1. He who would assist a lord of men in harmony with the Tao will
not assert his mastery in the kingdom by force of arms. Such a course
is sure to meet with its proper return.
2. Wherever a host is stationed, briars and thorns spring up. In the
sequence of great armies there are sure to be bad years.
3. A skilful (commander) strikes a decisive blow, and stops. He does
not dare (by continuing his operations) to assert and complete his
mastery. He will strike the blow, but will be on his guard against
being vain or boastful or arrogant in consequence of it. He strikes
it as a matter of necessity; he strikes it, but not from a wish for