Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Chapter 13

By Lao Tzu

Chapter 13

  • All right, let's talk about the self, says the TTC.
  • In a nutshell, we're warned not to get obsessed with what other people think about us.
  • Somewhat ironically, if we're worrying about other people's good and bad opinions of us all the time that actually means we're way fixated on ourselves.
  • Ultimately, this all ends up with us living in constant fear.
  • The TTC argues that "the greatest misfortune is the self," which might mean that the worst thing that can happen to us is for us to get too wrapped up in ourselves (13.2).
  • This doesn't mean that we shouldn't value ourselves, though.
  • We should value ourselves in the same way we value the world around us.
  • You might say that this means we should just be moderate in our self-love.
  • We should remember that we're no better or worse than anything else in the world.
  • The TTC ends this chapter with one final wisdom bomb: people who love themselves in the same way they love the world can be entrusted with the world.
  • What do you think about that?
  • Could it mean that these are the sorts of people who have the stuff to really take care of society as a whole?

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