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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

“Respond intelligently..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote.

This is not a quote from the Tao Te Ching:



“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”



       Intelligence is a modern concept, indicating the rather rude idea that people have differently limited mental capacities. Not to mention the very questionable IQ tests, arranging people in a scale of intelligence from the lowest to the highest.

       This categorization of individual capacity is something that grew out of a swamp – racial biology and the like in the early 20th century. We should have grown away from it after 1945.

       The whole idea is repulsive. Historically, the word used was wisdom, implying that it is something to work on, whatever your starting point might be. Everyone can get wiser.

       That's also the Lao Tzu perspective. Some are foolish to begin with, but everyone can learn.

       The fake Lao Tzu quote is also awkward with the expression “”unintelligent treatment.” What is that, really? We have all experienced uninformed or ignorant response. But unintelligent – who will be the judge?

       What is clever to one is but a joke to another, even Lao Tzu says (in chapter 41). Here is my version of it:


The lesser student listens to the Way and laughs out loud.

If there were no laughter it would not be the Way.


       Notice that Lao Tzu does not claim that the lesser student is unable to understand – just unwilling.

       The wording of the fake quote suggests that it is of modern making. That could mean a modern interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, or some other source altogether.

       Sadly, it is the former.

       The quote is from chapter 63 of Archie J. Bahm's 1996 version, with the title Tao Teh King by Lao Tzu: Interpreted as Nature and Intelligence. Bahm (1907-1996) was an American professor of philosophy. It takes a philosopher to love that word...

       He deviates quite a lot from Lao Tzu's words to get to it. Here is my translation of the same line:


Return animosity with virtue.


       In other words, be noble even when treated rudely. Nothing at all about intelligence. Lao Tzu didn't have that kind of prejudice.

       The meme (image with words) I chose to illustrate this fake Lao Tzu quote is additionally amusing, especially as it deals with intelligence.

       It states that Lao Tzu lived 450 BC – 531 BC. But of course, BC years count backwards. That means he would have been born 131 years after he died. Quite an accomplishment, even for Lao Tzu. Much more so than getting to be 131 years old.

       There is no trustworthy source to the exact years of Lao Tzu's life. Some say he lived in the 6th century BC, some say one or two hundred years later, and some say he probably didn't exist at all.

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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