"Those of preeminent wisdom and purity knew this Tao intuitively from their birth,
and so possessed it.
Those of the second rank—the men of virtue—approached it nearly, and eulogised it.
Those of the third rank—who were still above the commonalty—stood in awe of it.
Those of the lowest rank held it in light esteem.
Their belief in it was superficial, or imperfect; while there were even some who did not believe in it at all.
The first spoke only with forethought and calculation, as though honouring their words.
When their public labours were achieved, and affairs progressed unimpeded, the people all said,
"This is our natural and spontaneous condition.""
- Translated by Frederic Henry Balfour, 1884, Chapter 17
"A leader is best
When people barely know that he exists,
Not so good when people obey and acclaim him,
Worst when they despise him.
'Fail to honor people,
They fail to honor you;'
But of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled,
They will all say, 'We did this ourselves.'"
- Translated by Witter Bynner, 1944, Chapter 17
"In the highest antiquity people scarce knew
That rulers existed among them; In the next age attachment and praise for them grew, In the next people feared they might wrong them; And then in the next age the people despised The rulers whom fate set above them, For when faith by the rulers no longer is prized, The people no longer can love them. Those earliest rulers! what caution they had In weighing the words they were using; How successful their deeds! while the people all said We are what we are by our choosing."
- Translated by Isaac Winter Heysinger, 1903, Chapter 17
"Great rising and falling - People only know it exists.
Next they see and praise.
Soon they fear.
Finally they despise.
Without fundamental trust There is no trust at all.
Be careful in valuing words.
When the work is done,
"We just acted naturally." "
- Translated by Stephen Addis, 1993, Chapter 17
"With the highest rulers -
Those below simply know they exist.
With those one step down -
They love and praise them.
With those one further step down -
They fear them.
And with those at the bottom -
They ridicule and insult them.
Who does not trust enough
will not be trusted.
Hesitant and undecided!
Like this is his respect for speaking.
He completes his tasks and finishes his affairs
Yet the common people say,
"These things all happened by nature."
- Translated by Bram den Hond, Chapter 17
功成事遂百姓皆謂我自然. - Chinese characters, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 17
t'ai shang hsia chih yu chih.
ch'i tz'u ch'in erh yü chih.
chi tz'u wei chih.
ck'i tz'u wu chih.
hsin pu tsu yen yu pu hsin yen.
yu hsi ch'i kuei yen.
kung ch'êng shih sui pai hsing chieh wei wo tzu jan.
- Wade-Giles Romanization, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 17
"Of great rulers the subjects do not notice the existence.
To lesser ones people are attached; they praise them.
Still lesser ones people fear, and the meanest ones people despise.
For it is said: 'If your faith be insufficient, verily, you will receive no faith.'
How reluctantly the great rulers considered their words!
Merit they accomplished; deeds they performed; and the hundred families thought: 'We are independent.' "
- Translated by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus, 1913, Chapter 17
"Of the best ruler,
The people only know he exists.
Next comes one the love and praise.
Next comes one they fear.
Next comes one they abhor.
When you are lacking in trust,
Others have no trust in you.
Of the work of one who is short with his words,
The hundred families say,
We have done it ourselves!"
- Translated by Herrymoon Maurer, 1985, Chapter 17
"The best leader is one whose existence is barely known.
Next best is one who is lived and praised.
Next is one who is feared.
Worst of all is a leader who is despised.
If you fail to trust people, they won't turn out to be trustworthy.
Therefore, guide others by quietly relying on Tao.
Then, when the work is done, the people can say,
"We did this ourselves." "
- Translated by Brian Browne Walker, 1996, Chapter 17
"Acerca de los antiguos todo lo que se sabe es que existían.
Los sucesores fueron amados y alabados, y los siguientes fueron temidos.
Los que vinieron después aborrecidos.
Sí no te tienes plena confianza, otros te serán infieles.
Entonces las palabras rituales estaban medidas.
El mérito de las obras tenía plenitud.
Todo el mundo decía:
"Estamos en armonía con nosotros mismos"."
- Translation from Logia Medio Dia, 2015, Capítulo 17
"Of the best rulers
The people only know that they exist;
The next best the love and praise;
The next they fear;
And the next they revile.
When they do not command the people's faith,
Some will lose faith in them,
And then they resort to oaths!
But of the best, when their task is accomplished,
their work done,
The people all remark, "We have done it ourselves.""
- Translated by Lin Yutang, 1955, Chapter 17
"In ancient times
The people knew that they had rulers.
Then they loved and praised them,
Then they feared them,
Then they despised them.
The rulers did not trust the people,
The people did not trust the rulers.
The rulers were grave, their words were precious.
The people having finished their work,
and brought it to a successful issue, said:
"We affirm the Self.""
- Translated by Isabella Mears, 1916, Chapter 17
Audio Recordings in English by Mike Garofalo
Here is an audio recording of selected translations from Chapter 17 of the Tao Te Ching. This reading includes translations by Frederic Henry Balfour 1884, Witter Bynner 1944, Isaac Winter Heysinger 1903, Bram den Hond, Herrymoon Maurer 1985, and Isabella Mears 1916. Reading and recording by Michael P. Garofalo from the Valley Spirit Center, Gushen Grove, in Red Bluff, California. Recorded on November 22, 2016. MP3 format. 7.1 MB.
A typical webpage created by Mike Garofalo for each one of the 81 Chapters (Verses, Sections) of the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi) includes 25 different English language translations or interpolations for that Chapter, 5 Spanish language translations for that Chapter, the Chinese characters for that Chapter, the Wade-Giles and Hanyu Pinyin transliterations (Romanization) of the Mandarin Chinese words for that Chapter, and 2 German and 1 French translation of that Chapter. Each webpage for each one of the 81 Chapters of the Tao Te Ching includes extensive indexing by key words, phrases, and terms for that Chapter in English, Spanish, and the Wade-Giles Romanization. Each webpage on a Chapter of the Daodejing includes recommended reading in books and websites, a detailed bibliography, some commentary, research leads, translation sources, a Google Translate drop down menu, and other resources for that Chapter.
Chapter 17, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
Chapter and Thematic Index (Concordance) to the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
English Language Daodejing Translators' Source Index
Spanish Language Daodejing Translators' Source Index
Ripening Peaches: Taoist Studies and Practices
Taoism: A Selected Reading List