|1.||Desist before the vessel overruns.|
|2.||Honed too sharp no blade retains its edge.|
|3.||Treasure-filled no room remains secure.|
|4.||Pride in wealth and place yields retribution.|
|5.||“Tasks complete, doers retreat”:|
|6.||Such is heaven's way.|
COMMENT The examples used in this stanza suggest an audience familiar with the problem of keeping weapons sharpened and treasuries well guarded, that is, a ruling group. Here Laozi warns against crossing the boundary between the positive and the negative. In stanza 56 he advocates dulling what is keen. This too is a form of wuwei, or under-acting.
Line 6 includes the words tianzhi dao, the dao of heaven. Here tian, heaven, is a modifying noun, as in the Confucian term tianming, mandate of heaven. The second part of the compound, dao, does not mean the Way in Laozi's primary sense, but rather the way something works, its modus operandi. In the Laozi the terms “Way” and “heaven” are usually separate.
Stanza 9 is not found in the Guodian text.