in Taoism, virtue is expected to arise naturally when a person follows the Tao – The Way. This “natural virtue,” which is also a natural power within a person’s character, is called Te, Cultivation of one’s Te is an important part of Taoist spiritual practice.
In the time of early Taoism, the detailed teaching of day-to-day “situational virtue” was left largely to Confucianism. Still, there are passages in the Tao Te Ch’ing which clearly speak of virtue:
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple,
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
— from the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 8
Giving birth and nourishing,
Having without possessing,
Acting with no expectations,
Leading and not trying to control:
This is the supreme virtue.
— from the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 10
I have just three things to teach:
Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These are your Three Treasures.
— from the Tao Te Ching, Chapter 67
[The Tao Te Ching, The Way and its Power, or The Way and its Virtue, was written by the sage, Lao Tzu, circa 500 BCE.
Translations and comments are by Stephen Mitchell, Harper Perennial,1988.]