Translation: Tao Te King – Chapter 17. Being natural

Chapter 17. Being natural

In the first Age of mankind people acknowledged their rulers.

Picture of an iron idol from Iron Age Italy.
Iron idol from Iron Age Italy. CC-BY-SA 3.0 by artist Sailko

In the second Age they worshipped them and flattered them.

In the third Age they feared them.

In the fourth Age they despised them.¹

Where there is lack of faith no trust is awoken.

How careful they were in their statements!

After doing a good deed they said: “How very natural we are!”²


  1. Mr. Ervast: “All traditions of the ancient times speak of four eras: gold, silver, brass and iron.”
  2. “The tree last verses are probably a sarcastic depiction of the people of the fourth age, the Iron Age.”

Own translation from 1925 Finnish translation by Pekka Ervast (ISBN 951-8995-01-X) with kind permission of Ruusu-Ristin Kirjallisuusseura ry.

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