The ancients when they wished to exemplify illustrious virtue throughout the empire, first ordered well their States. Desiring to maintain well their States, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated themselves. Wishing to cultivate themselves, they first rectified their purpose. Wishing to rectify their purpose, they first sought to think sincerely. Wishing to think sincerely, they first extended their knowledge as widely as possible. This they did by investigation of things.

By investigation of things, their knowledge became extensive. Their knowledge being extensive, their thoughts became sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their purposes were rectified. Their purposes being rectified, they cultivated themselves. They being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their States were rightly governed. Their States being rightly governed, the empire was thereby tranquil and prosperous.

For the completion of life's work, it requires the whole of life, every deflection from virtue marring by so much the perfection of the whole. Saintliness lies not in purity alone, but in rounded fullness of the well-planned and well-spent life; and life becomes more a thing of beauty if extended to old age.