Fake Lao Tzu Quote
"At the center of your being..."
This is not a quote from the Tao Te Ching:
"At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want."
This fake Lao Tzu quote is not only questionable with its use of the semi-colon. I see nothing in it relating to the thoughts of Lao Tzu.
He would reject the whole idea of what you want, focusing instead on what you need. You are likely to find that you want it when you get it, but Lao Tzu would probably suggest that you are the most likely to get what you need if you ignore what you want.
The center of your being is also something alien to Lao Tzu, as is contemplating what you are. To him, that's all Tao, the inner workings of the world and everything in it.
Lao Tzu expressed one fundamental cure for mankind: returning to the Way, the natural state of things. He did not see it as some kind of soul-searching.
The quote is part of a full poem, appearing in the 1994 book A Grateful Heart: Daily Blessings for the Evening Meal from Buddha to the Beatles, by M.J. Ryan. Here it is in its entirety:
Always we hope someone else has the answer.
Some other place will be better, some other time, it will turn out.
This is it.
No one else has the answer, no other place will be better, and it has already turned out.
At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.
There is no need to run outside for better seeing, nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being; for the more you leave it, the less you learn.
Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.
M. J. Ryan claims that it is from an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching by Witter Bynner: The Way of Life according to Laotzu (1944). Actually, the second part of the poem, starting “There is no need”, is his rather free version of chapter 47 (though missing his next to last line: “If he is wise who takes each turn.”
My translation of that Tao Te Ching chapter is here: Chapter 47.
The first part of the above poem, though, is not to be found at all in Witter Bynner's version, nor any other Tao Te Ching version, as far as I can find.
I have not been able to find any older source to it than M. J. Ryan's book. Maybe it is of her own invention?
April 2, 2017
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:
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.
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:
The 64 hexagrams of the Chinese classic I Ching
and what they mean in divination. Try it online for free.
The ancient Chinese life energy qi
) explained, with simple instructions on how to exercise it.
The many ancient and modern life force beliefs all over the world explained and compared.
Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.
Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:
The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
The life energy qi
) explained, with exercises on how to awaken, increase and use it. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
Basic concepts of the peaceful martial art. Aikido principles, philosophy, and fundamental ideas. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
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.
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.