Da Xue: The Great Learning

The Path of Great Learning is in manifesting radiant virtue, loving the people, and resting in the highest goodness. Knowing where to abide, there is stability, after stability there is quietude, after quietude there is peace, and after peace you may consider matters. After thus considering matters, you may accomplish them. Things have their roots and their tips; matters have their ends and their beginnings; by knowing what is before and after, you are close to the Path.

The ancients who wished to manifest virtue under Heaven first made well their own states. Wishing to make well their states, they first regulated their own families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated themselves. Wishing to cultivate themselves, they first corrected their minds. Wishing to correct their minds, they first became sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended their knowledge. This extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of phenomena.

When phenomena had been investigated, their knowledge became complete. When their knowledge was complete, their thoughts were sincere. When their thoughts were sincere, their minds were correct. When their minds were correct, they were then cultivated. When they were cultivated, their families were regulated. When their families were regulated, their states were rightly governed. When their states were rightly governed, there was peace under Heaven.

From the Son of Heaven down to the ordinary person, all things have their root in the cultivation of oneself. If the root is in disorder, then what springs from it also will be. It must not be that those important things are unimportant, and unimportant things are important. This is called “knowing the root,” and is also called “the extension of knowledge.”

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