Tao Te Ching #36: “Flexibility and yielding overcome adamant coerciveness”

Should you want to contain something,
you must deliberately let it expand.
Should you want to weaken something,
you must deliberately let it grow strong.
Should you want to eliminate something,
you must deliberately allow it to flourish.
Should you want to take something away,
you must deliberately grant it.
This is called subtle illumination.
Flexibility and yielding
overcome adamant coerciveness.
Fish shouldn’t be taken from the depths;
the effective tools of the nation
shouldn’t be shown to others.

– Thomas Cleary


What you would shorten
you first should lengthen
what you would weaken
you first should strengthen
what you would topple
you first should raise
what you would take
you first should give
this is called hiding the light
the weak conquering the strong
fish can’t survive out of the depths
a state’s greatest weapon
isn’t meant to be shown

– Red Pine


To what you mean to draw in, first give slack,
And make strong what you would weaken;
Raise up whom you would remove,
And provide when you mean to deprive.
That is to do the unseen, unseen.
For over the hard and the strong
The soft and the weak shall prevail.
Like fish down deep that cannot be lured,
Hold craft of policy far from view.

– Moss Roberts