The best Te is unconscious of itself: that is what
makes it the best Te.
Lesser Te can’t forget that it is Te: that is what
makes it lesser Te.
The best Te does not act, nor does it lead to action.
Lesser Te not only acts, but acts intending that
more things should happen.
The truly kind person is kind without thinking about
The less-kind person acts with kindness on her mind.
The virtuous do deeds that bring about more
The righteous do deeds and, being ignored,
Role up their sleeves to enforce rectitude.
When people lose the Tao
The doctrine of Te arises.
After Te is lost
The doctrine of Benevolence arises.
After Benevolence is lost
The doctrine of Justice arises.
After Justice is lost
What remains is Ritual.
Ritual is the veneer of loyalty and sincerity
And the beginning of disorder.
Sooth-saying and augury are transient flowers of the
And the beginning of folly.
The masterful and mature dwell in substance, not in
Prefer the fruit to the flower,
Leave the one and take the other.
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