Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life

Scholar Warrior: An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life

by Deng Ming-Dao

Paperback(3rd ed.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062502322
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/19/1990
Edition description: 3rd ed.
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 397,398
Product dimensions: 7.38(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.61(d)

About the Author

Deng Ming-Dao is the author of eight books, including 365 Tao, The Living I Ching, Chronicles of Tao, Everyday Tao, and Scholar Warrior. His books have been translated into fifteen languages. He lives in San Francisco.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Scholar Warrior
Maximizing Versatility

The way of the Scholar Warrior
Unites wisdom with action
The hero makes the era,
The era makes the hero

Skill is the essence of the Scholar Warrior. Such a person strives to develop a wide variety of talents to a degree greater than even a specialist in a particular field. Poet and boxer. Doctor and swordsman. Musician and knight. The Scholar Warrior uses each part of his or her overall ability to keep the whole in balance, and to attain the equilibrium for following the Tao. Uncertainty of the future inspires no fear: whatever happens, the Scholar Warrior has the confidence to face it.

It may seem strange, even paradoxical, to combine these two sides of human endeavor, yet the two have been related for hundreds of years. Difficult circumstances and a pragmatic attitude forged their links closer and closer. As in many other countries around the world, the successive empires in China were born from violent struggle, peasant uprising, and foreign invasion. Even learned persons had to defend themselves, and even warriors needed scholarly understanding.

Archaeological diggings reveal mural depictions of warriors as far back as the Shang dynasty (16th-11th centuries B.C.). In the Zhou dynasty (1111-222 B.C.), men like Lao Tzu and Confucius embodied the principles of the Scholar Warrior. Lao Tzu was a renowned swordsman, and Confucius held the title of Leader of Knights. Indeed, martial association may well have inspired Confucius' definition of theideal scholar. At the heart of his Analects, he utilized the word shi, his designation for a scholar, which meant "warrior." A shi was a fighter of high rank — he went to battle in a war-chariot rather than on foot. Confucius' use of the word implied a person who would uphold the Tao (he used the word Tao to mean divine law) as valiantly as a warrior would. The term was eventually applied to all cultured people.

Soon, the entire Zhou court advocated the ideal of the Six Arts. In the book of Zhou rites, it is recorded that the imperial minister made this report to the emperor. He said that he was teaching the prince six different arts: rites, music, archery, horsemanship, literature (including reading, calligraphy, and divination), and mathematics. This establishes one of the earliest codifications of the scholar and warrior combined.

The mixing of things martial and cultural was part of Zhou state policy. The rulers believed that culture attracted emigres from neighboring states, thereby increasing the population and bringing fresh recruits for the army. Theatrical companies, painting exhibitions, and cultural envoys were regularly sent to non-aligned states. Confucius advised that if "the people of distant lands do not submit, then the ruler must attract them by enhancing the prestige of his culture." This mixture of culture and strategy was symbolized in the names of the first two emperors of Zhou: King Wen (the same word for culture), and King Wu (the word for martial). Both men were generals, and strongly believed that a cultural build-up of moral virtue was the prerequisite to triumph on the battlefields.

The Three Kingdoms (c. A.D. 220-260) was the era of clever military strategists. The classic book about that period, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, records the heroics of men like Guan Gong (later deified as the god of war); Liu Bei, a general and statesman; the Taoist Zhuge Liang, a brilliant strategist; and the surgeon Hua Tuo, who even today is recognized as one of the forefathers of herbal medicine, acupuncture, and therapeutic exercise.

By the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618-906), there was already a cult of the sword, and the literati adopted the romantic tradition of the knight errant. Among those who wandered the countryside championing the oppressed was the poet Li Po. Although better known as a man in love with wine, he was nevertheless well versed in swordsmanship and frequently defended the honor of the helpless. His contemporary, Tu Fu, wrote at length about a woman's sword performance in the poem "Viewing a Student of Madame Kung Sun," and the Song dynasty poet and government official Su Dongpo was a well-known master of the spear as well.

From the Tang dynasty onward, there was constant development of martial arts. Such a plethora of generals, secret societies, gangsters, monks, clan members, and imperial knights exchanged roles and knowledge that it is impossible to trace the history of martial arts in any linear fashion. Allegiances changed frequently; warriors hid their skills in obscurity until the time of some duel or uprising; and the religious orders of Taoism and Buddhism adopted martial arts for health and self-protection. It is important to note that throughout this time personal ability to do battle — as opposed to simple soldiers' techniques — became the standard for both women and men. Indeed, women appropriated entire sections of martial practice, bringing them to such high expression that men could not compete with them in acrobatics, dart throwing, and use of poisons, whips, spears, and swords. Men continued to rely more on physical strength and larger cavalry weapons such as halberds and maces, but in actual combat, the faster and more clever women had their share of victories.

By the time of the Qing dynasty (A.D. 1644-1911), the Shaolin Temple, a Buddhist monastery that first gained fame as the host temple to the Zen patriarch Bodhidharma in the fifth century A.D., and Wudangshan, an alliance of Taoist monasteries grouped on seventy-two peaks, had become the two greatest centers for martial arts. The ways of the warriors and the ways of the monks became inextricably intertwined. Each school continued to gather new knowledge. Because of war, rebellion, and imperial edicts against them, scholars were killed and their books and other cultural treasures were regularly destroyed. The monasteries, regarded as sacred and outside of society, were thus the only sanctuaries for precious things, and the holy people found martial arts...

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Scholar Warrior : An Introduction to the Tao in Everyday Life 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books on Taoism I have ever read. It is the best book for beginning Taoists. Great for all ages!!! Buy it. Read it. Be happy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are at all interested in Eastern religion or philosophy this is the author and book to start with. Deng Ming Dao writes his books as if he is sitting right in front of you speaking to you. Everything he has written is easy to understand and truely useful in daily life. I am eagerly awaiting something new from him?!!