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September 01, 2010

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Selections from the Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant:

"I would have given anything then to have been back in Illinois, but I had not the moral courage to halt and consider what to do; I kept right on. When we reached a point from which the valley below was in full view I halted. The place where Harris had been encamped a few days before was still there and the marks of a recent encampment were plainly visible, but the troops were gone. My heart resumed its place. It occurred to me at once that Harris had been as much afraid of me as I had been of him. This was a view of the question I had never taken before; but it was one I never forgot afterwards. From that event to the close of the war, I never experienced trepidation upon confronting an enemy, though I always felt more or less anxiety. I never forgot that he had as much reason to fear my forces as I had his. The lesson was valuable."

Note: Grant consistently uses the term "moral courage" to refer to the possibility of avoiding battle. He seems to respect those who have the "moral courage" not to fight.

"While a battle is raging one can see his enemy mowed down by the thousand, or the ten thousand, with great composure; but after the battle these scenes are distressing, and one is naturally disposed to do as much to alleviate the suffering of an enemy as a friend."

"It is men who wait to be selected, and not those who seek, from whom we may always expect the most efficient service."

"I do not sleep though I sometimes dose off a little. If up I am talked to and in my efforts to answer cause pain. The fact is I think I am a verb instead of a personal pronoun. A verb is anything that signifies to be; to do; or to suffer. I signify all three."

The General was dying of cancer of the jaw while writing this book. Some say it is the best memoir of an American. It is certainly well-written and gave me enormous respect for this much maligned man.

Hi Sam,

Thanks for sharing this.

re: "Laozi's influence was so strong that most officials turned to Laozi even without being disappointed by public politics." (Yu)

-- Huh? Most officials?

re: "Yet, what is treasure? It is the lower half of a woman's body - the half that gives birth, generates life and from the non-existing creates existence." (Yu)

-- Kinda silly, imo.

re: "order starts falling apart with minimal stress, so the wise ruler intervenes as soon as he sees the first cracks appearing - he does not wait." (Yu)

-- An important point, but one that must be reconciled with Wuwei.

re: "the sage ruler sees dangers and possibilities for positive developments at a very early stage." (Yu)

-- The Sage-ruler also knows that deciding what is positive and negative is problematic.

re: " "Laozi" - and by this I mean a person conscientiously attempting to live the ethos of the Daodejing - would not provide counsel to warriors to make them more effective fighters. He, or she, would counsel them not to fight in the first place." (Sam)

-- Perhaps not, but he would want someone to train the warriors well. A defensive force that is not at the top of its game will be slaughtered.

re: "And I am all for Tao Institutes. But let's hope the Daoism that emerges is more in keeping with the true spirit of the Daodejing, and Zhuangzi, and not the Legalist-Daoist distortions put forward by some contemporary nationalists..." (Sam)

-- I agree, though Daoist-Legalist "distortions" have been around along time, not only in Hanfeizi, but the Mawangdui Boshu and Huainanzi (Huang-Lao) texts.

Although I have onbly read bits and piences, Wang Zhen's Daode Bingfa (9th century CE) applies the Daodejing to governing/military affairs.

Thanks gmoke and Scott...and Scott, perhaps the DDJ could also be instructive in Mob Wars ;).....

this is gay

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