At birth, man is supple and soft,
At death, he is stiff and brittle.
When full of life, grasses and trees are flexible and frail,
But approaching death they are withered and dry.
Thus, the hard and stubborn is the disciple of death,
While the soft and yielding is the disciple of life.

In this way,
A campaign that cannot accommodate will collapse,
Just as a tree that cannot bend will break.
The mighty, in standing firm, will be laid low,
While the tender, in enduring, will emerge ascendant.

You may order or download The Tao Te Ching here.
List of verses here


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