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Oriental Wisdom

Japanese Proverbs and Confucius

Why Japanese Proverbs and Confucius?   These insights are timeless are reach across bounderies of nationality. We may just as easily find these "truths" in The Bible or a manual of etiquette.  But for a little "flavoring" I've drawn from the oriental translations.   They often speak in metaphors and evoke images (not unlike The Bible) to convey a message.  I hope you enjoy them.


The hawk with talent hides its talons.
(The person who knows most often says least.)

Even the Buddha's face, only until the third [slap].
(Even the most mild-mannered person will lose his/her temper eventually.)

Even monkeys fall from trees.
(Even an expert can make mistakes.)

The neighbour's lawn is green.
(The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.)

Rained on ground hardens.
(Adversity builds character.)

Entering the village, obey the village.
(When in Rome, do as the Romans do.)

Not-speaking is the flower.
(Silence is golden.)

Overturned water doesn't return to the tray.
(There's no use crying over spilt milk.)

A sutra (Buddhist prayer) in a horse's ear.
(A wasted effort.)

A coin to a cat.
(Don't offer things to people who are incapable of appreciating them.
OR: Cast not ye pearls before swine.)

Poke a bush, a snake comes out.
(Let sleeping dogs lie.)

A fool is only cured by dying.
(Once a fool, always a fool.)


Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.

When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.

Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.

When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you don't know a thing, to allow that you do not know it--this is knowledge.

The cautious seldom err.

The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue.

He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.

The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.

What you don not want done to yourself, do not do to others.

By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.

Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know men.

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

--Chinese Proverb



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This site was created by Joyce K. Meyer, on October 26, 1997.
Last revised on 03/31/15.