rénzhě-yàoshān, zhìzhě-yàoshuǐ 仁者乐山，智者乐水
The Virtuous Love Mountains and the Wise Love Water.
According to this term, a mountain is lofty and steadfast, conserving everything with its infinite forbearance. Thus, a virtuous man feels elated by associating this with poise, serenity and benevolence. Water, on the other hand, runs on incessantly, finding its way around without being deterred by any obstacle. Thus, a wise man feels joyful recalling how water meanders its course and keeps pace with the seasons. These two statements complement each other in meaning. Benevolent and wise people note their own nature and aptitude, even their own spiritual state of being, through mountains and water, hence their happiness at the sight of natural scenery. This represents two aspects of a noble-minded person’s self-cultivation. It is a personification of natural beauty and an experience of aesthetic appreciation brought about by comparing virtue to, and empathizing with, mountains and water. Thus, mountains and water are often associated with beautiful feelings and have become a common aesthetic image. Wandering among mountains and streams is also seen as an important way for a man of letters to cultivate himself. This comparison made between virtue and natural scenery is typical in Chinese artistic expression and thought.
Only when the year turns deadly cold do we see that pines and cypresses are the last to wither. (The Analects)
A wise man loves water; a virtuous man loves mountains. A wise man is active; a virtuous man stays peaceful in mind. A wise man is happy; a virtuous man enjoys a long life. (The Analects)