A genius extraordinaire, Confucius was a Chinese social philosopher, teacher, and politician, whose teachings crystallized thoughts and philosophies of the East Asian civilization. We bring to you 40 profound and sagacious quotes by Chinese philosopher, Confucius.
Did You Know?
Confucius is the Latinized name of the great Chinese philosopher, derived from his honorific name Kong Fuzi.
Confucius had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and believed in education as a way of life. He did not see it as procuring of knowledge only but building of character, morality, and integrity. Though his philosophical ideas and teachings necessitated self-discipline, he did not believe in self-denial or self-repression but believed in the good of the self and others.
Confucius’ political ideas evolved from virtue, propriety, and tradition. He underscored on the importance of going back to the traditions and rituals of the past as he believed that respecting our forefathers effectuated virtue, which in turn paved the way for proper governance.
Given below are some incisive and insightful quotes by Confucius that reflect on life, government, knowledge, and moral superiority.
Quotes by Chinese Philosopher Confucius
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
“If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.”
“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.”
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
“He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
“Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon or star.”
“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”
“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
“He who will not economize will have to agonize.”
“Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.”
“Old age, believe me, is a good and pleasant thing. It is true you are gently shouldered off the stage, but then you are given such a comfortable front stall as spectator.”
“The parents age must be remembered, both for joy and anxiety.”
“The Master said, At fifteen I set my heart upon learning.
At thirty, I had planted my feet firm upon the ground.
At forty, I no longer suffered from perplexities.
At fifty, I knew what were the biddings of Heaven.
At sixty, I heard them with docile ear.
At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart; for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.”
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”
“When you know a thing, to hold that you know it, and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it – this is knowledge.”
“If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children.”
“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”
“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.”
“I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.”
“He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.”
“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”
“An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.”
“If one should desire to know whether a kingdom is well governed, if its morals are good or bad, the quality of its music will furnish the answer.”
“Lead the people with administrative injunctions and put them in their place with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Lead them with excellence and put them in their place through roles and ritual practices, and in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously”
“A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.”
“The superior man is distressed by the limitations of his ability; he is not distressed by the fact that men do not recognize the ability that he has.”
“The superior man has a dignified ease without pride. The mean man has pride without a dignified ease.”
“A superior man in dealing with the world is not for anything or against anything. He follows righteousness as the standard.”
“The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.”
“The faults of a superior person are like the sun and moon. They have their faults, and everyone sees them; they change and everyone looks up to them.”
“What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.”
“The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action.”