excerpt from Motta’s Chinese Equinox

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Xiao Chu means‚ “small restraint‚” or conversely, restraint in small things, so we can accumulate virtue.  We append a deep Taoistic comment:

The Master said:  “The petty man is not ashamed of what is not benevolent, nor fears doing what is not right.  Without prospect of profit, he does not dedicate himself to what is good ,and without pressure from others; he does not redress his errors.  However, self-correction in small things would make him chary in things of greater consequence.  If good deeds are not accumulated, they will not be sufficient to create character in us; if bad deeds are not accumulated, they will not be sufficient to disrupt our lives.  The petty man thinks that small good deeds are unimportant and does not do them; he thinks that small bad deeds are unimportant and does not abstain from them. Thus his evil accumulates until it can no longer be disguised, and his guilt grows until it becomes intolerable.”

The reader should not interpret the expression‚ “good deeds‚” in the maudlin and lukewarm sense of ” kindness” or “giving alms.”  Good deeds consist in correct behavior, virtue (in the old sense of manliness; better yet, humanness‚ (the quality is not foreign to women as it is often more evident in them), honesty, self-discipline.  And “bad deeds” are the opposite of this:  laxity, petty lying, small thefts or hypocrisies.

There is no “sanction” or “reward” on the part of “divine beings” in regard to such acts.  There is nobody “watching us” to send us either to heaven or to hell, according to our behavior.  The importance of right conduct is that it created integrity in us, and this eventually, makes of us, living Gods.

Cf. the Dao De Jing, chapters XVI, XVII, LIV, LIX, LXIII, LXIV.

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