Tibetan Proverbs

Sayings of Tibetan origin

To spread the news is to multiply it.

One good punch on your enemy’s nose, gives more pleasure than hearing well-meaning advice from your elders.

Cling not to experiences for ever-changing are they.

Excellent Goodness speaks in a whisper, evil shouts.

A lie is like a jump from a high roof.

Men will always lose the battle against cholera and bureaucracy.

Words are mere bubbles of water; deeds are drops of gold.

Each lama has his own teaching.

Cold hearts can find warm words.

Water in the mouth before eating; water in the eyes when the bill comes.

Learn to stand up where one falls.

When a king is about to lose his power his orders burn more intensely than fire.

To set fire to the wood, you need the help of the wind.

Beat a Chinese long enough and he will talk Tibetan.

Daughters are no better than crows.

Having drunk the country’s water, one should obey the country’s laws.

The highest art is the art of living an ordinary life in an extraordinary manner.

If I know I will die tomorrow, I can still learn something tonight.

By pride one causes virtue to decline.

When you die, you rejoice, and the world cries.

He who has had enough to eat thinks of serving God; the hungry think of stealing.

Who can say with certainty that one will live to see the morrow?

The unfortunate would be bitten by toothless dogs.

The young magpie that pulls feathers out of his mother thinks that he is showing gratitude in that way.

Don’t praise my good fortune before I’m dead and buried.

To a tendai monk, everything is wonderful.

Learn what you want and leave or others.

Eat according to the limits of your provisions; walk according to the length of your step.

Any fool can say “Ah” — you need intelligence to say “Yes.”

Only a certain amount of flowers and jewels are beautiful.

Spreading the news is also multiplying it.

Sow good and you’ll reap good; sow bad and you’ll reap bad. You don’t have to cut down a tree to get its fruit.

It is easy to see the fly on the other person’s nose, while ignoring the horse on your own.

Landing a single punch on your enemy’s nose is more satisfying than hearing well-intentioned advice from your elders.

Excellent people are honored wherever they go.

The thousand brilliant accomplishments of the past cannot serve today’s purpose.

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

When drinking water, think about the source.

Don’t trust a hungry man to watch your rice.

The wise understand; fools follow the reports of others.

If your inner mind isn’t deceived, your outer actions won’t be wrong.

It is easier to put leather on the soles of one’s feet than cover the world with leather.

Eating much of sweetness you do not know if it be sweet anymore.

The essence of the spirit is space; there is nothing it holds to in the end.

No matter if you eat a little or a lot of garlic, the smell is just as strong.

If peace reigns in the land, a nun can govern it.

It is hard work to be the mother of many pigs.

If the master gets drunk it is an honorable drunkenness; if the servant does it is evidence of his mean disposition.

An elephant has enormous dung — don’t try to defecate like an elephant. Don’t try to wipe someone else’s ass if yours is un wiped.

Better than the young man’s knowledge is the old man’s experience.

Plant rice when the ground is ready; pursue women when you feel passion.

Thieves never steal bells.

The father may well be a horse, but it’s most likely that the son will be a mule.

Without a woman’s help, a man cannot set up a tent.

Cure the illness that is not yet an illness.

The rubbish we speak is like froth on the water, actions are drops of gold.

Lies are short-lived.

At the bottom of patience is Heaven.

If there is only one earring among seven daughters, there will always be a quarrel on festival days.

Our best masters are those who make us suffer the most.

To change the world we must first change ourselves.

There are no incurable diseases but only incurable people.

A child without education is like a bird without wings.

Those who have saved one life have saved the entire world.

With a resolute heart, a mouse can lift an elephant.

As a thing is viewed, so it appears.

A hundred male and a hundred female qualities make a perfect human being.

Medicine that heals is not always sweet and caring words are not always pleasant.

Traveling is a return to the essentials.

The world’s Great Journeys begin with the first step.

Luck that lasts is always suspected.

If it is here, it is everywhere. If it is not here, it is nowhere.

Don’t notice the tiny flea in the other person’s hair and overlook the lumbering yak on your own nose.

He who knows a great deal has a hundred eyes.

The wish is father to the thought.

Rebellious thoughts are like an abandoned house overtaken by robbers.

If I tell you my dream, you might forget it. If I act on my dream, perhaps you will remember it, but if I involve you, it becomes your dream too.

A father deserted by a wise son is like being caught in a shower without a felt.

Without an ax no tree can be cut down.

The moon grows darker as it gets nearer to the sun.

Better once to see than many times to hear.

You are only master of food that you haven’t yet eaten.

If you don’t know where you are, any road will do.

My enemy’s liver is the sheath of my sword.

Credulity breeds credulity and ends in hypocrisy.

Knowing just one word of wisdom is like knowing a hundred ordinary words.

The person who gets stuck on trivial prosperity will not attain great prosperity.

Master and servant — both have the same body odor.

A nibbling rabbit can also die of overfeeding.

If the inner mind is not deluded, the outer actions will not be wrong.

The wise man’s wealth lies in good deeds that follow ever after him.

Map of the Tibetan Plateau

Tibet is a region on the Tibetan Plateau in Asia northeast of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa, Qiang and Lhoba peoples and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft).

The Tibetan Empire emerged in the 7th century, but it soon divided into a variety of territories. The bulk of western and central Tibet (Ü-Tsang) was often at least nominally unified under a series of Tibetan governments in Lhasa, Shigatse, or nearby locations; these governments were at various times under Mongol and Chinese overlordship. The eastern regions of Kham and Amdo often maintained a more decentralized indigenous political structure, being divided among a number of small principalities and tribal groups, while also often falling more directly under Chinese rule; most of this area was eventually incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. The current borders of Tibet were generally established in the 18th century. For further reading on Tibet, please check out this page!

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