| 2017-11-15 | Hits:
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

shan buzai gao, youxian ze ming; shui buzai shen, youlong ze ling
Long means “dragons,” some of which live underwater. This proverb, taken literally, means that mountains, though not very high, are famous if immortals dwell there; waters, though not very deep, are enchanted if dragons reign there. It is commonly used to mean that one’s reputation depends on not one’s position, but on virtuous conduct.


shangao ziyou ke xing lu, shuishen ziyou du chuan ren
This proverb means that no matter how high the mountain is, there will always be a way to cross it; no matter how deep the river is, there will always be people who ferry you across it. It is commonly used to mean that however difficult the journey may be, there is bound to be a way to complete it.


shan yu yu lai feng man lou
Feng means the wind. This proverb, taken literally, means that the wind sweeping through the tower heralds a rising storm in the mountains. This proverb is used metaphorically to mean that there is usually a sign heralding a great event.


bingshan nan shi
Shi means to rely on. This proverb, taken literally, means that it would be unwise to rely on an iceberg. According to the Forgotten Tales of the Kaiyuan and Tianbao Periods by Wang Renyu, which records tales that occurred from 713 to 756 in the Tang Dynasty, Yang Guozhong, a treacherous chancellor, held great power in the imperial court. Zhang Tuan studied very hard and gained quite a reputation. Some people advised Zhang to ingratiate himself with Yang in order to gain a high position. Zhang said: “You think that attaching yourself to Yang Guozhong will make your position stable as if you are backed by Taishan Mountain. However, I believe him to be an iceberg. Once the burning sun shines in the sky, would not you worry that the iceberg will melt and you will lose your backing?”

This story is quoted to say that despite the shining and impressive power of a treacherous person for a certain time, he cannot always be relied on for long-term support.