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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

"If you want to awaken all of humanity..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote: If you want to awaken all of humanity...

This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:


"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."






One of the memes with this quote depicts what seems to be a Buddhist monk, which makes sense since the message of the fake Lao Tzu quote relates to Buddhist ideas. Buddhism was not introduced in China until hundreds of years after the time of Lao Tzu.

       Awakening oneself and the suffering in the world are familiar concepts in Buddhism, but not in the Taoism of Lao Tzu. Self-transformation is a modern concept with connections to Buddhist as well as other schools of thought. It is close to the self-realization ideas of contemporary society. I'm not sure that even Buddha would have ascribed to it just like that, and surely not Lao Tzu.

       Nor would Lao Tzu talk about what is dark and negative within a person, as if a shadow possessed the mind. He spoke about actions, not personality, and insisted that all people should be able to learn to follow Tao, the Way — not for what it did to their minds, but for what it would do to their lives and to the world around them.


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 (paid link).

       More about the book here.


       The quote comes from chapter 75 (page 96) of a 1992 version of Hua Hu Ching, a book falsely claiming to contain the words of Lao Tzu. For more about that book, see the chapter Embrace all things.

       Unfortunately, this version of the book, by Brian Browne Walker, repeats the false claim. But the Hua Hu Ching was written many centuries after Lao Tzu, and it contains ideas at least as far from those of Lao Tzu as the ones mentioned above.

       Actually, Walker's rendition of Hua Hu Ching is also very far from the original of that book, which exists only in fragments. He has used a version equally far from the original, if not to say fictional, by Hua-Ching Ni from 1979. Walker's version deviates considerably from that book, as well. For example, chapter 75 is to Walker a poetic one-page rendition, but in Ni's book it is several pages of prose (pages 217-220).

       The false Lao Tzu quote is also widely spread in the shorter form of just the last sentence:


Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.


Stefan Stenudd
April 2, 2017, revised September 9, 2020.



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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 (paid link).

       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 (paid link).

       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 (paid link).

       More about the book here.



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