Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Hung Tzu-ch'eng, also Hong Zicheng or Hóng Zìchéng, born Hong Yingming

Chinese Philosopher, Zen Author of "Ts'ai-ken t'an" (Vegetable Root Discourse: Wisdom from Ming China on Life and Living) and "Hsien-fo ch'i-tsung" (Wonderful Deeds of Immortals and Buddhas)

"Water which is too pure has no fish."

"A scholar should gather up spirit and energy in single-mindedness. If your quest for virtue is for reasons of fame and fortune, you will never amount to anything. If in scholarly endeavors you indulge in fashionable verse and stylistic flourishes, you cannot attain depth and stability of mind."

"Do not hate the man with the lowest."

"Human life is really a puppet show. So long as I am in control, not a string gets out of order, folding or unfolding. I decide on movement or rest, not a bit controlled by others. This is the way to transcend this world."

"Don’t try to pray for happiness. Cultivate the mind of joy as the basis of happiness, and there you are. Don’t try to evade misfortune. Avoid wanting to harm others and you’ll keep misfortune at bay."

"Have fame worse than stay away from her. Succeed in business is worse than ignore them."

"Every one of us is endowed with great mercy and compassion."

"Human nature is inconsistent and contrary. The path of life is rough and rugged. Where the going is difficult it is necessary to know how to withdraw a step. Where the going is easier, be inclusive in yielding portions of credit for your work."

"Pull one hair and the whole body is affected."

"The righteous person caries on circumspectly and serenely whatever happens, and is undeviatingly harmonious even when asleep and dreaming. The malevolent person lapses into violent behavior instead of discussing things, and betrays anger even while speaking musically with laughing words."

"If you are an amiable person you treat yourself well, and you also treat others well. You are amiable about everything everywhere. If you are a casual person, you are indifferent about yourself, and you also treat others with indifference. You are casual about everything everywhere. It follows that, as a noble person, in daily life you are prudent, neither excessively and dazzlingly amiable nor excessively dry and indifferent."

"Making friends requires a few measures of gallantry; cultivating true character needs a bit of innocence."

"The universe seems silent and unmoving, yet its natural functions never cease. The sun and moon hurry along day and night, yet their brightness never diminishes. By the same token, the noble person is alert while at leisure, and makes time for tasteful pursuits when busy with duties."

"It is wise to yield a step through life, for yielding a step is really fundamental to improvement. Towards others, a measure of broad-mindedness really brings fortune, for benefiting others if fundamental to benefiting oneself."

"Wealth is for them; virtue is for me. Peerage is for them; integrity is for me. The noble person is fundamentally indomitable, a master of destiny, who puts things in motion with sing-minded purpose, free from the strictures of ministers of state and free even from the kilns and molds of heaven-and-earth."

"When you are still plowing fields ahead, make a point of being open-minded, and there will be no murmuring among others. After your life is over, its blessings will flow for a long time, giving contentment to people in their thoughts."