Chapter 48: Understanding Strength
A careless man has climbed a tree. In reaching for the fruits, he has gone too far and risks having the branch break. His companion, seeing the precariousness of his situation, warns him to be safe and go no farther.
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The prudent man acts after weighing the strength a deed demands,
his own strength and the strengths of allies and opposition.
Nothing is impossible for those who perceive the nature and means
of their task and proceed with determination.
Ignorant of their strengths, many plunge zealously
into projects, only to miscarry midway.
How swiftly men who praise themselves perish, unappraised of
their real measure, unable to live in peace with others.
Load too many of them, and even peacock feathers
would break a sturdy cart’s axle.
He who has climbed out to the tip of a tree branch
and attempts to climb farther will forfeit his life.
Know the measure of your capacity to give, then give accordingly;
such clarity is the way wealth is preserved.
A small income is no cause for failure,
provided expenditures do not exceed it.
Prosperous as his life may appear, unless a man
measures well his wealth, it will disappear without a trace.
How swiftly a generous man’s riches dwindle and die,
if he does not evaluate the limits of his means.
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