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.
The master does nothing, yet he leaves nothing undone.
The ordinary man is always doing things,
yet many more are left to be done.
The highest virtue is to act without a sense of self.
The highest kindness is to give without condition.
The highest justice is to see without preference.
When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the begining of chaos.
The great master follows his own nature and not the trappings of life.
It is said:
“He stays with the fruit and not the fluff.”
“He stays with the firm and not the flimsy.”
“He stays with the true and not the false.”
The verse carries forward the same concept as the previous verse; doing verses being. If we apply the definition of “doing” that was conveyed in that post, we can once again see how “doing” causes problems.
If we are “being” instead of “doing”, then we are living by our true nature, which is goodness. Once we decide to move to a state of “doing” by trying to be good, we are creating a duality of good versus bad. Furthermore, by trying to be good we are attempting to control life, which as we have seen in several previous verses, only leads to more suffering.
As a result of this duality, we create laws, rituals and moral codes to define good and bad. We rely on them to inform us of when we are good and when we are not.
What this verse is telling us is that without all of these laws, rituals and moral codes, we are good by our true nature. We don’t need to rely on these man-made structures to tell us when we are good. We just need to move into a state of being at one with the Tao/Universe/God.
In Wayne Dyer‘s book, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, he describes how “Nature is good without knowing”. It doesn’t need to define good versus bad. It just is and by its true nature it is good without trying.