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.
Therefore the Master remains serene
in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is the people’s greatest help.
True words seem paradoxical.
(Trans. Stephen Mitchell)