Meditation and War

The first evidence of non-conceptual meditation is in the Neiye and dates to the 4th Century BCE.  It was advice to a king describing a method of sitting still in an 8' x 8' x 8' foot room built for that purpose.  It was a three walled room with the forth wall open to the south.  The method included the burning of applewood incense.  The purpose of this method was intrinsic to being a king.  Perhaps we could even say that it was the "posture" of being a king which was being taught.  Perhaps it had the effect of calming the king's spirit, or slowing down his decision making process, making him less excitable.

From there the practice extended to generals.  Before going to war it was advised that a general sit still.  This is hinted at in the Sunzi, and I think is a source for the general reluctance to go to war found in his writing.  Yes, I know people like to think this stuff came from hermits.  Maybe that too.

There is something I find satisfying about imagining generals meditating before going into war.  Confucius has a saying something to the effect of:  While it is undeniable that a man who is not afraid of fighting tigers can be called courageous; If I had to follow someone into battle I would much prefer to follow a general who is afraid of tigers.