Nature’s softness and the world’s hardness

In our modern world there seems to be a tremendous desire to be hard or to be confrontational in order to stand up for what one believes is right or in order to get to the answer we are looking for. 

One sees politicians and religious leaders making hard abrasive stands for “what is right”.  In matters of social justice, politics and the environment, the battle cry is frequently sounded in the media and we feel compelled to be combative in our personal crusades.  In the causes one takes up personally, one may stand like a heavyweight boxer, slugging it out, relying on brute force and persistence.

It is can be a great temptation to be swept up in this approach and to want to open all of our doors and unblock all of our obstacles by rushing at them with force rather than to wait with patience. 

But nature teaches us the value of softness. Taoists for example, often cite the example of the judo athlete, waiting patiently for his opponent to rush at him, who sidesteps the charge and uses his opponent’s momentum to spring the trap.

And so with life, perhaps we are too often guilty of slugging it out with the world. Some softness and patience may be of far more value to us.

“There is a tremendous necessity for us to value – alongside, as it were, the aggressive, masculine element symbolized by the sword – the receptive feminine element symbolized, perhaps by the open flower. After all, our human senses are not knives, they are not hooks; they are the soft veil of the eye, the delicate drum of the ear, the soft skin on the tips of the fingers and the on the body. It is through these delicate, receptive things that we receive our knowledge of the world.

And therefore it is only through a kind of weakness and softness that it is possible for knowledge to come to us.”

~ “What is Tao?” by Alan Watts.

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