Line One’s estimate of “One Thousand ounces of silver a Day” may or may not reflect an accurate estimate of costs in that Period. One Li, by the Way is about .278 Miles. It is important to remember, that in Sun Tze’s Time, Chariots were a relatively new technology. Sun Tze is merely pointing out that one must be practical and pay attention to reality. For Metaphysicians, this can easily be a reminder to not totally lose track of the Material World.
Lines Two through Six are a warning not to overdo. As Lao Tze said, in Chapter nine of the Tao Te Ching:
9.1 To fill a cup to overflowing is not as good as to stop in Time.
9.2 Sharpen a sword edge to its very sharpest; it will not last long.
9.3 Fill your hall with gold and jade; you will not keep them.
9.4 When wealth and power lead to pride, downfall comes.
9.5 Withdraw as soon as your work is done. This is the Road to Heaven.
We don’t know whether Sun Tze ever met Lao Tze, but their Teachings are often very similar.
Line Seven means that a “profitable” war is a quick one.
Lines Eight through Fifteen slowly set up the idea of ravaging the conquered enemy for supplies. Depending on which Nation’s army we could discuss, some modern armies pursue this goal, and some reject it. One Picul is about 133.3 Pounds.
Line Sixteen, some commentators infer, means that the pilfered supplies are given out to one’s soldiers.
Line Seventeen and Eighteen continue this Theme of using the enemy’s supplies as rewards.
Line Nineteen reiterates the Theme of avoiding protracted war.
Line Twenty may seem a little bit strange, perhaps. One has to remember that Sun Tze always is In favor of winning without a fight, if possible.
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