I have no use for the strictures of You must. You must not.

[無可無不可]

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lúnyǔ, 论语], Book 18, verse 8 (18.8.5) (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse, tr. Hinton (1998)]
    (Source)

(Source (Chinese)). Alternate translations:

I have no course for which I am predetermined, and no course against which I am predetermined.
[tr. Legge (1861)]

I will take no liberties, I will have no curtailing of my liberty.
[tr. Jennings (1895); in the footnote he gives a more raw translation, "Without possibilities (or freedom to act) -- without impossibilities"]

With me there is no inflexible "thou shalt" or 'thou shalt not."
[tr. Soothill (1910)]

I have no categoric can and cannot.
[tr. Pound (1933)]

I have no "thou shalt" or "thou shalt not."
[tr. Waley (1938)]

I have no preconceptions about the permissible and the impermissible.
[tr. Lau (1979)]

I avoid saying what should or should not be done.
[tr. Dawson (1993)]

I follow no rigid prescriptions on what should, or should not, be done.
[tr. Leys (1997)]

I have not any stubborn positiveness or negation.
[tr. Cai/Yu (1998)]

I do not have presuppositions as to what may and may not be done.
[tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]

I have no "may" and no "may not."
[tr. Brooks/Brooks (1998)]

I have no preconceptions about what one can or cannot do.
[tr. Annping Chin (2014)]

This may be the source of Lin-Yutang, ed. The Wisdom of Confucius (1938):

The superior man goes through his life without any one preconceived course of action or any taboo. He merely decides for the moment what is the right thing to do.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Jun-22
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