Inspirational Chinese proverbs and quotes will challenge the way you think, and make your life worth living.
Most Famous Chinese Proverbs and Quotes
A bad beginning makes a bad ending.
A bad word whispered echoes a hundred miles.
A bad workman blames his tools.
A bird can roost but on one branch, a mouse can drink not more than its fill from a river.
A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.
A bird in the hand is worth than two in the bush.
A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.
A body acts according to physical strength.
A book holds a house of gold.
A book holds a house of gold.
A book is a pocket garden.
A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.
A book tightly shut is but a block of paper.
A candle lights others and consumes itself.
A careful foot can step anywhere.
A carp has jumped the dragon’s gate.
A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.
A clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.
A clever person turns great troubles into little ones, and little ones into none at all.
A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood.
A courtyard common to all will be swept by none.
A crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind.
A day’s planning is done at dawn.
A diamond with a flaw is better than a common stone that is perfect.
A diamond with a flaw is worth more than a pebble without imperfections.
A dragon’s and a horse’s spirit.
A dragon’s pool and a tiger’s den.
A fall into a ditch makes you wiser.
A filthy mouth will not utter decent language.
A fool judges people by the presents they give him.
A friend to everybody is a friend to nobody.
A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials.
A gentleman’s friendship is insipid as water.
A good book is a good friend.
A good book is like a good friend.
A good heart influences Heaven and Earth.
A good memory can’t beat a bad pen.
A good name is better than a good face.
A good teacher. . . better than a barrowful of books.
A happy occasion gladdens the spirit.
A hobbling cat is better than a fast horse when rats swarm the palace.
A hundred foot bamboo can progress yet another step.
A hundred no’s are less agonizing than one insincere yes.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
A king’s riches cannot buy an extra year.
A little impatience will spoil great plans.
A man should choose a friend who is better than himself. There are plenty of acquaintances in the world; but very few real friends.
A man who cannot tolerate small misfortunes can never accomplish great things.
A man who chases two rabbits catches neither.
A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.
A man’s conversation is the mirror of his thoughts.
A muddled mix of fish and dragons.
A nation’s treasure is in its scholars.
A needle is not sharp at both ends.
A person leaves a reputation, as a swallow leaves its call.
A person of high principles is one who can watch an entire chess game without making a comment.
A person who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the man doing it.
A prime minister’s mind should be broad enough for poling a boat.
A pure heart has few desires.
A rumor goes in one ear and out many mouths.
A sharp tongue or pen can kill without a knife.
A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.
A single conversation with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books.
A smile dispels many worries.
A smile will gain you ten more years of life.
A straight foot is not afraid of a crooked shoe.
A team of horses will struggle to chase down a spoken word.
A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom.
A thousand cups of wine do not suffice when true friends meet, but half a sentence is too much when there is no meeting of minds.
A thousand-li journey starts with a footfall.
A whitewashed crow soon shows black again
A wise man adapts himself to circumstances as water shapes itself according to the vessel that contains it.
A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.
A wise man makes his own decisions, but an ignorant man mindlessly follows the crowd.
After three days without reading, talk becomes flavorless.
After you is good manners.
All language is not in books, nor all thoughts in language.
All things are difficult at the start.
All things are difficult before they are easy.
All things change, and we change with them.
An accidental meeting is more pleasant than a planned one.
An aggrieved army is sure to win.
An hour may destroy the work of a hundred years.
An inch of gold can’t buy an inch of time.
An inch of time cannot be bought with an inch of gold.
An inch of time is an inch of gold but you can’t buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.
An inch of time is worth an inch of gold, but an inch of gold may not buy an inch of time.
An intimate friend is hard to find.
An old warhorse in the stable still longs to gallop a thousand li.
Arrogance costs a fortune.
As distance tests a horse’s strength, time reveals a person’s character.
As tao raises a foot, the demon raises ten. [Where truth/tao is prominent, persecution arises.]
At birth we bring our nothing; at death we leave with the same.
Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream. – Lao Tzu
Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.
Be not disturbed at being misunderstood; be disturbed rather at not being understanding.
Be the first to the field and the last to the couch.
Beat the drum inside the house to spare the neighbors.
Before preparing to improve the world, first look around your own home three times.
Before telling secrets on the road, look in the bushes.
Before the thought has arisen, the gods know it.
Behave toward everyone as if receiving a guest.
Behind an able man there are always other able men.
Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old Chinese quotes, Chinese sayings, and Chinese proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.
Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.
Better lean and good than fat and evil.
Better the cottage where one is merry than the palace where one weeps.
Better to be without a book than to believe a book entirely.
Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
Birds flying in the sky as one; branches growing on the earth as one.
Black cat or white cat: If it can catch mice, it’s a good cat.
Blame yourself as you blame others; forgive others as you forgive yourself.
Blessings come in disguise
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. – Confucius
Carriages like a stream and horses like a dragon.
Cheat your conscience, and a whole life’s happiness is destroyed.
Chinese people are the various individuals or ethnic groups associated with China, usually through ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, citizenship, or other affiliation.
Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.
Climb mountains to see lowlands.
Close to a blacksmith, learn to hammer out nails; close to a carpenter, learn how to use a saw.
Coming events cast their shadows before them.
Deal with the faults of others as gently as with your own.
Deep doubts, deep wisdom; small doubts, little wisdom.
Deliberately vague and deflective.
Determination tempers the sword of your character.
Dig the well before you are thirsty.
Disaster comes from careless talk.
Distance tests a horse’s strength. Time reveals a person’s character.
Distant water does not put out a nearby fire.
Divide an orange–it tastes just as good.
Do everything at the right time, and one day will seem like three.
Do good, reap good; do evil, reap evil.
Do not afraid of moving slowly. Be afraid of standing still.
Do not believe that you will reach your destination without leaving the shore.
Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.
Do not do all you can, do not spend all that you have, do not believe all that you hear, and do not tell all that you know. – Chinese Proverb
Do not employ handsome servants.
Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still.
Do not impose others what yourself do not desire.
Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet.
Do not tear down the east wall to repair the west wall.
Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend’s forehead.
Do not want others to know what you have done? Better not have done it anyways.
Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tzu
Dogs have no prejudice against the poor.
Doing good gives the greatest happiness; study gives the greatest good.
Don’t miss opportunities: time doesn’t come round again.
Don’t fear the enemy that attacks you, but the fake friend that hugs you.
Don’t go thirty miles to sell firewood, or three hundred miles to purchase grain.
Don’t waste your hour–the sun sets soon.
Dragons soaring and tigers leaping.
Each generation will reap what the former generation has sown.
Each has his own task, and nobody is dispensable.
Easier to rule a nation than a child.
Easy to open a shop, hard to keep it open.
Embrace every chance of laying up merit, and your daily wants will be regularly supplied.
Enduring deepening pain is how man ascends.
Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.
Enough shovels of earth make a mountain, enough pails of water a river.
Entire sincerity moves spiritual beings.
Even a dragon struggles to control a snake in its native haunt.
Even a hare will bite when it is cornered.
Even an upright official finds it hard to settle a family quarrel.
Every family has its problems.
Every step makes a footprint.
Everyone eats and drinks; yet only few appreciate the taste of food.
Everyone pushes a falling fence.
Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.
Everything’s ready except the east wind.
Experience is a comb which nature gives us when we are bald.
Facts beat eloquence.
Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.
Failure is the mother of success.
Fate brings people together from far apart.
Flowers may bloom again; you’re never young again.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
Forget the favors given; remember those received.
Genius can be recognized by its childish simplicity.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever.
Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.
Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime.
Give me liberty, or give me death!
Giving your son a skill is better than giving him one thousand pieces of gold.
Going to law is losing a cow for the sake of a cat.
Gold and silver nests can’t beat one’s family kennel.
Good medicine tastes bitter.
Govern a family as you would cook a small fish – very gently.
Great doubts, deep wisdom. . . small doubts, little wisdom
Great profits, great risks.
Great truths cannot penetrate rustic ears.
Great wisdom can seem foolish.
Green is from blue, and better than blue.
Guessing is cheap, but guessing wrong can be expensive.
Guilin’s scenery’s best on earth.
Habits are cobwebs at first; cables at last.
Happiness is like a sunbeam, which the least shadow intercepts, while adversity is often as the rain of spring.
Happiness is the best cosmetic.
Have but few friends, though much acquaintance.
He prayed for rain and received fire instead.
He vainly lived among people; to no purpose he walked across the plain.
He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.
He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
He who cannot agree with his enemies is controlled by them.
He who cheats the earth will be cheated by the earth.
He who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years.
He who depends on himself will attain the greatest happiness.
He who has never been cheated cannot be a good businessman.
He who has seen little is astonished at much.
He who hurries can not walk with dignity.
He who is drowned is not troubled by the rain.
He who is foolish finds disaster.
He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.
He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.
He who stores up evil, although still living, is dead; he who stores up goodness, although dead, is still living.
He who thinks too much about every step he takes will always stay on one leg.
He who waits for a roast duck to fly in his mouth must wait a very long time.
He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
Heaven and Earth will not be angry with one who will correct his faults.
Heaven has a road, but no one travels it; Hell has no gate, but people bore into it.
Heaven knows and Earth knows—how can I alone know?
Heaven lent you a soul Earth will lend a grave.
Heaven, having let me be born as a man, requires me to follow its doctrines.
His virtues exceed his talents–a superior man
Hold hands with you, grow old with you.
Honest scales and full measure hurt no one
How can a tiger or leopard [i.e. a superior person] put up with the insults of a dog or sheep [i.e. a lesser person]?
I dreamed a thousand new paths. . . I woke and walked my old one.
I hear and I forget, I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
I was angered, for I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet.
I’d rather die for speaking out, than to live and be silent.
If a family is harmonious everything will go well.
If a girl seems as shy as a mouse, you still have to look out for the tiger within her.
If a man keeps his mouth shut, his words become proverbial.
If for one day one does not meditate upon goodness, all [kinds of] wickedness will spring up of themselves.
If heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.
If Heaven made someone, earth can find some use for them
If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself. – Confucius
If one plants in the springtime, one will harvest in the fall.
If people are of one heart, even loess can become gold.
If small holes aren’t fixed, then big holes will bring hardship.
If the first words fail, ten thousand will then not avail
If the mirror is highly polished, the dust will not stain it; if the heart is enlightened, evil desires will not arise in it.
If there is light in the soul, There will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, There will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, There will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, There will be peace in the world.
If there were no gods or demons in the world, man would do all kinds of things [Without the fear of the gods, man would be uncontrollable].
If you always give You will always have.
If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.
If you are rich, you speak the truth if you are poor, your words are but lies.
If you are standing upright, don’t worry if your shadow is crooked.
If you ask for directions rudely, you might end up many miles from your destination.
If you bow at all bow low.
If you don’t do stupid things you won’t end up in tragedy.
If you don’t run the family, you don’t know the value of fuel and rice.
If you don’t scale the mountain, you can’t view the plain.
If you don’t want anyone to know it, don’t do it.
If you get up one more time than you fall you will make it through.
If you hurry through long days, you will hurry through short years.
If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.
If you plan for one year, plant rice. If you plan for ten years, plant trees, If you plan for 100 years, educate mankind.
If you see in your wine the reflection of a person not in your range of vision, don’t drink it.
If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it’s OK. But you’ve got to shoot for something. A lot of people don’t even shoot. – Confucius
If you stand straight, do not fear a crooked shadow.
If you survived a storm, you won’t be bothered by the rain.
If you suspect a man, don’t employ him, and if you employ him, don’t suspect him.
If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people. – Confucius
If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.
If you want an audience, start a fight.
If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a month — get married. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.
If you want no one to know, don’t do it.
If you want to avoid being cheated, ask for prices at three different stores.
If you want to find out about the road ahead, then ask about it from those coming back.
If you want your children to have a peaceful life, let them suffer a little hunger and a little coldness.
If you want your children to have a peaceful life, let them suffer a little hunger and a little coldness.
If you want your dinner, don’t insult the cook.
If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words.
If you wrangle over things of little importance, then you lose the great Tao.
If your fate is not propitious, you should nevertheless cultivate virtue. The sleeping dragon will someday ascend to Heaven. [If your time of fortune has not come, cultivate virtue and wait for your time of fortune].
If your mind is strong, all difficult things will become easy. If your mind is weak, all easy things will become difficult.
If your principles are not good, you sin against Heaven and Earth; if your words and actions are good, you leave an example for sons and grandsons.
If your strength is small, don’t carry heavy burdens. If your words are worthless, don’t give advice.
Ignorance is bliss.
In a flood of words, surely some mistakes.
In a group of many words, there is bound to be a mistake somewhere in them.
In a group of many words, there is bound to be a mistake.
In a lover’s eye is the foremost Beauty.
In bed be wife and husband, in the hall each other’s honored guest.
In hardship we see true friendship.
In reviling, it is not necessary to prepare a preliminary draft.
In the midst of great joy, do not promise to give a man anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer a man’s letter.
Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome.
It is after a hundred battles that heroes are produced.
It is easier to visit friends than to live with them.
It is easy to find a thousand soldiers, but hard to find a good general.
It is easy to open a store – the hard part is keeping it open.
It is for me to put forth the utmost effort; it rests with Heaven to give success to my plans.
It is not the knowing that is difficult, but the doing.
It just needs hard work to grind an iron rod into a needle.
It takes more than one cold day for a river to freeze a meter deep.
It’s better to walk thousands of miles than to read thousands of books.
It’s better to be without a book than to believe a book entirely.
Joy is not a horse. You cannot harness it.
Judge not the horse by his saddle.
Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.
Keep the general goal in sight while tackling daily tasks.
Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve.
Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one.
Learn and enjoy the Chinese language
Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.
Learning is a weightless treasure you can always carry easily.
Learning without thought is deceptive; thought without learning is perilous.
Let each one go his own Tao.
Let people despise me [as they like]—but if Heaven does not spurn me, then loss is gain.
Let us fulfill our own parts, and await the will of Heaven.
Let’s put our heads together for the benefit of all.
Life is finite, while knowledge is infinite. – Zhuang Zi
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius
Like sitting on a carpet of needles.
Like Weather, one’s fortune may change by the evening. – Lueng Meng Zheng
Limitations are but boundaries in our minds.
Listen to all, pluck a feather from every passing goose, but follow no one absolutely.
Listening to a lord’s remarks is better than reading books for ten years.
Listening well is as powerful as talking well, and is also as essential to true conversation.
Live till you’re old, and study till you’re old.
Logic takes you from A to B, but imagination takes you everywhere.
Long for a heart, never be apart.
Lord Ye loves dragons.
Love at first sight.
love at first sight. It’s generally used for people, but you can also use it for other physical objects.
Love deep, chastise deep.
Love is not about possession, it’s all about appreciation.
Love isn’t about having, it’s about enjoying
Love the house and its crow.
Love your neighbors, but don’t pull down the fence.
Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come.
Make My Home Everywhere within the Four Seas. The World Is My Home. – Xiao He
Man cannot be judged by looks; seas cannot be measured by cup.
Man combs his hair every morning. Why not his heart?
Man reasons in a thousand ways; the spirits only in [the right] one.
Man who say it cannot be done should not interrupt man doing it.
Mankind fears an evil man but heaven does not.
Many a good face under a ragged hat.
Married couples tell each other a thousand things without speech.
May your every wish be granted. – Ancient Chinese Curse
Men of different principles don’t work well together.
Men trip not on mountains they trip on molehills.
My life–a candle in the wind. . . frost on the leaves.
Near putrid fish you’ll stink; near the epidendrum you’ll be fragrant [One takes the color and odor of one’s company.]
Near vermilion one gets stained pink; near ink one gets stained black.
Neither fortunes nor flowers last forever.
Never do anything standing that you can do sitting, or anything sitting that you can do lying down.
Never hesitate to ask a lesser person.
Never write a letter while you are angry.
No guests at home, no hosts abroad.
No horse can wear two saddles.
No man is a perfect man; no gold is sufficiently bare.
No matter how tall the mountain is, it cannot block the sun.
Nobody should neglect to cultivate secret virtues.
Not the cry, but the flight of the wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.
Not wine…men intoxicate themselves; Not vice…men entice themselves.
Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it. – Lao Tzu
Nowadays, people are shortsighted—they regard the outward appearance as important, but not the virtue.
Numerous friends means no deep friendship.
Nurture the plant one year–ten days of flowers.
O eggs, don’t fight with rocks.
Of all female qualities, a warm heart is the most valuable.
One beam, no matter how big, cannot support an entire house on its own.
One dog barks at something, the rest bark at him.
One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.
One happiness scatters a thousand sorrows.
One joy scatters a hundred griefs.
One man spreads a false report, and a hundred report it as truth.
One should be just as careful in choosing one’s pleasures as in avoiding calamities.
One sincere thought can influence Heaven and Earth.
One who stands straight doesn’t fear a crooked shadow.
Only one who can swallow an insult is a man.
Opportunities don’t just happen, you create them.
Opportunity knocks at the door only once.
Outside noisy, inside empty.
Paint a dragon and dot the eye.
Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.
Past scholars studied to improve themselves; Today’s scholars study to impress others.
Patience is a bitter plant, but its fruit is sweet.
People doing the same things might have different motives.
People in love become spouses in the end.
Practice no vice because it’s trivial… Neglect no virtue because it’s so.
Public before private and country before family.
Punishing those who come before stops those who come after from doing something.
Putting aside virtuous deeds and not doing them—this may be styled “self-robbery.”
Quickly do works of repentance, and you will be upon the conscious shore. Butchers drop your knives, and become Buddhas as a result.
Radishes and greens, each have those who love them.
Raise your sail one foot and you get ten feet of wind.
Reading requires concentration; a word may be worth a fortune.
Repay good with good.
Replace weapons with jade and silk.
Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment. – Lao Tzu
Ripe fruit falls by itself, but it doesn’t fall in your mouth.
Rise and fall of a nation rests with every one of its citizens.
Seeing it once is better than being told 100 times.
Set yourself as the standard.
Show compassion to others’ misfortunes, and rejoice in their excellences.
Silence is a source of great strength.
Simple to open a shop; another thing to keep it open.
Slow work–fine work.
Small as it is, the sparrow has all the vital organs.
Small men think they are small; great men never know they are great.
Soldiers don’t hate deceit.
Solve one problem, and you keep a hundred others away.
Some people want to be praised for the rest of their lives for what they did well for one day.
Some study shows the need for more.
Sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, all must be tasted.
Stare at the profit and step in the pitfall.
Starlight shines far.
Stout men, not stout walls, make the stout city.
Strict teachers produce fine students.
Suffer a moat, grow in wisdom.
Take a second look… It costs you nothing.
Take merit and [use it to] mend sin.
Talk does not cook rice.
Tao can be delicate or strong, soft or hard, yin or yang, obscure or clear. It can wrap up Heaven and Earth. It is sufficient for all things.- Chinese Proverbs
Tao does not act in vain.
Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.
Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involves me and I’ll understand.
Ten years to cultivate wood, a hundred years to cultivate a man.
Tenacity and adversity are old foes.
Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are.
The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
The best fighter is never angry.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.
The Chun Tzu conquers himself; the Hsiao Jen is envious and overbearing.
The door of good works is difficult to open—but when opened, it is difficult to close.
The dragon flies and the phoenix dances.
The error of one moment becomes the sorrow of a whole life.
The evil sea [i.e. the world] is vast. Turn the head [i.e. repent] and you are at the shore.
The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.
The glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.
The gods are in his skill.
The Han Chinese are the largest ethnic group in China, comprising roughly 92% of its mainland population. Outside of China, the terms “Han Chinese” and “Chinese” are often conflated since the Han Chinese are the most populous ethnic group in China. In fact, there are 55 officially-recognized ethnic minorities in China who may also identify as “Chinese”.
The harvest moon is brightest; every festival homesickness multiplies.
The hearts of the people are the only legitimate foundations of the Empire.
The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
The judge with seven reasons states only one in court.
The man who comes with a tale about others has himself an ax to grind.
The man who does not learn is dark, like one walking in the night.
The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.
The melon seller does not announce, “Bitter melons.”
The more acquaintances you have, the less you know them.
The palest ink is better than the best memory.
The people sitting in the free theatre seats are the first ones to boo.
The people who talk the best are not the only ones who can tell you the most interesting things.
The person who is his own master cannot tolerate another boss.
The person who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.
The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it.
The pine stays green in winter…Wisdom in hardship.
The player is lost; the watcher is lucid.
The quick footed climb first.
The ripest fruit falls by itself.
The smallest desire to do good is—though not seen by man—certainly known to Heaven.
The swiftest horse can’t overtake a word once spoken.
The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.
The timber’s already a boat; the rice is cooked.
The tongue like a sharp knife… Kills without drawing blood.
The way to close the mouth of a slanderer is to treat him with contempt.
The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.
The wise listens to her mind, the foolish to the mob.
There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same.
There are two kinds of perfect people: those who are dead, and those who have not been born yet.
There are two perfect men one dead, and the other unborn.
There is a road to Paradise, but you choose not to go. There is no door to Hell, and yet you force your way to woe. [Used of one unwilling do right]
There is many a good man to be found under a shabby hat.
Think about your own faults during the first half of the night, and the faults of others during the second half.
Think thrice before you act.
This ground doesn’t have 300 taels of silver.
Those who do not read are no better off than those who cannot.
Those who have free seats at a play hiss first.
Those who just want speed don’t succeed.
Three feet of ice were not frozen in a day.
Tile tossed over the wall. . . who knows where it will fall?
Time is money, and it is difficult for one to use money to get time.
Timely return of a loan makes it easier to borrow a second time.
To attract good fortune, spend a new coin on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend, and lift up the heart of a true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon.
To be heard afar, bang your gong on a hilltop
To be totally at leisure for one day is to be immortal for one day.
To believe in one’s dreams is to spend all of one’s life asleep.
To believe in Tao is easy; to keep Tao is difficult.
To build it took one hundred years; to destroy it one day.
To do evil is to transgress the laws of Heaven.
To forget one’s ancestor’s is to be a brook without a source, a tree without root.
To have principles first have courage.
To know a fish go to the water; to know a bird’s song go to the mountains.
To know and know that you know, not to know and know that you don’t know, that is to know.
To know another is not to know that person’s face, but to know that person’s heart.
To know others, know yourself first.
To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.
To know the road ahead, ask those returning.
To make a man of yourself you must toil.
To stop drinking, study a drunkard while you are sober.
To succeed, consult three old people.
To talk much and arrive nowhere is the same as climbing a tree to catch a fish.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.
Touch black paint, have black fingers.
Two benefits from one action.
Two good talkers are not worth one good listener.
Unless we change direction, we are likely to wind up where we are headed.
Use power to curb power.
Want a thing long enough and you don’t.
Watch over workers at their labors, not their meals.
Watch till clouds part to see moonlight.
Watching chess games in silence. . .a superior person.
Water drops pierce stone; rope saws cut wood.
Water flows in only to flow out.
We can study until old age. . . and still not finish.
We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression. – Confucius
What you cannot avoid, welcome.
What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others.
What you don’t see, you don’t desire.
When a mute eats dumplings, he knows how many he has eaten.
When adversity comes, receive it favorably.
When anger arises, think of the consequences.
When children travel far, mothers worry.
When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.
When economy goes south, people get political.
When entering a locality follow the local customs.
When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. – Confucius
When people work with one heart, they can even move Mount Tai.
When the waters drop, the rocks appear.
When the winds of change blows, some people build walls and others build windmills.
When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.
When using books, you’ll regret reading few.
When you believe in them [Kuei and Shen], they exist. When you do not believe in them, they do not exist.
When you converse, let it be with the wise; when you give food, let it be to the hungry.
When you drink the water, remember the spring.
When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.
When you say one thing, the clever person understands three.
When you want to test the depths of a stream, don’t use both feet.
Where there’s a father, there’s his son.
While there are green hills, there’ll be wood to burn.
While you are bargaining, conceal your coin.
Who is the greatest liar? Who talks most of himself.
Whoever undertakes a task cannot repudiate the responsibility.
Why so anxiously and busily manage so many evil matters? Drop them all and become a good man.
Wind isn’t always favorable; soldiers aren’t always victorious.
Wishing us long life, though sharing moonlight from afar.
With a helmsman [i.e. leader] that is not nervous, the passengers [i.e. followers] [will feel] secure.
With money you are a dragon; with no money, a worm.
With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.
With true friends… even water drunk together is sweet enough.
With truth on your side, you can go anywhere; without truth, you can’t take a tiny step.
With virtue you can’t be completely poor; without it you can’t be truly rich.
Without sorrows no one becomes a saint.
Without standards no boundaries are set.
Worship the gods as if they were present; if you don’t worship them, they are but pieces of mud.
You can’t get fat with one mouthful.
You can’t talk of the ocean to a well-frog.
You may deceive people. You cannot deceive Heaven.
You reap what you sow.
Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.