Raising a mound

BSP15

子曰:「譬如為山,未成一簣,止,吾止也!譬如平地,雖覆一簣,進,吾往也!」
Confucius said: “Think of it like raising a mound: if I stop before piling on the last basket of earth, then I have stopped of my own accord. Think of it like filling a hole in the ground: if I have emptied the first basket of earth, I only need to keep on emptying more in order to make progress.”

This is a rather labored metaphor. Following the right path is a step-by-step process; don’t get discouraged and give up along the way. It may seem impossible now, but if you keep on going you will ultimately achieve your objective.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I continue to work my way through the Analects. Having put so much time and effort into the project already, I would be crazy to stop – even if I have quite a few more baskets to empty before I have raised the mound or filled the hole in the ground!

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