Tao Te Ching
THE TAOISM OF LAO TZU
Fake Lao Tzu Quote
"There is no illusion..."
This is NOT a quote from Tao Te Ching:
"There is no illusion greater than fear."
Lao Tzu did not mention illusion in Tao Te Ching. It would be a strange concept to him. Certainly, what he observed about the nature of existence seemed to be hidden from the minds of others, but not really replaced by some illusion. It was a question of seeing what was hidden, which is not the same thing as imagining something else.
But he did speak about fear — not as an illusion, but a real thing for real reasons. For example, in chapter 13 (my version):
Lao Tzu did not regard fear as an illusion, but warned about its consequences.
The earliest book in which I have found the exact quote examined here is Who Am I without You? 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem after a Breakup from 2015, by Christina G. Hibbert. The quote, ascribed to Lao Tzu, commences a chapter called "Face your fears."
On the Internet the quote has been around for a little longer. It got its first like on Goodreads in January 2013 and its first post on Facebook in December that year, in both cases ascribed to Lao Tzu.
But the same quote with "greater" and "illusion" switching places is found in Stephen Mitchell's version of Tao Te Ching, released in 1988. It is in chapter 46:
Oddly, the exact Mitchell quote has not reached nearly as much attention. On Goodreads, Mitchell's wording was not introduced until 2016 and has still received just three likes, compared to 113 for the wording examined here (August 2020). In a Google search, the former brings less than 5,000 links, while the latter brings more than 23,000.
A Google Books search, on the other hand, gives twice the number of results for Mitchell's wording than the other one. That's an argument for trusting books more than the web, I guess.
For more about Stephen Mitchell and his version of Tao Te Ching, see the chapter A good traveler has no fixed plans.
September 22, 2020.
More Fake Lao Tzu QuotesThere are many more fake Lao Tzu quotes examined on this website. Click the header to see a list of them.
Fake interview with the authorClick the header to read a "fake" interview with Stefan Stenudd, the author of Fake Lao Tzu Quotes.
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