Le Tzu aphorisms


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Both those who say that heaven and earth will collapse and those who say that they will not collapse are mistaken. Will they or will they not collapse, how should we know? The living do not know the dead and the dead do not know the living, the comers do not know the departed and the departed do not know the comers. So is it worth thinking about whether they will or will not collapse!

When one looks at something, one always sees change. You amuse yourself with the unaccustomedness of things, not knowing that you yourself are unaccustomed. You strive to wander in the external, not knowing that you should strive to look into yourself. He who wanders in the external seeks perfection in things. He who looks into himself finds satisfaction in himself.

Your will is strong, but your vitality is weak. That's why you are strong enough in intentions, but weak in execution.

When the whole village praises me, I do not consider it glory. When a whole kingdom blasphemes, I don't consider it a shame. When I gain, I rejoice not, and when I lose, I am not sad. I look on life as on death, and on riches as on poverty. To man as a pig, to myself as a stranger.

All things are different in life and equal in death. While we live, there are wise men and fools among us, noble and low. And after death, there is stench and decay, decay and decay, and that makes everyone equal. They die at ten, they die at a hundred. Dried bones are all the same, and who can tell which is which.

A man filled with faith is able to pacify things, to move heaven and earth, to move the spirits and the gods. He can traverse the universe from end to end, and nothing can stop him-not even a chasm, water, or flame.

The cold and the heat in you are inordinate, the emptiness and the density are disproportionate. This sickness is not of Heaven, nor is it of the spirits. It is caused by malnutrition, gluttony, lust, cares, and idleness. Your disease is serious, but it can be cured.

Sometimes a man knows the remedy, but cannot use it. Sometimes a man can use it, but does not know the means.

Thanks to the sovereign's generosity, we can eat rough vegetables and tough meat and ride rough horses and bumpy wagons, and we don't want to die. And what to speak of the sovereign!

Constrained by punishments and encouraged by rewards, pushed by ambition and retained by the laws, in the vanity and anxiety, we compete with each other for a moment of empty glory and seek posthumous honors. How are we different from the well man in heavy fetters?

People of antiquity knew that life suddenly comes, knew that death suddenly takes away, - and therefore in everything they did, obeyed the heart; did not go against the natural aspirations, not alienated worldly pleasures - therefore both glory did not entice them, and the punishment did not overtake them.

That to which the five senses are attracted and from which they are turned away, and in ancient times it was the same as now. The rest and anxiety for the four limbs were the same in antiquity as they are now. The anguish and joys of antiquity were the same as they are today. All these things have been heard, all these things have been seen, all these things have been experienced.

Boi was not devoid of desires, yet, following purity, brought himself to a starving death. Zhan Ji was not deprived of passions, but, boasting of chastity, doomed himself to loneliness, not prolonging his lineage.

If you live - then give yourself to life and endure it, and in anticipation of death experience all her desires. And when the time comes to die, give yourself to death and endure it, and experience all its ways and give it your will to the end. Give yourself to everything and endure everything, and do not try to lengthen or shorten the time of life.

I've heard it said that fish that swallow ships don't swim into channels, and a swan that soars high won't sit on a muddy pond. Why? Because their limit is far away! Why can't an ancient bell echo the noisy dance? Because its sound is measured and majestic. He who can handle great things cannot handle small things. He who is able to do a great deed will not do a small one.

There are four reasons which prevent people from living quietly. First is desire of longevity. Second reason is lust for fame. Third is desire for position. The fourth is lust for wealth.

He who is in the prime of his beauty is arrogant, he who is in the prime of his strength is unbridled. You can't talk about teaching with such people. Until they have a gray hair, they are not worth talking to.

The higher my title," said Shinshu Ao, "the humbler my desires. The greater my office, the humbler my heart. The more lavish my salary, the more generous my distributions.

Whosoever chooses the right time will succeed. Whosoever misses it will be lost. There are no laws that are always right, and no deeds that are always wrong. That which was right before may now be rejected. And that which is rejected now may be useful later on.

Good is not done for glory, but glory follows. In striving for glory, they do not wait for profit, but profit follows. In striving for gain, one does not expect litigation, but then comes litigation. That is why a worthy husband must be cautious when doing good.

As soon as I enter the stream, I give myself to it and surrender to it. And so I follow it to the end. Giving myself up and surrendering to it, I place my body in the waves and currents, not daring to be at will. That's why I can enter the stream and come out again.

According to the laws of nature there is no immortality. By the laws of nature there is no longevity. You can't save life if you treasure it, you can't strengthen your body even if you treasure it. And what is a long life for?


Le Tzu