March 29, 2009

DIVISION 13 (第十三)

Favor and disgrace would seem equally to be feared.
High rank is, like one's body, a source of great trouble.
What is meant by speaking thus of fear and disgrace?
Favor is inferior.
If you get it – be alarmed!
If you lose it – be alarmed!
Honor always dwindles away, so earning it fills us
with fear, and losing it fills us with fear.
This is what is meant by saying, "Favor and disgrace would seem to be equally feared."
What is meant by “high rank is, like one's body, a source of great trouble”?
The reason why I have great trouble is that I have a body.
When I no longer have a body, what trouble have I?
Therefore, he who would administer the Kingdom, honoring it as he honors his own person, may be employed to govern it.
And he who would administer it with the love which he bears his own person may be entrusted with it.

COMMENTARY by Koeng S. Wan:
The shèng rén (sage) is admonished to fear the receipt of honors as equally as to be disgraced. The consequence of this for the shèng rén who rules is that he administers the government with the care and respect that he would treat himself, and that he must love the governed as he would his own person.

In Division 2, the Lǎo Zǐ tells the shèng rén to not seek rewards. Division 13 goes further in warning him that receiving honors should be feared because honors are eventually lost.

Here, as a continuation of Division 3, the Lǎo Zǐ warns that administering the government is difficult, as it is “a great source of trouble” like one's own body. Since the shèng rén is not to take high rank in the government for its rewards like honors or favors, he must take the position to benefit the people (Division 8) with peace and order (Division 3), helping them to become physically strong (Division 3), long-lived (Division 7), and enlightened (Division 3 and 27).