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    The translation that appears in The Art of War retains the original, unadorned state of the Sun Tzu. In some instances it may resist immediate understanding. These difficulties are addressed in the commentary section at the end of the book, where the translation is reprinted, accompanied by annotation and explanation. As well, three essays at the book's center offer a set of introductions to the material. One may enter the Sun Tzu through any of these.

    The Denma Translation Group

    The Denma Translation Group includes Kidder Smith, James Gimian, Hudson Shotwell, Grant MacLean, Barry Boyce and Suzann Duquette. We worked together on the translation over a ten-year period. Kidder Smith and James Gimian served as general editors of the book and wrote the essays and commentary. Hudson Shotwell, Grant MacLean and Barry Boyce contributed to this writing in many ways. Grant MacLean composed the military history section of the essay "Joining the Tradition."

    Kidder Smith teaches Chinese history at Bowdoin College, where he also directs the Asian Studies Program. He is senior author of Sung Dynasty Uses of the I Ching (Princeton: 1990) and has written on the military texts of ancient China. James Gimian is the publisher of the Shambhala Sun magazine and is a publishing consultant. The other members of the group have worked professionally in the writing, editing and publication field.

    In the translation process we relied on the kind of material that is now available on our web page, Victory over War. It contained the Chinese words of the text, their pronunciation, and one or two English synonyms for each. Because Chinese and English word order is very similar, it was possible for non-Chinese speakers to follow the text in both languages. At first only Kidder Smith knew Chinese. Gradually, however, the group became familiar with a core of key words. These recurred often enough, and in varying contexts, for a set of highly nuanced understandings to emerge.

    We argued over every word. What was its range of meaning in Chinese? To what extent was the proposed English word equivalent? Did the two have the same antonyms, and were they on the same level of formality? Above all, how much elasticity did the English language possess, that we could shape it into something that reflected the tone, style, cadence and pacing of the original Chinese? A few sentences of translation might require several hours of deliberation and reflection before a consensus would emerge.

    Denma was a general of Gesar of Ling, the mythic warrior-king of Tibet. He is known as a skilled archer and master strategist. The Denma Translation Group was formed in 1991 to translate the Sun Tzu , but members of the group had already been studying the work for a decade. Each had received training in a contemplative discipline called the Dorje Kasung, which had been created by Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche for western students. This practice draws on the meditative and monastic traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, the Shambhala vision of an enlightened society, and some forms of the western military traditions.

    The Sun Tzu served as ideal study material for this discipline, as it showed taking whole and how to attain victory without battle. In this training we engaged the principles of the text in life-like, intensified situations placed within a protected contemplative environment. Contemplative practice and The Art of War represent two very different traditions and disciplines. Yet both share the view that true victory is victory over aggression. We believe that it is the joining of these two disciplines that gives our translation its particular authority.

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