One time there was a very powerful warrior. He was tall, strong and fearless. He practiced with the sword and bow every day until he achieved great mastery, and few (if any) were able to defeat him. It did not matter how many opponents he faced, nor what weapons they weilded.
If they shot arrows at him, he would cut them out of the air with his sword before they hit anything.
If they came at him as a group, he would just chase them like a fox chasing a bunch of chickens in a hen house. He looked for greater and more powerful warriors to fight until he was able to beat anyone at will.
The warrior became drunk on his power. He started to lose the love and respect for life, as he had become numb to the struggle. To him it was live or die, eat or be eaten. An eye for an eye.
People saw his power and lack of empathy and began to resent and fear the warrior. He took their fear as a sign of weakness and pushed them away thinking them unimportant.
One day the warrior met an old man who beat him easilly even though they seemed weak and frail. The powerful warrior was suprised and enraged that an old man with a simple wooden walking stick had defeated him, with his sharp sword and keen eyes.
The great warrior flew into a rage and with all the strength he could muster, battered down the old man until he was too weak to defend himself with his walking stick, and finally, the great warrior hew him down like a farmer cutting down a sapling with a sharp axe.
The warrior looked down at what he had won. For the first time he felt nothing. No thrill or elation followed. No mirth or pride. No sadness or regret. Just nothing.
As the warrior looked around, he saw the devistation he had made. The fearful people hid and plotted how to rid themselves of this cursed demon that once was a good kind man, and children ran from him to hide. Even the rats hated him and no living creature would be near him.
The warrior suddenly realized that he had become lost in the red fury and darkness of the mind that accompanies too much destruction. He felt that every victory he had ever won was a defeat.
The warrior put his sword away carefully and found a teacher to learn what he did not know. He could not understand why even though he defeated the old man he lost his self respect. He could not really understand anything until he understood himself.
Later on, after much study and prayer, he did achieve enlightenment, a lightness of the soul and a love for all things living. He paid his debts said his goodbyes, and journeyed to the City of Good Neighbors where he lived in peace, in harmony with all of his neighbors, never to fear, or war again, and always to eat really delicious take-out from time to time.
To this day, the old man keeps his sword, and few (if any) are able to out-eat him.
A man is born gentle and weak.
At his death he is hard and stiff.
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry.
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
Thus an army without flexibility never wins a battle.
A tree that is unbending is easily broken.
The hard and strong will fall.
The soft and weak will overcome.
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu
Translation by Ray Burgess