Scripture on the Way and Virtue, Chapter 17

With Bai Yuchan’s Commentary

Translation Copyright ©2019 by Stuart Alve Olson

Simple Winds
淳 風

Of the greatest rulers (The Spirit of Vitality is of the mind and so is called the Sage), few barely know of their existence (this is the principle of each of the Ten Thousand Things). Of the next best, the people love and praise them (things of Heaven and Earth are born nameless and originally all is vacant). Of the next one, the people fear him (all the people say this is useful but do not actually know it). And of the next one, the people despise him (vacant and unmoving, yet still universally complying).

If trust is not established (unaware of the principlethey only become a great division of light) then there will be the untrustworthy (from the eternal the mind is the Tao, and so they are unable to distinguish life).

Carefully choose your words (what is said?),  so when tasks are completed and the work is done (the principle is simple and persevering, there is a simplicity of the mind), all the families can call out, “I am the naturally-just-so” (like a magic circle or magic light of brilliant flowing libations of flowing red wine).

The Meaning

The main topic of this chapter, in Lao Zi’s meaning, is pointing out the best type of leaders of a nation and how they should blend with nature in order to govern well. Bai Yuchan likens these leaders with the internal functions of a person, and that these should as well blend with nature in the context of attaining the “naturally-just-so.” 

Bai Yuchan’s Original Chinese Text

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