Tao Te Ching Chapter 13


Favor and disgrace are things that startle;
High rank is, like one’s body, a source of great trouble.

What is meant by saying favor and disgrace are things that startle?

Favor when it is bestowed on a subject serves to startle as much as when it is withdrawn.
This is what is meant by saying that favor and disgrace are things that startle.

What is meant by saying that high rank is, like one’s body, a source of great trouble?

The reason I have great trouble is that I have a body.
When I no longer have a body, what trouble have I?

Hence he who values his body more than dominion over the empire can be entrusted with the empire.

He who loves his body more than dominion over the empire can be given the custody of the empire.

D.C. Lau

Accept disgrace willingly.
Accept misfortune as the human condition.What do you mean by “Accept disgrace willingly”?Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with loss or gain.This is called “accepting disgrace willingly.”What do you mean by “Accept misfortune as the human condition”?Misfortune comes from having a body.
Without a body, how could there be misfortune?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.

Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.

Jane English & Gia-fu Feng


Honors and censure stun us.

Exalted status, like corporeal existence, sources troubles.
How do honors and censure stun?

Favor given enthralls the subject;
Favor withdrawn dazes and bewilders.
Agitation is the result and seeing narrows.
This is how honors and censure stun.

This bears repeating:

To be hypnotized by honor or the body is a problem.
When I focus on the body, what I see is dilated to a pinpoint.
When I am not focused on the body I see openly
I see myself entirely.
I see myself and am not troubled.

To the one who values clear vision of the whole and humble self,
To the one who values clear vision of the dominion more than dominance,
The kingdom is given.


I am not special.
When I see myself as worthy or unworthy,
it causes problems.

I am not merely a body.
When I see myself ruled by pain and no pain,
hunger and satisfaction,
it causes problems.

Only love is real.
When I love my common being,
I love what is shared, and mutual.

When I am in the dominion,
when the dominion is in me,
when “me” is not the dominion,
when I am not dominated by me,
or honors or disgraces, yours or mine,
or your body, or mine –

I love.

I see myself,
I see us,
I see the dominion,
and I am not troubled.

A tip of the hat to A Course In Miracles for that second reflection.

Lenore says, “I think we develop a habit of turmoil because so often we’re in turmoil about something. If we’re doing something that bothers us the answer is simple. Don’t do that. The whole idea that ‘someone is better than me, or I am better than someone else’ is bothersome. So don’t do that.”


Louis Weltzer’s comment here last week wins the Big Light award. Louis, I hope the honor doesn’t stun you too much, or for too long…

Musing on his metaphor I realized that, like the game show Jeopardy, we have the answers. When we are contestants – with life, each other, ourselves, the dominion – we play this silly game of coming up with questions. And then we spend our time convincing others that our questions are the right questions, that they are the key to the right answers, that we, through the questions we have created and the answers that they have created, are the finger pointing to the Tao.

Isn’t that what we so often do? We run around in the answer, asking questions. It’s troublesome how often we look at the pointing finger instead of what it is pointing at.

We have the answers.

2 Responses to Tao Te Ching Chapter 13

  1. Harmony Grifith says:

    This reflection’s my favorite that you’ve posted so far. I don’t even have words for why – which is probably a good thing. Words gum up the works of Being, anyway. ❤

    • bobgriffith says:

      Yeah, mine too. It’s sort of like putting on a pair of high-tech sound-cancellation earphones and listening to the talk in your head contract into a pinpoint and the last thing you hear is a burp and then you’re happy. :)

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