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Lao Tzu for Everyone

Students, Scholars

& Seekers

Peter Gilboy, Ph.D.

Line 1  寵辱若驚

Line 2  貴大患若身        

Line 3  何胃寵辱若驚

Line 4  寵之為下也


Line 5  是胃寵辱若驚

Line 6  何胃貴大患若身 

Line 7  吾所以有大患者


Line 8  及吾无身有何患

Line 9  故貴身於天下


Line 10 愛以身為天下



My very

own 'Me"

     “So, tell me about yourself,” is a common enough question on a first date. But we don’t launch into a description of our organs and appendages—liver, spleen, toes, ears, or the teeth we just flossed. Those are very different from what we hold so dearly as our “me.”

     So instead, we launch into a recital of our personal history, likely including where we’re from, the places we’ve been, jobs we’ve had, hobbies, schooling, degrees, awards and other things we’ve attained; the languages we may speak, the instruments we may play and some of our accomplishments in our field. Blah, blah, blah.

     Of course, on a first date we may not mention those other features of our personal history–our worries, our fears, our loneliness, our concern that others may not like us enough. Blah, blah, blah.

     Such self-images of ourselves—both positive and negative—all have something thing in common: They have no "certainty" outside our heads. They have no substance, no being.  Yet they are the cause for most of our suffering.

      This lesson follows nicely on the previous one, where Lao Tzu addressed our "first-hand-self," what he calls our 自zì 然rán, or self-so-ness. In this lesson Lao Tzu addresses our many delights, and also those quiet, internal sufferings we experience because we confuse our "me" as our first-hand-self.


Click on each line number

 for Chinese-English interlinear

& commentary


I regard praise and disgrace

with the same alarm.


I regard both honor and great

suffering as my "me."



Why do I say,

"I regard praise and disgrace

with the same alarm?"


Because praise is lowly.

So getting it is a reason for alarm

as much as losing it.


That's why I say that 

I regard praise and disgrace

with the same alarm.





Why do I say,

"I regard honor and

great suffering

as my 'me?'"




Because the reason I have

great suffering in the first place

is because I have a "me."





If I didn't have a "me,"

then how could I suffer.



Therefore, one who honors

their "me" as they honor all the world 

may entrusted with the world


And one who cherishes

his or her "me" as they cherish

the world, can be

a steward of the world.



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