Fame or one’s own self, which does one love more?
One’s own self or material goods, which has more worth?
Loss (of self) or possession (of goods), which is the greater evil?
Therefore: he who loves most spends most,
He who hoards much loses much.
The contented man meets no disgrace;
Who knows when to stop, runs into no danger –
He can long endure.
( Translation by Lin Yutang )
This chapter emphasizes the importance of self. Lao Tzu began by asking:
Self and fame, which one is closer to you?
Self and the goods, which is more important to you?
If you gain fame and good but cause harm to yourself, which one makes you lose more?
He added: If you love fame too much, you need to spend a great deal and if you try to store too much, you will end up suffering a severe loss.
So Lao Tzu said: If people can be content enough, they will not be subject to humiliation. If they know when they should stop, they will not be in danger.