38 – A Path to Character

cc image by dominiqs on Flickr

cc image by dominiqs on Flickr

Superior character does not display virtue
for all to see,
and thus is truly virtuous.

Inferior character
always keeps virtue in sight,
and thus lacks true virtue.

The highest virtue is without action,
Yet things always get done.
Lesser virtue creates much effort
in order to get things done.

Superior kindness
requires effort to keep its name.
Superior righteousness
requires effort to maintain itself.
Superior rules
require a response or it raises a hand to enforce.

In this way, the natural Tao is lost
and cultivated virtue is all that is left.

When virtue is lost,
Superior kindness follows.
When kindness is lost,
Superior righteousness follows.
When superior righteousness is lost,
Rules of propriety prevail.
The veneer of false sincerity thins
and chaos begins.

The great master abides in the deep truth of Tao
and does not dwell in shallowness.
She stays with the fruit and not the flower.


Read the essay to Chapter 38

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