July 29th, 2010

Chapter 76

When a man is alive,
His body is soft and frail.
After his death,
It is hard and solid.
When grass and trees are growing,
They are delicate and fragile.
After their deaths,
They are wizened and decayed.
Therefore, what is hard is close to death,
What is soft is close to life.
Thus, when troops are inflexible, they lose the war.
When a wood board is dried hard, it cracks.
What is strongest and most solid remains low.
What is softest and meekest remains high.

              Translation by Chang Chung-yuan, 1975.


A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.

Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.

Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.

The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.
A baby's body is soft and gentle.
A corpse is hard and stiff.
Plants and trees are tender
and full of sap.
Dead leaves are brittle and dry.

If you are rigid and unyielding,
you might as well be dead.
If you are soft and flexible,
you are truly alive.

Soldiers trained to fight to the death will die.
A tree that cannot bend with the wind
will snap.

Here's a useful saying:
The harder they come,
the harder they fall.

Here's another:
The meek shall inherit the earth.

The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.