Taoistic
TAOISM EXPLAINED


     
     


Fake Lao Tzu Quote

"Every human being's essential nature..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote: Every human being's essential nature is perfect and faultless...

This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:


"Every human being's essential nature is perfect and faultless, but after years of immersion in the world we easily forget our roots and take on a counterfeit nature."






This long quote is far from the style of Lao Tzu. Its content also deviates considerably from what is expressed in Tao Te Ching. Still, it is not impossible to see connections to Taoist philosophy in it.

       It is doubtful that Lao Tzu would call every human being's essential nature perfect, but he was certain that nature itself was. To him, everything in the world was governed by the same faultless principle of Tao, the Way. So, we would all do fine if we just conform to it. The impression Lao Tzu gave is that only humans are able to deviate from Tao - and it is not to our advantage.

       Forgetting our roots can be interpreted as another expression of what Lao Tzu stated frequently in his text: so many of us have lost connection to Tao and that leads us far astray. If what we thereby have is a counterfeit nature, though, makes less sense. How can it be counterfeit if it is from ignorance? What we have forgotten leads us astray, but that cannot be a conscious effort. The problem is ignorance, maybe even folly, but not pretense.


Fake Lao Tzu Quotes - Erroneous Tao Te Ching Citations Examined. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Now it's a book, too!

90 of the most spread false Lao Tzu quotes, why they are false and where they are really from. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


       The earliest example of this exact quote I have found is in the self-improvement book Excuses Begone! How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits from 2009, by Wayne W. Dyer (1940-2015), a prominent writer in that field. It is accredited to Lao Tzu without specifying the source (at the start of part I, page 1).

       I have not found the quote in any version of Tao Te Ching, not even in Dyer's previous books on the Taoism theme, where he went through all the 81 chapters and commented them: Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao from 2007, and the 2008 version called Living the Wisdom of the Tao: The Complete Tao Te Ching and Affirmations.

       Dyer readily admitted to being inspired by Tao Te Ching, quoting and commenting it frequently in several of his books. In Excuses Begone! he started the introduction (page xi): "I spent the year 2006 immersed in the ancient teachings of Lao-tzu, studying his monumental tome, the Tao Te Ching."

       His many quotes from Lao Tzu's text were his own interpretations, often getting quite far from the original. In Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life he explained acquiring ten versions of Tao Te Ching, listed in the acknowledgments: "From those ten translations I'd gone over, I pieced together the 81 passages in Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life, based on how they resonated with me" (page xii). In Living the Wisdom of the Tao, published the following year, that had grown to "pieced together after reviewing hundreds of translations" (page 1). Still, his acknowledgements contain only the same ten books (page 167).

       He used some of the translations more than others. In 2010, Stephen Mitchell filed a lawsuit against him for copyright infringement of 200 lines from Mitchell's version. It was settled out of court the following year.

       I have noticed that many of Dyer's Tao Te Ching wordings are identical with those of Mitchell. That can happen when translating a text of this kind, since it contains only about 5,000 words and uses a limited set of concepts repeatedly. Still, I have found it surprisingly rare in other books. And Mitchell's case is different, since he often deviated considerably from the standard translations. In those cases, Dyer's use of the same words was particularly compromising.

       It was also kind of alarming that Dyer did not mention his particular dependence on Mitchell's version, since he was happy to do that courtesy with another source in Living the Wisdom of the Tao (page 3): "Some versions of the Tao I relied upon more than others, and I would like to especially mention that the version provided by Jonathan Star (in Tao Te Ching: the Definitive Edition) was the one I quoted most extensively and the one that most resonated with my vision and interpretation of the Tao."

       Both Mitchell's and Star's book are mentioned in his list of ten Tao Te Ching versions mentioned above. The list is significant in lacking any of the prominent old translations, such as those of James Legge from 1891, Arthur Waley from 1934, and D. C. Lau from 1963. The only exception might be that of the French Jesuit and sinologist Léon Wieger from 1913, but it is an English 1999 translation by Derek Bryce of the French original.

       Anyway, as far as I have found - searching Google as well as Facebook - Dyer is the origin of the quote examined here, and it seems that he allowed himself to find his own wording for what he regarded as Lao Tzu's message. But then he should not really have put the wording between quotation marks.

Stefan Stenudd
September 14, 2020.



More Fake Lao Tzu Quotes

There are many more fake Lao Tzu quotes examined on this website. Click the header to see a list of them.






Comments

Click the header if you would like to comment this or any other fake Lao Tzu quote, or read the comments from others. You need to be logged in to your Facebook account to post a comment.



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.


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.



About Cookies


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 and compared.


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 fundamental 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.

Contact