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"The unyielding army will not win."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 76

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


76

People are born soft and weak.

They die hard and stiff.

All things such as grass and trees

Are soft and supple in life.

At their death they are withered and dry.


So, the hard and stiff are death's companions.

The soft and weak are life's companions.


Therefore:

The unyielding army will not win.

The rigid tree will be felled.

The rigid and big belong below.

The soft and weak belong above.



Life Is Soft and Weak

Lao Tzu uses drastic imagery, comparing the newborn baby with the dead corpse, the former being soft and the latter stiffening in rigor mortis. The fact that we stiffen after death confirms the point he wants to make.

       Life is characterized by supple softness, growth, and the ability to adapt. Death is rigid, and the only change coming is that into dust.

       The world certainly shows with all possible clarity what we should be in life, and what leads to death.

       These self-evident conditions to life can be applied to so much within it. In war, the army that can move and adapt is most likely to win the war. Trees that harden and start to dry up inside will be felled by wind or by ax. If not, they finally fall by themselves.

       The rigid, no matter how proudly it rose above everything else, will tumble. The soft and yielding, no matter how small it was in the beginning, will move upwards in its continued adaption, until it rises above all. As long as it keeps its supple vitality, it will grow and advance.

       That goes for living beings as well as for their ventures.

       It's true on so many levels. The biggest company in the world will soon go bankrupt if it doesn't adapt to changes in its line of business. The greatest nation will perish if it refuses to recognize changes inside or outside its borders. A leader who can't compromise will soon lose his power. An expert who rejects new discoveries descends into ignorance. A person who ceases to be curious grows tired and loses the lust for life.

       We live as long as we adapt to life, which always changes. We start dying at the moment we begin to oppose that fundamental fact of life. There's the essence of longevity.

© Stefan Stenudd.

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Tao Te Ching Explained


Preface


Introduction


Literature


The 81 Chapters of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
translated and explained by Stefan Stenudd.
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Tao Te Ching Explained


James Legge's Tao Te Ching


Aleister Crowley's Tao Te Ching


The 1st Chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 Versions


Lao Tzu - Legendary Author of Tao Te Ching





My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



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Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:


Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


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Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikido Principles

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Sunday Brunch with the World Maker. Novel by Stefan Stenudd. Sunday Brunch with the World Maker

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Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd


About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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