Fake Lao Tzu Quote

“There are many paths to enlightenment..."

Fake Lao Tzu quote.

This is not a quote from the Tao Te Ching:

“There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take the one with a heart.”

       This fake Lao Tzu quote is so banal, I hesitate even to include it. Paths don't have hearts.

       It would make more sense to say “choose with your heart.” Also, shouldn't we choose paths with our hearts, whether they lead to enlightenment or not?

       Of course, enlightenment is a Buddhist concept, not Taoist. Within Zen, the Japanese word satori is usually translated enlightenment. It refers to a sudden experience of insight and clarity.

       Then there is the Enlightenment of European thought in the 18th century, but it's safe to say that's not intended in the quote.

       Lao Tzu said nothing about enlightenment or a sudden burst of understanding, like a moment of revelation. He spoke more about wisdom, something attained from contemplating over time and following Tao.

       Also the idea of following one's heart is alien to Lao Tzu and his time. The heart as an organ of compassion and emotions is a Western idea. If anything, the heart is more a symbol of will-power in the Far East.

       Yet another absurdity with the quote is the idea of many paths.

       Tao, the Way, can also be translated the Path – and Lao Tzu would revolt against the idea of more than one Tao, or that it would be possible to choose another one than the Tao he speaks about. To him, there is one Way, and the whole world without exception is ruled by it.

       This fake Lao Tzu quote is so off, and so conventional, its originator can be just about anyone. Not much thought was needed to come up with it. I'd even say that evidently not much thought was put into it.

       The quote has been around, falsely accredited to Lao Tzu, for longer than the Internet. I found it in Treasury of Spiritual Wisdom, page 128, by Andy Zubko. It is a book with 10,000 quotations, originally published in 1996.

       Unfortunately, I can't check his list of literature, if there is one. The table of contents suggests there is not. So, I don't know where he got the quote from.

       It is quite likely that a lot of later references to the quote stem from his book. Maybe a lot of other fake quotes as well.

Stefan Stenudd
April 2, 2017

Fake Lao Tzu Quotes

Here are some fake Lao Tzu quotes I have found, in alphabetical order. Click the quote to get to the webpage where I comment it. I plan to add more false quotes in the future, so do come back.

       I have chosen quotes that exist in meme form (images with text), because they tend to spread the most all over the web, especially in social media.

       Click the quote to get to the webpage about it.

“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.”

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the moment.”

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

“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.”

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

“Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”

“Man's enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself.”

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment.”

“The soul has no secret that the behavior does not reveal.”

“There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take the one with a heart.”

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”

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.

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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.

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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.