The life of a human being would seem to be that of an actor going from one complication to another with perhaps a little bit of rest in between. Each day may present a new set of problems to be conquered, and each night brings a chance to rejuvenate for the struggles the coming day will bring.
Our struggles are as much, and often more, with ourselves. Our battles most often are battles with ourselves, between the multitude of inner voices that inhabit us, the sum of which makes up that which we call the “I” of who we are. We are composed of psychological systems that have been and will be at odds with one another.
Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the state.
And so begins The Art of War under the chapter heading “Laying Plans.” The first chapter of The Art of War can be thought of as preliminary considerations. It’s the mind space where thought and reflection on the matter of struggle is not only welcomed, but necessary to the attainment of psychic integration of internal systems and inner peace.
Think of the “state” as the first person: I, me, self, that which I am, the agent, actor, thinker, the seat and vehicle of consciousness, love and emotions.
“War” is struggle with both external and internal realities. War is exoteric, and unfortunately literally real in different places and time, but it is also esoteric, lying within our own souls.
For the average 21st century human being living in a relatively safe environment, “war” is an individual affair, waged on the inside.
An encounter with a disturbing situation, or other person, out there in the world has a correlative affect on our inner world. Our battles force us to resolve how it is we should perceive the world outside and how it is that we should act upon it.
So, yes, in that vain, the art of war is of vital importance to the mental and psychic state of human beings every where and at all times. Why?
“It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or ruin,” Sun Tzu tells us.