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Virtue Without Law

[I just read this in Tao: The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts, pp. 83–4.]

The superior man [or woman] goes through his life without any one preconceived course of action or any taboo. He merely decides for the moment what is the right thing to do.… The goody-goodies are the thieves of virtue. [Li Chi 32, The Wisdom of China and India by Lin Yutang, p. 835]

In other words, a true human is not a model of righteousness, a prig or a prude, but recognizes that some failings are as necessary to genuine human nature as salt to stew. Merely righteous people are impossible to live with because the have no humor, do not allow the true human nature to be, and are dangerously unconscious of their own shadows.… It is an essential, then of political wu-wei that one does not try to enforce laws against human nature and send people to jail for “sins,” or crimes without unwilling victims. Trust in human nature is acceptance of the good-and-bad of it, and it is hard to trust those who do not admit their own weaknesses.

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