Take Precautions Early
This term can also be translated as “nipping the problem in the bud.” Hidden or inconspicuous things are not easily discovered. But there are always warning signs, indications of something newly emerged, slowly developing. All things evolve from hidden to obvious, from small to big, and in time they may lead to harmful consequences. If early steps are not taken to prevent mistakes and problems and to eliminate any defects in time, it will be costly to deal with the consequences, and even disaster may ensue. Thus, people should gain a deep understanding and good grasp of what underlies the evolution of things.
Even before flood or drought occurs, a far-sighted and virtuous man will have taken precautions in advance. (The History of the Later Han Dynasty)
Rewarding and punishment are two powerful means which the ruler will not concede to others. This enables him to eliminate disasters in bud. (History as a Mirror)
An incipient and light illness is easy to cure. However, prolonged illness is difficult to cure. As said in The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, the sage begins treatment before, not after, there is serious illness. (Xu Dachun: The Origin and Development of Illnesses)