Lao Tzu, Chapter 17

Tao Te Ching —
The Classic about Ways And Instances

Lao Tzu

(Translated, with comments, by William P. Coleman)

Chapter 17

The best ruler?
His people know he exists.
The next best?
They love and praise him.
The next,
they are afraid of.
The next,
they despise.

If his belief is not enough,
he will not find enough belief.
But at ease, he values words.

His accomplishment is to complete his work simply;
each of the hundred families says,
“We follow ourselves.”

<– Chapter 16

Table of Contents

Chapter 18 –>


my comments:





For comparison, I’m including the translation by Lin Yutang, which I always love and respect, even when I disagree:


17. Rulers

Of the best rulers
The people (only) know that they exist;
The next best they 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.”

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