Lao Tzu: On Success, Failure, Hope and Fear

宠 辱 若 惊 , 贵 大 患 若 身 。
何 谓 宠 辱 若 惊 。
宠 为 下 , 得 之 若 惊 , 失 之 若 惊 , 是 谓 宠 辱 若 惊 。
何 谓 贵 大 患 若 身 。
吾 所 以 有 大 患 者 , 为 吾 有 身 ,
及 吾 无 身 , 吾 有 何 患 。
故 贵 以 身 为 天 下 , 若 可 寄 天 下 ﹔
爱 以 身 为 天 下 , 若 可 托 天 下 。

Lao Tzu, Chapter 13, Dao De Jing

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.
 
What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet upon the ground,
you will always keep your balance.
 
What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
If we have no selves,
what trouble would we have?
 
Man’s true self is eternal,
yet he thinks “I am this body and will soon die”.
If we have no body, what calamities can we have?
One who sees himself as everything
is fit to be guardian of the world.
One who loves himself as everyone
is fit to be the teacher of the world.

Translated by Stephen Mitchell

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