The highest good is not to seek to do good,
but to allow yourself to become it.
The ordinary person seeks to do good things,
and finds that they can not do them continually.
The Master does not force virtue on others,
thus she is able to accomplish her task.
The ordinary person who uses force,
will find that they accomplish nothing.
The kind person acts from the heart,
and accomplishes a multitude of things.
The righteous person acts out of pity,
yet leaves many things undone.
The moral person will act out of duty,
and when no one will respond
will roll up his sleeves and use force.
When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.
When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.
When morality is forgotten, there is the law.
The law is the husk of faith,
and trust is the beginning of chaos.
Our basic understandings are not from the Tao
because they come from the depths of our misunderstanding.
The master abides in the fruit and not in the husk.
She dwells in the Tao,
and not with the things that hide it.
This is how she increases in wisdom.
J. H. McDonald
In this, the final chapter of the “Tao Ching”, we have the counsel of the previous chapter repeated for emphasis, making it clear what the sage would have us take away with us when we are done with the work.
There is a polarized duality present in our existential experience, a hierarchy, a constant push-pull, action-reaction flux. It is complex, and can be confusing and misunderstood and misused and harmful to ourselves and others. When our perspective is rooted only in our own personal existence and we do not also behold the Tao, we are small and we are lost.
Dwell in the Tao, the sage counsels, and not the things which hide it. And remember: balance is dynamic, not static. In a dualistic experience we move back and forth between yin and yang, seeking the balance which enables us to conduct ourselves in an upright manner rather than fall over.
There is no perfect, static place in the dynamic human experience. Time and space and change define it, and so as we move and act in it, and with it, and are moved and acted upon by it, we seek a balance there between the two powers of our existence – our nature, and our experience.