Thursday, April 14, 2005

Chinese Proverbs

The common people secure their chests and money-bags with ropes, lest a thief break in and steal them. They consider this to be a wise precaution. Then a thief enters, who carries off the locked and bound treasure, giving thanks that someone has wrapped his bounty for him. Statecraft and governorship are the same: those who the mass of the people call wise are nothing but wrappers for thieves.

Zhuang Zi, Warring States Period

People talk of a ferocious tiger, the listeners are frightened. But none is so frightened as the man who has suffered a tiger attack in the past.

Cheng Yi reminds us that nothing beats personal experience,
Northern Song Dynasty

Find enlightenment through heeding many points of view. Find ignorance through heeding few.

Wei Zheng, Tang Dynasty

Decisions should not be too clear. Otherwise, when things go wrong you will have to take the blame. Keep it vague.

Su Weidao on the secrets of management, Tang Dynasty

Be a leader, not a master.

Lao Zi, Spring and Autumn Period

Unconstructive criticism is like trying to stop a flood with water, or fighting fire with fire.

Mo Zi, Warring States Period

After the long slumber of ignorance, a single word can change a man forever.

Nan Guo Zi, Zhou Dynasty

Half a truth engenders a new lie.


Reputation is like a cake drawn on the ground. If you’re hungry, it’s not much help.

Emperor Ming explains that he is impressed by Lu Yu’s ability, not his resumé,
The Three Kingdoms Period

Reputation should be neither sought nor avoided.

Lao Zi, Spring and Autumn Period

If we do not enjoy ourselves today, the days and months will pass us by.

Book of Songs, Zhou Dynasty

Don’t think about the sorrows of the world, you will only make yourself feel wretched.

Book of Songs, Spring and Autumn Period

He who learns the truth of everything in the morning, can die happy in the evening.

Confucius believes studies are never done,
Spring and Autumn Period


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