Best 110 Confucius Life Quotes That Will Inspire You

Confucius was a Chinese philosopher and politician that lived during the Spring and Autumn period. His philosophy is known as Confucianism. Confucianism focuses on personal and governmental morality, healthy relationships between people, justice as well as honesty.

He had a huge number of followers which had more success than the majority of other schools that existed during the era of Hundred Schools of Thought. After the  Qin dynasty failed and Han won over Chu, Confucius’s philosophy was forbidden. A few years later that system developed into a new one, famous as Neo-Confucianism, and later New Confucianism (Modern Neo-Confucianism).

It was found that he wrote or edited many of the Chinese classic texts, such as Five Classics. Many of his aphorisms were included in the Analects, but that happened after he passed away.

Confucianism had a big influence on Chinese tradition and belief. He was teaching his followers on how important family loyalty is and said that family should be seen as a base of the ideal government. He also supported Daoism.

Confucius is known all over the world as one of the biggest, smartest, most influential humans in our history. His philosophy had a big impact on people from various parts of the world and is still learned and respected today.

These are some of the best Confucius quotes:

  • “The man who says he can, and the man who says he can not… Are both correct.”
  • “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life. ”
  • “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ”
  • “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
  • “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.”
  • “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
  • “Do not do to others what you do not want to be done to yourself.”
  • “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”
  • “He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”
  • “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.”
  • “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
  • “He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.”
  • “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.”
  • “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”
  • “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
  • “If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.”
  • “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
  • “A gentleman is not a pot.”
  • “When good government prevails in the empire, ceremonies, music, and punitive military expeditions proceed from the son of Heaven. When bad government prevails in the empire, ceremonies, music, and punitive military expeditions proceed from the princes. When these things proceed from the princes, as a rule, the cases will be few in which they do not lose their power in ten generations. When they proceed from the great officers of the princes, as a rule, the case will be few in which they do not lose their power in five generations. When the subsidiary ministers of the great officers hold in their grasp the orders of the state, as a rule, the cases will be few in which they do not lose their power in three generations. When the right principles prevail in the kingdom, the government will not be in the hands of the great officers. When right principles prevail in the kingdom, there will be no discussions among the common people.”
  • “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”
  • “Yin and yang, male and female, strong and weak, rigid and tender, heaven and earth, light and darkness, thunder and lightning, cold and warmth, good and evil…the interplay of opposite principles constitutes the universe.”
  • “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.”
  • “There are few men under heaven who can love and see the defects, or hate and see the excellence of an object.”
  • “The Master was entirely free of four faults: arbitrariness, inflexibility, rigidity, and selfishness.”
  • “To see high merit and be unable to raise it to office, to raise it but not to give such promotion precedence, is just destiny.”
  • “The funniest people are the saddest ones.”
  • “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
  • “Your life is what your thoughts make it.”
  • “The journey with 1000 miles begins with one step.”
  • “You are what you think.”
  • “Sincerity is the end and beginning of things; without sincerity, there would be nothing.”
  • “Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.”
  • “To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”
  • “Respect yourself and others will respect you.”
  • “You yourself desire to rank and standing; then help others to get rank and standing. You want to turn your merits to account; then help others to turn theirs to account.”
  • “Not to talk with people although they can be talked with is to waste people. To talk with people although they can’t be talked with is to waste words. A man of understanding does not waste people, but he also does not waste words.”
  • “Give me a few more years so that I am studying at fifty, and surely I may avoid major errors.”
  • “Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such an extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.”
  • “I do not open up the truth to one who is not eager to get knowledge, nor help out anyone who is not anxious to explain himself. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one, and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson.”
  • “When you see a good person, think of becoming like her/him. When you see someone not so good, reflect on your own weak points.”
  • “Attack the evil that is within yourself, rather than attacking the evil that is in others.”
  • “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.”
  • “Silence is a true friend who never betrays.”
  • “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation, there is sure to be a failure.”
  • “Virtue is more to man than either water or fire. I have seen men die from treading on water and fire, but I have never seen a man die from treading the course of virtue.”
  • “Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.”
  • “Isn’t it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned?”
  • “All people are the same; only their habits differ.”
  • “Learn avidly. Question it repeatedly. Analyze it carefully. Then put what you have learned into practice intelligently.”
  • “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”
  • “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”
  • “Isn’t it also great when friends visit from distant places? If one remains not annoyed when he is not understood by people around him, isn’t he a sage?”
  • “While they have not got their aims, their anxiety is how to get them. When they have got them, their anxiety is lest they should lose them.”
  • “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”
  • “A gentleman would be a little reserved and reticent in matters which he does not understand. If terms are incorrect, the language will be incongruous; and if the language is incongruous, deeds will be imperfect. So, again, when deeds are imperfect, propriety and harmony cannot prevail, and when this is the case laws relating to crime will fail in their aim; and if these last so fail, the people will not know where to set hand or foot. Hence, a man of superior mind, certain first of his terms, is fitted to speak; and being certain of what he says can proceed upon it. In the language of such a person, there is nothing heedlessly irregular and that is the sum of the matter.”
  • “A man whose strength gives out collapses along the course. In your case, you set the limits beforehand.”
  • “It is not possible for one to teach others who cannot teach his own family.”
  • “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”
  • “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”
  • “It is not the failure of others to appreciate the abilities that should trouble you, but rather your failure to appreciate theirs.”
  • “The man of wisdom is never of two minds; the man of benevolence never worries; the man of courage is never afraid.”
  • “Act with kindness but do not expect gratitude.”
  • “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”
  • “The essence of knowledge is, having it, to use it.”
  • “When anger rises, think of the consequences.”
  • “He who learns but does not think is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”
  • “The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?”
  • “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”
  • “He who excels in a study can follow an official career.”
  • “Even when walking in the company of two other men, I am bound to be able to learn from them. The good points of the one I copy, the bad points of the other I correct in myself.”
  • “If the people be led by laws, and uniformity sought to be given them by punishments, they will try to avoid the punishment but have no sense of shame. 2. ‘If they are led by virtue, and uniformity sought to be given them by the rules of propriety, they will have the sense of shame, and moreover will become good.”
  • “The superior man bends his attention to what is radical. That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up.”
  • “If you want to make a stand, help others make a stand, and if you want to reach your goal, help others reach their goal. Consider yourself and treat others accordingly: this is the method of Humanity.”
  • “Am I a man of great wisdom? Hardly! Even when a simple person brings me a question, my mind goes utterly blank, I just thrash it out until I’ve exhausted every possibility.”
  • “Things that are done, it is needless to speak about; things that have had their course, it is needless to remonstrate about; things that are past, it is needless to blame.”
  • “When you make a promise consistent with what is right, you can keep your word. When you show respect consistent with good taste, you keep shame and disgrace at a distance. When he in whom you confide is one who does not fail his friends, you may trust him fully.”
  • “The nobler type of man is broad-minded and not prejudiced. The inferior man is prejudiced and not broad-minded.”
  • “Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy.”
  • “I daily examine myself on three points:— whether, in transacting business for others, I may have been not faithful;— whether, in intercourse with friends, I may have been not sincere;— whether I may have not mastered and practiced the instructions of my teacher.”
  • “The gentleman understands what is moral. The small man understands what is profitable.”
  • “The Master said, ‘Can men refuse to assent to the words of strict admonition? But it is reforming the conduct because of them which is valuable. Can men refuse to be pleased with words of gentle advice? But it is unfolding their aim which is valuable. If a man is pleased with these words, but does not unfold their aim, and assents to those, but does not reform his conduct, I can really do nothing with him.”
  • “With coarse grain to eat, with water to drink, and my bent arm for a pillow: I still have joy in the midst of these things.”
  • “Poor food and water for dinner, a bent arm for a pillow – that is where joy resides. For me, wealth and renown without honor are nothing but drifting clouds.”
  • “Insecurity is worse than poverty.”
  • “Worthy admonitions cannot fail to inspire us, but what matters is changing ourselves. Reverent advice cannot fail to encourage us, but what matters is acting on it. Encouraged without acting, inspired without changing – there’s nothing to be done for such people.”
  • “When respect is shown according to what is proper, one keeps far from shame and disgrace.”
  • “The Master said, ‘Respectfulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes laborious bustle; carefulness, without the rules of propriety, becomes timidity; boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomes insubordination; straightforwardness, without the rules of propriety, becomes rudeness.”
  • “The man who chases two rabbits catches neither.”
  • “If you look at their intentions, examine their motives, and scrutinize what brings them contentment – how can people hide who they are? How can they hide who they really are?”
  • “Listen to all that you can – then, if you forget the deficiencies and speak about the rest cautiously, you avoid trouble. See all that you can – then, if you forget the perilous and act upon the rest cautiously, you’ll avoid regret. In speech avoid trouble, in action avoid regret – then rewards will come of themselves.”
  • “How can you love people without encouraging them? And how can you be loyal to people without educating them.”
  • “A legendary horse is praised not for its strength, but for its Integrity.”
  • “If a craftsman wants to do good work, he must first sharpen his tools.”
  • “Better light a candle than curse the darkness.”
  • “What is the good of being ready with the tongue? They who encounter men with smartness of speech, for the most part, procure themselves hatred. I know not whether he be truly virtuous, but why should he show the readiness of the tongue?”
  • “You are not yet able to serve men, how can you serve spirits?”
  • “Don’t worry if you have no position: worry about making yourself worthy of one. Don’t worry if you aren’t known and admired: devote yourself to a life that deserves admiration.”
  • “One joy dispels a hundred cares.”
  • “Anyone can find the switch after the lights are on.”
  • “I slept and dreamt life is beauty, I woke and found life is a duty.”
  • “Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean.”
  • “A lion chased me up a tree, and I greatly enjoyed the view from the top.”
  • “To one who is not eager I do not reveal anything, nor do I explain anything to one who is not communicative. If I raise one corner for someone and he cannot come back with the other three, I do not go on.”
  • “Mankind differs from the animals only by a little and most people throw that away.”
  • “The one who teaches is the giver of eyes.”
  • “You can force the people to obey; you cannot force them to understand.”
  • “Think of tomorrow, the past can’t be mended.”
  • “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”
  • “It is only the wisest and the stupidest that cannot change.”

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