Japanese proverbs: the power of perseverance

Have you heard this saying before?

"Perseverance is power."

継続は力なり。 (keizoku wa chikara nari)

This proverb comes from Japan, where it has been common for centuries. It reminds us of the power we can harness when we practice being persistent. Let's take a look at its origin and what it means for us today.

The origin of the proverb

This proverb first appeared in 1579 in an anthology of Japanese proverbs entitled Hyakunin Isshu.

In this collection, the author collected 100 poems from 100 different poets to create a book that celebrated Japanese culture and wisdom.

The poem in which this proverb appears is by Fujiwara no Toshinari and reads: "To persist and persevere is power, but the way of life is like flowing water; it flows away".

Accordingly, the original proverb probably originated much earlier than the aforementioned anthology.

What does it mean?

This proverb reminds us that our success lies in facing challenges and persevering. When we focus on our goals, even when things get difficult, we can discover new reserves of strength within us that will help us achieve our goals. So this proverb reminds us that perseverance is the key to unlocking our power and achieving success.

However, we should not only consider the well-known proverb, but also the entire sentence mentioned above. And in this it is unmistakably pointed out that life is always in flux and therefore fleeting:

but the way of life is like flowing water; it flows away".

In most Far Eastern philosophies, such as Daoism, which influenced Zen Buddhism, and thus Zen Buddhism itself, the central understanding is that everything is constantly changing and things never stand still (even though sometimes it seems that way).

But this has also been pointed out in Western philosophies. For example, with the famous "No one can get into the same river twice, because everything flows and nothing remains," which was attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus.

However, calling perseverance and the flow of life does not imply a contradiction, but simply reminds us that we are in a constantly changing environment.

Personally, I see in it, on the one hand, that we must always be prepared for changing circumstances, but not let them stop us from continuing to go our way. And that also means that we ourselves should not be stiff and change our approach if the moment is favorable or it becomes necessary.

But you can just as easily see encouragement that you don't want to waste time half-heartedly pursuing things and then throwing them away after all.

Where can we take advantage of this?

We can learn from this proverb that sustained effort is essential to succeed. No matter how difficult something may seem, we can only triumph if we persevere to the end. This lesson applies to all areas of life - be it work, relationships, or personal growth - so remember to keep going no matter what if you have a goal that is worthwhile.


So perseverance really is power - especially in moments when things seem unimaginably difficult or seemingly insurmountable tasks lie ahead. If we choose not to give up, but to keep going with perseverance, things will eventually turn around for us! So the next time you feel discouraged or overwhelmed, remember the age-old wisdom behind this Japanese proverb, "Perseverance is power," and let it encourage you to keep going. You never know what amazing rewards await you in the end if you just have faith and keep at it - until you really follow through with something.

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