CHAPTER 12 – Attack By Fire – Part 1 of 1
Attack -To set upon in a forceful, violent, hostile, or aggressive way, with or without a weapon; begin fighting with. To begin hostilities against; start an offensive against.
Fire – A state, process, or instance of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen, giving off light, heat, and flame. The destructive burning of a building, town, forest, etc.; conflagration.
Previous Posts On The Art of War
While each one of these posts is designed to be read separately and independently of each other, it would be useful if you read the previous posts on The Art of War, all of which can be found by clicking here, if you have not already done so.
More From Sun Tzu
In sum – there are five attacks by fire.
The first is setting fire to people.
The second is setting fire to stores.
The third is setting fire to baggage trains.
The fourth is setting fire to armories.
The fifth is setting fire in tunnels.
What Do These Quotes Mean?
Setting fire to people is the most direct approach. If you want to stop an opponent, you attack him directly.
The other 4 methods of attack are more indirect. If you do not want to attack your opponent directly, you can instead attack their supplies (stores); their methods of transporting those supplies (baggage trains); their stores of weapons (armories) and their tunnels (which are enclosed areas of hiding).
While I realize this is all put into a military context, it applies equally throughout all phases of life and work. You can attack offensively against your opponent via 2 methods.
DIRECT AND INDIRECT
That is the point Sun Tzu is making here.
More From Sun Tzu
If it is not advantageous, do not act.
If it is not obtainable, do not employ troops.
If it is not in danger, do not do battle.
The ruler cannot raise an army on account of wrath.
The general cannot do battle on account of rancor.
Wrath can return to joy. Rancor can return to delight. AN EXTINGUISHED STATE CANNOT RETURN TO EXISTENCE. THE DEAD CANNOT RETURN TO LIFE.
How Can This Advice Be Applied?
While The Art of War was written in a military context, the above advice applies in countless real life situations.
Do NOT destroy unless it is absolutely necessary to do.
Do NOT act out of anger.
Make sure you know what you are doing before you tear something down, for once it is destroyed, it is gone forever.
As Sun Tzu says – The dead cannot be restored to life.
Next, we will discuss Employing Spies, Chapter 13 in The Art of War.
Chapter 13 is the final chapter in The Art of War
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