It is said, When the wind passes over it, the river loses something; when the sun passes over it, it loses something. But even if we asked the wind and sun to remain constantly over the river, the river would not regard this as the beginning of any real trouble for itself - it relies upon the springs that feed it and goes on its way. The water sticks close by the land, the shadow sticks close by the form, things stick close by things. Therefore keen sight may be a danger to the eye, sharp hearing may be a danger to the ear, and the pursuit of thought may be a danger to the mind. All the faculties that are stored up in man are a potential source of danger, and if this danger becomes real and is not averted, misfortunes will go on piling up in increasing number. A return to the original condition takes effort, its accomplishment takes time. And yet men look upon these faculties as their treasures - is it not sad? Therefore we have this endless destruction of states and slaughter of the people - because no one knows enough to ask about This!In my mind's eye, this is but another way of saying that too much of a good thing can lead to misfortune just as much as too much of a bad thing. The middle line -- away from the extremes -- often is the best path to take!
~ Burton Watson translation ~
To view the Index page for this series, go here.