Daodejing Chapter 76: soft and weak

Richard Brown
2 min readNov 5, 2023


People are born soft and weak.
They die hard and strong.
All creatures, plants, and trees
Are born soft and tender,
And die dry and brittle.
The hard and strong
Are companions of death.
The soft and weak
Are companions of life.
An army that does not yield
Is bound to suffer defeat.
A tree that does not bend
Is bound to break.
The hard and strong fall.
The soft and weak rise.


Change is the only constant in life. That is why you need to remain flexible and broad-minded in order to embrace the myriad challenges that come your way. The more stubbornly you resist change, the more brittle you will become in both body and spirit.

Just as a mighty oak tree can be blown over during a storm, inflexible attitudes and perspectives can make you fragile in the face of life’s challenges. In contrast, a supple palm tree can weather even the fiercest tempests with resilience and grace.

By remaining flexible, you not only ensure your physical well-being but also your mental and emotional health. Life is ever-changing, and only by adapting and flowing with its currents can you truly thrive.

1.) See Chapter 36 and Chapter 78 for further explorations of the theme in this passage:
Daodejing Chapter 36: subtle enlightenment
Daodejing Chapter 78: soft and gentle

2.) I took this image at the Baoan Daoist Temple in Taipei.



Richard Brown

I live in Taiwan and am interested in exploring what ancient Chinese philosophy can tell us about technology and the rise of modern China.