Chapter 13 – Hall of Fame
Be apprehensive when receiving favor or disgrace.
Regard great trouble as seriously as you regard your body.
What is meant by being apprehensive when receiving favor or disgrace?
Favor is considered inferior.
Be apprehensive when you receive them and also be
apprehensive when you lose them.
This is what is meant by being apprehensive when receiving favor or disgrace.
What does it mean to regard great trouble as seriously as you regard the body?
The reason I have great trouble is that I have a body (and am attached to it),
If I have no body, what trouble could I have?
Therefore he who values the world as his body may be entrusted with the empire.
He who loves the world as his body may be entrusted with the empire.
For Week 13 of Tao Te Ching Tuesdays, I have quoted the translation by Wing-Tsit Chan.
The problem with favor and disgrace is that they must be bestowed on a person by others. If I accept either, I accept someone else’s judgment of the value to be placed on my actions. I am certain that it is better to believe that what others think of me is really none of my business.
I have been thinking about fame and favor quite a bit lately. My old high school – Arvada West – is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. One part of the celebration is the creation of a “hall of fame” for distinguished alumni. I have been the chairman of the committee working on that project. We received some 50 nominations of people who are all very deserving of recognition, and from that pool eight were elected to be the initial inductees.
One of those eight was a gentleman – we will call him “Jim” – who had been a good friend of mine while we were in high school. He went on to earn three degrees from M.I.T., after which his research on semiconductors was instrumental in the development of the modern computer chip. He co-founded a company that is publicly traded and listed on NASDAQ. Since his retirement – a rather early retirement – he has been enjoying life, travelling, riding his bicycle and managing charitable foundations to provide funds for scholarships and to assist with curriculum development for K-12 science teachers.
After the votes were in and he had been selected, I contacted him to pass on the “good news.” He responded with an email saying, “Hall of fame? Just what do you think I am famous for? I have never wanted to be famous.”
Not wanting to be famous in no way diminishes his many accomplishments. The apprehension he showed would, I think, make Lao Tzu proud – except that pride is of the same ilk as favor and disgrace, and Lao Tzu is probably beyond that.
Anyway, may the Tao be with you, Jim. It seems there is much I could learn from you.