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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 30 "In daylight, use banners and flags; so as to transform the ears and eyes of the troops."
Let's try to remember that Master Sun actually did write this verse 2,500 years ago, and never claimed to be a prophet, or to foresee the rise of @realDonaldTrump in the 21st century AD. Doesn't it just sound like a Trump rally though?
As I've shared, for me, it was his first speeches upon announcing, then, reading all his books, followed by complete conversion during the debates, leading to coming out for him after the New Hampshire primary victory. These were the flags and banners that transformed my sight.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 29 "In night fighting, use torches and drums."
Today's verse needs the next as well, for clarity:

#SunTzu 7: 30 "In daylight, use banners and flags; so as to transform the ears and eyes of the troops."
Have you seen the TV advertisements for tactical flashlights? With no experience of my own, I don't know if I should believe that a hand-held light can stop a burglar in pain the way they depict it. I do know that light hurts, and targeted, in the night, will of course blind you.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 28 "This is the Art of Managing Many."
If you're following along closely, the first reading of this verse is that it refers to previous verses in this chapter, especially verses 24 - 27. The second reading is that it presages the coming two verses, 29 & 30 and is therefore a summarization of what we've been studying.
Technical students of the document might argue that repetition and summaries are just problems in the process of transmitting the text itself through the centuries, and they may be right. As I've approached it, though, I employ them as moments to deepen the lesson.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 27 "With the army focused, the brave will not advance alone, nor will the fearful retreat alone."
Have you ever been brace, and alone? Have you ever started out on a mission, charged up with dedication, only to discover you're all by yourself? The army you thought you were part of is gone, disbursed, not in any way focused?
One of the greatest, most terrible stories in the Old Testament is of Uriah the Hittite, who was one of King David's most loyal, and mighty warriors. With evil corruption, sexual lust for Uriah's wife in mind, King David creates his demise, taking evil advantage of his bravery.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 26 "Gongs and drums, banners and flags are the ears and eyes of the army."
What's that you were just saying? Speak up boy, I can't hear you. No, not yet, you're still mumbling. Don't speak under your breath for goodness sake, let me hear your voice. And what's your point? What are you stumbling around about? Come on, speak up.
No one who knows me will ever believe I have mumbled. Everyone who knows me, knows I speak strongly, boldly, directly and usually quite clearly. And yet, I assure you, there is a little Pasquale, hidden within, who cowers, afraid to speak in fear of criticism and retribution.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 25 "When eyes do not see, use banners and flags."
This is the second of three "loud signals" verses in our current chapter. Why does Master Sun have to tell us this? There is a very simple answer. Leadership weakness. Leadership stupidity. Leadership failure.
So has it ever been. Leaders assume their followers will do their jobs, well, and on target, and do not have the strength to show up and truly lead. Their minds are often clouded by self-interest, laziness, bad thinking. Stupid leaders fail, and they always have.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 23 "The Military Primer says: when ears do not hear, use gongs and drums."
Who remembers the story of Master Sun and the concubines? I'll offer you a link, here, so you can read it in full. When you do, remember today's verse as your read, okay?…
Here's the key passage:

"If the instructions and words of command are not clear and distinct, if orders are not thoroughly understood, the general is to blame. But if commands are clear and the soldiers disobey, then it is the fault of the officers.”
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 23 "This is the art of the fray."
If you're not a teacher, then you may miss the profound power of today's proclamation. The five words "this is the art of" are among the most powerful a teacher may claim. He states he knows the art. Amazing if true. He states he has expressed the art. Even more amazing.
Being a teacher myself, I might put forward "this is the art of" analysis, of sales, of negotiation, of goal setting, of leadership. And perhaps one day I will. For now, I step back in surrender. I serve the search. I do not proclaim my competence to state the art, itself.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 22 "Victory belongs to the man who can master the stratagem of the crooked and the straight."
I know I've shared the story, likely many times already, that the man who introduced me to Sun Tzu was Gordon Gecko, which is to say Michael Douglass as written and directed by Oliver Stone. This occurred in the hellacious year of 1987.
Hellacious? Oh my, yes. I wouldn't wish my first years as a self-employed coach (especially since I didn't yet know I was a coach!) on anyone other than my worst enemy. It was horrible. Terrible. Don't make me talk about it, okay? And there was Master Sun laughing at me happily.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 21 "Weigh the situation carefully before making a move."
This will never be the most famous verse Master Sun wrote. But sometimes I wonder if we don't miss the tree for the forest. Perhaps today's verse should stand tallest of all, while most of us skimming, read right past it.
I've shared before, and will again in the future, that situation analysis breaks down to four simple parts:

1) Your Weakness
2) Your Strength
3) My Weakness
4) My Strength

If you do not know these factors about yourself and your enemy, you should not make a move.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 20 "Extend territory, and distribute the profits."
Let us begin with the word "profits." Why does that NOT sound like a good thing? Why do we no longer fight wars of conquest, openly? Why do we not simply state, we fight this war to extend territory and distribute the profits?
Predictably, we find the answer in The Communist Manifesto, and its hypocritical distortion of history. Communists are allowed to fight wars, and to destroy the social order, since they are morally righteous and NOT fighting in order to extend power or distribute profits.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 19 "Plunder the countryside, and divide the spoil."
This verse, and tomorrow's, can quite rightly be called the pirate verses! Argh. Funny thing, few people today have read much pirate history, and do not know the function it played in creating American democracy. A pirate ship was a pure democracy.
It was also a military dictatorship, and a feudal realm built on trust, honor and the sacred duty of pledge, of fealty, one's word. Once a captain was empowered, his word was law. To disobey was to face the cat-o-nine tails, a special type of whip, or death.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 16 "Be inscrutable as night; be swift as thunder or lightning."
No, night does not require a great deal of explanation, we pretty much know what that is. As for inscrutability, I'm a guy, and I never know what the night with @KateScopelliti will hold. She is inscrutable to me and has been for 38 years so far. Especially at night.
If you're new to this commentary series, please do a small about of research on the Yin/Yang. Night is Yin. Day is Yang. We might imagine day as scrutable - more easily comprehended - and night as less easily comprehended. It's harder to see your enemy at night.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 17 "Be ravaging as a fire; be still as a mountain."
I say again, my I Ching man is Alfred Huang. There is a very specific chapter in the I Ching, 56 out of 64, that today's verse refers to. Huang calls it Traveling. Fire travels up the mountain.
Feel the power of the forces in play. Water travels down the mountain. Fire travels up. If you would evade your attacker, lower your stance, drop your knees, travel down like water. If you would attack rise up, stiffen, thrust forward, upward like fire. Water drops, fire rises.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 16 "Be rushing as a wind; be stately as a forest."
As a boy, I lived for summer camp. Ours was called, quaintly, Little Grassy Lake. It wasn't. There wasn't much grass. But it was a wonderful lake. Funny thing, in the years I attended, not one time did anyone ever mention to me that I should be the lake.
I wasn't guided to be LIKE the lake, either. Calm and placid. Welcoming. A source of joy and fun to everyone. All those virtues might have extolled my young mind and formed my young identity well. But, in Illinois in the 60s & 70s, we didn't speak or think like that.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 15 "War is founded upon deception; movement is determined by advantage; division and unity are its elements of Change."
Why does Master Sun have to tell us, yet again - and YOU can look up all his previous statements on topic! - that war is based upon deception? In answer, I have a gentle, hopefully respectful criticism. War is actually based upon killing. Killing is not fun.
Do you know the term "taboo?" There has always been a taboo against killing in our species. Oh sure, it may well be the most easily broken of all our taboos. Hell, it may be that breaking taboos is where most fun in life can be found. We do so love to be bad, don't we?
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 14 "Without using local guides, you cannot exploit the lie of the land."
A core principle of our project is this: when Master Sun Repeats himself, we listen again. With each of his ideas that he deems worth a second, a third, or of more looks, we look and learn, ever more deeply. Well guess what! These verses are repeated in Chapter 11, word for word.
#SunTzu 11: 63 - 65 is a precise, word for word repetition of #SunTzu 7: 12 - 14. I haven't checked my other translators on this point. Sometimes different original texts offer various choices to the translator. Minford points out this repetition himself, in his hardback version.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 13 "Without knowing the lie of hills and woods, of cliffs and crags, of marshes and fens, you cannot march."
Hills, woods, cliffs, crags, marshes, fens. The lie of the land. The internet is so useful here. Consider: "Lay of the land is a phrase that figuratively or metaphorically means the current state of affairs, how something is organized."
"Literally, the lay of the land is the arrangement of features upon the land. One usually assesses the lay of the land in preparation for action. The idiom lay of the land is first recorded in 1819."
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 12 "Without knowing the plans of the feudal lords, you cannot form alliances."
You can always tell I really like a verse when I whip out my Giles translation and include it! Today's verse is one I've been looking forward to, and Giles slight difference in expression is absolutely helpful. Here it is, below...
Lionel Giles, #SunTzu 7: 12 "We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors."
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 11 "Without its equipment, an army is lost; without provisions, an army is lost; without its base stores, an army is lost."
Counting today's verse, there remain four more Failure Analyses that Master Sun will torture us with. Today's verse includes, hellaciously, three additional failures: equipment, provisions, base stores. Let's see if we can't figure out what these three failures mean.
Equipment is easy. Shields and swords, weapons of all sorts, chariots, all the accoutrement of war itself, war materiel. Just focus on a single type of weapon, bows. What good can they be without arrows. In today's terms, what good are guns without bullets?
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 10 "March ten miles for some gain, and two in three men will arrive."
Verse 7: 8 Numbers:

* 30 Miles
* Double Speed
* All Commanders Lost
* 90% Force Lost

Verse 7: 9 Numbers:

* 15 Miles
* Normal Speed
* Commander of the Vanguard Lost
* 50% Force Lost

Verse 7:10 Numbers:

* 10 Miles
* Normal Speed
* No Commanders Lost
* 33% Force Lost
Please double check my numbers for me, from each verse, and offer me any corrections if I still have any errors embedded, as I did yesterday. Yet, as you do, try to imagine the story. Feel the emotion. Master Sun gives us numerical truth here, and we must follow carefully.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 9 "March ten miles for some gain, and the commander of the vanguard will fall; only half the men will arrive."
Yet another thing I adore about Master Sun's guidance is his use of simple math. Some credit has to be given our translator as well. There is no detail Minford has failed to attend to, and he has perfected translation of ancient Chinese units of measure, numbers and number usage.
Master Sun's real mastery is practical ratios. In yesterday's terrifying verse, he told us only one in ten would arrive at battlefield after their double time, forced march of thirty miles. And all for some gain, some elusive and illusory gain. 90% of our forces dead or lost.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 8 "Order your men to carry their armour and make forced march, day and night, without halting, march thirty miles at double speed for some gain, and you will lose all of your commanders.

John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 8 completed…

“The most vigorous men will be in the vanguard; the weakest in the rear. One in ten will arrive.”
This is a positively terrifying verse, horrific. I've already shared how exactly like this are all my own checkers games. I always rush around for some idiotic gain, and I lose. I hate losing. I keep hoping, and it keeps not working. But this verse is worse than that, even.
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John Minford, #SunTzu 7: 6 "Abandon camp and enter the fray for some gain, and you may lose your equipment."
What is your camp? What is your equipment? I have my own list, and I've given it many times before. No matter, here it is again:

1) Life
2) Liberty
3) The Pursuit of Happiness
4) Property
Our camp is based upon these rights. Our equipment is the constitution. It is the laws of a nation based upon an idea, the idea of freedom. The enemy continues to fight based upon the idea of advantages, not rights. The enemy is socialism. This is the fight today.
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