Therefore, a wise general will strive to feed off the enemy. One bushel of the enemy's provisions is worth twenty of our own, one picul of fodder is worth twenty of our own.
- The Art of War, Sun Zi (孫子兵法)
A commentator in this forum thread explains:
Sun Tzu means that any captured resource is pure sundry and also makes the enemy weaker for having had it plundered from them. The bushel earned negates having to pay a farmer to raise a bushel, then a merchant to handle it. Also to pay for the merchant's horse's share of the grain and the depreciatin to the merchant's waggon. Once it was delivered to the general the bushel must then be carried by someone with another horse and another waggon. It is much better for an army to travel light and take what is needed. The soldiers of Sparta subscribed to similar ideals and were quite sucessfull.
Do you apply this principle in your life? Whether it's the competitive world of business (to which it has been argued, by businesspeople and educators in Japan, The Art of War is relevant) or some other endeavor: do you live off the bounty of your opponent?
This is part of a series on The Art of War (孫子兵法) by Sun Zi (孫子).