Tao Te Ching
THE TAOISM OF LAO TZU
Fake Lao Tzu Quote
"Can you step back from your own mind..."
This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:
"Can you step back from your own mind and thus understand all things?"
Step back from your own mind? Only by decapitation. Understand without your mind? Not even in your dreams. I am not fond of quasi-philosophical statements of this kind. They aim to sound profound, but really say nothing.
If "mind" is replaced by, for example, "prejudice" or "misconceptions" there is something intelligible said, and probably Lao Tzu would agree on it. Our minds are full of presuppositions that we need to reexamine, but that would be impossible without the mind.
Surprisingly, this quote is from a version of Tao Te Ching — that of Stephen Mitchell from 1988. It is by far the most popular of all English renditions of Lao Tzu's text, though Mitchell has allowed himself quite some liberties in the wordings, often landing far away from the standard translations. Here, too.
The quote is from chapter 10. Here is my version of the same lines:
But there is still a difference between understanding all things and doing nothing or not interfering. Lao Tzu's challenge of sorts is to remain inactive although you have all the answers — actually just because you have the answers, if they are the right ones.
Also with the lines right above these in chapter 10, Mitchell is far away from the usual wordings:
For more about Stephen Mitchell and his version of Tao Te Ching, see the chapter A good traveler has no fixed plans.
September 13, 2020.
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