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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

“Kindness in words..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote.

This is not a quote from the Tao Te Ching:



“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”



       Any Lao Tzu quote containing the word love is almost certainly fake. That's something he did not discuss in his text the Tao Te Ching.

       How we today emphasize and understand love is something that has evolved through two thousand years of Christianity. Not that the sentiment was unknown to Antiquity or in other parts of the world, but it was presented differently, and overall much less so.

       Lao Tzu doesn't dwell on it at all.

       Also kindness is something that would make Lao Tzu wonder. He spoke about Te, which can be translated virtue, noble actions of a noble mind. That would be a kind way of behaving – mostly but not necessarily.

       Although Lao Tzu was evidently compassionate, his text talks about principles extracted from an order that is the one of nature itself. Kindness is not really the thing.

       Modesty would be something he related to with much more comfort. Humility and modesty.

       Profoundness is an awkward word in English. Shouldn't it rather be profundity? At least it would be more elegant when translating a philosophical text more than two thousand years old.

       The quote has nothing to do with Lao Tzu, if it's not from a very off translation of his text. There are many such translations.

       Amusingly, there are also Internet sites and memes accrediting the quote to Mao Zedong, the former Chinese leader. I wouldn't think he had that much to say about love, either.

       According to a learned blog discussion, the earliest appearance of the quote in an English language book is Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, by Laurence J. Peter, 1977, without mentioning the source. He is most famous for The Peter Principle.

       If I have to guess, I'd say that this fake quote is a flawed interpretation of a few lines in chapter 67 of the Tao Te Ching. Here is my version of them:


By compassion one can be brave.

By moderation one can be generous.

By not claiming to be first in the world one can rule.


Stefan Stenudd
April 2, 2017



Fake Lao Tzu Quotes

Here are some fake Lao Tzu quotes I have found, in alphabetical order. Click the quote to get to the webpage where I comment it. I plan to add more false quotes in the future, so do come back.

       I have chosen quotes that exist in meme form (images with text), because they tend to spread the most all over the web, especially in social media.

       Click the quote to get to the webpage about it.


“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”


“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”


“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”


“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the moment.”


“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”


“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”


“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”


“Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”


“Man's enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself.”


“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”


“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”


“The soul has no secret that the behavior does not reveal.”


“There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take the one with a heart.”


“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”


“When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”





My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



My Other Websites:


I Ching Online

The 64 hexagrams of the Chinese classic I Ching and what they mean in divination. Try it online for free.


Qi Energy Exercises

The ancient Chinese life energy qi (chi) explained, with simple instructions on how to exercise it.


Life Energy

The many ancient and modern life force beliefs all over the world explained.


Creation Myths

Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.


Taoismen på svenska


Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:


Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


QI - increase your life energy. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Qi - Increase Your Life Energy

The life energy qi (also chi or ki) explained, with exercises on how to awaken, increase and use it. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikido Principles

Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art
Aikido principles, philosophy, and basic ideas. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Life Energy Encyclopedia. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Life Energy Encyclopedia

Qi, prana, spirit, ruach, pneuma, and many other life forces around the world explained and compared. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd


About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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