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Fake Lao Tzu Quote

"Success is as dangerous..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote: Success is as dangerous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear.

This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:


"Success is as dangerous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear."






This quote makes sense and it is similar to statements made in Tao Te Ching. That is no wonder, since it is Stephen Mitchell's 1988 version of the first lines of chapter 13.

       The problem is that Lao Tzu's text discusses other aspects than Mitchell's wording implies, mainly those of fear and vulnerability. Here is my version of the same lines:


Praise and disgrace cause fear.
Honor and great distress are like the body.


       Arthur Waley's version from 1934 reads (page 157):


Favour and disgrace goad as it were to madness; high rank hurts keenly as our bodies hurt.


       D. C. Lau in 1963 wrote (page 69):


Favour and disgrace are things that startle;
High rank is, like one's body, a source of great trouble.



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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.


       Mitchell's interpretation of the first sentence is well within the possible, even elegantly so. His second sentence, though, has replaced the link to bodily vulnerability with a perspective on hope and fear that denounces both. That is questionable, indeed, and has no base in Lao Tzu's thoughts - at least not in this chapter.

       Chapter 13 goes on explaining what these statements mean, but that is treated in my chapter Hope and fear are both phantoms, which deals with Mitchell's version of other lines in this same Tao Te Ching chapter.

       The only reason I at all treat this quote separately is the fact that it appears as such in books and on the web.

       For more about Stephen Mitchell and his version of Tao Te Ching, see the chapter A good traveler has no fixed plans.

Stefan Stenudd
September 20, 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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