06 June 2011

Thirty-Eight

The man of high virtue is not aware of himself,
and thus attains supreme virtue.
The man of low virtue self-consciously strives,
and thus is without virtue.

The wise man does nothing,
yet leaves nothing undone.
The ignorant man is consumed by doing,
yet little is accomplished.

The compassionate man acts without motive.
The righteous man acts to gain merit.
The moral man acts to impose order.
If no one responds,
he bares his arms and becomes an enforcer.

When Tao is lost, there is virtue.
When virtue is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, rules of conduct are imposed.

Rules are the remnants of trust,
and the beginning of chaos.
Knowledge is an ornamental blossom of Tao,
and the beginning of misunderstanding.

The sage dwells in the depths, not the surface,
in the root, not the flower.
He abides in one, and lets go of the other.