31st Verse – Futility in the Use of Weapons

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Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.
Therefore, followers of the Tao never use them.

Arms serve evil.
They are tools of those who oppose wise rule.
Use them only as a last resort.
For peace and quiet are dearest to the
decent man’s heart,
and to him even a victory is no cause for rejoicing.

He who thinks triumph beautiful
is one with a will to kill,
and one with a will to kill
shall never prevail upon the world.

It is a good sign when man’s higher nature
comes forward.
A bad sign when his lower nature comes forward.

With the slaughter of multitudes,
we have grief and sorrow.
Every victory is a funeral;
when you win a war,
you celebrate by mourning.

Here Lao Tzu continues on the theme regarding the futility in the use of weapons. He asserts that weapons are the implements of evil and are a sign of man’s lower nature.

As in the last verse, these weapons are not only physical weapons of war, but also actions and words that are used to put one being beneath another.

According to the Tao, we are all connected, so victory over another is really victory over ourselves and this is a step away from the nature of the Tao. You “celebrate by mourning” because there is nothing to celebrate. Instead, you mourn the loss of connectivity with your true nature.

Ones higher nature is to realize that the true path is to remove the use of all weapons as well as hateful words and actions.

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