March 18, 2009


To hold it upright and fill it,
Better to have stopped in time.
Hammer it to a point,
It won't be preserved for long.
When gold and jade fill the hall,
Their possessor cannot keep them safe.
Arrogance and pride with wealth and rank,
On their own bring disaster.
To retire when the task is done is the Dào of Heaven.

COMMENTARY by Koeng S. Wan:
The Dào of Heaven is to stop when the task is done for going beyond what is needed entails costs and risks that exceed the benefit.

Division 9 gives four examples why the Dào of Heaven should be followed.

In the first case, a cup that is held and then filled only until it is full conserves effort and material and avoids one from being bothered by the excess.

In the second case, sharpening a point beyond what is needed is a waste of effort since its nature is to become dull over time anyway, as the Dào blunts the sharp Division 4.

In the third case, once one has striven to fill a room with treasures one must undertake the additional burden of keeping them secure though nothing more can happen to it but have the amount reduced.

Arrogance with pride with wealth and rank represents a never ending desire to acquire more and more wealth and rank which risks “favor and disgrace” (Division 13) and the shortening of one's life (Division 44).

Overall, by following the Dào of Heaven, one can avoid danger and live a long life (Division 44).