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!