On January 11, 2007, China launched a rocket and destroyed one of her own satellite which flies in an orbit, 680 miles above the Earth. It was the Chinese way to convey her sincere conviction very politely that she will definitely knock out the GPS satellites if a war were forced upon her, and she has the ability to do so. Without the GPS satellites, the capability of F-15 and F-22 jet fighters will be greatly reduced.
Obviously, China is convinced that a war is about forced upon her. A few months ago, she tried to show a deterrence by moving one of her submarine in a firing distance of an American carrier. Seemingly, China did not think that that message was getting through.
If we want to define China as a foe, we need to know how many surprises are still there in her sleeves. As far as I know that China has, at least, two more magic wands for us: 1) we will become blind as China's wartime military code can never be broken by us, 2) our stealth planes will look like some shining birds in her sky. Of course, I will explain of how she can do these. But, the most important of all, we must first know what China's war philosophy is.
In Kungfu, there is a very important concept, the 罩 門 . The word 罩 has two radicals, the top one 四 is a different way to write the word 网 which means a net, and the low one 卓 means outstanding or extraordinary. So, the word 罩 means covering something outstanding with a net, that is, that something is well-protected by a net. However, according to the Topology, a protecting net must have an opening to allow the item entering into it. The word 門 means door or gate. Thus, the phrase 罩 門 means the opening of that invincible net.
The western strategists calculate the odds of a war with numbers and qualities, how many planes, tanks, carriers there are and how their quality against those of ours is. The Chinese generals contemplate only, only and only about the 罩 門 of the foe. There is always, at least, one. But, where and what is it? Do they have a way to attack and to destroy it? Obviously, not only is it absolutely wasting of time to fight against the invincible net but is risking to face some deadly blows by such a foolish act. Indeed, there is a great book of the art of war, written around 500 b.c. by Suntzu. It shows us not only of how to find any 罩 門 of the foe but even of how to induce or to create one for our enemy.
I. Understanding the true meaning of the Art of War
Are we enlightened by this chapter? I have heard that the book of The Art of War by Suntzu is a required course at West Point for the cadres. Does any one of us truly believe that West Point cadres are benefiting from the above chapter? If our answer is negative, please read the above chapter once more. If we still don't get it, try it twenty times more.
Indeed, if this chapter is truly the same as the English translation, there would be absolutely nothing to worry about the Chinese art of war. How could China got a draw with America in Korea war? How could China defeat India in two weeks in 1962? How could China win the Vietnam war? They were just good lucks, happy coincidences! Were they?
The English translation above is quoted from Dr. Samuel B. Griffith's book (SunTzu The Art of War, Oxford University Press, 1963, ISBN 0-19-501540-1). If any of us truly believes that that translation is tasteless, I would like to show that the meaning of the original writing is significantly different from Dr. Griffith's translation. It is truly a great book of Art of War even with today's standard.
First, there are some key words in this chapter. I did use the larger font to identify them, and in general, the Chinese word and its English translation are in the same sequence in the sentence, except for verse 4 that solid and void are in the wrong order. I am listing these key words and Dr. Griffith's translations below:
These translations are not wrong but did not truly convey the meaning of the chapter. We must know the true meaning of each word in order to truly understand the chapter.
Second, the title of the chapter uses the key word 勢 . Thus, the main point of the chapter is discussing about this key word. Then, what is it, especially in terms of the art of war?
Obviously, my translation is significantly different from Dr. Griffith's, at least, in two points:
Well, are these just some nice words, a good theory? What is the meaning of articulating? How to do it? The verse 20 says,"Those who skilled to control the enemy use the 形 to do it. ..." That is, in a war, the enemy must be directed as directing a chorus with a baton, and this baton is 形 . The word 形 has two radicals, 幵 and ね . 幵 is a result of doubling the word 干 which means violating others. So, 干 干 （ 幵 ） means violating each other, yet in balance as they are equal in force. When the inner and the outside air pressure of a bloom is in a balance, it reaches a state of 幵 . The right radical ね of the word 形 has the identical meaning as the word 彩 which means colorful. So, the word 形 means a thing which is in-balance with its surrounding and its colorfulness is radiating. That is, it means the shape or the appearance of a thing. In the Chapter 5 of Art of War, the word 形 must be translated as appearance.
So, the verse 17 says, " ... it seems chaotic, yet there is truly in control, it appears as mindless wondering (milling about in circles), yet cannot be defeated." And, the verse 18 says, "Creating chaos with control, showing cowardice with courage, appearing weakness with strength." Then, we can manipulate our enemy as directing a chorus with a baton, and this baton is the articulating of 形 . The application and the implementation of 形 is by way of the concepts of 奇 正 (verse 5) and 虛 實 (verse 3). In fact, the entire Chapter four of Art of War talks about 形 as its title is 軍 形 (the 形 of war). The entire Chapter six of Art of War discusses about 虛 實 which is also the title of the chapter. In Chapter 5, from verse 5 to verse 12, it is talking about the concept of 奇 正 .
What are 虛 and 實 ? Dr. Griffith translated them as:
The word 虛 has two radicals. The top one is the same as the top of the word 虎 which means tiger, and that radical also means tiger. The radical at the bottom is, in fact, composed of two word roots, the word 北 which means against each other or disperse, and the word root 一 which means the earth or a hill. So, the word 虛 means that tigers have been dispersed into a hill. That is, although those tigers are invisible but they might still be there.
Yes, in Chinese, the word 虛 is often used to mean void. But in the context of Art of War, the void can house many, many tigers. With the art of war, a general can do two things:
Both Confucianism and Laotze Taoism believed that the state before the creation of the universe is nothingness. The Chinese geomancy compass consists of three parts:
In terms of Cosmology of physics, this Chinese Cosmology is obviously a nonsense. The universe comes alive only after the human act of one stroke. The universe comes alive only via human consciousness. For a pig, the universe might not be in existence. This Chinese Cosmology was developed, at least, 2,000 years before the enlightenment of Descartes who discovered himself with "I think, therefore I am." However, there is one significant difference between these two existentialism.
Now, before we can discuss the word 止 , we need to know the word 屯 first. It has two radical, 一 (meaning earth here) and 屮 which is grass. So, the word 屯 depicts a state before the grass comes out of the ground. It is the most difficult time for the grass. So, the word 屯 means difficulty and suffering. It is very easy to see that the word 止 depicts that that grass has come out of the ground. So, it means that the state of difficulty and suffering has ended. Today, almost all Chinese people only knows its meaning as "stop." But, it truly means the end of a process and a state of ready to enter into a new world. This word is a very important root word for many Chinese words. The word 步 means walking or walking steps. It is very easy to see that it has a 止 on top and a rotated one (180 degree) on the bottom, and it depicts the process of step (stop) left and step right. Now, we know the meaning of the word 正 , a process stopped ( 止 ) at God's virtue ( 一 ) . So, it means upright, correct, squareness, righteousness. However, in the Art of War, it means rational.
In Chinese, the even number is called 偶 number, and the odd number, the 奇 number. The 偶 (even) numbers are numbers of men. The 奇 (odd) numbers are numbers of God. Why? Do they make any sense? Again, they come from the Chinese Cosmology which includes the lives of humans. Humans can perpetuate only via two (male and female) while the Heaven and God enters into eternity after the one (one stroke). The word 偶 also means a pair, and it has two radicals 人 (humans) on the left. The right is 禺 , and it has two radicals, 田 (grain field) and the root word 禸 (marks on ground made by animals). So, 禺 means a living place for humans, and it has the same meaning as the word 寓 . Thus, we can guess that the word 遇 means meeting between persons, and it is. And, the word 偶 describes the human affair, and its numbers (even numbers) are numbers of humans.
Then, it is fair to guess that the word 奇 is strongly related to God. It has two radicals, 大 (large) and 可 (able to, capable, permit). Again, the word 大 has two radicals, 人 (human) which is a pictograph of a standing person and 一 (heaven). When a man has matured to know heaven's virtue, he is called 大 (grown up, became an adult). To cap 大 with one more 一 , it becomes the word 天 (sky, heaven, God). That is, when a man ( 人 ) is enlightened with God's virtue, he is 大 . Yet, on top of him, there is 天 (Heaven and God). As 大 is a word sitting in-between the word 人 (human) and the word 天 (Heaven, God), it can mean either as human or as God when it is a radical. So, the word 奇 （ 大 可 ） means heaven's capability which is way beyond the human comprehension. Thus, in the context of the Art of War, the word 奇 must be translated as irrational.
II. Examples and the applications of the Art of War
After knowing these key words,
Now, we are able to understand the verse 5. Dr. Griffith translates it as, "Generally, in battle, use the normal [ 正 ] force to engage; use the extraordinary [ 奇 ] to win." Regardless of his translation is right or wrong, it is hard to make any use of it. I will translate it differently, " ..., use rational to calculate, use the irrational to engage and to win."
In fact, there are two more key words 險 and 節 in this chapter. Dr. Griffith translates them as:
The concept of 險 is very important to 勢 . Without 險 , a huge 勢 can produce very little force, as in the verse 23, it says, "..., the nature of logs and stones is that on stable ground they are static; ..." With 險 , a small 勢 can result a deadly blow, as in verse 15, it says, "Thus the 勢 (momentum) of one skilled in war is 險 (overwhelming) , ..."
III. The summary of Chapter 5 of the Art of War
As we have defined the word 勢 as holding our own force and manipulating the force of the enemy. The two verses above give the attributes of 勢 which must be unstable, dangerous, risky and with precise timing. The 勢 is as danger as the boulders rolling down from a high mountain (verse 24). Yet, in the Art of War, one must learn to control and to manipulate it with a detailed system.
In the acknowledgements, Dr. Griffith wrote, " This book is a considerably revised version of a thesis submitted to Oxford University in October 1960 in part satisfaction of requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
The final draft of the typescript was read by Professor Norman Gibbs and my Oxford tutor, Dr. Wu Shih-ch'ang, whose comments were invariably helpful. Dr. Wu's encyclopedic knowledge of classical Chinese and of the history and literature of his native country clarified for me many constructions and allusions which would otherwise have been obscure.
On several occasions Dr. Joseph Needham of Cambridge took time from his own demanding work to enlighten me on technical matters relating to early Chinese weapons and metallurgy. He arranged for me to communicate with Drs. Kua Mo-jou and Ku Chieh-kang of the Academia Sinica, Peking. These scholars kindly answered various questions in connection with the date composition of "The Art of War'.
Faulty deductions and mistakes in translation are to be ascribed entirely to me." (Acknowledgements, The Art of War, by Dr. Samuel B. Griffith)
Of course, Dr. Griffith has done his best academically and scholastically possible. As Confucius said, " 民 可 使 由 之 ， 不 可 使 知 之 。 " (People can be taught to do things but cannot be taught to know the why and the how.) On this account, Laotze was much worse than Confucius. Thus, even today, 99.99% of native Chinese scholars do not know the system of how the Chinese words were constructed.
For many languages, they had the oral languages first, and the writing languages followed. For Chinese writing language, there are two significant differences:
The book of Art of War by Suntzu (500 b.c.) has 13 chapters, and it can be divided into three sections.
Every 奇 must be beyond the rational calculation and must be a surprise to the foe. If it is not, it is not a 奇 .
I. Seeing the stealth bombers.
Rational calculation presumes that the stealth bombers are invisible. For this issue, I would like to discuss one principle first. Physics as a science, all of its problems are not solved until they are solved. This statement seems to be a tautology. However, for engineering problems, most of them can be resolved without knowing the cause of the problem. For example, the cause of the vibration problem in a machine could be very difficult to be determined, but the problem can be corrected or significantly reduced by some fixes, such as adding many vibration absorption mounts at some key places. In fact, almost all engineering problems can be resolved one way or the other.
Furthermore, every 奇 (irrational or surprise) is derived from a 正 (rational or normal). The 奇 of one 正 might not be a 奇 any more for a higher order 正 . For example, the stealth planes use three technologies.
Any jet plane will cause a very small distortion on the TV satellite signal during its flight. This distortion will appear as a very tiny noise on the receiving TV screen, and it can hardly be detected with human eyes. However, it is detectible with high resolution machines. Of course, many local sources (such as motor cycle) can produce the similar noise. However, if we make a machine (a network) with an array of one thousand machines which are spread out in 1000 miles, it will be very certain that there is a stealth bomber if a noise appears in hundreds of those machines at about the same spot on the screen. Furthermore, the location of the bomber can be calculated very precisely by triangulation as the noise will appear in a different line (or pixel) according to the location of the machine relative to the bomber.
If we do not believe that others have developed such a super machine and do not take a measure to counter it, our stealth bombers will be 奇 -ed (greatly surprised) if we ever make a bombing run into the net of such a system.
II. The unbreakable codes
There is another law: Every encrypted coding system which is generated with computer can always be decoded with computation. As I know of, the encryption systems of MD4, MD5, HAVAL-128, RIPEMD and of SHA-1 have all been decoded. Seemingly, any coded message can always be decoded if there is enough data to work with. For example, with a coded message of 1,000 words, we can quickly get the following information:
However, there are some systems which can never be decoded with the above method. One of the example is a set of differential equation. After we decode a secret message which shows up a set of differential equation, we, as not mathematicians, can never know what it is all about. Of course, this might not be a good example nor as a good analogy because that there are many learned mathematicians in our country, and they are able to understand it. What if the logic of that set of equation is way beyond the understanding of all mathematicians in our country today, ...
I can, in fact, show such a case. In China, there is a tradition of esoteric writing. I am showing one very simple example below.
On the contrary, the Chinese stanza above has no such undefined key word in it. For a native Chinese who is not initiated in the Taoist's way can still understand its true meaning if he is well-versed in Chinese culture. This stanza provides a key in it to allow people to enter into the world it describes. In this case, the key is in line 5. Normally, the word 陽 means the Sun, and it can also mean manly. The word 六 means six. Yet, the phrase 六 陽 does not mean six Suns or six manly. It is a medical term of Chinese medicine, and it means the brain of humans. Thus, the line 5 must be translated as, "When the Sun rise, the brain is renewed." As the line 5 is talking about the human brain, then the other lines must be related to it, and they cannot be interpreted literally. Indeed, there are many pointers and confirmation points.
The phrase 巫 山 is a name of a mountain. Yet, there is a legend about it. There was a goddess living in that mountain, and an ancient King had a dream one day that he went to the mountain and made love with that goddess. The story described their love making as having clouds (woman's secretion) and raining (ejaculation). The phrase 九 重 means nine levels or highest heaven. It can also mean ecstasy. With these culture information, it is fair to guess that this stanza is about Taoist's teaching on Tao of sex. That is, the line 6 is a pointer, and the line 2 is the first confirmation point.
With some knowledge of Taoism and Yijing, we now know that the phrase 離 火 (line 3) is about the essence of man, and the word 珠 (pearl, line 4) is the elixir which Taoists try to cultivate via the Tao of sex. The phrase 乾 坤 (the universe, line 4) at this context means a man and a woman. Thus, the line 3 and the line 4 form the second confirmation point.
With one key phrase 六 陽 of line 5 and with one pointer and two confirmation points, we now are able to redefine the phrases of line 1, 青 龍 (green dragon) as man's penis and 太 虛 (a dark space of universe) as woman's vagina. A very important point here is that these two phrases are not coded. There is no code book anywhere giving them these meanings. They are defined by the other lines of the stanza. All the phrases in the other lines are not coded neither. They are encrypted with culture information, and this kind of encryption can never be decoded with computer or with the decoding procedure which I described above. As long as a portion of the culture is out of the reach by 99.99% of its own people, an unbreakable code system can be designed.
However, this stanza is not intended to be an unbreakable coded message. It does want someone who is interested in its teaching to be able to get its meaning. Yet, it does provide a foundation for designing an unbreakable code system which must consists of the following:
As one word has thousand faces, it cannot be decoded by fishing. This kind of codes can never be broken with computers or any kind of decoding procedure without having one code book on hand.
Well, let's reveal the true meaning of that Chinese stanza, and we can see how big a difference in meaning between the two translations.
With some examples above, it is obvious that many Western strategists do know about the concept of 虛 (hollow, weak, bluffing, deception), 實 (concrete, strength), 奇 (irrational, surprise) and 正 (rational, visible) and about the art of articulating of these concepts. However, only Suntzu organized them into a system. He invented two new concepts 形 (form, shape, appearance) and 勢 (momenta, potential, the art of manipulating deadly forces). He farther integrated the four concepts above with these two new concepts.
Yet, for a 形 , it is topological by definition. For any topological object, it always has an opening, the 罩 門 , if it is going to connect (such as, attacking others) to the outside world. The technique of 正 、 奇 is to calculate and to reveal the 罩 門 of the foe. The technique of 虛 、 實 is to draw that 罩 門 away from the invincible protective net. Then, the technique of 奇 、 正 is used to strike that 罩 門 with a precise timing, the 節 .
In Suntzu, the 形 goes way beyond what we have described above. In chapter six of the Art of War, Suntzu wrote, " 形 兵 之 極 ， 至 于 無 形 (the utmost of 形 is no 形 ). 無 形 ， 則 深 間 不 能 窺 ， 智 者 不 能 謀 。 (no 形 , then no one is able to know the depth and the width of it, and no wisdom is able to come up a measure to deal with it.)"
The deployment of many F-15 and F-22 in Japan and South Korea is, of course, forming a 形 which possesses a 勢 which can be released as a deadly force. Yet, this is a visible 形 , and someone can often find a way to counter it. For an invisible 形 , it always becomes a 奇 , and it can be very deadly. The 形 of Saddam Hussein's army was no march to the American force. Yet, we did mis-calculate the 形 of Iraqi culture. Bin Laden does not have too many troops in comparison to any country. Yet, his 形 is beyond the reach of a regular army.
In Suntzu, the most important " 形 -less" 形 is the will of the people on both sides (our own and of the foe). In his equation of odds of war (chapter one), people's will to dead for the country is listed as the first variable in the equation, and this 形 is called 道 . Suntzu wrote, "道 ： … … ， 可 與 之 死 ， … " ( 道 : ..., people will dead for the country,...).
With China's rising, many of us are hoping that the issue of governance or governability in China will eventually cause her to collapse. However, the collapse of the current government does not equate to the collapse of China. It is a big issue, and I will discuss it in the future. It is important to know the 形 of Chinese people's will for defending their country. For the word 戰 , it means war when it is a noun, means fighting a war when it is a verb. It has two radicals, 單 (single) and 戈 (spear). The word 我 (I, me, myself) is the combination of two radicals 手 戈 . The word 手 means hands. That is, without holding a 戈 (spear), a man is not a self ( 我 ) and would be a slave. So. only when one is able to defend for himself, he is a person ( 我 ) with dignity.
For the word 單 , 99.9999...% of native Chinese people knows its meaning only as "single." In fact, it consists of three sets of radicals, 口 (mouth), 甲 and 一 (earth). Again, 99.99...% of native Chinese people knows the word 甲 as A, A+ or body armor. It is, in fact, a pictograph of skull of a skeleton. The "skull and crossbones" is a skull on top of two crossbones. The word 單 depicts the picture of skull with two mouths laying on the earth. It is a scene of desolation, and it means the end, the all and a place of sacrifice. From the scene of desolation, it derives the meaning of alone and single. Now, we know the word 戰 shows a scene of desolation with spear, and it depicts the will to fight, to sacrifice to the end, to the death and to the last man.
Although 99.99...% of Chinese people does not know the structure of this word 戰 anymore because of the teaching of Confucius that people should not be taught about the knowledge of why and how, its spirit has seeped down into the sentiments and consciousness of the general populace though history and many folklore.
In China, there is a well-known Kungfu story. One man was undefeated for many years. Yet, he was a handicap; his left hand was in a cast and a sling. After many years of study and research, a few people were able to come up some techniques to counter all of his moves. At the moment of one man who was about to kill him, his handicapped left hand struck a deadly blow onto his opponent. A 奇 is no longer a 奇 when it is revealed.
China's showing of her ability to neutralize satellites has the following significance:
To analyze the numbers of airplanes and tanks and the quality of them is very easy. Almost everyone can do it. In the book On the Origins of War (ISBN 0-385-42374-8), Dr. Donald Kagan wrote, " "[saying of Khrushchev] The Soviet Union was going to defend its vital interests, whether or not the United States regarded such acts as miscalculations; it did not want war but it would not be intimidated either." To calm the atmosphere Kennedy explained that he was talking only about the difficulty of predicting what any country might do next. He conceded that the United States had made "certain misjudgments," for instance, in failing to foresee Chinese intervention in the Korean War. The purpose of this meeting, he said, "is to introduce precision in judgments of the two sides and to obtain a clearer understanding of where we are going." " (page 469, about the Summit Meeting at Vienna between Khrushchev and Kennedy).
While we are worrying about our spy satellites which are blinded by the laser beams, the greatest miscalculation is always coming from the inability to visualize the " 形 -less" 形 of our opponent. Without knowing the soul of our opponent, there will always be some 奇 out there waiting for us.
In terms of Chinese culture, her soul is her religion which gives Chinese people:
Yet, even the popular culture is often beyond the grasp of Westerners. In the book The meeting of East and West, Dr. F. Northrop wrote,"For a Westerner, however, even this is not enough. One can experience the Orient by going there. Yet after doing this while studying the language for months or even years, it is possible to come away with certain basic, key, inescapable, intuitive impressions, yet possessing not even the slightest comprehension of what these experiences mean." (page 320)
In the book The Clash of Civilizations -- remaking of World Order, Dr. Samuel Huntington wrote, "China's absorption of Buddhism from India, scholars agree, failed to produce the "Indianization" of China. The Chinese adapted Buddhism to Chinese purposes and needs. Chinese culture remained Chinese. The Chinese have to date consistently defeated intense Western efforts to Christianize them. If, at some point, they do import Christianity, it is to be expected that it will be absorbed and adapted in such a manner as to be compatible with the central elements of Chinese culture." (page 76)
Without a very strong native religion, how can Chinese defeat those intense Western efforts to Christianize them? The Confucianism is a " 形 -less" religion.
To know more about Dr. Northrop's comments on the structure of Chinese writing words, please review the article Solution on North Korea Nuke at http://www.chinese-word-roots.org/cwr013.htm