40 Tibetan Proverbs To Quench Your Thirst For Knowledge And Wisdom

Dec 30, 2020 8 min read

Tibetan Proverbs adds an essential and colourful hue to the tapestry of Tibetan folklore, along with a precious insight into Tibet's traditions, offering nuggets of wisdom and humour along the way, especially so in the conversational world of expression. Tibetan proverbs range from topics of livelihood of people to tenets of Buddhist philosophy. The sayings have been documented as early as the Dunhuang manuscript era and are still being used in modern novels and movies. 

Tibetan proverbs are usually cast as poetry, as the proverb has balance and rhythm. The proverbs are made of two or more verses with similar syllables and rhythm. Tibetan is more terse than English, so the translation has more syllables than the Tibetan original. There are numerous variations of Tibetan proverbs. This is because the spreading of proverbs by word of mouth is very common. 

1) Do not make too many commitments as it will affect your reputation.

While making commitments, people tend to think about the future more abstractly than the present ones. Often, making so many commitments leads them to back out. Backing out of commitment sends a message whether one can trust us and therefore ruins the reputation. 

2) Goodness speaks in a whisper, evil shouts.

This Tibetan proverb conveys, Goodness is a quality that we all possess. It comes from inner feeling rather than outer morality. It does not need shouting as people notice it without even saying. Evil remains latent throughout life, but circumstances may rouse it. 

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

Learning and living are closely related. The greater our will to learn, the greater is our intention to live. This Tibetan proverb expresses that knowledge is what gives life meaning. After all, we only live once. We might learn as much as we can while we have the chance.

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

Everyone has their own vision of making life extraordinary. How to live your life extraordinarily is totally up to you; your intent to make something in the world a little better and learn something a little deeper is essential. You could volunteer non-profit programs or travel the world, saving endangered species. Both are extraordinary.

5) Without a tent pole, there is no tent. Without society, there is no achievement.

Almost every one of us is gregarious. We can not live our life correctly if there's no one to support and encourage us. Society is the backbone of our step towards success. Directly or indirectly, society sometimes helps us achieve our target.

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

This Tibetan Proverb expresses that passion is an emotion, a strong desire to be acted upon. When you have passion for someone, You push through the bumps in the road of life because you love them.

7) Excellent people are honoured wherever they go.

This Tibetan Proverb clearly indicates that if a person is consistent in his personal, social, career life and unapologetically exceptional, He/She will be honoured wherever they go as honour never goes out of style for a person of excellence.

8) Wherever you have friends, that's your country. Wherever you receive love, that's your home. 

One of the old Tibetan sayings referring to home is where love resides, where people understand you, it's a place where love, compassion, and patience prevail.

9) A statement without an example is hard to follow; tea without salt is hard to swallow.

Examples act as back up statements of fact, create clarity, and add value to your ideas.

10) Better than the young man's knowledge is the old man's experience.

Sometimes age works in favour. The knowledge of a young man is cumulative. It grows exponentially, but the old man has more experience, he can bring more skills to others' lives.

11) In times of hardship, don't play truant. In times of happiness, be contented

This Tibetan proverb advises us to be content with what we have. In times of happiness, contentment is not merely about settling for what you have, but to be happy with what you have and find satisfaction in it.

12) In this world, if one has perseverance. Knowledge is within one's palm.

Perseverance is an important character trait to a Life of Success. To persevere is to keep pushing for success again and again, despite the hard times. 

13) Faults: Your eyes see them in others. But you need a mirror to see your own.

If you spend your time focusing on other people's faults, you will never make actual progress within yourself. Tibetan proverbs teach is valuable life lessons!

14) One's motivation is like a pure, white scarf, but the other's intention is black hope.

This Tibetan proverb speaks about the 'ethics' that requires a deliberate focus on whether good intentions do not automatically lead to moral actions. Sometimes malicious activities are often undertaken with good intentions.

15) If a man ill-treats others, Worse retribution awaits him.

This Tibetan proverb exhibits the "ethic of reciprocity". When one treats others nicely, he or she will also be treated adequately. It's easy to look down on someone who isn't as educated as you are. Time could quickly reverse positions, you will have no idea how far that person can climb, so be sure you treat everyone respectfully. 

16) Work delayed causes regret.

This Tibetan proverb speaks to us about procrastination. Do not wait to do the work if you can accomplish it today. As Charles Dickens once said 'Procrastination is the thief of time'. You can delay, but time will not.

17) The heedless shouldn't be consulted for advice. The irresponsible shouldn't be entrusted with tasks.

Having a reputation for being responsible allows others to count on you alongside your career and life. Others cannot trust you, and your work, if you are an irresponsible person. Tibetan proverbs highlight the etiquettes one must adopt.

18) When the jewel is yours, You don't realize its value. When the jewel is another's You realize its value 

The truth of this Tibetan Proverb is that we often take for granted the very things that deserve the value and attention, with both people and possessions, assuming that it will be there whenever we need it.

19) An honest man can set up home anywhere. A dishonest man has no place to go. 

Honesty is, in fact, fundamentally an ethical decision. Tibetan proverbs emphasise on the virtues that must be inherent in each and every individual.

20) One may dance in the sky. But one must land on the earth. 

Land on earth refers to having dreams, with both feet on the ground, with a good understanding of reality and not to get his head in the clouds, not knowing what is happening in real life.

21) Father's the head of the family. But mother's the foundation. 

Mother has a special place of responsibility in the home. The foundation of a family is built on a mother, and she plays a great significance in other family members' lives.

22) Better to shut your own mouth, Than to bind the mouths of others

This Tibetan proverb speaks about restraint in speech. Restraining yourself is an act of inviting others to step in. Sometimes you do not have all the answers, and others may have wisdom and insight that you lack. 

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

This Tibetan proverb's wisdom is that it requires great power of the moral courage to save one life in the face of unparalleled death and destruction, demonstrating humanity's existence in society.

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

Think about this Tibetan proverb. Life is a roller-coaster ride, full of ups and downs, filled with an array of unexpected events. It's nice to think we will always be happy and fulfilled, but unfortunately, odds are stacked against us. Instead of feeling hurt, consider it as a kind of a "wake-up call" and make the best of it.

25) A fool who pretends to be clever will only highlight his foolishness.

The foolish person thinks they are right even if all evidence proves them wrong, henceforth highlighting the fact of their foolishness. 

26) Without character, Intelligence is of no use.

Always remember character development is not only about Intelligence and wearing expensive brands or driving expensive cars. It is also about developing one's inner self and being a good human being despite the circumstances.

27) Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Character is everything. Through your actions, people see how you treat those who can do nothing for you, not with what kind of car you drive or your clothes.

28) The ability to use wealth constructively is a mark of a wealthy man.

Tibetan proverbs give a nice perspective of life. A thoughtless person can spend spree as soon as he gets it in one or the other thing.

29) Lies are short-lived.

The Tibetan proverb conveys the reality of life. Truth stands against the test of time, but lies are soon exposed. 

30) A single thread doesn't make a cloth A single tree doesn't make a forest

We are stronger and more likely to succeed when we work together.

31) To indulge in unnecessary work is to create trouble for oneself.

Many people overwork in pursuit of success or because it's their nature, not realizing the extent to which the overworking is affecting by constituting stress physically and mentally.

32) All the world's great journeys begin with the first step.

For a successful journey, we are required to take the first step. When we learn alphabets, we start from 'A' Once we know the 'A,' we can see the 'Z' gleaming out onto the horizon.

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

This Tibetan proverb exposes the truth of life. It is not the size of a person's, which determines success. It takes determination, spirit, and resolute actions. 

34) Greater wealth, greater suffering Lesser wealth, lesser suffering.

When you have too much wealth, you get old sooner, but having just enough helps you live longer. It's more important to be happy and content than to be wealthy.

35) Intoxication from alcohol knows recovery, But intoxication from greed knows none. 

This proverb in Tibetan states that pearls of wisdom: Greed is the source of evil which is destructive. By the exclusive human nature of man, there can be no end to greed. It destroys everything.

36) A small cause can lead to a big result.

This Tibetan proverb states-- The butterfly effect, that We are all connected in highly complex systems, and a tiny change can lead to results that can often have large effects.

37) Cold hearts can find warm words.

If people around you seem cold-hearted, make the difference, go and melt the ice. Remember to keep a warm heart in this cold winter.

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

In other words, when you do good for others, It will come back in unexpected ways. Having a good Heart will help you transform your good purposes into particular acts of kindness, which are nothing but drops of gold.

39) 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 dream you dream together is reality. As long as there's a dream, there's hope. 

40) A child without education is like a bird without wings.

This Tibetan proverb stresses the importance of education. A bird can't fly without wings. The same is the case with the people of a nation who, without education, is nothing and cannot prosper education is a golden door to one's freedom.

Since proverbs have been orally transmitted from generation to generation and from region to region, there are several variations of the same adage. These variants have more or less the same meaning. They differ in lexicon, structures, and metaphors. Connotations of variations are almost identical, but their formation or format is different. 

The two characteristics of rhythm and syllable in Tibetan proverbs have been maintained in the English translations. Hope you liked reading these Tibetan proverbs and gained whatever wisdom you were looking for.

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