76. 1. Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and strong. (So it is with) all things. Trees and plants, in their early growth, are soft and brittle; at their death, dry and withered.
2. Thus it is that firmness and strength are the concomitants of death; softness and weakness, the concomitants of life.
3. Hence he who (relies on) the strength of his forces does not conquer; and a tree which is strong will fill the out-stretched arms, (and thereby invites the feller.)
4. Therefore the place of what is firm and strong is below, and that of what is soft and weak is above.
, 'A Warning against (trusting in) Strength.' To trust in one's force is contrary to the Tâo, whose strength is more in weakness and humility.
In par. 1 the two characters which I have rendered by
[paragraph continues] '(so it is with) all things' are found in the texts of both Ho-shang Kung and Wang Pî, but Wû Khäng and Ziâo Hung both reject them. I should also have neglected them, but they are also found in Liû Hsiang's Shwo Wän (X, 4 a), with all the rest of pars. 1 and 2, as from Lâo-dze. They are an anakoluthon, such as is elsewhere found in our King; e.g. in ch. 21, par. 2.
The 'above' and 'below' in par. 4 seem to be merely a play on the words, as capable of meaning 'more and less honourable.'