Saturday, November 19, 2011



A late-blooming flower is not necessarily devoid of fragrance
A person who becomes famous late in life is not necessarily lacking achievements.

Working without obeying the boss, though exhausting (literally: tiring to death), will bring no achievements

Better teach your son a profession rather than give him a thousand pieces of gold   
He who reaches achievements will naturally succeed
Like the sun at noon
At the height of power or career
It is easy to descend a mountain [and] difficult to climb one; but after climbing it, the scenery expands
One should make an effort in order to succeed, but once one succeeds, his vision expands and his horizon widens.
One minister cannot serve two lords
A determined heart can pierce a stone 
A determined person can realize every aspiration
The same idea is expressed in the idiom:
Water can pierce a stone
With persistence, one can change things.


In the Bible it is written:

אבנים שחקו מים (איוב, י"ד , 19).

   The waters wear the stones. (Job 14,19)

Another version:


Dripping water pierces a stone

With constant efforts, one can overcome any difficulty; perseverance brings success.

In Italian they say:

A goccia a goccia s'incava la pietra.

Literally: Drop after drop erode the stone.



Literally: A sharp axe is not afraid of hard firewood.  

A talented person is not afraid of a difficult mission.

A carrying pole is [like] a dragon [that one can count on to provide him with] food throughout a lifetime
One should count only on one's own efforts, to earn a living.
This was a common saying among porters in China before 1949. 
A parallel idiom in Hebrew:  
אם אין אני לי מי לי )פרקי אבות א, יד).
Literally: If I am not for myself, who will be for me ? (Pirkei Avot, 1, 14)

Literally: Three days eats vegetarian food, and expects to rise to the Western Paradise (in other words, expects to become Buddha)
One cannot reach achievements or become famous without hard work. 
Literally: ascends to heaven and descends to earth.
Turns every stone, does not spare any effort.  
This idiom also means:
Keeps watching a tree while waiting for rabbits
Counts on luck instead of making an effort to reach achievements.
This is based on the following story told by the philosopher Han Feizi (hán)(fēi)() (280-233 BCE):
A young man from the State of Song (sòng), who was working the land, saw a hare running fast, dash itself against a tree in the field, and fall dead at his feet. All that was left for him to do was to put the hare in the sack and prepare a tasty evening meal. From then on he would sit by that same tree, waiting in vain for another hare to dash itself against it. This never happened. Instead, he was ridiculed by the people of the State of Song.

He who works hard does not earn [a lot of] money; he who earns [a lot of] money does not work hard
This was said of businessmen in China before 1949 and has begun to be said again since the last decade of the 20th century.
He who plans small profits will not achieve great achievements
He who will not spread a big net will not fish big fish 
Without great efforts and pain, one does not achieve significant achievements.
In English they say:
No pain, no gain.

Do not worry about not doing things perfectly; be worried about not persevering
Literally: Do not be afraid of a long way but of a short ambition.
The bold can reach any place on earth (literally: under the sky) [whereas] the cautious cannot walk [even] one inch
Do not be afraid of slowing down; you should rather be afraid of halting
 Slow advancement ensures progress, whereas halting leads to failure.
Another version of the same idiom:
()()(màn)(zhǐ)()(zhàn); ()()(zhàn)(zhǐ)()(zhuǎn)
Do not be afraid of slowing down, just be afraid of a halting; do not be afraid of a halting, just be afraid of withdrawal
Plant melons and you will get melons; plant beans and you will get beans
One reaps what one sows.
The same idea is found in the idiom:
As much as you plow and weed, you will harvest
Working diligently will lead to success.   
Literally: Seeks a horse while riding a donkey.
 Continues to work in his workplace while looking for a better one.

Do not let your aspirations weaken [and] do not lose time
Tofu is tasty but pushing the grindstone to produce it is hard
Good things are a product of hard work.

Literally: [The produce of] the land depends on man; [success in] things depends on man.
Everything depends on human effort.
Usually, only the second part of this idiom is used.
With practice one can learn the trick
Practice makes perfect.
The talented are usually busy
One should not use [either] a big tool for a small task, [or] a small tool for a big task
Do not give either an insignificant mission to a person of great talent, or an important mission to a person of small talent.
The idea in the first part of the idiom is expressed also in the idiom:
Cooking a chicken in a cauldron designated for an ox
To kill a fly with a big sword.
Originally, this meant, "using a big tool for a small job". Today it is used to describe giving a small insignificant task to a person of great talent.
The same idea is found in the idiom:
To use a big knife for cutting a small thing
Giving a small insignificant task to a person of great talent.
This also means:
First and small exhibit of a master artist.

Neglects one's sleep and food
Said of a person who forgets to sleep and eat, wholly concentrated on his mission and determined to reach his target.
Literally: Oxen and horses.
Said of those who work harder than beasts of burden.
The same idea is expressed in the idiom:
Literally: Life of oxen and horses is preferable.
                                            Said of a life of forced labor.                                                     

Every person has things that he can do and those that he cannot do
One must stand by one’s words and be resolute in action until success is achieved
Literally: Nine oxen [and] two tigers.
Making a powerful effort.

[When] one Buddhist monk carries water on a pole he will have water to drink; [when] two Buddhist monks carry water together they will have water to drink; [when it comes to] three Buddhist monks, they will have no water to drink
Lack of personal initiation causes interdependence among people and, thus, the more people are involved, the less impressive the results.
In English they say:
Too many cooks spoil the broth
To stop in the middle of the way
To leave something incomplete.
.Half done is like nothing done
Working skills are a treasure for a lifetime [that makes it possible to live] anywhere without being hungry
One bee cannot produce honey; with one crumb of rice, one cannot cook porridge 
This is said to emphasize the importance of teamwork.
The old fool who moved mountains 
With perseverance, nothing is impossible.
This is based on the following legend written by the Daoist philosopher Lie Zi (liè)() (4th century BCE):
 An old man lived opposite two mountains that blocked the way to his house. One day he called his family to help him move these mountains. Passersby, thinking that he was a fool, asked him how he would carry out his plan. The old "fool" answered that his family and the generations to come would work and, eventually, the mountains would be removed. He said that with every inch removed, the mountain would become smaller.
 Mao Zedong used this idiom to encourage the Chinese people to fight the Japanese during the Second World War. 

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