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Freedom Founts

Source Materials About Freedom


1. The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the hardest; that which has no (substantial) existence enters where there is no crevice. I know hereby what advantage belongs to doing nothing (with a purpose).


2. There are few in the world who attain to the teaching without words, and the advantage arising from non-action.

Legge's Comments

偏用, 'The Universal Use (of the action in weakness of the Dào).' The chapter takes us back to the lines of ch. 40, that

'Weakness marks the course
 Of Dào's mighty deeds.'

By 'the softest thing in the world' it is agreed that we are to understand 'water,' which will wear away the hardest rocks. 'Dashing against and overcoming' is a metaphor taken from hunting. Héshàng Gōng says that 'what has no existence' is the Dào; it is better to understand by it the unsubstantial air () which penetrates everywhere, we cannot see how.

Compare par. 2 with ch. 2, par. 3.