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Bhutanese Proverbs


* Kha deu gu chey deu ma kay.
Don't put an easy tongue in an easy mouth. (said to an overly talkative person)


* Sampa zang na sa dang lam yang zang; sampa nyen na sa dang lam yang nyen.
If the thought is good, (your) place and path are good; if the thought is bad, (your) place and path are bad.
* Sem chen tag gi re-mo chey dang; gu nag mi ge re-mo nang ing.
The stripes of a tiger are on the outside; the stripes (character) of a person are on the inside. (character is not directly visible)
* Lo teypi mi gi nha-ing ku.
A trustworthy person steals one's heart.
* Jig ten ma pchi; dam choe ma ha.
Do not start your worldly life too late; do not start your religious life too early.
* Mi chi gawi soenam Taa giya ba methey.
To give happiness to another person gives such a great merit; it cannot even be carried by a horse.
* Mara maan ai gi om ya du inn.
If taken in excess, even mother's milk is poison. (Do not live a life of excess)

The human condition

* Chu yoe sa chab chap; sa droe sa nim sha.
Where there is plenty of water, it rains; where there is abundant heat, the sun shines.
* Gawa rang gi zon go zo; choem rang gi choen go choel.
Whatever joy you seek, it can be achieved by yourself; whatever misery you seek, it can be found by yourself.

Human relations

* Chhap phar kah chap, zilp tsu kha ray.
The rain falls yonder, but the drops strike here. (indirect remarks hit the target).
* Cheyda chap sa gom poen yog mey.
On the battlefield, there is no distinction between upper and lower class.
* Tsi mein nyew cham.
If there is no financial involvement between relatives, the relationship is harmonious.
* Da chab lu mi tso, thi lu tso; Lo lab lu mi tso, nyen lu tso.
The way the arrow hits the target is more essential than the way it is shot; the way you listen is more essential than the way you talk. (anyone can talk but understanding takes skill).
* Nam gawa ti wei wo lu yoe; phung dang si yang di nang yoe.
Fun and pleasure are located below the navel; dispute and trouble are also located there.
* Sha tshaye khalay tam hem mi thoen.
Flattering words will not be spoken from the mouth of an affectionate person.
* She tsey mi lu matoen: Khapa ro ki ba wong.
Never reveal all that you know to others: They might become shrewder than you.
* Tham chi sum da len ma gel na, pha dang bu yang ngo mi shey.
If they don't exchange a few words, father and son will never know one another.
* Thrang lapna me mi ga; te tha dung na khi mi ga.
If you tell the truth, people are not happy; if beaten with a stick, dogs are not happy.
* Zow mangna go lhong mi tshu.
When there are too many carpenters, the door cannot be erected.
* Juma pa gi dey kha mi tsue
Sausages and meat are not the same (Do not interfere where not needed)


* Fa yul la ta ja tham pa yoe, nga rang jo na kang tha.
In my homeland I possess one hundred horses, yet if I go, I go on foot.
* Tsham choe shain khaybe tag.
To know your limitations is the hallmark of a wise person.
* If heat is applied to iron long enough it will melt; if cold is applied to water long enough it will freeze.
* Walking slowly, even the donkey will reach Lhasa. (given determination, even a dolt will eventually reach the goal)


* Ge ru-wa nhagi mo choe.
The nose didn't smell the rotting head. (one can't see one's own faults)
* Rang chapi zam lay rang ma thai.
One could not cross a bridge constructed by oneself. (whatever you do, do it properly, so it is of use).
* Ye shey pi da chap sar mi thoeng; phog sar thoeng.
The arrow of the accomplished master will not be seen when it is released; only when it hits the target. (you don't see the process; only the result can be seen)
* A fire should be extinguished when it is small; an enemy should be subdued while young.
* Consider the tune, not the voice; consider the words, not the tune; consider the meaning, not the words.
* No death without reason.
* Words coming from far away are always half true, half false.
* You must first walk around a bit before you can understand the distance from the valley to the mountain.
* Chu ma wom ley yue wa, ned ma wom ley rimdo.
Clear the drain before it rains, . (Be prepared)
* Sangye gi cho na sung do zum, alu ma nguh-oew gi hema ga chu go
The Buddha once preached that you have to let the child laugh before he cries

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