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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

"Embrace all things..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote: Embrace all things as part of the Harmonious Oneness, and then you will begin to perceive it.

This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:


"Embrace all things as part of the Harmonious Oneness, and then you will begin to perceive it."






If this is to be regarded as a Taoist saying, the "Harmonious Oneness" can be nothing but Tao, the Way, The expression is rather pompous and elaborate, but not completely off. Tao is definitely the one, in Lao Tzu's world, but it is modest and yielding, and that is not the spirit of this expression.

       Lao Tzu simply called it "the one," but he did talk about embracing it - for example in chapter 10 (my version):


Can you make your soul embrace the one
And not lose it?


       And in chapter 22:


Therefore, the sage embraces the one,
And is an example to the world.


       But he would insist that if you manage to embrace it, you do more than just begin to perceive it - you grasp and accept it. When Tao is perceived it is comprehended, and there is no scale to that. You see it or you don't. Once you do, you are there.


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       So, the quote examined here is not from Tao Te Ching, although it is not all that far away. It is from another Taoist text: Hua Hu Ching: The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu from 1992, interpreted by Brian Browne Walker (chapter 48, page 59 in the 1995 paperback edition).

       Hua Hu Ching is a text claimed to be by Lao Tzu, but it is probably not older than the 4th century CE, at least 700 years after the time of Lao Tzu. Except for fragments found among the Dunhuang manuscripts discovered in 1900, it does not exist in a complete trustworthy form from historical times. The title means "Classic on Converting the Barbarians," because it was written to discredit Buddhism. It was even accompanied by the claim that Lao Tzu had gone to India after leaving China, and introduced thoughts that were later developed into Buddhism.

       A complete version of Hua Hu Ching in 81 chapters (like Tao Te Ching) was written by Hua-Ching Ni, first published in 1979: The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching and Hua Hu Ching. As the title suggests, it also contains his version of Tao Te Ching. About his version of Hua Hu Ching he stated (page 105): "This one is my own education from my parents. The writing is my personal attainment." The style and content of the text are far away from the raw agitation in the fragments from Dunhuang.

       As for Brian Browne Walker's version of Hua Hu Ching, he mentioned with affection in the introduction that he was indebted to Hua-Ching Ni and his version of the same text. But Walker put it in poetic form, similar to Tao Te Ching, whereas Ni's version is in prose. Walker's expression "Harmonious Oneness" is in Ni's version either "Universal Way" or "Universal One." These and other differences make the texts so far apart, it is hard to see that they can be interpretations of the same classic. And of course, they are not.

       The chapter in question describes two paths to spiritual cultivation - one affirmative and one by denial. The quote discussed here ends the explanation of the first path. In Walker's version it reads:


The first is the path of acceptance.
Affirm everyone and everything.
Freely extend your goodwill and virtue in every direction, regardless of circumstances.
Embrace all things as part of the Harmonious Oneness, and then you will begin to perceive it.


       This is Ni's version (pages 162-163):


One is the affirmative approach which accepts and includes everything with a positive attitude. From an ethical point of view, it means extending universal virtue to all, regardless of any external condition. This is different from the relative, affirmative attitude that is expounded by religions and which includes some things or people and excludes others. According to the Universal Way, the affirmative approach excludes nothing.


       These differences might be the reason for Ni's 1995 edition of his book having this statement on the copyright page:


The material in this book is more than a translation, it is an elucidation drawing upon Hua-Ching Ni's decades of spiritual cultivation and training in the tradition in which these works originated. Anyone who wishes to produce their own version of this material should work directly from an original text rather than copying from Hua-Ching Ni's work.


       He says almost exactly the same thing on page 107. I have not been able to check if the 1979 edition contains the same words.

       His advice would not be easy to follow, since there is no complete original text of Hua Hu Ching. In any case, neither Walker nor Ni can be said to quote Lao Tzu - not by a long shot.

Stefan Stenudd
September 14, 2020.



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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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