Saturdao 28

Dao De Jing, verse 17

16 translations.

1. James Legge:
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 Dao) 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!'
2. Archie Bahm:
The most intelligent leaders bring about results without making those controlled realize that they are being influenced.
The less intelligent seek to motivate others by appeals to loyalty, honor, self-interest, and flattery.
Those still less intelligent employ fear by making their followers think they will not receive their rewards.
The worst try to force others to improve by condemning their conduct.
But since, if leaders do not trust their followers then their followers will not trust the leaders, the intelligent leader will be careful not to speak as if he doubted or distrusted his follower’s ability to do the job suitably.
When the work is done, and as he wanted it done, he will be happy if the follwers say: “This is just the way we wanted it.”
3. Frank MacHovec:
As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next,the people fear; and the next, the people hate.
If you have no faith people will have no faith in you, and you must resort to oaths.
When the best leader’s work is done the people say: “We did it ourselves.”
4. D.C. Lau:
The best of all rulers is but a shadowy presence to his subjects.
Next comes the ruler they love and praise;
Next comes one they fear;
Next comes one with whom they take liberties.
When there is not enough faith, there is lack of good faith.
Hesitant, he does not utter words lightly.
When his task is accomplished and his work done
The people all say, 'It happened to us naturally.'
5. Gia-Fu Feng:
The very highest is barely known by men.
Then comes that which they know and love,
Then that which is feared,
Then that which is despised.
He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.
When actions are performed without unnecessary speech,
People say, “We did it!”
6. Stan Rosenthal:
Man cannot comprehend the infinite;
only knowing that the best exists,
the second best is seen and praised,
and the next, despised and feared.
The sage does not expect that others use his criteria as their own.
The existence of the leader who is wise is barely known to those he leads.
He acts without unnecessary speech,
so that the people say, "It happened of its own accord".
7. Jacob Trapp:
“Good Rulers”
The good ruler rules inconspicuously;
His influence is every where,
Yet the people are scarcely aware of its source.
The weak ruler seeks to be flattered;
The bad ruler is feared and reviled.
Where a ruler no longer
Trusts and honors the people,
The people no longer
Trust and honor their ruler.
He then demands their loyalty.
The good ruler talks little;
And when his work is done
And his aim fulfilled,
The people say, “We did this!”
Or, “Things were so of themselves.”
8. Stephen Mitchell:
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!"
9. Victor Mair:
Preeminent is one whose subjects barely know he exists;
The next is one to whom they feel close and praise;
The next is one whom they fear;
The lowest is one whom they despise.
When the ruler’s trust is wanting,
there will be no trust in him.
He values his words.
When his work is completed and his affairs finished,
the common people say,
“We are like this by ourselves.”
10. Michael LaFargue:
The greatest ruler: those under him only know he exists
the next best kind: they love and praise him
the next: they are in awe of him
the next: they despise him.
When sincerity does not suffice
it was not sincerity.
(“Reticent – he is sparing with words.”)
He achieves successes
he accomplishes his tasks
and the hundred clans all say: We are just being natural.
11. Peter Merel:
The best rulers are scarcely known by their subjects;
The next best are loved and praised;
The next are feared;
The next despised:
They have no faith in their people,
And their people become unfaithful to them.
When the best rulers achieve their purpose
Their subjects claim the achievement as their own.
12. Ursula LeGuin:
“Acting Simply”
True leaders
are hardly know to their followrs.
Next after them are the leaders
the people know and admire;
after them, those they despise.
To give no trust
Is to get no trust.
Whe the work’s done right,
With no fuss or boasting,
Ordinary people say,
Oh, we did it.
13. Wang Keping:
The best kind of rulers are those whose existence
Is merely known by the people below them.
The next-best are those who are loved and praised.
The next-best are those who are feared.
The next-best are those who are despised.
If trust in others is not sufficient,
It will be unrequited.
(The best rulers) are cautious,
And seldom issue orders.
When tasks are accomplished and affairs completed,
The common people will say,
“We simply follow the way of spontaneity.”
14. Ames and Hall:
With the most excellent rulers, their subjects only know that they are there,
The next best are the rulers they love and praise,
Next are the rulers they hold in awe,
And the worst are the rulers they disparage.
Where there is a lack of credibility,
There is a lack of trust.
Vigilant, they are careful in what they say.
With all things accomplished and the work complete
The common people say, “We are spontaneously like this.”
15. Yasuhiko Genku Kimura:
The supreme leader is one whose existence is barely known.
Next best is one who is loved and praised.
Next is one who is feared.
The last is one who is contemned.
No trust will ever be accorded to a leader who lacks integrity.
Therefore, with deep commitment,
Honor your words and trust the words of others.
Then, when the work is done and success achieved,
The people will say, "we did it ourselves."
16. Addiss and Lombardo:
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,
Everyone says
We just acted naturally.
* * *
Look: How are you ruled?
By the universe, I mean.
Does the cosmos not offer such light and unobtrusive guidance to your life that you don't notice it at all unless you stop to reflect?
Does it not leave you to feel, rightfully, responsible?
OK, then.
When you rule, do likewise.

You are indispensable,
Also invisible,
* * *
Next: Saturdao 29.
Previous: Saturdao 27.
Beginning: Saturdao 1.