March 27th, 2013



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.

Chapter 76

76.1 When people are born they are supple,
       and when they die they are stiff..
76.2 When trees are born they are tender,
       and when they die they are brittle.
76.3 Stiffness is thus a companion of death,
       flexibility a companion of life.
76.4 So when an army is strong
       it doe not prevail.
       When a tree is strong,
       it is cut for use.
76.5 So the stiff and strong are below,
       the supple and yielding on top.

Tao Teh Ching - Cleary Translation