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The Chinese Wisdom


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These are among the most frequently quoted Chinese sayings and proverbs, some of which are on learning, some on morality cultivation, some on relationship between people, and others on ruling a nation.


If two people are of the same mind, their sharpness can cut through metal.


It is a true great man whom no money and rank can confuse, no poverty and hardship can shake, and no power and force can suffocate.


A huge tree that fills one’s arms grows from a tiny seedling; a nine-storied tower rises from a heap of earth; a thousand li journey starts with the first step.


Misfortune, that is where happiness depends; happiness, that is where misfortune underlies.


On seeing a man of virtue, try to become his equal; on seeing a man without virtue, examine yourself not to have the same defects.


The friendship between men of virtue is light like water, yet affectionate; the friendship between men without virtue is sweet like wine, yet easily broken.


Expend the respect of the aged in one’s family to that of other families; expend the love of the young ones in one’s family to that of other families.


If love between both sides can last for aye, why need they stay together night and day?


The people are the most important element in a state; next are the gods of land and grain; least is the ruler himself.


A long dike will collapse because of an ant-hole in it; a tall building will be burned down by a spark from a chimney’s chink.


Carve but give up half way, even a decayed piece of wood will not break; carve without stop, even metal and stone can be engraved.


People have sorrow and joy; they part and meet again. The moon dims or shines; it waxes or wanes. Nothing is perfect, not even in the olden days.


Learning and culture are to a person what polished and grinding are to jade.


Among any three people walking, I will find something to learn for sure. Their good qualities are to be followed, and their shortcomings are to be avoided.


When Heaven is about to place a great responsibility on a great man, it always first frustrates his spirit and will, exhausts his muscles and bones, exposes him to starvation and poverty, harasses him by troubles and setbacks so as to stimulate his spirit, toughen his nature and enhance his abilities.


Opportunities vouchsafed by Heaven are less important than terrestrial advantages, which in turn are less important than the unity among people.


As Heaven’s movement is ever vigorous, so must a gentleman ceaselessly strive along.


Things investigated, genuine knowledge acquired; genuine knowledge acquired ,thoughts purified; thoughts purified, hearts rectified; hearts rectified, personalities cultivated; personalities cultivated, families regulated; families regulated, the states well governed; the states well governed, the whole world will be in peace and tranquil.


There is never an end to learning. The dye extracted from the indigo is bluer than the plant; so is the ice colder than the water. By broadly learning and constantly examining himself every day, the gentleman sharpens his awareness and makes fewer mistakes.


Learning without thinking leads to confusion; thinking without learning ends in danger.


Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back.


One can never be aware of the height of the sky or the depth of the earth, if he does not climb up a high mountain or look down into a deep abyss.


It takes bitter medicine to cure a disease properly, and it takes blunt advice to put us on the right track.


As distance tests a horse's strength, so does time reveal a person's real character.


Don't judge a horse by its saddle, and don't judge a person by his clothes.


Better to be a shard of jade than a whole tile.


A clear conscience sleeps even through thunder.


A weak person is liable to be bullied; a tamed horse is often ridden.


When people are of one mind and heart, they can move Mount Tai.


It takes ten years to grow a tree, but a hundred years to bring up a generation of good men.


The whole year's work depends on good planning in spring, and the whole day's work depends on good planning in the early morning.


Distant water can't put out a nearby fire, and a distant relative is not as helpful as a close neighbor.

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