Chinese wisdom for contemplation

The sage is like water.
Water is good, nourishes all things,
and does not compete with them.
It dwells in humble places that others disdain,
hence it is close to the Tao.
In his dwelling, the sage loves the earth.
In his mind, he loves what is profound.
In his associations, he is kind and gentle.
In his speech, he is sincere.
In his ruling, he is just.
In business, he is proficient.
In his action, he is timely.
Because he does not compete,
he does not find fault in others.
— Lao Tzu (604-517 BC)
Tao Te Ching, VIII

The sage has nine wishes.
In seeing, he wishes to see clearly.
In hearing, he wishes to hear distinctly.
In his expression, he wishes to be warm.
In his appearance, he wishes to be respectful.
In his speech, he wishes to be sincere.
In business, he wishes to be serious.

Universal love is called humanity. To practice this in the proper manner is called righteousness. To proceed according to these is called the Tao. To be sufficient in oneself without depending on anything outside is called virtue.
— Han Yu (768-824)
An Inquiry on the Tao, Ch. 2

Sincerity is the foundation of the sage. “Great is the creative, the originator! All things receive their birth from it.” It is the source of sincerity. “The Creative’s way is to change and transform so that everything will obtain its correct nature and destiny.” In this way sincerity is established. It is pure and perfectly good. Therefore “the successive movement of yin and yang constitutes the Tao. What comes for the Tao is good, and that which realizes it is the individual nature.” Origination and flourish characterize the penetration of sincerity, and advantage and firmness are its completion. Great is the Change, the source of nature and destiny.
— Chou Tun-Yi (1017-1073)
Penetrating Book of Change


Empty and tranquil, and without any sign, and yet all things are luxuriantly present. The state before there is any response to it is not an earlier one, and the state after there has been response to it is not a later one. It is like a tree one hundred feet high. From the root to the branches and leaves, there is one sap running through them all.
— Ch’eng I (1033-1107)
Works of the Two Ch’engs, XV.8a

The four directions plus upward and downward constitute the space continuum. The past and the future constitute the time continuum. The universe is my mind and my mind is the universe. Sages appeared tens of thousands of generations ago. They shared this mind; they shared this principle. Sages will appear tens of thousands of generations to come. They will share this mind; they will share this principle. Over the four seas sages appear. They share this mind; they share this principle.
— Lu Hsiang-Shan (1139-1193)
Complete Works, XXII.5a

How can knowledge and action be separated? This is the original substance of knowledge and action, which have not been separated by selfish desires. In teaching people, the Sage insisted that only this can be called knowledge. Otherwise, this is not yet knowledge. This is serious and practical business… I have said that knowledge is the direction for action and action the effort of knowledge, and that knowledge is the beginning of action and action the completion of knowledge. If this is understood, then when only knowledge is mentioned, action is included, and when only action is mentioned, knowledge is included… But people today distinguish between knowledge and action and pursue them separately, believing that one must know before he can act. They will discuss and learn the business of knowledge first, they say, and wait till they truly know before they put their knowledge into practice. Consequently, to the last day of life, they will never act and also will never know. This doctrine of knowledge first and action later is not a minor disease and it did not come about only yesterday. My present advocacy of the unity of knowledge and action is precisely the medicine for that disease.

— Wang Yang Ming (1472-1529)
Instructions for Practical Living, I.8a