Thirty-first Chapter | Madhu Bazaz Wangu
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Thirty-first Chapter

Thirty-first Chapter

Thirty-first Chapter:
Tao-te Ching

Weapons are the tools of violence.
Those who possess Tao never use them.
Good ruler detests them.
When a ruler’s higher nature guides him, it is good omen.
When a ruler’s lower nature guides him, it is a bad omen.

Weapons are the instruments of evil, not the tools of a good ruler.
He uses them only as a last resort.
Peace is dearest to his heart.
Even when he is victorious in war, he finds no cause for rejoicing.

He who takes delight in victory is the slaughterer of men.
He who delights in the slaughter will not prevail upon the world.

With the slaughter of the multitude, let us weep with sorrow and grief.
Every victory is a funeral; let us observe the funeral ceremonies.


As I Understand It:
None of the religious thinkers have condemned war and violence more strongly than has Lao Tzu. Thirtieth and thirty-first chapters speak of the horrors of war and why we must speak up against the accumulation of weapons, and why we must refuse to participate in destruction, human decimation and death.

If we live according to the Tao we know that weapons are about death. Deep within, all people are “One.” By destroying “the other” we destroy ourselves. We destroy our ability to let Tao–that has powers of love, nurture and creativity–flow freely through us.

All kinds of violence-the weapons of mass destruction, bombs, guns, knives and even violent words-are equally destructive. Speak up, write, do whatever you must to stop any kind of violence. If a battle is forced upon you and you are victorious, don’t celebrate. Weapons are to be used only as a last resort.

How can we call ourselves civilized when each day weapons are killing people around us?


Suggested Readings:

The Way of Lao Tzu, tr. Wing-Tsit Chan, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. 1963.
Dyer, Wayne W., Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of Tao. Hay House, Inc. 2007.

1 Comment
  • “Deep within, all people are “One.” By destroying “the other” we destroy ourselves. ”

    This is so true. And unfortunately so true today and throughout history.

    June 3, 2008 at 11:53 am

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