|1.||How long can you stand up on your toes?|
|2.||How far walk with stretching stride?|
|3.||Self-display does not illumine;|
|4.||Self-justifying sets no pattern;|
|5.||Self-advancement won't succeed;|
|6.||Self-assertion cannot lead.|
|7.||In terms of Dao, as has been said,|
|8.||“Like food discarded, excess actions|
|9.||Provoke repugnance. ”|
|10.||Dao-keepers will indeed avoid them.|
COMMENT There is little scholarly argument over the point of this homily: over-acting is self-defeating. Standing and walking are natural norms. To strive to rise above others risks security of position; to try to outpace others risks reaching the destination. All forms of self-promotion, like discarded food or unwanted action, achieve no success and earn universal disgust.
The Heshang gong commentary applies the first line to the conduct of a ruler: “Standing up on tiptoe means that those who crave power and strive for glory will not be able to establish their name or put the Way into practice for any length of time. ” Accordingly, this commentary takes line 10 to mean that those who keep to the Way will avoid such rulers.
Some of the lines of this stanza in the Mawangdui text differ. For example, line 1 reads: “He who blows on the stove first cannot do so standing up. ” This line is reflected in the late-Han Xiang'er text, whose first line, “Those who puff hard cannot last, ” sounds like a proverb or perhaps a reference to a yogic breath practice.