Chinese Proverbs

PATIENT waiting may solve a problem when feverish activity fails; simple tolerance may move a sinner to repent when harsh discipline is useless.

To the heart that is free from worldliness, the most vulgar place is as interesting as the capital of the fairies; to the heart that is enchained by passions, the happiest land becomes a desert of bitterness.

The excitable mind mistakes a rock for a tiger and the shadow of the bow for a snake; the serene mind regards the sea gulls as companions and the croaking frogs as music.

There is calm in the very rush of brooks; there is serenity in the very falling of flowers.

The man of leisure is the owner of frolicking wind, beckoning flowers, white moon, and blue sky — in a word, of all nature.

The lover of solitude avoids men to seek quietness; but his seeking it shows that all he tries to shun lies in his very heart.

Secret plots, strange habits, unnatural actions, and exceptional talents are often embryos of disaster and weapons of suicide.

The flowers make beautiful carpets in the spring and the birds give fine concerts; the man that does nothing is not born, though he lives a hundred years.

Freedom is not obtained by running away from it.

Faithful words offend the ears, but they are good for character; medicines are bitter in the mouth, but they cure sickness.

Subdue your own heart before you try to subdue the Devil; rule your own temper before you try to rule the unruly.

Noble character is built in solitude; great ability is made by overcoming little difficulties.

It is better to offend by straightforwardness than to please by flattery; better be blamed than praised, when both are undeserved.

It is fun to know the quirks of people’s minds without seeming to recognize them.

Tall peaks are without trees, but low valleys abound with plants; the superior man warns himself against loftiness.

Success based on virtue is like a flower growing in the forest; success due to ability is like a flower planted in a pot; success gained by trickery and force is like a rootless flower in a vase: it can be seen to wither even as it is watched.

Other people’s circumstances are never uniformly good; how can you expect your own to be? You are not always reasonable; how can you expect others to be?

It is other people’s faults that you should forgive, not your own; it is your own suffering that you should bear, not that of others.

No merit is so big that it can stand boasting.

Only humility can keep the great from falling.

When people show you kindness, remember it; but when they hurt you, forget. When you do good, forget; but when you do evil, remember.

The full moon must wane and the full-blown flowers must fade; therefore the wise man does not expect to attain enduring perfection.