledge no necessity to justify the use of weapons.

I think he's just recognizing that war is not and must not be normal life.

January 5, 2003, 01:49 PM
I think that he, like other Chinese philosopers, if FOS.

4v50 Gary
January 5, 2003, 01:51 PM
Chinese are pragmatic and if Taoism was rigid, it wouldn't appeal to a very large following. Many philosophers disliked the chaotic state warfare brought, but realized to get a patron (king) to support them, they couldn't very well condemn their means of attaining power. Hence, weapons & warfare was tolerated as being a part of life & society. Something our modern day blissninnys fail to acknowledge.

BTW, there was another Chinese philosopher, Mo Tzu who taught his disciples that war was wrong. However, he too was a realist and specialized in defensive warfare. A Vauban of his time, it was said that a city defended by Mohists (as his followers were called) could not be taken without high cost to the attacker.

January 5, 2003, 03:03 PM
An anti? No, I don't think so. During his life there was not a lot of safety from robbers and and hte like so people were prepared to protect themselves.

What I think he was refering to in the above passage is the fact that killing shouldn't be pleasureable and somethng that is only done when required. Much like folks who have kiled in combat,often don't want to talk about it.

Calamity Jane
January 5, 2003, 09:07 PM
Found this quote in my files:

"Law after law breeds
A multitude of thieves.
Therefore a sensible man says:
If I keep from meddling with people,
they take care of themselves;
If I keep from commanding people,
they behave themselves;
If I keep from preaching at people,
they improve themselves;
If I keep from imposing on people,
they become themselves."

~ Lao-Tzu, 6th century B. C.

Doesn't sound like he has the requisite "anti" mentality to me. :)

January 5, 2003, 09:37 PM
Harming another is a necessary evil at best. No one who has been to war will tell you that it's a good thing, unless they were "remington raiders" (the chair/typewriter, not the rifle).

January 5, 2003, 10:55 PM
Fine weapons of war augur evil.
Even things seem to hate them.
Therefore, a man of Tao does not set his heart upon them. Guess that means I'm not a man of Tao then... :D Of course, if you offer me a nice Tao-tanium revolver, I might change... :neener:

January 5, 2003, 11:02 PM
A man of the Tao does not set his heart upon them.
Only of necessity will he resort to them.

Spoken like a true libertarian.

January 5, 2003, 11:09 PM
Tao is the man!


January 5, 2003, 11:24 PM
Used to be into Lau Tzu.

Now realize Sun Tzu had a better grasp on things.

January 5, 2003, 11:27 PM
Since this is not a forum dedicated to discussing the philosophical schools of China, I'll not belabor the point. One can not read this piece of literature the same way you read The Federalist Papers. It is not a political document. It is a tool for Taoist yogic cultivators, translated poorly, and containing innumerable levels of meaning and reference that can only be properly understood by studying with a teacher. To truly start to experience what the TTC is, one has to be physically involved in the study of he Taoist inspired martial and health arts; Tai Chi, Hsing I, Pa Kua, et. al.

Lone_Gunman, as to all Chinese philosophers being FOS, I'd suggest to you that 1949 is not the beginning of Chinese philosophical thought. If your opinion is based on religious grounds, then nothing I can say will make a difference. You should know, however, that it was because of Chinese monks that we now have gunpowder.

January 6, 2003, 12:01 AM
Lao-Tse was not an "anti" in the sense he didn't want you to be armed. Taoism is all about shedding the corruptive influence of Mankind. Lao-Tse do not distinguish between man-made concepts like "right" and "wrong", nor does he care about laws and Constitutional Rights. He advocate an embrace of the nature of the universe and the avoidance of extremes. Lao would say your personal beliefs are fine so long as it's not taken to extremes as that will stray you from your natural self. He might say weapons are one of those corruptive creation of Man, perhaps necessary for self-defence, just don't get carried away with it.

To understand Lao-Tse you should know a little about the world he lived in. Back in his day (600 B.C.), the longest running Chinese dynasty disintegrated into a period of non-stop civil wars, famine, and chaos. Brigands raped and killed with impunity, ancient traditions and religious rites ceased to be practiced, all manners of social instituitions were breaking down. This was The-End-of-the-World-as-They-Knew-It.

Out of this dispair came Lao-Tse, a local wiseman. Lao-Tse claimed Man was born good but is corrupted by the evils of the world. He believed this natural goodness could be reclaimed through a return to nature and discovering its natural laws. This was Tao, or The Way. He packed up and set out to be a hermit. A friend stopped him and urged him to write a book. After he wrote Tao-Te Ching Lao got on his donkey, turned his back on civilization, and was never seen again.

Lao-Tse is considered the oldest of Chinese philosophers. Countless others came after him, with very different ideas. Some of them, most notibly Buddhists thought Lao was full of it. Taoism never became the dominate ideology and was certainly NOT the last word on Chinese thought.

January 6, 2003, 12:19 AM
BTW, in the top passage the term "gentleman" is used a lot. The term is not really well translated.

To the Western mind, a gentleman is an educated man who doesn't have to work, spends his idle time doing gentlemanly things like hunting and sipping tea etc.

The Chinese word for gentleman refers to a "man of virtue". In this case a man of Taoist virtue. In later times it would mean a man of Confucian virtue, who would have different values altogether.

In Japan the same Chinese word refers to a man of martial virtue. They call him "Samurai".

January 6, 2003, 12:24 AM
last resort.

'The Art Of War' is one of my favorites. Also, "The Book Of Five Rings' by Musashi.

Big Mike
January 6, 2003, 01:40 AM
Having studied a little philosophy (including Chinese), my educated guess is that Lao Tzu ("Master Lao") would probably be a Libertarian. #16 is my favorite chapter in the Tao Te Ching. IIRC, Mung Tzu, aka Mencius is slightly older than Lao Tzu.

Be at one with the Tao,


Malone LaVeigh
January 6, 2003, 02:15 AM
"Samurai" means "one who serves."

Lao Tzu would be unlikely to have been an anti. He knew that you don't defeat anything by being against it. Of course, violence is something one wouldn't wish for. To counter it, one doesn't resist and become a greater tyrant. One yields and lets the over extension of the aggressor be his own undoing.

I'm free-lancing from this point, but I would posit that to have a society free of violence, one empowers the people, while teaching the Way of Virtue as described in the quoted verse. That way, you have powerful people who shun the initiation of violence. What could be better?

None of my T'ai Chi teachers were anti's as far as I know. My main teacher owns a lot of firearms. (He recently relocated to Texas...)

January 6, 2003, 05:18 AM
One thing that seperates the Antis from many other schools of thought is that Antis seem to regard death and violence as the worst thing that can happen to someone.

Certainly being brutalized and killed is undesireable so of course, we should "give it up" as they say.

I have a hard time imagining a man like Lao Tzu disgracing or defileing himself due to the threat of death.

January 6, 2003, 06:46 AM
A common characteristic of anti-(anything) is a missionary zeal to impose their way on the world, a hyper self-righteousness, a crusade that the world must conform to their demands, a willingness (nay, compulsion) to stick their nose into other folks' business.

Lao seems to be a live-and-let live kind of guy; if it is not impacting you directly, just let it alone. A gratuitous forcing of one's beliefs on another does not seem something Lao would do. Story comes to mind that I cannot fully recall, but the punch line is the farmer 'deciding for the pigs as well as for himself.' (Maybe that was Chuangtze. Anyone help me out on that?)

January 6, 2003, 07:01 AM
Gabe -
Thank you for the perspective. Brings to mind Barbara Tuchmann's book (what a writer!) 'The Calamatous Thirteenth Century.' Covers Western Europe (in particular, the life on one French nobleman) during the time of the Plague - a breakdown of social order, bands of roaming unemployed . Will have to find it and re-read it to see what philosophy grew out of the period.

January 6, 2003, 07:24 AM
I don't think he was an anti, because anti's only really want to strip us of our way of living...if you want to get philosophical. Lao-Tzu wanted people to live with and in the world. But since there were no firearms then its kind of a hard thing to guess at. At worst he probably would have seen them as a necessary evil.

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