Quotations from Tao De Ching – The Book of the Way and Its Virtue

Great truths are always simple.

It is the language that makes the world complicated.

You’ll be doomed if you do not know the constancy beneath the change but act on will.

How to get to know the constancy?

For an individual, rich experience and deep meditation;
For a country, a long history and a highly-developed civilisation.

The Way of Heaven is impartial yet only imparts blessings to those who act in accord with the Way.

Only when Tao is lost, does the doctrine of morality arise (失道而后德)

Tao: the way the universe (including this little human world) naturally evolves

Only when morality is lost, does the doctrine of charity arise (失德而后仁)

When a society loses the ability to consciously distinguish right from wrong, promoting a charitable spirit is the best way to keep people living together harmoniously.

Only when charity is lost, does the doctrine of loyalty arise (失仁而后义)

When a society loses its charitable spirit, nurturing a sense of loyalty is a compromised way to bring people together.

Only when loyalty is lost, does the doctrine of social conduct arise. (失义而后礼)

When a society loses its sense of loyalty, enforcing social conduct and courtesy is the only exercise to keep people acting relatively civilised.

A Quotation from I Ching

When rare images are shown in the sky and unusual appearances are displayed on the earth, you shall know some major changes are about to occur (周易·系辞)

If the celestial images are inauspicious, such as a total sun eclipse above a certain place, and terrestrial presences are unfavourable, such as a national flag torn down, especially by an unfavourable bird like a crow, the changes can lead to calamity.

A Quotation from Mencius

Those who follow the trend of the big-time circle will thrive;
those who go against the trend of the big-time circle will perish.

Laws without compassion cannot build a good society; compassion without laws cannot make a good government.

In other words, laws without compassion will not unite people; compassion without laws can lead to injustice.

A Quotation from The Book of Rites

The Book of Rites (礼记), compiled since the Warring States era 2,500 years ago, is a collection of texts describing the government style and social form of the Zhou Dynasty.

Zhou is a federation with one nation multi-systems which eventually led to centuries of wars and the disintegration of China until First Emperor Qi reunited the land under a centralised government.

In a time of peace, governments should exercise benevolence and courtesy; during a time of crisis, governments must not hesitate to use state power to ruthlessly crush the enemies of the nation, both external and internal.

When a government cares and respects its people, the people will unite around its government; when a government hits the nation’s enemies hard and swiftly, the nation will remain invincible. Only such a government can be considered virtuous.


One nation, but multi-systems. Sounds like trying to please everyone yet fail to please anyone. Strikes me as a similar aspect of multiculturalism where each group is vying for its own interests and not that of the society which they move into. Hmmmm…. interesting and over 2,300 years ago. Do we ever learn from our past I wonder?

All Things Chinese
The worst would be the situation when the multi-systems are ruled under multi-legal systems, with each state or region having its own set of laws.

Talking about the law. If countries under Civil Law are more or less governed by rules, then the countries under Common Law are in effect not ruled by the laws but by the lawyers, just like in ancient tribes that were ruled by priests, which is the society under the rule of arbitrary wills of man.

It’s fascinating you’ve observed that under “multi-culturalism”, “each group is vying for its own interests and not that of the society which they move to”. I learned both Joshua Wong, the Hong Kong pro-demo-independence protest leader, and Ho Wan-see, the woman singer who made a pro-demo-Hong Kong independence speech on the UN Denise, are the descendants of Vietnamese refugees.

It is beginning to have multi-legal systems as in Britain where aspects of Sharia law are allowed, I suspect there are many who wish to push it further than they admit.

The liberal thing of the “progressive” left is thinking with their hearts and emotions and wishful thinking of an ideological hope of everyone living in harmony as long as you accept their demands.

I fear this to be a dangerous approach to an already established society and culture. It is somewhat like giving children everything they want so you do not suffer their cries of torture over not getting that candy. When one tries to do good deeds for the appearance of being virtuous, it is a fake virtue. And self-defeating.

All Things Chinese
Just so, absolutely. The extreme “progressive” leftists are in the same mindset as Evangelicals of Medieval or ISIS today. They have an obsessive approach to their faith, be it the Kingdom of God, the Islamic State or the Universal Value of Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights.

Except for a smart few who know clearly all these are just their tools (pretexts or excuses) to help them gain material and spiritual dominance over other people, the majority of followers of the new-age cult not only use this fake concept to control others but have fooled themselves since they truly believe they are answering the call from the universe and fighting for a new civilisation, while in fact, they are the ones dragged the world back to the Dark Age. Do you see the similarities between Roman Inquisition and Political Correctness?

Interestingly, yesterday Catholic church leaders in Hong Kong called their flock to defy police orders by attending an illegal protest rally to support Hong Kong’s “democracy”, “freedom” and independence. A coin was being flipped repeatedly and reveals both sides.

The flock’s rally turned violent at night as the lambs burned the streets and smashed the windows and attacked police.

Indeed, the Roman and Spanish inquisitions are a good analogy. This sort of “mind control” can become a mob at the behest of the leaders of the flock, who remain unmarred by the actions they instigate. It is interesting how this keeps returning in different guises. The same thing just wearing a new suit of clothes. 🤐

Maybe Hong Kong and the mainland could use the guidance of Bodhisattva Guanyin right about now…

All Things Chinese
Buddhism can also be badly abused by extremists and cult movements just like Christianity.

Tibetan Lamaism portrays itself as a branch of Buddhism and claims Dalai Lama is the reincarnated Bodhisattva Guanyin, while in fact until the end of the 1950s, lamas were both a political force and a religious organisation in a backward slavery society Tibet.

In 2008’s riot in Tibet that was much more violent than the Hong Kong protests, very few lamas were not part of it. They burned buildings and the people inside, smashed shops and destroyed public infrastructure. I have no doubt these people are very capable of doing it again when opportunities arise.

Quotations from The Analects

The civilized people seek cooperation not uniformity, while the wretched demand uniformity without cooperation.

Quotations from The Great Learning

The Great Learning (大学), compiled since the Warring States era 2,500 years ago, is a collection of thoughts and words of Confucius.

The words one speaks going forth contrary to his claimed ethics will come back to catch up with him sooner or later; The wealth that is obtained in improper ways will take its departure in the same manner.

When you say or do something kind to other people or nations, though the good fortune may yet to appear, the impending disasters have already been pushed away; when you say or do something nasty to other people or nations, though the disasters may yet to occur, the coming good fortune has already faded away.

What you give you get, ten times over.

Therefore, for an individual, mind your mouth; for a state, mind your media. Or ill fate will befall thee, be thou a person or a nation.

A Quotation from On Modest – The Book of Ritual (礼记·中庸), a Confucian Classics

When a nation is going to thrive, you will observe auspicious signs;
When a country is in decline, you can witness wicked omens.

A Quotation from the Book of Later Han (后汉书)

Book of Later Han (后汉书) is one of the Twenty-Four Histories and covers the period of the Han dynasty from the year 6 to 189.

Sun eclipses are visual warnings from above that the Yang energy is extremely weak due to the moral corruption of the state head while the Yin qi runs wild, thus foretelling disasters looming and major changes ahead.

A Quotation from Continuing the Reflection of Governance (续资治通鉴)

Continuing the Reflection of Governance (续资治通鉴) is a reference work in historiography, published in 1084, covering 16 dynasties in 1400 years.

No disaster is more damaging than the ones caused by the uncontrollable Yin overpowering the frail Yang, where a course or a society loses its masculine drive and heroic courage to push things forward but dwells in internal squabbles and petty sentiments.

A Quotation from Mt. Zhu of the Ming Dynasty

It is the will Mr Zhu left to his children before his death.

When you do good things just for others to see, it possesses no real kindness; When you make wrongdoing yet hope nobody to notice, it turns into an evil act.

Popular Chinese Sayings

No matter how heavy the rain falls, it cannot nourish a root-less plant;

Regardless of how broad a road is, it will not help a dead to complete his trip.

When an opportunity arrives yet you fail to grab it, you’re destined to back to square one;

When the time is ripe yet you take no action, your course is fated to fall flat on the ground.

If a calamity is sent down by nature, there might be a hope of weathering through.

If the misfortune is self-inflicted deliberately, there will be no chance of escape because you do not deserve salvation.

All actions will cause reactions; What you wish for others, you will one day experience.

A nation that demands more from itself but little from others will live long and prosper; A state that incites internal unrest in other nations will experience civil wars sooner or later; An empire that has successfully broken up other countries will eventually disintegrate.

When your mind remains still and concentrated, you can alter your environment;

When people are united and work together, they can change their fate.

2 thought on “Selected Classic Chinese Quotations”
    1. Thank you for your comment Ananda. I just share the TRUE universal values and common sense promoted by great thinkers of the past.
      Pity in today’s world, so many people are fooled by uncivilised and senseless jungle values that seek to economically and culturally dominate the world under the flag of “political correctness”, a concept that is not only against common sense but universal law.
      Political Correctness and Neo-nazi are just two sides of the same coin. Those people share a similar barbaric and brutal mentality: ultra selfishness, zealot self-righteousness and an urge for dominance.

You are welcome to share your thoughts here