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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

"Because of a great love..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote:

This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:


"Because of a great love, one is courageous."






Lao Tzu was not interested in discussing love. The word appears only twice in my version of Tao Te Ching, and in none of the instances is it great. In chapter 13 Lao Tzu speaks of the need to care for the world as much as for oneself, if trusted to rule it (my version):


He who loves his body as much as the world
Can be entrusted with the world.



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       And chapter 17 lists rulers according to how their subjects regard them:


The supreme rulers are hardly known by their subjects.
The lesser are loved and praised.
The even lesser are feared.
The least are despised.


       Nor did Lao Tzu care much for courage. In chapter 73 he even warns about its hazard:


Those who have the courage to dare will perish.
Those who have the courage not to dare will live.


       He made no other mention of courage in Tao Te Ching.

       I have not found the quote examined here in any other version of Tao Te Ching. The oldest book I have come across with the exact quote is A Thousand Paths to Love from 2001, by David Baird (page 216). It is a collection of advice and quotes, where this one is accredited to Lao Tzu, without any source for it.

       Another book with the same theme is 1001 Ways to Be Romantic by Gregory J. P. Godek. Its first edition was published in 1991, and contained advice but no quotes. Quotes were introduced in later expanded editions. In the edition from the year 2000 (section 486, page 157) is a quote stated to be from Tao Te Ching:


When male and female combine, all things achieve harmony.


       It is from Stephen Mitchell's version of Tao Te Ching, chapter 42 (page 42). As usual, Mitchell has given himself some liberty with the text. For more about Stephen Mitchell and his version of Tao Te Ching, see the chapter A good traveler has no fixed plans.

       My version of the same lines reads:


All things carry yin and embrace yang.
They reach harmony by blending with the vital breath.


       The vital breath is ch'i (Pinyin spelling qi), the Chinese life energy concept. The ancient Chinese polarity of yin and yang could also be applied to female and male qualities, but that was definitely not the major thing and not an adequate description of it.

       In the 2010 edition of Godek's book, the love and courage quote discussed here was added to the section, accredited to Lao Tzu instead of Tao Te Ching. So he might very well have picked it up from Baird's 2001 book. It is not from Stephen Mitchell's book. And it has nothing to do with Lao Tzu.

Stefan Stenudd
September 13, 2020.



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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.

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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.

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Fake Lao Tzu Quotes - Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Fake Lao Tzu Quotes

Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. 90 of the most spread false Lao Tzu quotes, why they are false and where they are really from. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



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