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Desert Essay, Research Paper


In the many signifiers it may take, struggle has been with the human race since the beginning of clip. Conflict may happen within the ego or with other ; it has caused wars and created discord throughout whole states every bit good as in the lives of persons. The universe has ne’er non known struggle, yet many still seem to be distraught when it occurs in their kingdom. Suppressing struggle so seems to be the struggle itself. Whether the struggle is religious or militaristic, deciding and suppressing it sometimes uses the same tactics. The Art of War and The Wisdom of the Desert are two books that, though their audiences may tilt in opposite waies, the subject of suppressing struggle is at the bosom of each book.

Deciding struggle successfully can be done in many different ways. At times it may be necessary to prosecute in forceful or violent methods, other times more elusive agencies can be employed. The Art of War by Sun Tzu gives instructions on engaging a successful war, while The Wisdom of the Desert teaches the lesson of & # 8220 ; turning the other cheek & # 8221 ; when faced with physical resistance. This is non to state nevertheless, that the desert monastics did non smartly fight against internal every bit good as external struggle, for suppressing immorality was their chief intent in life. One of the chief subjects in both these books is utilizing scheme in confronting struggle. Military commanding officers know how of import planning and executings to winning a conflict, non to advert a war. Sun Tzu explained scheme in his book. He states:

The general who wins a conflict makes many computations in his temple before the conflict is fought. The general who loses a conflict makes but a few computations beforehand. Therefore do many computations lead to triumph, and few computations to get the better of ; how much more no computations at all! ( Clavell 1983, 11 )

Sun Tzu realized that to suppress the enemy, one must be to the full prepared and see all actions and effects before traveling into conflict. When speech production of tactics, Sun Tzu wrote:


He wins his conflicts by doing no errors. Making no errors is what establishes the certainty of triumph, for it means suppressing an enemy that is already defeated. ( Clavell 1983, 7 )

So if the commanding officer is exhaustively able to transport out his programs, he will hold beaten the enemy before stepping onto the battleground. Sun Tzu argued that success was in the custodies of the commanding officer since, & # 8220 ; the consummate leader cultivates the Moral Law and purely adheres to method and train ; therefore it is in his power to command success. & # 8221 ; ( Clavell 1983, 20 ) Scheme is cardinal to success, non merely in war but in any facet of life.

The monastics who lived in lived in the desert felt scheme was of import, but used it in an wholly different context. Their scheme was to avoid struggle at all costs and if it did happen, so it should be resolved peacefully. At the same that they advocated peace, the desert male parents besides felt the struggle with immorality should be dealt with actively. In his book The Wisdom of the Desert, Thomas Merton wrote:

The saints of the desert were enemies of every subtle or gross expedient by which & # 8216 ; the religious adult male & # 8217 ; contrives to bully those he thinks inferior to himself, therefore satisfying his ain self-importance. They had renounced everything that savored of penalty and retaliation, nevertheless hidden it might be. ( Merton 1960, 18 )

Patience and charity were the schemes used by these desert Abbot to get the better of struggle. One episode in Merton & # 8217 ; s book Tells of some robbers who came to the place of a monastic and wanted to steal all his ownerships. The monastic replied:

My boies take all you want. So they took everything they could happen in the cell and started off. But they left behind a small bag that was hidden in the cell. The senior picked it up and followed after them, shouting out: My boies, take this, you forgot it in the cell! Amazed at the forbearance of the senior, they brought everything back into his cell and did repentance, stating: This one is truly a adult male of God! Merton 1960, 59 )

Another episode gives the same illustration of utilizing forbearance in struggle. Merton relates:


There was an senior who had a tested novitiate populating with him, and one time, when he was annoyed, he drove the novitiate out of the cell. But the novitiate sat down outside and waited for the senior. The senior, opening the door, found him at that place, and did repentance before him, stating: You are my Father, because of your forbearance and humbleness have overcome the failing of my psyche. Come back in ; you can be the senior and the Father, I will be the young person and the novitiate: for by your good work you have surpassed my old age. ( Merton 1960, 59 )

In both of these episodes, humbleness and forbearance are the tools for deciding struggle. This is much unlike Sun Tzu & # 8217 ; s schemes which use force to suppress the resistance. In another sense nevertheless, both types of schemes have wisdom in their constructs. By be aftering, a leader can suppress the enemy and by entry a individual can salvage himself from resistance.

Discipline is besides a major subject in each of these books. The desert monastics were disciplined in their life style merely as the war leaders and their soldiers were disciplined in their preparation. While the monastics lived in purdah, the soldiers lived in tightly knitted units. Sun Tzu wrote, & # 8220 ; If, in developing soldiers, bids are habitually enforced, the ground forces will be good disciplined ; if non, its subject will be bad. & # 8221 ; ( Clavell 1983, 49 ) Authority, penalties and wagess all go along with subject. In another quotation mark Sun Tzu writes:

If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will non turn out submissive ; and, unless submissive, they will be practically useless. If when soldiers have become attached to you, penalties are non enforced, they will still be useless. Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first case with humanity, but kept under control by agencies of Fe subject. This is a certain route to triumph. ( Clavell 1983, 49 )

Victory for the war leader ballad in the subject of his military personnels every bit good as himself. The leader must develop himself wholly to be after his moves, and the military personnels must be trained to obey his every bid or all will be lost.

Trust and harmoniousness are besides of import issues in these two books. Soldiers must be able to swear their commanding officers merely as the novitiates trusted the archimandrites of the desert. Harmony in these


relationships were every bit of import. As Sun Tzu explained:

Without harmoniousness in the province, no military expedition can be undertaken ; without harmoniousness in the ground forces, no conflict array can be formed. In war, the general receives his bids from the crowned head. Having collected an ground forces and concentrated his forces, he must intermix and harmonise the different elements thereof before fliping his cantonment. ( Clavell 1983, 30 )

Bing able to harmonise the soldiers into one working unit relates to the Taoist faith. Taoism puts great accent on harmoniousness and balance between people every bit good as nature. Sun Tzu realized this and made it a cardinal factor in his book. If the soldiers and the generals were in harmoniousness so the bids and the manoeuvres would be in harmoniousness, therefore leting a triumph over the enemy. The monastics of the desert besides needed harmoniousness every bit good as humbleness with their brothers in order to accomplish triumph over immorality. One such illustration of this harmoniousness and humbleness is given in this episode:

A Brother asked one of the seniors: What is humbleness? The senior answered him: To make good to those who do evil to you. The brother asked: Supposing a adult male can non travel that far, what should he make? The senior replied: Let him acquire off from them and maintain his oral cavity shut. ( Merton 1960, 53-54 )

Humility is the manner to accomplish harmoniousness in the archimandrite & # 8217 ; s manner of life, for if the desert male parents can be low and forgive those who do incorrect to them, so they will be able to get the better of struggle. This manner of thought allows them to get the better of the most powerful of immoralities ; Satan. One episode in Merton & # 8217 ; s book explains how one adult male did merely this:

Once Abbot Marcarius was on his manner place to his cell from the fens, transporting reeds, and he met the Satan with a harvester & # 8217 ; s reaping hook in his way. The Satan tried to acquire him with the reaping hook, and couldn & # 8217 ; t. And he said: I suffer great force from you, Marcarius, because I can non get the better of you. For see, I do all the things that you do. You fast, and I eat nil at all. You watch, and I ne’er sleep. But there is one thing entirely in which you overcome me. Abbot Marcarius said to him: What is that? Your humbleness the Satan replied, for because of it I can non get the better of you. ( Merton 1960, 52-53 )


By going a wholly low adult male, this archimandrite was able to suppress his most powerful enemy of all. The archimandrites tried to stay unagitated and peaceable in their life style and decide struggles with silence or possibly a sort word. Their doctrine was to contend against evil with all their might, but at the same clip enter into struggle peacefully. While Sun Tzu felt struggle was necessary on all degrees, big or little he besides felt peace was of import.

It is interesting to observe that James Clavell’s frontward in The Art of War provinces, “’the true object of war is peace.’” ( Clavell 1983, 7 )

One point that seems to be true in both books is cognizing yourself and cognizing the enemy. Sun Tzu wrote:

If you know the enemy and cognize yourself, you need non fear the consequence of a 100 conflicts. If you know yourself but non the enemy, for every triumph gained you will besides endure a licking. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will yield in every conflict. ( Clavell 1983, 18 )

The expression is simple, but true for if you know how the enemy will respond, so you can crush the enemy at his ain game. The monastics besides felt self-awareness was of import. Merton relates one episode of an senior giving advice to suppress immorality:

A certain senior said: Use yourself to hush, hold no vain ideas, and be intent in your speculation, whether you sit at supplication, or whether you rise up to work in the fright of God. If you do these things, you will non hold to fear the onslaughts of the evil 1s. ( Merton 1960, 47 )

The monastics attack was to concentrate on breaking themselves through supplication and speculation so that they would be prepared when enticement arose. If they knew themselves, they would be able to suppress evil much more easy.

Energy was an of import factor on the battleground and Sun Tzu realized the effects of non being able to command big groups:

The control of a big force is the same in rule as the control of a few work forces it is simply a inquiry of spliting up their Numberss. Contending with a big ground forces


under your bid is nowise different from contending with a little one: It is simply a inquiry of establishing marks and signals. ( Clavell 1983 21 )

Once once more control is cardinal to the efficiency of the ground forces. With a forceful and organized leader, the programs would continue swimmingly and triumph would be a much easier undertaking. This besides relates to the enemy, for if a commanding officer knew that the enemy was disorganized, so he would ever hold the advantage in conflict. If the leader of an ground forces could strike when his enemy was unprepared, the he would be the victorious opposition. All of this straight relates to Sun Tzu & # 8217 ; s scheme of doing careful computations to the last item. Sun Tzu warns commanding officers:

Unhappy is the destiny of the 1 who tries to win his conflicts and win in his onslaughts without cultivating the spirit of endeavor, for the consequence of a waste of clip and general stagnancy. The enlightened swayer lays his programs good in front ; the good general cultivates his resources. He controls his soldiers by his authorization, knits them together by good religion and by wagess makes them serviceable. If faith decays, there will be break ; if wagess are lacking, bids will non be respected. ( Clavell 1983, 76 )

Authority, control and religion were all a portion of the necessary tools to do triumph accomplishable. These are besides constructs of the Taoist faith. Taoism believes strongly in proper authorization over people, in order to steer them on their religious tracts. Control over the head, organic structure and spirit are strong rules every bit good. Taoists believe that if they can command negative urges so they may suppress any enticement. It is the same in conflict, if the ground forces controls its manoeuvres, so they will be the ultimate masters. Faith in one & # 8217 ; s ego and in the leader is every bit of import, since trust must be established before an authorization figure can command his soldiers.

Although the soldiers must contend the conflict, the dominating officer is finally responsible for the result. His careful planning, strategic moves and ability to publish orders determines the class of action. Sun Tzu gave this direction to the generals:


Move non unless you see an advantage ; use non your military personnels unless there is something to be gained ; fight non unless the place is critical. No swayer should set military personnels into the field simply to satisfy his ain lien ; no general should contend a conflict merely out of pique. Anger may in clip alteration to gladfulness ; annoyance may be succeeded by content. But a land that has one time been destroyed can ne’er once more come into being ; nor can the dead of all time be brought back to life. ( Clavell 1983, 76 )

This statement gives the feeling that Sun Tzu was non for war unless perfectly necessary. He makes it clear that when in war, the commanding officer must do his moves highly carefully and merely battle for a cause that must be upheld at all costs. He cautions fanatic generals to retrieve that one time the harm is done, it is lasting.

Once once more while The Art of War represents war as a kind of necessary immorality, The Wisdom of the Desert gives much kinder solutions to the tests of mundane life. The monastics are in a religious conflict from within themselves and from opposing external forces. These anchorites turned off from rough tactics of crushing down the enemy. They are still able to suppress ; it is merely in an highly more elusive manner. They believed in purdah for get awaying the corruptness of world, but at the same clip they were expected non to fly enticement when it occurred. Merton relates on such episode:

The Fathers used to state: If some enticement arises in the topographic point where you dwell in the desert, do non go forth that topographic point in clip of enticement. For if you leave it so, no affair where you go, you will happen the same enticement waiting for you. But be patient until the enticement goes off, lest your going scandalize others who dwell in the same topographic point, and convey trial upon them. ( Merton 1960, 73 )

The desert anchorites were advised to confront whatever enticement may come and to do certain their brothers were non inflicted by problem because of them. At all times the anchorites were to believe of others instead than themselves and to give anything they had so that another would be comforted. This is the Christian manner of thought, which informs its followings to love, comfort


and ne’er justice one another, including enemies. One narrative gives a perfect illustration of how the brothers should move:

Certain of the brethren said to Abbot Anthony: We would wish you to state us some word, by which we may be saved. Then the senior said: You have heard the Bibles, they ought to be plenty for you. But they said: We want to hear something besides from you, Father. The senior answered them: You have heard the Lord say: If a adult male strikes you on the left cheek, show him besides the other 1. They said to him: This we can non make. He said to them: If you can & # 8217 ; t turn the other cheek, at least take it patiently on one of them. They replied: We can & # 8217 ; t do that either. He said: If you can non even do that, at least make non travel striking others more than you would desire them to strike you. They said: We can non make this either. Then the senior said to his adherent: Travel cook up some nutrient for these brethren, for they are really weak. Finally he said to them: If you can non make even this, how can I assist you? All I can make is pray. ( Merton 1960 75-76 )

These monastics were expected to give all they could to everyone they might run into, which included those who wronged them. It is portion of the Christian doctrine to be sort and charitable to everyone and ne’er to judge a individual who has sinned, since all are evildoers. Patience and humbleness are once more emphasized as of import traits, as Merton quotes one senior stating ; & # 8220 ; the beginning of wisdom is the fright of the Lord and humbleness with patience. & # 8221 ; ( Merton 1960, 75 ) These values are in a ways similar to the schemes of Sun Tzu, who stressed forbearance in commanding the motions of an ground forces but felt the resistance should be dealt with fleetly and at times badly. The monastics wanted peace in their lives, but realized merely as Sun Tzu did that a battle would be necessary to carry through it.

The Art of War and The Wisdom of the Desert both trade with the subject of struggle. Sun Tzu wrote of struggle in a war atmosphere while the monastics fought a more religious conflict on a day-to-day footing. Each nevertheless, used certain tactics to get the better of any jobs or complications. Sun Tzu encouraged elaborate planning and scheme every bit good as harmoniousness within the ground forces to suppress the enemy. In the same manner, the monastics used schemes of their ain to get the better of enticement and


failing of the bosom and head which was their ain worst enemy. They felt that by supplication, love forbearance and humbleness, all struggles of internal and external nature could be conquered. They, excessively, needed to cognize what enticements were at manus in order to win in suppressing them. Although the manner of covering with struggle is immensely different in each of these books, the subject is true for all world. Peoples will ever be faced with troubles and discord, but it is how they are covering with in the beginning that determines whether the result will be positive or negative.


Reference List

Clavell, James. 1983 The Art of War by Sun Tzu New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

Merton, Thomas. 1960 The Wisdom of the Desert New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation.

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