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Tao Te Ching #76: “Let strength and might be put below, and tender, gentle in control”

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

– Thomas Cleary


When people are born
they are soft and weak
when they perish
they are hard and stiff
when plants shoot forth
they are supple and tender
when they die
they are withered and dry
thus is it said
the hard and stiff are followers of death
the soft and weak are followers of life
when an army becomes stiff it suffers defeat
when a plant becomes stiff it snaps
the hard and stiff dwell below
the soft and weak dwell above

– Red Pine


Man alive is tender, gentle,
Hard and fast in death.
Living plants are tender, fragile,
Dry and frail in death.
For fast and hard are marks of dying,
And gentle, tender marks of life.
Strength in arms brings destruction,
As the strong branch will be broken.
Let strength and might be put below
And tender, gentle in control.

– Moss Roberts