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[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 9

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Legge

 

It is better to leave a vessel unfilled, than to attempt to 
carry it when it is full. If you keep feeling a point that has been 
sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness.
 
When gold and jade fill the hall, their possessor cannot keep them 
safe. When wealth and honours lead to arrogancy, this brings its evil 
on itself. When the work is done, and one's name is becoming 
distinguished, to withdraw into obscurity is the way of Heaven. 
 
 
Lau
 
Rather than fill it to the brim by keeping it upright 
Better to have stopped in time; 
Hammer it to a point 
And the sharpness cannot be preserved for ever; 
There may be gold and jade to fill a hall 
But there is none who can keep them. 
To be overbearing when one has wealth and position 
Is to bring calamity upon oneself. 
To retire when the task is accomplished 
Is the way of heaven. 
 
 
Feng/English
 
9
Better to stop short than fill to the brim. 
Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt. 
Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it. 
Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow. 
Retire when the work is done. 
This is the way of heaven.
 
 
Bill Porter (Red Pine)
 
9.
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
 
Jonathan Star
 
9
Grabbing and stuffing ? there is no end to it
Sharpen a blade too much and its edge will soon be lost
Fill a house with gold and jade and no one can protect it
Puff yourself with honour and pride and no one can save you from a fall
Complete the task at had
Be selfless in your actions
This is the way of Heaven
This is the way to Heaven
 
 
FH:
 
9
Better to stop short than to fill to the brim. 
Oversharpen a blade and it will soon become blunt. 
Make a hoard of gold and jade and no one can protect them.
Claim wealth and titles and disaster will surely follow. 
Retire when the work is done. For this is the way of Heaven.

 

 

Ni:

 

9

A bow that is stretched to its fullest capacity may certainly snap.

A sword that is tempered to its very sharpest may easily be broken.
A house that is full of jade and gold cannot remain secure for long.
One who proudly displays his wealth invites trouble.
Therefore, resign from a high position when your mission is complete.
This is the Universal Way of a life of deep virtue.

 

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Retire when the work is done.

 

A few words come to mind: simple, wise, elegant.

 

But dare I say that the most obvious word is: obvious. The advice seems to be obvious. And yet so many do seem to have trouble with the idea. Political history is full of people who didn't know when to stop! Or who do know, but carry on anyway...

 

I guess it has to do with risk. Those who pull the bowstring too tight, who fill their cup with too much wine, who oversharpen their blade, are looking for a thrill, or caught up in the idea of winning, or of beating someone else, or of irrationally gaining more than is possible... the risk seems worth it, or they don't even consider that they might lose.

 

So... is it suggesting that we never take risks?

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Yeah.. that ties in more closely. Risk is a part of that perhaps, but ego itself is what needs to be kept in check..

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Its saying that taking things to the bitter extreme is conterproductive because you get into a situation of diminishing returns., and eventually go retrograde to your own aims. Its not about risk or ego.

Edited by Stosh
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Going to the extremes undermines your intent because  

too far in any direction heads back the other way.

Waste of life energy.

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As everyone else has said, this one is pretty simple/basic...

 

Do everything in moderation.  Don't go crazy with desire.

Be at peace/rest when not working, for this is the way of (to) heaven.

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As everyone else has said, this one is pretty simple/basic...

 

Do everything in moderation.  Don't go crazy with desire.

Be at peace/rest when not working, for this is the way of (to) heaven.

 

Yes, the concepts are easy enough to understand but living them spontaneously is the key. From my perspective, this verse and many others of the DDJ serve as indicators of my own personal harmony or disharmony with Dao. I don't try to consciously alter my behaviour to fit classical Daoism, rather as my harmony with the Dao grows, I'm naturally more like this. 

 

I like to read different versions of DDJ translations and commentary but I do so out of cultural interest. I'm not interested in 'correct' or 'incorrect' understandings based on words. Fundamentally my path has been - and continues to be - one of following my own feelings and desires rather than any externally prescribed course. For me that's meant exploring extremes of experience. That's how I've found my limits and also achieved my greatest insights. I've needed to fracture my culturally and family determined behaviour and self image by exceeding my limits in order to find a far greater reality.    

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Retire when the work is done.

 

A few words come to mind: simple, wise, elegant.

 

But dare I say that the most obvious word is: obvious. The advice seems to be obvious. And yet so many do seem to have trouble with the idea. Political history is full of people who didn't know when to stop! Or who do know, but carry on anyway...

 

I guess it has to do with risk. Those who pull the bowstring too tight, who fill their cup with too much wine, who oversharpen their blade, are looking for a thrill, or caught up in the idea of winning, or of beating someone else, or of irrationally gaining more than is possible... the risk seems worth it, or they don't even consider that they might lose.

 

So... is it suggesting that we never take risks?

 

What defines 'risk' ? 

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What defines 'risk' ? 

 

MH is right, it's more about ego than 'risk'.. I had recently been reading about risk-taking and emotional states and was too quick to apply it to the chapter.

 

However.. it might still be worth some comment. Research (and our own experience, I think) suggests that excitement, and in some cases anger, makes people more likely to take risks. In this context a risk is to knowingly go further than is necessary in an attempt to achieve a 'better' outcome.

 

Perhaps there's a certain point at which an experienced archer feels that the bow is taught enough: the arrow will hit its mark. But in a state of heightened excitement, or anger, or other aroused frame of mind, she might pull too far and snap the bow. Or perhaps an inexperienced archer doesn't know what the perfect resistance is for the bow: then he might pull to the fullest extent, further, eventually too tight, out of fear that a lighter pull wouldn't be successful. In each case, the bow snaps. In each case, it would have been better to remain calm and not take the risk. The experienced archer should wash away intense emotions and focus on her experience, in the moment; the inexperienced archer should calm himself, be content with practice, gaining experience, rather than hitting a strong shot straight away.

 

It requires dispassion. Though the action & outcome might be important, the best way to ensure success is with calm detachment in the moment. It's important to know when a project is finished -- an essay or presentation or painting or whatever. To know when it's time to "call it a day" before one goes too far and ruins good work, one must "take a step back" and look at it with cold eyes. There will often be a little voice saying "Just go back and tweak this, add to that, remove the other.." but this is the same ego/risk-taker that told the archer to pull the bow just a little tighter. Time to stop. Just say, "This is done," and move on to the next thing.

 

Like I should do with this post..... :blush:

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On 03/05/2017 at 1:21 PM, Stosh said:

Its saying that taking things to the bitter extreme is conterproductive because you get into a situation of diminishing returns., and eventually go retrograde to your own aims. Its not about risk or ego.

 

Well, it's risk and ego as well. Otherwise, why would one take something to a bitter extreme?

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On 04/05/2017 at 11:44 PM, Yueya said:

I don't try to consciously alter my behaviour to fit classical Daoism, rather as my harmony with the Dao grows, I'm naturally more like this. 

 

 

I think this is an interesting point, but...

 

Say, if the sign says "beware" and then we take the risk anyway and get bitten, we do still have the choice to either make the mistake again or not.

 

Are we really "naturally more like this", or simply humble enough to admit we may have gotten a bit too big for our boots?!

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On 4/25/2020 at 5:34 AM, Rara said:

 

Well, it's risk and ego as well. Otherwise, why would one take something to a bitter extreme?

Yeah, there's ego, ( in terms of the existence of a self). I misspoke of ego in the conventional sense. (Which is akin to bolstering a false high perception of ones self.)

 

Conceptually,

I'm saying that avoidance of certain actions, can be done, with the rationale, that the actions run counter to ones goals. ( The actions are considered extreme, only in being ones which are polemically characterised as such) 

For example, -being so frugal that one does not spend the money they have,,,and so they have nothing of material 'value'. 

Conversely, one can be broke, because they spent every cent partying already.

 

 

At either ' extreme' ,one might be said to be impoverished. 

 

 

In the ideal, one has money for needs looking ahead, but has attended to the present by spending appropriately.

Is that Not the way to happy finances? 

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Posted (edited)

Here's another example, 

 

Argument, is often aimed at a person's goal that one persons current idea will prevail.( Their own) 

 

If that happens ,accord will be reached, ( So the goal of argument could be said to be accord, if things get that far along).

 

The

 person  who gains the 'win', ends up with the original conclusions they had.( no real gain) And the who was rectified, gains a better perspective.

,,.......

 

So the teachings are not other-worldly, they are not magic, They are a clarification of wise perspective,,it is only confusing looking, to one holding bungled ideas. 

.....

 

Contending, 'by not contending' ,,, can be digging ones heels in, holding ones tongue... So as to not risk altering their views,nor be subject to attack.

 

Or ,it can be actively chatting without trying to find ones current opinions correct. 

 

Keeping ego out of it, you make your points, you make friends, you pass time pleasantly , and you're open to advantageous adaptation. 

This is the 'contending ,without contention'.

You let go of the desire to prevail, and open yourself to improvement.

 

In the next argument you will be offering more. 

,..  

 

Apparently that's not fun though. ;)

 

 

Edited by Stosh
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