Daily Tao / 312 – Bravery


One willing to take his own life into his hands
Will not hesitate to take the lives of others.

There were once two friends hiking in the mountains. One was a poet, the other was a statesman. They came to a deep ravine, and at the bottom were roaring rapids with a narrow plank bridge spanning the gap.

“Let’s climb down and write our names on the other side,” suggested the statesman. The poet refused. So the statesman went bravely down, crossed the bridge, and wrote their names in beautiful calligraphy. Then he climbed back up.

“Someday you will murder a man,” predicted the poet.

“Why do you say that?” exclaimed his companion.

“Those who will take their own lives into their hands will not hesitate to take the lives of others.”

Beware the brave man. He may be a hero, willing to risk his very life, but he will also be willing to endanger the lives of others. After all, he is a risk taker and therefore does not see the wisdom in conservation, compassion, and carefulness. Such a person will threaten others, force his will upon others, and even murder others not out of passion but out of something much more deadly — rationale. He will justify his actions according to ideology, patriotism, religion, and principle.

When attacked, a brave man goes forth with strength, power, and confidence. In that boisterousness, there is little awareness of the subtle. Life is not simple, and it takes a great deal of time to master. Perhaps that is why the brave are youthful while the wise are old.