a truly good person


A truly

good person doesn’t

dwell on her goodness.

Thus she can be good.

A person of false goodness

never forgets her goodness.

Thus her goodness is

always false.


A truly

good person does nothing,

yet nothing remains undone.

A person of false goodness is forever

doing, yet everything remains

forever undone.


Those who

are interested in service

act without motive. Those who are

interested in righteousness act with

motives of all sorts. Those who are

interested in propriety act, and

receiving no response, they

roll up their sleeves

and use force.



Tao is lost,

goodness appears.

When goodness is lost,

philanthropy appears.

When philanthropy is lost,

justice appears.

When justice is lost,

only etiquette

is left.



is the faintest husk

of real loyalty and faith,

and it is the beginning of confusion.

Knowledge of the future is only

a blossom of Tao; to become

preoccupied with it

is folly.


Thus the

sage sets her sights

on the substance and not the

surface, on the fruit and not the

flower. Leaving the one,

she gains the



from The Tao te Ching of Lao Tzu,

Chapter 38


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