Tao Te Ching (Chapter 31)
Weapons are the tools of violence;
all decent men detest them.
Weapons are the tools of fear;
a decent man will avoid them
except in the direst necessity
and, if compelled, will use them
only with the utmost restraint.
Peace is his highest value.
If the peace has been shattered,
how can he be content?
His enemies are not demons,
but human beings like himself.
He doesn’t wish them personal harm.
Nor does he rejoice in victory.
How could he rejoice in victory
and delight in the slaughter or men?
He enters a battle gravely,
with sorrow and great compassion,
as if he were attending a funeral.
(By Lao Tsu, interpreted by Stephen Mitchell)
The Double-Edged Blade
On an inner level, the ego can use the blade of the intellect to kill or to discern. The ego using the intellect to try to eliminate parts of the personality that don’t agree with its opinions is guilty of using the intellect as a weapon of violence. “Weapons are the tools of violence; all decent men detest them.”
The Innocent Enemy
In dreams, when a person is killed it usually means that part of the personality is being repressed. Since the repressed part is being shoved deeper into the unconscious, that part becomes an enemy of the ego. This enemy may seek other oppressed allies in the personality and legitimately rebel against the ego. This insurrection can create emotional and bodily symptoms in the individual with the embattled ego. “His enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself. He doesn’t wish them personal harm.”
A Natural Death
In dreams, when an old ego attitude is ready to die because the individual has outgrown it, the old attitude may be portrayed as an old man or woman dying. The ego’s job in this case is to discern that this old attitude’s death is necessary and help the rest of the personality let go. “Peace is his highest value.”
Trading with Compassion
The trader on the losing side of a winning trade is a human being who needs your compassion (hedge funds need compassion too since they are composed of a group of human beings). “[The trader] enters a [a trade] gravely, with sorrow and great compassion, as if he were attending a funeral.” It’s important not to rejoice too much in a winning trade. Too much ego celebration could lead to egocentricity and precipitate the fall of the trader (into a loss or series of losses) like Icarus who flies too close to the sun (victory) and falls into the sea (of despair). “Nor does he rejoice in victory. How could he rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter or men?”
Certainly killing a person in battle is not the same as taking a person’s money in a winning trade. However, “killing in battle” has its uses as an analogy nevertheless. The intention to feel compassion for the vanquished trader or traders is similar to feeling sorrow for victory in battle.
“Even when warfare is necessary, how can any king [ego] who takes pleasure in killing ‘achieve his ambitions under Heaven’? Moreover, in antiquity, ‘after killing great masses of the enemy’s men, they wept for them with grief and sorrow. After being victorious in battle, they implemented the rites of mourning’” (The Art of War: The Martial Tao Te Ching, pp.145-146).
Just like the Native Americans who pray for the animals they killed, traders need to have compassion for the traders they vanquish. If you trade with an open heart, you won’t disgrace yourself by committing the sin of pride. Keep your conscience clean by trading with compassion.