Daodejing Chapter 24: like leftover food and excess fat

Daodejing Chapter 24

「企者不立,跨者不行。自見者不明,自是者不彰;自伐者無功,自誇者不長。其於道也,曰:餘食贅行。物或惡之,故有道者不處。」
People who stand on tiptoe are not steady.
People who take the longest strides cannot keep up the pace.
People who show off do not stand out.
People who promote themselves are not respected.
People who boast achieve nothing
People who brag do not last.
According to the Dao,
They are like leftover food and excess fat.
All creatures detest them.
Therefore, followers of the Dao avoid them.

Chapter 24 of the Daodejing expresses very similar sentiments to those in Chapter 22, though with an even more acerbic sting in the tail in which serial self-promoters are likened to “leftover food and excess fat.” No wonder it concludes by saying: “All creatures detest them. Therefore, followers of the way avoid them.”

Beneath the caustic criticism, Laozi is warning of the unintended consequences of egotistic behavior. Instead of wowing others with your self-proclaimed brilliance, you risk alienating them with your insufferable arrogance. Just like the hare that ended up losing to the tortoise, you end up snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Better to remain humble and calm and let your actions do the talking.

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