Chinese wisdom & proverbs


“Ability in itself is nothing when denied opportunity”

“Anyone can sail a ship when the sea is calm”

“First attain skill; creativity comes later”


“Do not bring kindling to put out a fire” (Good intentions but wrong solution)



“Adversity is a mirror that reveals one’s true self”

“Unless there is opposing wind, a kite cannot rise”



“One who would pick the roses must bear with the thorns”



“A single tree cannot make a forest”

“A beautiful flower is incomplete without its leaves”

“A cloth is not woven from a single thread”



“One who hears flattery but not criticism will go astray”

“Faults and virtues are but two sides of a coin”



“To be unhappy over what one lacks is to waste what one already possesses”

“A tiny leak will eventually sink a mighty ship”

“An error the width of a hair can lead one a 1000 miles astray”



“Constancy of purpose achieves the impossible”

“Do not hope to reach a destination without leaving the shore”

“A man of leisure will never taste the fruit of success”



“True words may not be pleasant, pleasant words may not be true”

“What you see is real; what you hear may not be”



“Weaving a net is better that praying for fish at the edge of the water”

“Earth is to the dead what gold is to the living”



“When the itch is inside the boot, scratching outside provides little consolation”

“Don’t try to scoop the moon from the bottom of the sea”



“Do not have eyes that are bigger than your stomach”

“Our needs are few but our wants increase with our possessions”

“There is no greater calamity than being consumed by greed”

“Lust and greed have no limit”

“Fat fries and burns itself”



“It is wealth enough to learn the meaning of contentment”



“Wishes of mind and heart are as hard to control as a horse and ape”

“A man must despise himself before others will”



“By filling one’s head instead of the pocket, one cant be robbed”

“One who is wise in strategy carries an army in the mind”



“Without the fire of enthusiasm there is no warmth in victory”



“When the root is firm the branches flourish” (a good foundation)



“One does not drink poison to quench thirst”



“To extend your life by a year; take one less bite each meal”



“One who is a slave to one’s senses cannot rein one’s will into submission”

“Sending charcoal in the snow is better than adding flowers to brocade”



“Look upon adversity as an opportunity in disguise”

“Crisis brings opportunity and change”

“Life can never give security, it can only promise opportunity”



“Patience is a tree with bitter roots that bears sweet fruits”

“Hair doesn’t grow faster by being pulled”

“Inspiration comes from perspiration”

“A bird cannot fly until its feathers are fully grown”



“Laws are useless when men are pure, unenforceable when men are corrupt”



“Even the tallest tower started from the ground”

“Gems are polished by rubbing, just as men are made brilliant by trials”

“Either do not begin or, having begun, do not give up”

“To abandon something halfway is to fail completely”



“If there are no clouds there will be no rain” (without effort nothing produced)



“Do not hit the fly that sits on the tiger’s head”

“Whenever the water rises, the boat will rise too”

“If there is a wave, there must be a wind” (understand consequences of actions)

“Wait long, strike fast”

“If one man guards a narrow pass, 10000 cannot get through”(a strategic barrier can achieve the impossible)

“An overturned cart ahead warns the one behind”(Learn and observe from others)

“Do not remain in the open when the enemy is concealed”



“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up”

“To the fearful, the reflection of a bow is that of a snake” (when one is frightened, the simplest of objects reflect the enemy)



“When there is trust, no proof is necessary.  When there is none, no proof is possible”



“What is scarce is valued, what is plentiful is not”



“In a crisis people grow wisdom”

“Intelligence is endowed, but wisdom is learned”

“It takes true heroism to conquer oneself”





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