10 Chinese proverbs of value

  1. A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

It reminds us to be aligned to our more authentic nature and sing when we have a song to sing from our heart rather than give an answer to satisfy our ego or intellect.

  1. Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

Do not fear when things do not move as fast as you expect. As long as you are taking actions in line with your heart, speed doesn’t matter anymore because it is only a matter of perspective.

  1. When you drink the water, remember the spring.

It invites us to look at the larger picture and the source of our nourishment, which is life and all its beautiful connections. We constantly do things or consume things unconsciously without thinking about what they are or where they come from.

We don’t feel connected anymore to the general wheel of life, to the earth and to the cosmos. We constantly drink the water without remembering the spring.

  1. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.

. It shows us the value of educating and teaching people life skills instead of just giving them the means without being able to provide those means for themselves. Once again it is symbolic of our times. In smaller and simpler societies, the roles of people were different.

  1.  Dig the well before you are thirsty.

This proverb reminds us to be proactive and do things ahead of time. It tells us to be pre-emptive and think ahead before the need arises. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the proverb above.

  1. Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.

This is a beautiful proverb telling us that there is only so much a teacher can do for us and so much we ought to do by ourselves. A teacher can guide us in the right direction and open up the doors of knowledge but ultimately it is through our own will and action that we must enter through those doors and reach wisdom.

  1. If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

A very powerful sentence. Anger is one of the strongest emotions and can stir up many negative energies. It is very easy to lose control through anger. Being patient, or rather being conscious when the emotion of anger arises will save you a multi-fold of repercussions for which you might be sorry in the future.

  1. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

This is perhaps one of the best known of the Chinese proverbs. It is simple, powerful and encouraging. It tells us that even the longest of life journeys starts with a single step or with a small action that kickstarts the whole thing. It also tells us that even that little step that might seem insignificant compared to the whole journey is the most important since it gets us into motion.

  1. Try to save a dead horse as if it is still alive.

Sounds like a strange thing to say but it essentially means to try your best no matter what and not to give up because nothing is impossible. I think it somehow has also got to do with the Chinese character—being resilient and determined as they are. It’s a good motivator.

  1. When we get to the mountain, there will be a way through.

Simply put, it means that there is a solution to everything. I think that it’s also one of the most motivational of the Chinese proverbs and that is empowering and good to keep in mind when facing challenges throughout life.

From Gilbert Ross (edited) in ‘wisdomtimes’