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What does the following mean to you?
Posted 5/5/10

Joushio wrote:

"When people are born they are gentle and soft,
At death they are hard and stiff.
When plants are alive they are soft and delicate.
When they die, they wither and dry up.
Therefore the hard and stiff are followers of death.
The gentle and soft are the followers of life.


Thus, if you are aggressive and stiff, you won't win.
When a tree is hard enough, it is cut. Therefore
The hard and big are lesser,
The gentle and soft are greater.
"

-Tao Te Ching 76

I'm just curious as to everyone's thoughts, interpretations, views on the quote. This is one of the passages I read daily, just as a reminder to myself to be more flexible, more open-minded and willing. What's your thoughts on it? Enjoy it? Hate it?
There are certain viewpoints in this poem that either contradict themselves, or lack compliance with the natural law.

First off, not all plants are soft and delicate, when trees are cut by either beavers or humans in order to make use of their hardness. Therefore while there are no beaver nor human with sharp teeth or tools, a tree will still be blown down by strong gust of wind or avalanche of snow and mud, due to its soft and gentle foundation can no longer anchor down its hard core with its deep roots.

Second, when all life must die so others can begin anew, those who simply follow life will still end up being dead themselves. But the ones who understand the process between life and death will end up creating more life, that ultimately death itself becomes insignificant.

Therefore while the world of natural selection is ultimately the harshest and stiffest environment, lifeforms who ultimately can survive under nature's adversity can only do so via interdependency.

When you keep your mind open, the world opens up for you. Therefore what open mind is but an inquisitorial mindset, thus the world questions one's existence with challenges, when life finds its way. -by me
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Posted 5/5/10

DomFortress wrote:


Joushio wrote:

"When people are born they are gentle and soft,
At death they are hard and stiff.
When plants are alive they are soft and delicate.
When they die, they wither and dry up.
Therefore the hard and stiff are followers of death.
The gentle and soft are the followers of life.


Thus, if you are aggressive and stiff, you won't win.
When a tree is hard enough, it is cut. Therefore
The hard and big are lesser,
The gentle and soft are greater.
"

-Tao Te Ching 76

I'm just curious as to everyone's thoughts, interpretations, views on the quote. This is one of the passages I read daily, just as a reminder to myself to be more flexible, more open-minded and willing. What's your thoughts on it? Enjoy it? Hate it?
There are certain viewpoints in this poem that either contradict themselves, or lack compliance with the natural law.

First off, not all plants are soft and delicate, when trees are cut by either beavers or humans in order to make use of their hardness. Therefore while there are no beaver nor human with sharp teeth or tools, a tree will still be blown down by strong gust of wind or avalanche of snow and mud, due to its soft and gentle foundation can no longer anchor down its hard core with its deep roots.

Second, when all life must die so others can begin anew, those who simply follow life will still end up being dead themselves. But the ones who understand the process between life and death will end up creating more life, that ultimately death itself becomes insignificant.

Therefore while the world of natural selection is ultimately the harshest and stiffest environment, lifeforms who ultimately can survive under nature's adversity can only do so via interdependency.

When you keep your mind open, the world opens up for you. Therefore what open mind is but an inquisitorial mindset, thus the world questions one's existence with challenges, when life finds its way. -by me


I think that you are overanalyzing to the point of avoiding the meaning of the poem itself. Fundamentally, it is meant to embody the Tao: do not fight against the natural flow of things, because you'll end up doing nothing else but. The nature motif is a natural way of conveying such a philosophy, which is why plants are used as an analogy.

As for your contention that "soft" trees will be destroyed, take a look at an actual tree. When there's a wind or avalanche, how does it survive? Not via standing in the way, but by bending to whatever's pushing it. After the crisis is over, it can spring back up. If it were to try to stand straight against the wind or snow, it would get ripped out from the ground instead. It's the same reason buildings are made to shift during earthquakes, not to stay still.

Also, the poem says nothing about actually dying. It merely uses it as an analogy for stagnation and lack of growth caused by being too set in one's ways. That's why it mentions a hard tree getting cut, as an example of stagnating nature.

Posted 5/5/10

LilyPawn wrote:


DomFortress wrote:


Joushio wrote:

"When people are born they are gentle and soft,
At death they are hard and stiff.
When plants are alive they are soft and delicate.
When they die, they wither and dry up.
Therefore the hard and stiff are followers of death.
The gentle and soft are the followers of life.


Thus, if you are aggressive and stiff, you won't win.
When a tree is hard enough, it is cut. Therefore
The hard and big are lesser,
The gentle and soft are greater.
"

-Tao Te Ching 76

I'm just curious as to everyone's thoughts, interpretations, views on the quote. This is one of the passages I read daily, just as a reminder to myself to be more flexible, more open-minded and willing. What's your thoughts on it? Enjoy it? Hate it?
There are certain viewpoints in this poem that either contradict themselves, or lack compliance with the natural law.

First off, not all plants are soft and delicate, when trees are cut by either beavers or humans in order to make use of their hardness. Therefore while there are no beaver nor human with sharp teeth or tools, a tree will still be blown down by strong gust of wind or avalanche of snow and mud, due to its soft and gentle foundation can no longer anchor down its hard core with its deep roots.

Second, when all life must die so others can begin anew, those who simply follow life will still end up being dead themselves. But the ones who understand the process between life and death will end up creating more life, that ultimately death itself becomes insignificant.

Therefore while the world of natural selection is ultimately the harshest and stiffest environment, lifeforms who ultimately can survive under nature's adversity can only do so via interdependency.

When you keep your mind open, the world opens up for you. Therefore what open mind is but an inquisitorial mindset, thus the world questions one's existence with challenges, when life finds its way. -by me


I think that you are overanalyzing to the point of avoiding the meaning of the poem itself. Fundamentally, it is meant to embody the Tao: do not fight against the natural flow of things, because you'll end up doing nothing else but. The nature motif is a natural way of conveying such a philosophy, which is why plants are used as an analogy.

As for your contention that "soft" trees will be destroyed, take a look at an actual tree. When there's a wind or avalanche, how does it survive? Not via standing in the way, but by bending to whatever's pushing it. After the crisis is over, it can spring back up. If it were to try to stand straight against the wind or snow, it would get ripped out from the ground instead. It's the same reason buildings are made to shift during earthquakes, not to stay still.

Also, the poem says nothing about actually dying. It merely uses it as an analogy for stagnation and lack of growth caused by being too set in one's ways. That's why it mentions a hard tree getting cut, as an example of stagnating nature.
There's a fatal flaw in most Chinese philosophies, that it only covers the "what", not the "how" nor "why". Which is why to this day most Chinese philosophies still sounded like they came straight from the fortune cookies, lucky numbers included. Therefore how can we just call it the "natural order of things", without us asking why nature works as it is.

And the fact is nature consists of both hard and soft elements, and to subjectively quantify one over the other and thus favoring the former, it's in and of itself a flawed logic. When a balance between the two is ultimately superior than either one alone.

Therefore, when the poem got too dead set in the way of softness, it ultimately stagnated its own way of balance. However since none questioned the way of the Tao master back then, the philosophy itself was left unchallenged. That is, until now.
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Posted 5/5/10
It means that life is a constant uphill slope covered in shit and barbed wire. And in some places there are landmines.
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Posted 5/5/10
its okay~ ^^ i dont really like poems...^^
Posted 5/5/10

itzhakskenstrom wrote:

It means that life is a constant uphill slope covered in shit and barbed wire. And in some places there are landmines.

joreen95 wrote:

its okay~ ^^ i dont really like poems...^^
Gees, you guys are missing out on the simple life due to your lack of complexity. While one of you hardly sounds inspiring, the other lacks the will to express personal creativity or originality.

That's why the Cult of the Amateur is followed by those who are too simple to be anything but functional. When they lack the complex individuality to even appreciate the simple thing that's life.
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Posted 5/5/10
From point of view it great being pacifies and life was easy going all the time. But there are times you have to be hard stiff even knowing you will get cut down. Even in TIA Chi the movement of self defense, which use the hard stiff against itself, also can kill if need be. How or what dies in this battle of wills. From death new life is born (I do not recommend seeing it in person it a ghastly sight and smell). With the decay of the once hard, ridged, the cycle of life renews with birth, Parities insect and food for those to feed upon, nutrients back into the soil. Bearing the nutrients for the gentle and soft, to be reborn as something a new. So the they many can live soft and gentle lives. May god protect those who protect us, a Thank you, to all the men and women of are armed services! Overall it ok
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Posted 5/6/10


Left unchallenged?! You think Taoism has been left unchallenged in the over 2000 years since it was first conceived? Multiple people have argued against it, including the Confucian and Buddhist masters. Even I myself think it can be a bit too soft, which is why I prefer Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path. You give yourself far too much credit; instead of stating such things, take a look at how others challenged Taoism first.

Also, Taoism is all about the "how"--how the world works, how life should be lived. Confucianism is the same, while Chinese Buddhism also covers the "why" of the origin of suffering, how to defeat it, and humanity's place in the universe. You also forget that experimental science did not come into fruition until the 1800s, long after Taoism or most Chinese (or any culture's) philosophies anywhere were conceived. Instead, they had to rely on their own observations about the universe, which could be flawed and imperfect. That's not to say China didn't have pre-experimental science; they studied everything from astronomy to agricultural science.

We're kind of derailing the thread, so this is going to be my last rebuttal.

Posted 5/6/10

LilyPawn wrote:



Left unchallenged?! You think Taoism has been left unchallenged in the over 2000 years since it was first conceived? Multiple people have argued against it, including the Confucian and Buddhist masters. Even I myself think it can be a bit too soft, which is why I prefer Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path. You give yourself far too much credit; instead of stating such things, take a look at how others challenged Taoism first.

Also, Taoism is all about the "how"--how the world works, how life should be lived. Confucianism is the same, while Chinese Buddhism also covers the "why" of the origin of suffering, how to defeat it, and humanity's place in the universe. You also forget that experimental science did not come into fruition until the 1800s, long after Taoism or most Chinese (or any culture's) philosophies anywhere were conceived. Instead, they had to rely on their own observations about the universe, which could be flawed and imperfect. That's not to say China didn't have pre-experimental science; they studied everything from astronomy to agricultural science.

We're kind of derailing the thread, so this is going to be my last rebuttal.

I am a Taoist by my nature, and for me to challenge my very own belief isn't relatively radical nor extreme. When I simply applied the scientific approach of peer review to my own belief.

And such is the greatest strength that modern science has over traditional philosophies: it can be proven to be faulty and thus has the opportunity to recreate itself better via scientific revolution. When perfection simply means the end of evolution, and ultimately signaling the end of change. While all Chinese philosophies have the fatal flaw of respect tradition and authority -not necessary nature itself- modern science OTOH constantly challenges and questions its own theories with every discoveries within nature itself.

You may think that your philosophy is perfect. However when perfection doesn't exist in nature, what do you think nature sees "perfection" as something that's simply outdated because its inability to change? Something that's other than the Rule 30 of chaotically complex behavior based on simple rules, which is anything but our own universe.
Posted 5/9/10 , edited 5/9/10
I disagree. Being gentle and soft is nice and may set your mind at ease but that lacks ambition and progress...what you really need is a little bit of everything. A balance of soft and hard. If you are talking to someone and speak softly they may not hear or care about what you want to say; also, if you shout at people they won't be able to hear you past their eardrums bursting.
Without bones in your body would you be able to stand?
Balance like Miniskirts for example
Short enough to get your attention but long enough to cover it. Balance of short and long.'
How many times you scroll past a huge post? I have a pretty low attention span..lots of people do...but odds are short posts are read much more than longer ones.
Balance gentle and soft with hard and strong and you'll bet more that a few suggestive words.
...her soft and gentle....met his hard and strong...
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