Favor and disgrace seem alarming.
High status greatly afflicts your person.
Why are favor and disgrace alarming?
Seeking favor is degrading:
alarming when it is gotten,
alarming when it is lost.
Why does high status greatly afflict your person?
The reason we have a lot of trouble
is that we have selves.
If we had 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 teacher of the world.
Seeking favor…oh boy, that is a big one. Just think how much energy we spend on this. Seeking favor from someone we desire, from our boss, from someone that we think will give us something we want, from family members, coworkers, friends … you name it.
This, of course, is one of the main focuses of our ego. Eckhart Tolle speaks at great length about the ego and how it can cause us to do all sorts of crazy and unhealthy things. Seeking the favor of others is one of those things.
Seeking favor means that we desire approval from someone else. Disgrace means that we have lost that approval. Most of us try pretty damn hard to stay in the approval zone and out of the disapproval zone.
There are many example of this and the one that stands out to me the most and I think that the third verse speaks to is the status of celebrities. This is one of the grandest forms of seeking favor. “Celebrityism” is rampant in our society. It is entirely based on seeking favor from a large volume of people (i.e. the fans). Some of these so-called celebrities will perform all kinds of acts that would otherwise be considered ridiculous. All in the name of favor from more people or to keep that favor.
The verse says that seeking favor is degrading; alarming when it is gotten and alarming when it is lost. The use of the word “alarming” here means that it causes fear. When we gain favor from others, there is the fear that we will lose it. If we have lost it, there is fear that we are unworthy of being favored. Seeking favor is degrading because we already have all of the worth that we need and seeking favor is like claiming that we do not and therefore need to go find it. There is no need to go find it. We already have it.
I like the line that says “high status greatly afflicts your person”. Again look at many celebrities and the ridiculous ways that they act. They gain the high status (or mass approval from a large audience) and they act like spoiled children whose every action is to gain attention. They cosmetically change their bodies and faces to look a certain way to gain favor. They act in a “don’t you know who I am” manner. I would call these actions an affliction of their personality.
If instead we see our own worth and how that worth is in alignment with everyone else’s worth. How we are all connected and one of us is not worth more than another, then we can realize our true greatness. A greatness that is eternal and connected to all.