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Great talents ripen late; the highest notes are hard to hear.
In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it.
Man at his birth is supple and tender, but in death, he is rigid and hard. Thus, suppleness and tenderness accompany life, but rigidity and hardness accompany death.
Man, when living, is soft and tender; when dead, he is hard and tough. All animals and plants when living are tender and delicate; when dead they become withered and dry. Therefore it is said: the hard and tough are parts of death; the soft and tender are parts of life.
So sometimes things are ahead and sometimes they are behind; Sometimes breathing is hard, sometimes it comes easily; Sometimes there is strength and sometimes weakness; Sometimes one is up and sometimes down. Therefore the sage avoids extremes, excesses, and complacency.
There is nothing softer and weaker than water,
And yet there is nothing better for attacking hard and strong things.
For this reason there is no substitute for it.
All the world knows that the weak overcomes the strong and the soft overcomes the hard.
But none can practice it.
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