Confucius (Chinese: 孔子; pinyin: Kǒng zǐ; Wade-Giles: K'ung-tzu, or Chinese: 孔夫子; pinyin: Kǒng Fūzǐ; Wade-Giles: K'ung-fu-tzu), literally "Master Kong," (traditionally September 28, 551 B.C.E. - 479 B.C.E.) was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought and life.
His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity. These values gained prominence in China over other doctrines, such as Legalism (法家) or Taoism (道家) during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E. – 220 C.E.). Confucius' thoughts have been developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism (儒家). It was introduced to Europe by the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci, who was the first to Latinise the name as "Confucius."
His teachings may be found in the Analects of Confucius (論語), a collection of "brief aphoristic fragments", which was compiled many years after his death. For nearly 2,000 years he was thought to be the editor or author of all the Five Classics (五經) such as the Classic of Rites (禮記) (editor), and the Spring and Autumn Annals (春秋) (author).
The formal name of Confucius was Kong Qiu (孔丘), and he was also called Zhongni (仲尼). He was born in 551 B.C. in the Lu (鲁) State (This state was in the south of modern-day Shandong Province) in the later days of the Spring-Autumn Period. Confucius was from a warrior family. His father Shulianghe (叔梁紇) was a famous warrior who had military exploits in two battles and got a feoff. But Confucius lost his father when he was three years old, and then his mother Yan Zhengzai (顏徵在) took him and left the feoff because as a concubine (妾) she wanted to avoid the mistreatment of Shulianghe's formal wife. So since childhood Confucius lived in poverty with his mother. With the support and encouragement of his mother, Confucius was very diligent in his studies. When Confucius was seventeen years old, his mother died of illness and overwork. Three years later, Confucius married a young woman who was from the Qiguan family (亓官氏) of Song (宋) State. Though he had a mild wife who loved him, he still left his family and strived for his ideals. Confucius wanted to revive the perfect virtue of Huaxia and the classical properties of the Western Zhou Dynasty for building a great harmonious and humanistic society.
1. A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.
2. Ability will never catch up with the demand for it.
3. An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.
4. And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.
5. Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.
6. 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.
7. Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
8. Death and life have their determined appointments; riches and honors depend upon heaven.
9. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.
10. Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
11. Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage.
12. Go before the people with your example, and be laborious in their affairs.
13. 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.
14. He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.
15. He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.
16. Heaven means to be one with God.
17. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
18. I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.
19. I want you to be everything that's you, deep at the center of your being.
20. I will not be concerned at other men's not knowing me;I will be concerned at my own want of ability.
21. If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.
22. If we don't know life, how can we know death?
23. If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?
24. If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it's OK. But you've got to shoot for something. A lot of people don't even shoot.
25. If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people.
26. In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
27. Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, see to the (be?) worthy of being known.
28. It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
29. It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.
30. It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.
31. Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
32. Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
33. Look at the means which a man employs, consider his motives, observe his pleasures. A man simply cannot conceal himself!
34. Never contract friendship with a man that is not better than thyself.
35. Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.
36. No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
37. 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.
38. Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.
39. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
40. Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.
41. Silence is a true friend who never betrays.
42. Speak the truth, do not yield to anger; give, if thou art asked for little; by these three steps thou wilt go near the gods.
43. Study the past, if you would divine the future.
44. Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.
45. The book salesman should be honored because he brings to our attention, as a rule, the very books we need most and neglect most.
46. The cautious seldom err.
47. The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.
48. 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.
49. The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue.
50. The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.
51. The object of the superior man is truth.
52. The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.
53. The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action.
54. 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.
55. The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.
56. The superior man makes the difficulty to be overcome his first interest; success only comes later.
57. The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.
58. The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.
59. The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.
60. There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest.
61. They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.
62. To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.
63. To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.
64. To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.
65. To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.
66. To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.
67. To see the right and not to do it is cowardice.
68. Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors.
69. Virtuous people often revenge themselves for the constraints to which they submit by the boredom which they inspire.
70. We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression.
71. What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
72. When anger rises, think of the consequences.
73. When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.
74. When we see persons of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see persons of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.
75. When you are laboring for others let it be with the same zeal as if it were for yourself.
76. 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.
77. Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
78. Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.
79. Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?
80. You cannot open a book without learning something.