Favour and disgrace are things that startle;
High rank is, like one’s body, a source of great trouble.
What is meant by saying that favour and disgrace are things that startle? Favour when it is bestowed on a subject serves to startle as much as when it is withdrawn. This is what is meant by saying that favour and disgrace are things that startle. What is meant by saying that high rank is, like one’s body, a source of great trouble? The reason I have great trouble is that I have a body. When I no longer have a body, what trouble have I?
Hence he who values his body more than dominion over the empire can be entrusted with the empire. He who loves his body more than dominion over the empire can be given the custody of the empire.
“Startle”: one is startled through the senses. The senses operate through stimulation.
There are two conceptions of the body here: the body stimulated by sensation; and the body nourished by food, basically a belly. A slave to taste, the mind of the first seeks what is extraneous to itself; the latter seeks to know itself as extraneous to itself (VII).
The sage is for the belly (XII).
For the sage, society is as his belly-body.
In governing the people, the sage empties their minds but fills their bellies. (III)
Is our trouble lack of stimulation?
What trouble if we didn’t need to eat? Or find shelter, clothing and medicine?