When you want to fight us, we don’t let you and you can’t find us. But when we want to fight you, we make sure that you can’t get away and we hit you squarely…and wipe you out.
“The human animal is distinguished by its constant creation of forms. Rarely expressing its emotions directly, it gives them form through language, or through socially acceptable rituals. We cannot communicate our emotions without a form.
“The forms we create, however, change constantly – in fashion, in style, in all those human phenomena representing the mood of the moment. We are constantly altering the forms we have inherited from previous generations, and these changes are signs of life and vitality. Indeed, the things that don’t change, the forms that rigidify, come to look to us like death, and we destroy them. The young show this the most clearly” (424-5)
People rise to power by using their creativity to create new forms – but then they tend to get attached to these forms, develop fixed identities, and lose their power as the public gets bored and demands newer forms.
“When locked in the past, the powerful look comical – they are overripe fruit, waiting to fall from the tree.” (425)
“To be formless is not to be amorphous; everything has a form – it is impossible to avoid…formlessness is in the eye of the enemy who cannot see what they are up to and so has nothing solid to attack. This is the premier pose of power: ungraspable”
“The first psychological requirement of formlessness is to train yourself to take nothing personally. Never show any defensiveness. When you act defensive, you should your emotions, revealing a clear form.” (426)
“When you find yourself in conflict with someone stronger and more rigid, allow them a momentary victory. Seem to bow to their superiority. Then, by being formless and adaptable, slowly insinuate yourself into their soul. This way you will catch them off guard, for rigid people are always ready to ward off direct blows but are helpless against the subtle and insinuating.” (427)
“In evolution, largeness is often the first step towards extinction. What is immense and bloated has no mobility, but must constantly feed itself. The unintelligent are often seduced into believing that size connotes power, the bigger the better.” (428)
“It is not a matter of mimicking the fashions of youth – that is equally worthy of laughter. Rather your mind must constantly adapt to each circumstance, even the inevitable change that the time has come to move over and let those of younger age prepare for their ascendancy.” (429)
“Never forget, though, that formlessness is a strategic pose. It gives you room to create tactical surprises; as your enemies struggle to guess your next move, they reveal their own strategy, putting them at a decided disadvantage. It keeps the initiative on your side, putting your enemies in the position of never acting, constantly reacting.”
“Rely too much on other people’s ideas and you end up taking a form not of your own making. Too much respect for other people’s wisdom will make you depreciate your own.”
Reversal: Formlessness will make your enemies scramble and scatter their forces (mental as well as physical) to find you. But once you do engage them, hit them with a powerful, concentrated blow.