Holding a cup and overfilling it
Cannot be as good as stopping short
Pounding a blade and sharpening it
Cannot be kept for long
Gold and jade fill up the room
No one is able to protect them
Wealth and position bring arrogance
And leave disasters upon oneself
When achievement is completed, fame is attained
This is the Tao of Heaven
This ninth verse of the Tao challenges us to explore why we tend to pursue excess. We chase contentment like a phantom in a dream. We never quite wrap our arms around it. We torture ourselves with relentless thoughts like; you can never be too rich or too thin. Where is the finish line? Why is it so hard to appreciate the here and now?
More is just that, more. More does not equate to happiness. In fact, Lao Tzu suggests that excess is often burdensome. He counsels that a cup is easier to hold if it not filled to the brim. He cautions that over attachment to possessions can doom you to a life lived in fear of losing them and echoes the teaching of the bible that great pride comes before the fall. The enlightened soul understands that the greatest experience is in this moment; the moment we are living right now. Everything else is an illusion created by our egos.
This is no to suggest that we should not set goals and strive to be our best. It is a gentle reminder to appreciate each and every moment of your life as you journey. Being mindful changes your perspective from happiness as being contingent upon attaining possessions and status to happiness as always being in your life with the occasional bonus of very satisfying moments showing up along the way.
Caregivers tend to wait to be happy until something is fixed. If we were to slow down, just for moment, and get settle upon the fact that things are always changing and nothing stays the same (fixed) for long; we might enjoy a good laugh at ourselves for our very human, compassion driven silliness.
Find your contentment in the now; even if the only sense of joy to can touch is your own ability to be open and available to another human being when they are most in need.