Tsun Tzu

The Meaning of Awareness

One of my hobbies and curiosities is to read about conflict and warfare. More specifically the histories, philosophies and the accounts about conflict of warfare. I grew up a Christian and the Old Testament was filled with stories about conflict, war and their effects from individuals to nations. This post ties in with my post “The Maintenance of Relative Peace and Tolerance” as I am rereading Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.” It is a fascinating book.

The work has been influenced by Taoism or Daoism, a matter of linguistic interpretation. However you want to describe or define Daoism, it is a religion with traditions and a philosophy. “Dao” means “way” and the emphasis on the way determines the perspective. Perspective is the key word. How people perceive determines what they understand and this results in awareness.

In the book “The Art of War” the concept of awareness is complex. There is you and there is your opponent. Between you and your opponent there are the way, the weather, the terrain, the leadership and the discipline. You have to be aware of all of these factors, bring them into harmony and then defeat your opponent.

In Daoism awareness is also a complex concept. Whether you value the religion ¬†or not there is you and your environment. In this environment there are your relationships with people and nature. The virtues of being humane and kind are vital to you and the whole of society. Through “wuwei” or doing things in accordance with the environment one can realise things without leaving a trace. Awareness enables the way to harmony as being part of the whole.

The modern Western perspective of “I know thus I am aware of this …” is limiting. The meanings that can be given to the word “awareness” have many interpretations. I am sometimes confused by people who say “we have to raise awareness!” and then only give a bit of information that leaves more questions.

There might be people who think it is silly to read an old book about warfare and who say that Daoism is vague and not Western. Maybe so yet there is much to learn. Sun Tzu’s work still influences decisions and China’s culture is influenced by the unique Daoism.

The more I learn the more I understand that awareness is more than being informed. In life awareness leads to choices.

Awareness and decisions…