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Water, Flexibility and the Tao - Essay Example

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In the paper “Water, Flexibility and the Tao” the author analyzes the verse of the Tao Te Ching as a model for human flexibility and adaptiveness. The writer suggests that people misinterpret this verse, thinking that being flexible like water means being weak…
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Water, Flexibility and the Tao
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Download file to see previous pages This verse of the Tao Te Ching holds up water as a model for human flexibilty and adaptiveness. 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. “It is not the water which attacks the hard and strong, it is the little tiny bits of hard and strong suspended in the water which do the job.” This suggestion gives the verse a new meaning, allowing the reader not to be solely soft but to allow his or her softness to surround a powerful hardness. ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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