Tao Te Ching #17: “Very great leaders in their domains”

Very great leaders in their domains
are only known to exist.
Those next best are beloved and praised.
The lesser are feared and despised.
Therefore when faith is insufficient
and there is disbelief,
it is from the high value placed on words.
Works are accomplished, tasks are completed,
and ordinary folk all say they are acting spontaneously.

– Thomas Cleary


During the High Ages people knew they were there
then people loved and praised them
then they feared them
finally they despised them
when honesty fails
dishonesty prevails
hesitate and weigh your words
when their work succeeds
let people think they did it

– Red Pine


The best of ancient kings were in their kingdoms hardly known;
Next the patriarchs, loved and widely praised.
Next again those the people feared.
Last come those whose abuse they endured,
Who unworthy of trust were met with distrust.
What care the ancients took with every word.
Of tasks fulfilled and works of merit done
The hundred families all declared,
“This was no one’s doing but our own.”

– Moss Roberts


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