High virtue is non-virtuous,
therefore it has virtue.
Low virtue never frees itself from virtuousness;
therefore it has no virtue.
high virtue makes no fuss and has no private ends to serve;
low virtue not only fusses but has private ends to serve.
high humanity fusses but has no private ends to serve;
high morality not only fusses but has private ends to serve.
high ceremony fusses but finds no response;
then it tries to enforce itself with rolled-up sleeves.
failing dao, man resorts to virtue.
failing virtue,man resorts to humanity.
failing humanity, man resorts to morality.
failing morality, man resorts to ceremony.
now ceremony is the merest husk of faith and loyalty;
it is the beginning of all confusion and disorder.
as to foreknowledge, it is only a flower of tao,
and the beginning of folly.
therefore, the full grown man sets his heart upon the substance rather than the husk; upon the fruit rather than the flower.
truly, he prefers what is within to what is without.
-Lao zi (ancient child)
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