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Tao Te Ching Chapter 17 | Lao-Tzu | Comparative Translations

The Way of Virtue





In the highest antiquity, (the people) did not know that there were (their rulers). In the next age they loved them and praised them. In the next they feared them; in the next they despised them.

Thus it was that when faith (in the Tao) was deficient (in the rulers) a want of faith in them ensued (in the people).


How irresolute did those (earliest rulers) appear, showing (by their reticence) the importance which they set upon their words!

Their work was done and their undertakings were successful, while the people all said, 'We are as we are, of ourselves!'

When the Master governs, the people

are hardly aware that he exists.

Next best is a leader who is loved.

Next, one who is feared.

The worst is one who is despised.


If you don't trust the people,

you make them untrustworthy.


The Master doesn't talk, he acts.

When his work is done,

the people say, "Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves!"




Translated by J. Legge





Translated by Stephen Mitchell
















 

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