水至清则无鱼 – Chinese philosophy and culture

shuǐ zhì qīng zé wú yú 水至清则无鱼

No Fish Survive If Water Is Too Clear.

水太清了,鱼就无法生存。水太清澈,没有浮游生物,鱼就没有食物,不能存活了。这是正常的自然现象。受此启发,中国古人主张对人、对物不能要求过高,求全责备,失之严苛,应该宽和、包容。这与“厚德载物”的理念是相通的。

Fish cannot survive in the water that is too clear. With no plankton in water, fish have nothing to feed on and are bound to die. This is a natural phenomenon. Drawing inspiration on it, ancient Chinese believed that one should not set the bar too high for a person or something, criticize a person for failing to be perfect, or be too strict with others. Instead, they held that one should be tolerant and inclusive. This term echoes the thinking of “having great virtue and accommodating all things.”

引例 Citation:

◎水至清则无鱼,人至察则无徒。(《汉书·东方朔传》)

(水太清了,鱼就无法生存;人过于明察了,就会没有伙伴。)

Fish cannot survive in the water that is too clear. One will have no friends if he is too shrewd. (The History of the Han Dynasty)

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