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Chapter 78 of the Tao Te Ching: Water, Flexibility and the Tao. - Essay Example

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Author : berniereldridge

Summary

Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it. The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid. Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice…

Extract of sample
Chapter 78 of the Tao Te Ching: Water, Flexibility and the Tao.

Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it. The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid. Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice. Water, it says, is softer than any elements in its way, and yet it dissolves those elements with its very gentleness. This is true in nature, of course. Water turns rocks into sand, making soft what is hard. Many things dissolve in water, when all the water is able to do is flow around those elements. Water yields to anything in its way, a phenomenon easily seen by any mountain stream. Water yields to a rock in its way, flowing around it. In this way the “gentle overcomes the rigid,” and the water finds its way to the sea without being stopped by boulders or fallen trees. As the Tao says, everyone has seen this, but few are able to make this truth work for themselves, in their own lives. This difficulty stems from the human tendency to direct our own actions, and can be solved by an understanding of the Tao as the natural state to which things can return. In a commentary by the Center for Taoist Thought and Fellowship, the writer suggests that people misinterpret this verse, thinking that being flexible like water means being weak. However, most people do not see the small bits of hardness that are in water. ...
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