To keep on filling
is not as good as stopping.
Calculated sharpness
cannot be kept for long.
Though gold and jewels fill their houses,
no one can keep them.
When the rich upper classes are haughty,
their legacy indicts them.
When one’s work is accomplished honorably,
to retire is the Way of heaven.

– Thomas Cleary

 

Instead of pouring in more
better stop while you can
making it sharper
won’t help it last longer
rooms full of treasure
can never be safe
the vanity of success
invites its own failure
when your work is done retire
this is the Way of Heaven

– Red Pine

 

Desist before the vessel overruns.
Honed too sharp no blade retains its edge.
Treasure-filled no room remains secure.
Pride in wealth and place yields retribution.
“Tasks complete, doers retreat”:
such is heaven’s way.

– Moss Roberts

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3 thoughts on “Tao Te Ching #9: “To keep on filling is not as good as stopping”

  1. Seeing as lots of scriptures could have such variant translations (& interpretations), it kind of makes you wonder how anybody gets away with religious arrogance or fundamentalism

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