Ambition in Chinese / Japanese...

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  1. Progress / Ambition

  2. Heroic Spirit / Great Ambition

  3. Great Aspirations / Ambition

  4. Fear not long roads; Fear only short ambition

  5. Realize Your Ambitions / Embrace Your Ambition

  6. Do not fear poverty; Fear low ambitions

  7. Realize Your Ambitions / Ride on the Crest of Success

  8. Without a big net, how can you catch fish?

  9. Dream Come True / Enjoy Success

10. Big Dream / Great Hope

11. Great Expectations

12. Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33


Progress / Ambition

shàng jìn
joushin
Progress / Ambition Scroll

This Chinese and Japanese word means to make progress, to do better, ambition to improve oneself, to move forward, to advance.

This should be romanized as Joushin but is often written Joshin from Japanese. It can also be a given name in Japanese.

Heroic Spirit / Great Ambition

xióng xīn
yuushin
Heroic Spirit / Great Ambition Scroll

雄心 is the Chinese characters and Japanese Kanji for great ambition, lofty aspiration, or heroic spirit.

Great Aspirations / Ambition

tai shi wo idaku
Great Aspirations / Ambition Scroll

大志を抱 is a single Japanese word that kind of reads like a short proverb.

It suggests that you should have "high aims", "ambitions", or "aspirations" in your life.

Great Aspirations / Ambition

hóng hú zhī zhì
Great Aspirations / Ambition Scroll

This Chinese proverb implies that having great ambitions also means that others will not understand your great expectations and ideas.

Though the actual words come from a longer saying of Confucius which goes, "The little swallows living under the eaves wouldn't understand the lofty ambitions of a swan (who flies far and wide)".

This Confucius quote has led to this idiomatic expression in China that means "think big". What you'd really be saying is "The lofty ambitions of a swan".

Note that Chinese people sometimes refer to the little swallow, as one who does not "think big" but is, instead, stuck in a rut, or just leading a mundane life. Therefore, it's a compliment to be called a swan but not a good thing to be called a swallow.

Fear not long roads; Fear only short ambition

bú pà lù yuǎn zhǐ pà zhì duǎn
Fear not long roads; Fear only short ambition Scroll

This Chinese proverb literally translates as, "Fear not a long roads; fear only short ambition", or "Don't fear that the road is long, only fear that your will/ambition/aspiration is short".

Figuratively, this means: However difficult the goal is, one can achieve it as long as one is determined to do so.

Others may translate the meaning as, "Don't let a lack of willpower stop you from pressing onwards in your journey".

Realize Your Ambitions / Embrace Your Ambition

taishi wo Idaku
Realize Your Ambitions / Embrace Your Ambition Scroll

This Japanese proverb suggests that you should embrace, pursue, and realize your ambitions.

The first part means ambitions or aspirations.

The last part means to embrace, or to hold in your arms.

Here's the character breakdown:
大志 (taishi) ambition; aspiration.
を (o) particle
抱く (idaku) to embrace; to hold in the arms (e.g. a baby); to hug; to harbor (harbour); to bear (e.g. a grudge); to entertain (e.g. suspicion); to sleep with; to sit on eggs.


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Do not fear poverty; Fear low ambitions

bú pà rén qióng zhǐ pà zhì duǎn
Do not fear poverty; Fear low ambitions Scroll

This Chinese proverb literally translates as: It is not poverty that is to be feared; It is low ambition.

Figuratively, this means: It is not poverty but lack of lofty aspiration that is to be regretted.

Realize Your Ambitions / Ride on the Crest of Success

dà jiǎn hóng tú
Realize Your Ambitions / Ride on the Crest of Success Scroll

This four-character proverb is used in Chinese to mean "realize your ambitions" or "exhibit your ambition and success".

It's used to talk about someone with great career ambitions. Almost literally, it expresses the idea of someone unfolding a great career like a map or a set of blueprint plans.

Very literally translated, these four characters mean, "Great unfolding of a huge map" or "Great exhibition of a colossal plan".

Without a big net, how can you catch fish?

bù sā dà wǎng bù dé dà yú
Without a big net, how can you catch fish? Scroll

This Chinese proverb literally translates as: [if one does] not cast a big net, [one can] not get big fish.

Figuratively, this means: One cannot make great accomplishments without making great efforts or taking great pains.

不撒大網不得大魚 is sort of the fishing version of, "No pain, no gain".

Dream Come True / Enjoy Success

dé zhì
Dream Come True / Enjoy Success Scroll

This Chinese word means to accomplish one's ambition, a dream come true, or to enjoy your success.

Big Dream / Great Hope

tai mou
Big Dream / Great Hope Scroll

大望 is one of a few ways to write "dream big" in Japanese.

大望 is a good title if you want that to inspire ambition or high aspirations. 大望 is also a way to say "great expectations".

Great Expectations

wàng
bou / nozomi
Great Expectations Scroll

望 holds the ideas of ambition, hope, desire, aspiring to, expectations, looking towards, to gaze (into the distance), and in some context full moon rising.

望 is one of those single characters that is vague but in that vagueness, in also means many things.

望 is a whole word in Chinese and old Korean but is seldom seen alone in Japanese. Still, it holds the meanings noted above in all three languages.

Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33

zhī rén zhě zhī yě zì zhī zhě míng yě shèng rén zhě yǒu lì yě zì shèng zhě qiáng yě zhī zú zhě fù yě qiáng xíng zhě yǒu zhì yě bù zhī qí suǒ zhě jiǔ yě sǐ ér bù wáng zhě shòu yě
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Scroll

This is referred to as passage or chapter 33 of the Dao De Jing (often Romanized as "Tao Te Ching").

These are the words of the philosopher Laozi (Lao Tzu).

The following is one translation of this passage:
To know others is wisdom;
To know oneself is acuity/intelligence.
To conquer others is power,
To conquer oneself is strength.
To know contentment is to have wealth.
To act resolutely is to have purpose.
To stay one's ground is to be enduring.
To die and yet not be forgotten is to be long-lived.
Another translation:
To understand others is to be knowledgeable;
To understand yourself is to be wise.
To conquer others is to have strength;
To conquer yourself is to be strong.
To know when you have enough is to be rich.
To go forward with strength is to have ambition.
To not lose your place is to be long lasting.
To die but not be forgotten -- that's true long life.
A third translation of the second half:
He who is content is rich;
He who acts with persistence has will;
He who does not lose his roots will endure;
He who dies physically but preserves the Dao
will enjoy a long after-life.


Notes:

During our research, the Chinese characters shown here are probably the most accurate to the original text of Laozi. These were taken for the most part from the Mawangdui 1973 and Guodan 1993 manuscripts which pre-date other Daodejing texts by about 1000 years.

Grammar was a little different in Laozi’s time. So you should consider this to be the ancient Chinese version. Some have modernized this passage by adding, removing, or swapping articles and changing the grammar (we felt the oldest and most original version would be more desirable). You may find other versions printed in books or online - sometimes these modern texts are simply used to explain to Chinese people what the original text really means.

This language issue can be compared in English by thinking how the King James (known as the Authorized version in Great Britain) Bible from 1611 was written, and comparing it to modern English. Now imagine that the Daodejing was probably written around 403 BCE (2000 years before the King James Version of the Bible). To a Chinese person, the original Daodejing reads like text that is 3 times more detached compared to Shakespeare’s English is to our modern-day speech.

Extended notes:

While on this Biblical text comparison, it should be noted, that just like the Bible, all the original texts of the Daodejing were lost or destroyed long ago. Just as with the scripture used to create the Bible, various manuscripts exist, many with variations or copyist errors. Just as the earliest New Testament scripture (incomplete) is from 170 years after Christ, the earliest Daodejing manuscript (incomplete) is from 100-200 years after the death of Laozi.

The reason that the originals were lost probably has a lot to do with the first Qin Emperor. Upon taking power and unifying China, he ordered the burning and destruction of all books (scrolls/rolls) except those pertaining to Chinese medicine and a few other subjects. The surviving Daodejing manuscripts were either hidden on purpose or simply forgotten about. Some were not unearthed until as late as 1993.

We compared a lot of research by various archeologists and historians before deciding on this as the most accurate and correct version. But one must allow that it may not be perfect, or the actual and original as from the hand of Laozi himself.


The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji (Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Progress
Ambition
上進
上进
joushin / joshinshàng jìn
shang4 jin4
shang jin
shangjin
shang chin
shangchin
Heroic Spirit
Great Ambition
雄心yuushin / yushinxióng xīn
xiong2 xin1
xiong xin
xiongxin
hsiung hsin
hsiunghsin
Great Aspirations
Ambition
大志を抱tai shi wo idaku
taishiwoidaku
Great Aspirations
Ambition
鴻鵠之誌
鸿鹄之志
hóng hú zhī zhì
hong2 hu2 zhi1 zhi4
hong hu zhi zhi
honghuzhizhi
hung hu chih chih
hunghuchihchih
Fear not long roads; Fear only short ambition不怕路遠隻怕志短
不怕路远只怕志短
bú pà lù yuǎn zhǐ pà zhì duǎn
bu2 pa4 lu4 yuan3 zhi3 pa4 zhi4 duan3
bu pa lu yuan zhi pa zhi duan
bupaluyuanzhipazhiduan
pu p`a lu yüan chih p`a chih tuan
pu pa lu yüan chih pa chih tuan
Realize Your Ambitions
Embrace Your Ambition
大志を抱くtaishi wo Idaku
taishiwoIdaku
Do not fear poverty; Fear low ambitions不怕人窮隻怕志短
不怕人穷只怕志短
bú pà rén qióng zhǐ pà zhì duǎn
bu2 pa4 ren2 qiong2 zhi3 pa4 zhi4 duan3
bu pa ren qiong zhi pa zhi duan
buparenqiongzhipazhiduan
pu p`a jen ch`iung chih p`a chih tuan
pu pa jen chiung chih pa chih tuan
Realize Your Ambitions
Ride on the Crest of Success
大展宏圖
大展宏图
dà jiǎn hóng tú
da4 jian3 hong2 tu2
da jian hong tu
dajianhongtu
ta chien hung t`u
tachienhungtu
ta chien hung tu
Without a big net, how can you catch fish?不撒大網不得大魚
不撒大网不得大鱼
bù sā dà wǎng bù dé dà yú
bu4 sa1 da4 wang3 bu4 de2 da4 yu2
bu sa da wang bu de da yu
busadawangbudedayu
pu sa ta wang pu te ta yü
pusatawangputetayü
Dream Come True
Enjoy Success
得誌
得志
dé zhì / de2 zhi4 / de zhi / dezhite chih / techih
Big Dream
Great Hope
大望tai mou / taimou / tai mo / taimo
Great Expectationsbou / nozomi
bo / nozomi
bo / nozomi
wàng / wang4 / wang
Daodejing
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33
知人者知也自知者明也勝人者有力也自勝者強也知足者富也強行者有志也不失其所者久也死而不亡者壽也
知人者知也自知者明也胜人者有力也自胜者强也知足者富也强行者有志也不失其所者久也死而不亡者寿也
zhī rén zhě zhī yě zì zhī zhě míng yě shèng rén zhě yǒu lì yě zì shèng zhě qiáng yě zhī zú zhě fù yě qiáng xíng zhě yǒu zhì yě bù zhī qí suǒ zhě jiǔ yě sǐ ér bù wáng zhě shòu yě
zhi1 ren2 zhe3 zhi1 ye3 zi4 zhi1 zhe3 ming2 ye3 sheng4 ren2 zhe3 you3 li4 ye3 zi4 sheng4 zhe3 qiang2 ye3 zhi1 zu2 zhe3 fu4 ye3 qiang2 xing2 zhe3 you3 zhi4 ye3 bu4 zhi1 qi2 suo3 zhe3 jiu3 ye3 si3 er2 bu4 wang2 zhe3 shou4 ye3
zhi ren zhe zhi ye zi zhi zhe ming ye sheng ren zhe you li ye zi sheng zhe qiang ye zhi zu zhe fu ye qiang xing zhe you zhi ye bu zhi qi suo zhe jiu ye si er bu wang zhe shou ye
chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che ch`iang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh ch`iang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih ch`i so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
chih jen che chih yeh tzu chih che ming yeh sheng jen che yu li yeh tzu sheng che chiang yeh chih tsu che fu yeh chiang hsing che yu chih yeh pu chih chi so che chiu yeh ssu erh pu wang che shou yeh
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.


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Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Scroll
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Scroll
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Scroll
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Scroll


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Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Vertical Portrait
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Horizontal Wall Scroll
Daodejing / Tao Te Ching - Chapter 33 Vertical Portrait
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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

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A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.


Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

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