Rodney Ohebsion

Chinese Proverbs

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.

Goodness is most precious; it is used one life after another. Let the heart become a virtuous field, and it will be plowed existence after existence.

Take merit and [use it to] mend sin.

Move towards good with swiftness, like that of the wind. Correct your faults with fierceness, like that of thunder.

The evil sea [i.e. the world] is vast. Turn the head [i.e. repent] and you are at the shore.

Quickly do works of repentance, and you will be upon the conscious shore. Butchers drop your knives, and become Buddhas as a result.

To believe in Tao is easy; to keep Tao is difficult.

If he does a virtuous deed, he does not seek fame; if at fault, he does not make excuses.

If for one day one does not meditate upon goodness, all [kinds of] wickedness will spring up of themselves.

He vainly lived among people; to no purpose he walked across the plain

A pure heart has few desires.

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]

Why so anxiously and busily manage so many evil matters? Drop them all and become a good man.

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.

Virtue and vice, wisdom and folly are not hereditary.

To make a man of yourself you must toil.

Only keep the approval of your own conscience, and you need not fear the judgment of Yien Los.

Tao without plans will not succeed; plans without Tao will not succeed.

Embrace every chance of laying up merit, and your daily wants will be regularly supplied.

Doing one good act is better than building a nine story pagoda.

There is happiness in doing good, and secret merit in virtuous deeds.

He who strives to be like a Sage prospers; he who follows closely upon the heels of the corrupt will perish.

He who stores up ?living, although still living, is dead; he who stores up goodness, although dead, is still living.

Show compassion to others’ misfortunes, and rejoice in their excellences.

When you converse, let it be with the wise; when you give food, let it be to the hungry.

Associating with an evil person is like sleeping in the midst of knives and swords—even if you have not been wounded, you are constantly afraid.

The door of good works is difficult to open—but when opened, it is difficult to close.

Doing good gives the greatest happiness; study gives the greatest good.

If the mirror is highly polished, the dust will not stain it; if the heart is enlightened, evil desires will not arise in it.

Putting aside virtuous deeds and not doing them—this may be styled “self-robbery.”

Entire sincerity moves spiritual beings.

If your fate is not propitious, you should nevertheless cultivate virtue. The sleeping dragon will some day ascend to Heaven [If your time of fortune has not come, cultivate virtue and wait for your time of fortune].

Do not fear when people speak evil of you; fear lest you should do evil.

He who covets small gain will hardly be able to accomplish great transactions.

The covetous man is ready to die for wealth.

He who loves and covets riches is a fool.

The man who only covets wealth and good living has no sense of honor. Though he dresses like a human being, he is only a brute.

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.

Tortoise-shells, bamboo slips, devils, and deities are not qualified to guarantee victory, nor are the direction of the stars, if right or left, if front or back, qualified to decide the outcome of war.

People doing the same things might have different motives.

Who clarifies the law is strong, and who neglects the law is weak.

The superior person shuns excesses and shuns deficits.

Let each one sweep the snow of his own doorsteps. Do not try to control the frost on others’ tiles

If you use the heart with which you rebuke others to reprove the self, there will be fewer faults.

Only govern your own door; don’t talk about other men’s daughters and wives.

The chun tzu conquers himself; the hsiao jen is envious and overbearing.

If you would control the self you must rebuke the self.

An hour may destroy the work of a hundred years.

Saint outside, devil inside.

Nowadays, people are shortsighted—they regard the outward appearance as important, but not the virtue.

Man procures the strength of the gods; the gods procure the strength of men.

From of old, among those born of man, who has not died?

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.

Tao does not act in vain.

To act upright is the role of every god and human soul.

If it is the right way, advance; if it is the wrong way, retire.

If the heart is not pure, you will be unable to see Tao.

As Tao raises a foot, the demon raises ten. [Where truth/Tao is prominent, persecution arises.]

If you wrangle over things of little importance, then you lose the great Tao.

If you desire to find the beneficial influences of the earth, then first gain those of Heaven.

Nobody should neglect to cultivate secret virtues.

It does not depend upon one’s possessions and money, nor on the family burial plot, but upon one’s self.

The gods are in his skill.

If you would extend your fields of happiness, you must level the soil of your heart.

The gods know beforehand the crooked ways of the human heart.

One good thought is followed by the shen; one evil thought is followed by the kuei. Understanding this, you can use kuei or shen.

When you believe in them [kuei and shen], they exist. When you do not believe in them, they do not exist.

Worship the gods as if they were present; if you don’t worship them, they are but pieces of mud.

Before the thought has arisen, the gods know it.

Man reasons in a thousand ways; the spirits only in one [i.e. the right one].

Happiness depends on man and not on demons, on virtue and not on sacrifice.

Every five hundred years there is an era of trials [for gods, demons, and immortals].

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]?

Fire and water have no feelings [and show no partiality].

The kuei and the shen float about everywhere in the heavens and the earth—there is no place where there are none. Though they may be quiet and inactive, they have communication with us if we influence them.

Listening well is as powerful as talking well, and is also as essential to true conversation.

Do not believe that you will reach your destination without leaving the shore.

If you ask for directions rudely, you might end up many miles from your destination.

A clever person turns great troubles into little ones, and little ones into none at all.

Listen to all, pluck a feather from every passing goose, but follow no one absolutely.

Better to be without a book than to believe a book entirely.

Cheat your conscience, and a whole life’s happiness is destroyed.

To do evil is to transgress the laws of Heaven.

Let people despise me [as they like]—but if Heaven does not spurn me, then loss is gain.

It is not the defects of the branches or of the leaves that cause the tree to perish; it is the decay of the root.

Set yourself as the standard.

Do your duty, accept your destiny, follow your time, and obey Heaven.

Let us fulfill our own parts, and await the will of Heaven.

The hearts of the people are the only legitimate foundations of the Empire.

The [soldier who retreated] 50 paces jeered at the one who [retreated] 100 paces.

The more acquaintances you have, the less you know them.

Have but few friends, though much acquaintance.

Not all who are people who are bitten by dogs are thieves.

Close to a blacksmith, learn to hammer out nails; close to a carpenter, learn how to use a saw.

A forced hen will not lay eggs.

Man combs his hair every morning. Why not his heart?

Cleanse your heart as you would cleanse a dish.

One dog barks at something, and the rest bark at him.

One man spreads a false report, and a hundred report it as truth.

Pay attention to what a man is, not to what he has been.

Some people want to be praised for the rest of their lives for what they did well for one day.

Great truths cannot penetrate rustic ears.

You can’t talk of the ocean to a well-frog.

The melon seller does not announce, “Bitter melons.”

The melon seller declares his melons sweet.

Distant water does not put out a nearby fire.

Solve one problem, and you keep a hundred others away.

If you want to avoid being cheated, ask for prices at three different stores.

If a girl seems as shy as a mouse, you still have to look out for the tiger within her.

To be totally at leisure for one day is to be immortal for one day.

More trees are upright than men.

Some study shows the need for more.

A wise man adapts himself to circumstances as water shapes itself according to the vessel that contains it.

Suit the self to circumstances.

Whoever undertakes a task cannot repudiate the responsibility.

The first thing a scholar does is to establish resolution.

Riches serve a wise man, but command a fool.

Love of gain turns wise men into fools.

Near vermilion one gets stained pink; near ink one gets stained black. Near putrid fish you’ll stink; near the epidendrum you’ll be fragrant. [One takes the color and odor of one’s company.]

A good man will not dwell in a bad neighborhood, lest all the pollution of the place should flow to him.

Heaven and Earth will not be angry with one who will correct his faults.

One sincere thought can influence Heaven and Earth.

If one constantly, with all his heart, acts according to the true doctrine, naturally Heaven and Earth will not cause him to suffer.

Pleased with Heaven and delighted with Earth.

You may deceive people. You cannot deceive Heaven.

Let each one go his own Tao.

He who depends on himself will have much happiness.

The error of one moment becomes the sorrow of a whole life.

All men may be Yaos and Shuns.

He who waits for a roast duck to fly in his mouth must wait a very long time.

It is easier to visit friends than to live with them.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

A hobbling cat is better than a fast horse when rats swarm the palace.

In a group of many words, there is bound to be a mistake.

You can be cautious of the future, but not of the past.

Everything in the past died yesterday; everything in the future is born today.

Heaven knows and Earth knows—how can I alone know?

Man may not, but Heaven knows.

Heaven, having let me be born as a man, requires me to follow its doctrines.

If man does not obey the heart of Heaven, Heaven will not fulfill man’s desires.

Heaven knows the good and evil stored in the heart.

The smallest desire to do good is—though not seen by man—certainly known to Heaven.

It is for me to put forth the utmost effort; it rests with Heaven to give success to my plans.

There is nothing partial in the ways of Heaven.

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.

It is after a hundred battles that heroes are produced.

[Even] with half of the Lun Yu [put into use], the country can be [well] ruled.

If one plants in the springtime, one will harvest in the fall.

He prayed for rain and received fire instead.

A good heart influences Heaven and Earth.

Arrogance costs a fortune.

With a helmsman [i.e. leader] that is not nervous, the passengers [i.e. followers] [will feel] secure.

A hundred foot bamboo can progress yet another step.

Don’t go thirty miles to sell firewood, or three hundred miles to purchase grain.

If you don’t scale the mountain, you can’t view the plain.

All language is not in books, nor all thoughts in language.

He who has seen little is astonished at much.

If a man keeps his mouth shut, his words become proverbial.

The way to close the mouth of a slanderer is to treat him with contempt.

Great profits, great risks.

Who is the greatest liar? Who talks most of himself.

He who gives expects something in return.

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.

He who would rise in the world should veil his ambition with the forms of humanity.

Bargaining is as necessary to a trade as poleing to a vessel.

Joy is not a horse. You cannot harness it.

When economy goes south, people get political.

If you want to find out about the road ahead, then ask about it from those coming back.

Easy to open a shop, hard to keep it open.

Think about your own faults during the first half of the night, and the faults of others during the second half.

Genius can be recognized by its childish simplicity.

There are two kinds of perfect people: those who are dead, and those who have not been born yet.

A man who cannot tolerate small misfortunes can never accomplish great things.

If you want your children to have a peaceful life, let them suffer a little hunger and a little coldness.

He who cheats the earth will be cheated by the earth.

One beam, no matter how big, cannot support an entire house on its own.

Do everything at its right time, and one day will seem like three.

The best doctor prevents illness, a mediocre one treats illnesses that are about to occur, and an unskilled one treats current illnesses.

He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician.

The people who talk the best are not the only ones who can tell you the most interesting things.

The people sitting in the free theatre seats are the first ones to boo.

Free-sitters at the play always grumble the most.

Ripe fruit falls by itself, but it doesn’t fall in your mouth.

To know another is not to know that person’s face, but to know that person’s heart.

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

Better the cottage where one is merry than the palace where one weeps.

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.

It is difficult to catch a black cat in a dark room—especially if the cat isn’t there.

He who has never been cheated cannot be a good businessman.

He who thinks too much about every step he takes will always stay on one leg.

No matter how tall the mountain is, it cannot block the sun.

Tenacity and adversity are old foes.

A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man mindlessly follows the crowd.

Of all female qualities, a warm heart is the most valuable.

Before preparing to improve the world, first look around your own home three times.

All things change, and we change with them.

Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.

A crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind.

Never do anything standing that you can do sitting, or anything sitting that you can do lying down.

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

Some prefer carrots while others like cabbage.

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.

Do not tear down the east wall to repair the west wall.

A hasty man drinks his tea with a fork.

If you are standing upright, don’t worry if your shadow is crooked.

If you want an audience, start a fight.

Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.

Wine does not intoxicate a man—a man intoxicates himself.

Learning is a weightless treasure you can always carry easily.

Married couples tell each other a thousand things without speech.

Jails are always closed yet full, while temples are always open yet empty.

The road to Heaven is wide, but no one travels it; the gaits of the jail are closed and guarded, yet there are people who knock there. [People often do evil even when they know what is right]

Heaven has a road, but no one travels it; Hell has no gate, but people bore into it. [People do evil because they desire evil]

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]

An accidental meeting is more pleasant than a planned one.

‘Tis foolish for someone to seek/want credit for his ancestor’s achievements.

A one hundred yard high tower still has its foundation on the ground.

The loftiest/highest towers rise/begin from the ground.

The sincerity of him who assents to everything must be small; and he who praises you inordinately to your face, must be altogether false.

A man should choose a friend who is better than himself; if only hke himself, he had better have none. There are plenty of acquaintances in the world, but very few real friends.

A man's patrimony must suffer by trifling and idleness, as it must flourish by dihgence. The chief rule to be observed in one's plan of Hfe is to be strenuous in the beginning and to increase one’s exertions to the last.

As it is impossible to please men in all things, our only care should be to satisfy our own consciences.

He who studies ten years in obscurity, will, when once preferred, be known universally.

It is easy to convince a wise man, but to reason with a fool is a difficult undertaking.

To the contented, even poverty and obscurity bring happiness, while to the ambitious, wealth and honors are productive of misery.

Though a poor man should live in the midst of a noisy market, no one will ask about him; though a rich man should bury himself among the mountains, his relations will come to him from a distance.

Knowledge is boundless, but the capacity of one man is limited.

Plausible words are not so good as straightforward conduct; a man whose deeds are enlightened by virtue, need not be nice about his expressions.

A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years’ mere study of books.

The mind is it's own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell a hell of heaven.

Prevention is better than a cure.

The same tree may produce sour and sweet fruit; the same mother may have a virtuous and vicious progeny

As the scream of the eagle is heard when she has passed over" so a man's name remains after his death

Among mortals who is faultless

In learning, age and youth go for nothing; the best informed takes the precedence.

The figure of men in ancient times resembled that of wild beasts; but their hearts contained the most perfect virtue. The outward appearance of the present race of men is huma,n but their dispositions arc utterly brutish

By learning, the sons of the common people become public ministers; without learning, the sons of public ministers become mingled with the mass of the people

Of those who, at home are destitute of virtuous parents and elders, and abroad have no rigorous instructors and friends, and notwithstanding this can perfect themselves in wisdom—there are very few.

He who possesses an enlarged and sedate mind will have great happiness but the man whose schemes are deep will have great depth of misery.

What exists in the morning we cannot be certain of in the evening; what exists in the evening we cannot calculate upon for the next morning. The fortunes of men are as uncertain as the winds and clouds of heaven.

The fishes, though deep in the water, may be hooked; the birds, though high in the air, may be shot; but man.s secret thoughts are out of our reach. The heavens may be measured, the earth may be surveyed; the heart of man only is not to be known.

When the man of a naturally good propensity has much wealth, it injures his advancement in wisdom; when the worthless man has much wealth, it increases his faults.

There are plenty of men in the world, but very few heroes.

A virtuous woman is a source of honour to her husband: a vicious one causes him disgrace.

Strike a flint and you’ll get fire; strike it not and you’ll not get even smoke.

If an ox won't drink, you can't make him bend down his head.

Like pumpkins in water, one pops up while press another down.

What is earned with hard labor is eaten with pleasure.

One man cannot do two yamen-runners' work.

Wait till the Yellow Eiver becomes clear, and how old will you be?

Located in eastern Asia, China (the Chinese call it Zhongguo) is the most populous country in the world with well over one billion people.

China is considered one of the world’s oldest civilizations. It has also had a tremendous impact on neighboring areas such as Japan and Korea.

Much of Chinese history has to do with various dynasties that ruled and various philosophies that flourished throughout the land.

Early Culture and Dynasties

The roots of China come from the early Yangshao and Longshan cultures, which later spurned China’s first dynasty around 1700 BC, known as the Shang dynasty.

Zhou Dynasty

Around the 1100s BC, western Chinese people known as the Zhou overthrew the Shang, and they directly ruled northern China until 256 BC, and also indirectly ruled other parts of China

Confucius and Confucianism

Around 500 BC, a Chinese philosopher named Confucius (a.k.a. Kung Fu Tzu) popularized a moral philosophy now known as Confucianism, which shaped Chinese culture on-and-off for many centuries.

Around the same time, a school of thought known as Taoism began developing and flourishing throughout China, which also influenced China tremendously throughout its history.

Qin Dynasty—Legalism, Standardization, and the Great Wall

By 221 BC, the Qin dynasty began. It had a strong central government and used a philosophy called Legalism, which promoted ideals such as authority, efficiency, and lawmaking. Like Confucianism, Legalism also had a significant impact on China, although the Qin dynasty dissolved by 206 BC.

Other notable impacts of the Qin dynasty included an era of standardization in China, as well as the construction of the massive Great Wall (which joined earlier walls that existed, and was later added to and rebuilt in subsequent dynasties. The Great Wall is currently over 4500 miles long.)

Han & Xin Dynasties, Buddhism, and Foreign Rulers

The Han dynasty ruled China from 202 BC to 220 AD, but was interrupted from 8 AD to 25 AD during the Xin dynasty. During the Han and Xin periods, science, art, and writing flourished, and Confucianism also grew in popularity. Additionally, a school of thought known as Buddhism spread to China from India.

From 220 AD to the late 500s, various foreign rulers controlled various parts of China, while Buddhism continued to spread and influence Chinese culture.

Sui and Tang Dynasties

In the late 500s, China was reunified by the Sui dynasty, which lasted for under four decades, and was replaced by the Tang in 618. The Tang ruled for nearly three centuries, and in that time, China experienced many scholarly and financial advancements.

Several offspring of Buddhism also developed in China, including Chan (known as Zen in Japan).

Song Dynasty and Neo-Confucianism

The Tang Empire ended in 907, and China was later unified once again in 960 by the Song. The Song period marked the development of Neo-Confucianism, which combined aspects of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.

The Song period also marked a dramatic increase in rice production, as well as inventions such as gunpowder and movable type, an increase in literacy, and advancements in literature, history, philosophy, and art.

Mongol Rule

In 1279, Mongol warriors led by Kublai Kan established the Yuan dynasty. They ruled for nearly a century before being driven out, and in that time, the rest of the world became more aware of China.

Ming and Qing Dynasties

The Ming Dynasty ruled from 1368 to 1644, and marked a time when China was prosperous, and also when it rejected foreign influence and culture. In 1681, the Manchus (people from Manchuria—a region in northeastern China) took over China and began the Qing (Manchu) dynasty.

The early Qing period was marked by Chinese influence on countries such as Mongolia and Tibet, a dramatic increase in Chinese population, and an increase in foreign trade. The Qing gradually lost power throughout the 1800s and early 1900s.

Rebellions, Conflicts, Revolutions and Wars

China underwent many conflicts, rebellions, revolutions and wars from the late 1700s to the late 1900s.

In the late 1700s, Chinese production could not keep up with the growing population, and political corruption also brewed. This sparked a rebellion in 1796 that lasted until 1804.

In the 1800s, European traders began smuggling opium into China. This caused enormous problems in China, and led to The Opium War, where the United Kingdom defeated China. After that war, the UK, and later other European countries and the United States, began signing unfair treaties with China.

By the mid 1800s, the Qing still had some power, but many violent rebellions persisted in China. In the late 1800s, Japan defeated China in a war. Other foreign powers looked to turn China into colonies, but China remained unified, and the Western powers agreed to share equal trading rights with China.

In 1900, China had a rebellion against Western and Christian influences. In 1905, a revolutionary group formed, and by 1911, they defeated the Qing (Manchus) and officially ended the Qing dynasty. They established the Republic of China, but political unrest ensued. Communist, Nationalist, and Japanese groups struggled for power of China for many years.

Communism, and the People’s Republic of China

In 1946, a civil war began, and in 1949, the Communist Party and army under leader Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. The government redistributed land from landlords to peasants, although this led to more bloodshed. More revolutionary activities also continued in China.

Mao Zedong died in 1976. Beginning in the 1970s, China’s relations with the West began improving.

Current China

Most Chinese people currently live in small villages and towns, while others live in large cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. The eastern parts of China are very overcrowded, and the Chinese government encourages people to marry late and to have only one or two children.

China is home to many cultures, but most people belong to the Han nationality. Most people speak one of several variations of Chinese, although the government hopes to standardize the Northern Chinese language, which is known as Mandarin or Putonghua. Unlike spoken Chinese, written Chinese is mostly the same throughout the nation.

Lately, China’s economy has been undergoing major transitions.

Chinese Themes

Some themes of China include philosophy (such as Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism), tai chi (a form of exercise), martial arts, communism, overcrowded populations, soybeans, cotton, low cost manufacturing, a recent influx of American culture, pirated movies, basketball superstar Yao Ming, ping pong, soccer, tennis, literature, textiles, coal, rice, soup, the consumption of many different kinds of animals, pottery, acrobatics & gymnastics, music, dancing, calligraphy, poetry, painting, and theatre.