A truly good man is not aware of his goodness,
And is therefore good.
A foolish man tries to be good,
And is therefore not good.
A truly good man does nothing,
Yet leaves nothing undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
Yet much remains to be done.
When a truly kind man does something, he leaves nothing undone.
When a just man does something, he leaves a great deal to be done.
When a disciplinarian does something and no one responds,
He rolls up his sleeves in an attempt to enforce order.
Therefore when Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is kindness.
When kindness is lost, there is justice.
When justice is lost, there is ritual.
Now ritual is the husk of faith, and loyalty, the beginning of confusion.
Knowledge of the future is only a flowery trapping of Tao.
It is the beginning of folly.
Therefore the truly great man dwells on what is real
and not what is on the surface,
On the fruit and not the flower.
Therefore accept the one and reject the other.
This is the thirty-eighth verse, one of my favorites, of an ancient Chinese poem called the Tao Te Ching, written by someone called Lao Tzu – but actual authorship has not been definitively established. It if from the translation by Gia-Fu-Feng and Jane English and I think it is about the best one available in English; if anybody knows of a better one please let me know.
The Tao Te Ching,Daodejing, or Dao De Jing (simplified Chinese: 道德经; traditional Chinese: 道德經; pinyin: Dàodéjīng), also simply referred to as the Laozi (Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ), is a Chinese classic text. According to tradition, it was written around 6th century BC by the sage Laozi (or Lao Tzu, Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ, literally meaning “Old Master”), a record-keeper at the Zhou dynasty court, by whose name the text is known in China. The text’s true authorship and date of composition or compilation are still debated, although the oldest excavated text dates back to the late 4th century BC.
The passages are ambiguous, and topics range from political advice for rulers to practical wisdom for people. Because the variety of interpretation is virtually limitless, not only for different people but for the same person over time, readers do well to avoid making claims of objectivity or superiority. Also, since the book is 81 short poems, there is little need for an abridgement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao_Te_Ching