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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

"One who is too insistent..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote: One who is too insistent on his own views finds few to agree with him.

This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:


"One who is too insistent on his own views finds few to agree with him"






This saying might be true, but it is not from Lao Tzu. He definitely scolded those who regarded themselves as knowledgeable and wanted others to hear it, for example in the 81st and last chapter of Tao Te Ching (my version):


Those who are right do not argue.
Those who argue are not right.
Those who know are not learned.
Those who are learned do not know.


       He warned that people prone to arguing and flaunting their learning were not to be trusted, even if they might sound convincing. But he also implied that those who really knew would not be listened to, because they did not sound equally convincing. That was indeed his problem. He found few to agree with his words about Tao, the Way (chapter 41):


The average student listens to the Way
And follows some and some not.
The lesser student listens to the Way
And laughs out loud.



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       And in chapter 70 he complained:


My words are very easy to understand
And very easy to practice.
Still, no one in the world
Can understand or practice them.


       But to him, it was not a question of promoting his own views. He spoke about Tao, the Way, and grieved the fact that so few understood it as he did. Nevertheless, he was not at all to give up his insights, whether others agreed or not. To him it was not about opinion, but realization. Of course it can therefore be said that he insisted on his views, but he was not the one to insist on others to agree with him. He had no urge to agitate.

       He did not write Tao Te Ching to convert those who rejected his views, but for the ones who would be curious about his perspective. Chapter 41, which is also quoted above, starts:


The superior student listens to the Way
And follows it closely.


       Still, the quote examined here is from a version of Lao Tzu's text: Tao Teh King: Interpreted as Nature and Intelligence from 1958, by the philosophy professor Archie J. Bahm (1907-1996). As the title points out, he translated Tao as Nature, which is unusual but doable. Calling te intelligence, on the other hand, is much less credible. The quote is a line from chapter 24 (page 29). Here is my version of that line:


Those who are self-righteous are not prominent.


       James Legge's wording from 1891 comes a bit closer to that of Bahm (page 67):


He who asserts his own views is not distinguished.


       And Philip J. Ivanhoe in 2002 wrote (page 24):


Those who affirm their own views are not well-known.


       Bahm's version is quite far from these, but not impossibly so. Insisting on one's own views could be understood as considering oneself right, and few agreeing might be compared to lack of prominence.

       But it kind of misses the point Lao Tzu wanted to make: it is the attitude that is unbecoming, not the opinion or arguments. People might actually agree, but they would still be offended by the attitude. Bahm would have been closer to Lao Tzu's words if he wrote "few wanting to agree with him."

       For more on Archie J. Bahm's version of Tao Te Ching, see the chapters He who controls others and Respond intelligently.

Stefan Stenudd
September 19, 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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