Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Inspired by Tao Te Ching - chapter 13



My translation of Chapter 13 of Tao Te Ching:

We are startled by receiving favoritism
and we are startled by losing favoritism,
like we are startled when great misfortune falls upon us.
Why startled by receiving or losing favoritism,
isn't it receiving is good whereas losing is bad?
We are all afraid of losing something valuable
but we can only lose what we already have,
hence receiving and losing are both events to be feared upon.
Why are we startled when great misfortune falls upon us?
We are startled because we put a high value on our possessions.
We can only lose what we have
If you consider yourself having nothing to lose
what is there to fear about?

Paul's inspiration:

Who is fearless? Those who have nothing to lose.

Who can change an existing order of inequitable situation? Those who value nothing and therefore cannot be bribed by anything.

Having said that, those who are fearless actually did not value nothing. They only value their ideals more than their personal gains, whenever there is a (tough) decision to be made.

Contrary to some popular interpretations, I don't think Laozi meant in this chapter to teach us "anything goes", "do nothing", "let nature takes its course", "don't care about your own well being at all times", "don't ask for special favor and don't get into trouble" etc.

Rather, he talked to us in a most pragmatic way. In order that we can attain the highest level of enlightenment, or the highest level of morality or ideal, in the right moment, we must not put a value to our own good; and therefore we can become fearless. Some political prisoners in authoritarian regimes will likely be qualified as good disciples of Laozi in this regard.

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