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Chapter 69

1. A master of the art of war has said, 'I do not dare to be the host (to commence the war); I prefer to be the guest (to act on the defensive). I do not dare to advance an inch; I prefer to retire a foot.' This is called marshalling the ranks where there are no ranks; baring the arms (to fight) where there are no arms to bare; grasping the weapon where there is no weapon to grasp; advancing against the enemy where there is no enemy.

2. There is no calamity greater than lightly engaging in war. To do that is near losing (the gentleness) which is so precious. Thus it is that when opposing weapons are (actually) crossed, he who deplores (the situation) conquers.


       用兵有言:吾不敢为主而为客,不敢进寸而退尺。
       是谓行无行,攘无臂,执无兵,乃无敌。
       祸莫大于轻敌,轻敌几丧吾宝。
       故抗兵相加,哀者胜矣。

【译文】
       统帅武装力量的人总是说:武装力量只是某一主体的客属,我不敢反客为主,不敢让它前行示人,而要让它收缩而置后。这就叫做行动无阵势可把捉,使人明白我在挥舞着的不是用于击人的手臂,拿着的也不是用于伤人的武器,于是就不会促成紧张对峙而树敌了。祸患莫大于轻侮敌人,轻侮敌人就差不多丧尽了我所说的"三宝"。所以,等到真正以武力相对抗的时候,首先宽容忍让,最后才不得已而奋起的一方通常会取胜。



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