The Way of the Great Learning consists in
manifesting the clear character,
loving the people, and
abiding (chih) in the highest good.
Only after knowing what to abide in can one be calm.
Only after having been calm can one be tranquil.
Only after having achieved tranquillity can one have peaceful repose.
Only after having peaceful repose can one begin to deliberate.
Only after deliberation can the end be attained.
Things have their roots and branches.
Affairs have their beginnings and their ends.
To know what is first
and what is last
will lead one near the Way.
The ancients who wished to manifest their clear character to the world would first bring order to their states.
Those who wished to bring order to their states
would first regulate their families.
Those who wished to regulate their families
would first cultivate their personal lives.
Those who wished to cultivate their personal lives
would first rectify their minds.
Those who wished to rectify their minds
would first make their wills sincere.
Those who wished to make their wills sincere
would first extend their knowledge.
The extension of knowledge consists in the investigation of things.
When things are investigated, knowledge is extended;
when knowledge is extended, the will becomes sincere;
when the will is sincere, the mind is rectified;
when the mind is rectified, the personal life is cultivated;
when the personal life is cultivated, the family will be regulated;
when the family is regulated, the state will be in order;
and when the state is in order,
there will be peace throughout the world.
From the Son of Heaven down to the common people,
all must regard cultivation of the personal life as the root or foundation.
There is never a case
when the root is in disorder
and yet the branches are in order.
There has never been a case
when what is treated with great importance
becomes a matter of slight importance
or what is treated with slight importance
becomes a matter of great importance.
~ Confucius, The Great Learning, c. 500 BC