Men are born soft and supple;
dead, they are stiff and hard
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry
Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life
The hard and stiff will be broken
The soft and supple will prevail
The best of man is like water,
Which benefits all things, and does not contend with them,
Which flows in places that others disdain,
Where it is in harmony with the Way.
So the sage:
Lives within nature,
Thinks within the deep,
Gives within impartiality,
Speaks within trust,
Governs within order,
Crafts within ability,
Acts within opportunity.
He does not contend, and none contend against him.