Aphorisms by Lieh Tzu

Together with the books of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, the book of Lieh Tzu makes up the trinity of Taoist classics.Lieh Tzu is the name of an ancient sage mentioned by Chuang Tzu but, like most Taoist texts, the book of that name was probably not written by the man to whom it is attributed. Lieh Tzu is supposed to have lived during the 3rd century BCE and was supposed to have traveled by riding the wind. The book that bears his name is a collection of stories, essays, tall tales and—in typical Taoist fashion—zany aphorisms.

What begetting begets dies, but the Begetter of the begotten never ends. What shaping shapes is real, but the Shaper of shapes has never existed. What sounding sounds is heard, but the Sounder of sounds has never issued forth. What coloring colors is visible, but the Colorer of colors never appears. What flavoring flavors is tasted, but the Flavorer of flavours is never disclosed.

Coming, we do not know those who went before; going, we shall not know those who come after.

A man to whom you need to speak only once is easily awakened.

All that is so without us knowing why is destiny.

Error is born from seeming.

The sage knows what will go in by seeing what came out, knows what is coming by observing what has passed.

The difficulty in ruling a state lies in recognizing cleverness, not in being clever oneself.

Pick the right time and flourish; miss the right time and perish.

Nowhere is there principle which is right in all circumstances, or an action that is wrong in all circumstances.

Worrying leads to glory; contentment leads to ruin.