One of the critical ideas that Daodejing preaches is a duality of two binaries embodied in all objects of existence: Things that are tough and rigid (like metal) are often brittle and weak. On the other hand, things that are soft and flexible (like water) are usually strong. Moreover, something that shows off excessively and flamboyantly (like fire) is often hollow. But something that appears humble and modest (like minerals hidden underground) is often content. Therefore, people should avoid possessing attributes that are along the lines of "tough," "excessive," and "aggressive" and instead embrace qualities that are "soft" and "modest." For example, we shouldn't put too much pressure on ourselves, boast about ourselves, show aggression to others, or abuse any power we have. Rather, we should communicate with others, help others, and remain humble, modest, curious, and open-minded.
Written by ICSC Member Ruowen Wang