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Dao De Jing [Tao Te Ching]

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Chapter 76

A Warning Against (Trusting in) Strength

Beware of Strength / Beware of Strength

  Original Legge's Translation Susuki's Translation Goddard's Translation
1 Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and strong. (So it is with) all things. Man during life is tender and delicate. When he dies he is stiff and stark.

When a man is living he is tender and fragile. When he dies he is hard and stiff.


Trees and plants, in their early growth, are soft and brittle; at their death, dry and withered.

The ten thousand things, the grass as well as the trees, while they live are tender and supple. When they die they are rigid and dry.

It is the same with everything, the grass and trees, in life, are tender and delicate, but when they die they become rigid and dry.


Thus it is that firmness and strength are the concomitants of death; softness and weakness, the concomitants of life .Hence he who (relies on) the strength of his forces does not conquer;

Thus the hard and the strong are the companions of death. The tender and the delicate are the companions of life. Therefore he who in arms is strong will not conquer.

Therefore those who are hard and stiff belong to death's domain, while the tender and weak belong to the realm of life.Therefore soldiers are most invincible when they will not conquer.


And a tree which is strong will fill the out-stretched arms, (and thereby invites the feller.)

When a tree has grown strong it is doomed.

When a tree is grown to its greatest strength it is doomed.

5 Therefore the place of what is firm and strong is below, and that of what is soft and weak is above. The strong and the great stay below. The tender and the delicate stay above. The strong and the great stay below; the tender and weak rise above
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