However, as ubiquitous as Sun Tzu's Art of War is, that doesn't necessarily mean its understanding is ubiquitous. Because of its title, people's perception of The Art of War is sometimes far off from reality, especially when they haven't read the book. There are too many misperceptions to explain fully in one blog entry -- perhaps this topic will become a series -- so today I would like to focus on just one. Let me start with the following quote from Chapter One, Calculations:
"If able, appear unable; if active, appear inactive; if near, appear far; if far, appear near." Sun Tzu
Furthermore, you would never engage in battle unless you are 100 percent capable of winning that battle. You would want to control that variable completely, and not allow the opponent to control it. If you are unable, you are putting yourself at risk unnecessarily, trying to bluff your way into a victory. Sooner or later, the opposition would call that bluff. Instead, as Sun Tzu advises, build strength and be capable, and there will be more than enough opportunities to take afterwards. It would simply be a matter of timing.
So the sound approach would be to come from a strong, safe, and positive position and point of view. As I described in "What is the mark of peace?", it is difficult to be positive without first being strong. When you are strong, you tend to smile more, joke with others more, and spread the joy that is in your heart to others more, making the battles in life at least a little more bearable. I hope your benevolence spreads all the way up to the Heavens and across All-Under-Heaven.
"Those skilled in defense conceal themselves in the lowest depths of the Earth. Those skilled in attack move in the highest reaches of the Heavens. Therefore, they are able to protect themselves and achieve complete victory." Sun Tzu