Confucius Quotes
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180 Best Confucius Quotes Of All Time

Confucius (551 – 479 BC) was one of China’s most famous philosophers, teachers and political theorists whose teachings and ideas are still profoundly influenced today. Confucius gave great importance to education. He wanted to make education available to anyone willing to learn.

Confucius’s principles had a basis in common Chinese tradition and belief. His philosophy emphasized morality, the fidelity of social relationships, justice, and sincerity. Developed from Confucius’ teachings, Confucianism is often followed as a religion by the Chinese, emphasizing the importance of family and social harmony. Confucius established a moral code of conduct based on human principles of mutual respect, good behaviour, and familial ties. It took many years after Confucius’ death for his philosophies to be appreciated and revered. Still, today, Confucianism is an ethical school of thought adopted by many thinkers around the world.

Here are 180 famous Confucius quotes and sayings on life, love, family, education and more. That will increase your thirst for knowledge and help you see things from a more realistic perspective.

180 Confucius Quotes That Still Ring True Today

Top 10 Confucius Quotes

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Confucius

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” – Confucius

“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.” – Confucius

“It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

“Men’s natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart.” – Confucius

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

“Worry not that no one knows of you; seek to be worth knowing.” – Confucius

“To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge.” – Confucius

“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.” – Confucius

The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life. Confucius

Famous Confucius Quotes

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“The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue.”

“Act with kindness, but do not expect gratitude.”

“The cautious seldom err.”

“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.”

“The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it not having it, to confess your ignorance.”

“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.”

“Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.”

“Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean.”

“Virtuous people often revenge themselves for the constraints to which they submit by the boredom which they inspire.”

“Faithfulness and sincerity are the highest things.”

“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.”

“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”

“If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for 10 years plant trees. If your plan is for 100 years educate children.”

“A youth is to be regarded with respect. How do you know that his future will not be equal to our present?”

“A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.”

“Silence is the true friend that never betrays.”

“The perfecting of one’s self is the fundamental base of all progress and all moral development.”

“Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.”

“Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of men.”

“Wealth and rank are what people desire, but unless they be obtained in the right way they may not be possessed.”

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”

“To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue; these five things are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.”

“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.”

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

“The superior man makes the difficulty to be overcome his first interest; success only comes later.”

“When a man’s knowledge is sufficient to attain, and his virtue is not sufficient to enable him to hold, whatever he may have gained, he will lose again.”

“Those who cannot forgive others break the bridge over which they themselves must pass.”

“Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage.”

“Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.”

“No matter where you go – there you are”

“Things that are done, it is needless to speak about…things that are past, it is needless to blame.”

Confucius Say Quotes

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“We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression.”

“Anyone can find the switch after the lights are on.”

“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”

“To see the right and not to do it is cowardice.”

“Boldness, without the rules of propriety, becomes insubordination.”

“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”

“A gentleman would be ashamed should his deeds not match his words.”

“He who will not economize will have to agonize.”

“Ability will never catch up with the demand for it.”

“If you don’t want to do something, don’t impose on others.”

“Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

“Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors.”

“Have no friends not equal to yourself.”

“Go before the people with your example, and be laborious in their affairs.”

“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

“To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge.”

“When prosperity comes, do not use all of it.”

“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.”

“Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

“Never contract friendship with a man that is not better than thyself.”

“With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow – I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness are to me as a floating cloud.”

“You are what you think.”

“I am not concerned that I am not known, I seek to be worthy to be known.”

“If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.”

“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.”

“Behave toward everyone as if receiving a great guest.”

“What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.”

“Think of tomorrow, the past can’t be mended.”

“They must often change who would remain constant in happiness and wisdom.”

“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”

“When you are laboring for others let it be with the same zeal as if it were for yourself.”

“He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.”

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trial.”

“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.”

“It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.”

“To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.”

“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.”

“Think no vice so small that you may commit it, and no virtue so small that you may over look it.”

“Do not worry about holding high position; worry rather about playing your proper role.”

“The man who says he can, and the man who says he can’t are both correct.”

“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.”

“I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.”

“When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.”

“All people are the same; only their habits differ.”

“He who acts with a constant view to his own advantage will be much murmured against.”

“Men’s natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart.”

“The parents age must be remembered, both for joy and anxiety.”

“He with whom neither slander that gradually soaks into the mind, nor statements that startle like a wound in the flesh, are successful may be called intelligent indeed.”

“Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.”

“He who excels in study can follow an official career.”

“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake.”

“He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions.”

“We take greater pains to persuade others that we are happy than in endeavoring to think so ourselves.”

“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know men.”

“The wheel of fortune turns round incessantly, and who can say to himself, I shall today be uppermost.”

Analects Of Confucius Quotes

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“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

“Review the old and deducing the new makes a teacher.”

“The object of the superior man is truth.”

“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”

“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.”

“The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved.”

“Acquire new knowledge whilst thinking over the old, and you may become a teacher of others.”

“Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”

“The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.”

“The nobler sort of man emphasizes the good qualities in others, and does not accentuate the bad. The inferior does.”

“The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them.”

“In a country well-governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”

“The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.”

“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

“If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.”

“To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle.”

“Roads were made for journeys not destinations.”

“The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.”

“A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace.”

“When you see a worthy person, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy person, then examine your inner self.”

“If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?”

“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.”

“Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?”

“Without an acquaintance with the rules of propriety, it is impossible for the character to be established.”

“He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.”

“The real fault is to have faults and not amend them.”

“Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.”

Funny Confucius Quotes

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“Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.”

“Mankind differs from the animals only by a little and most people throw that away.”

“By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.”

“To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.”

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

“One joy dispels a hundred cares.”

“A lion chased me up a tree, and I greatly enjoyed the view from the top.”

“Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.”

“The funniest people are the saddest ones.”

“A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble right at his door.”

“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”

“The superior man does not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue. In moments of haste, he cleaves to it. In seasons of danger, he cleaves to it.”

Confucius Quotes About Life

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“Death and life have their determined appointments; riches and honors depend upon heaven.”

“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”

“There are three things to beware of through life: when a man is young, let him beware of his appetites; when he is middle-aged, of his passions; and when old, of covetousness, especially.”

“Your life is what your thoughts make it.”

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

“If we don’t know life, how can we know death?”

“Give a bowl of rice to a man and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to grow his own rice and you will save his life.”

“I slept and dreamt life is beauty, I woke and found life is duty.”

“The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it.”

Confucius Quotes About Family

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“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.”

“It is not possible for one to teach others who cannot teach his own family.He who excels in study can follow an official career.”

“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.”

“He who is really kind, can never be unhappy.”

“He who works for his own interests will arouse much animosity.”

Confucius Quotes About Learning

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“You cannot open a book without learning something.”

“Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”

“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.”

“No matter how busy you make think you are you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”

“He who learns but does not think is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”

“When I walk along with two others, from at least one I will be able to learn.”

“Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as though you would be in fear of losing it.”

“Learn advidly. Question it repeatedly. Analyze it carefully. Then put what you have learned into practice intelligently.”

“Learn as if you were not reaching your goal and as though you were scared of missing it.”

“Isn’t it a pleasure to study and practice what you have learned?”

“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.”

Confucius Quotes About Love

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“To love a thing means wanting it to live.”

“The scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.”

“Those who know the truth are not equal to those who love it.”

“Love thy neighbor as thyself: Do not do to others what thou wouldst not wish be done to thyself: Forgive injuries. Forgive thy enemy, be reconciled to him, give him assistance, invoke God in his behalf.”

“Can there be a love which does not make demands on its object?”

“Love of goodness without love of learning degenerates into simple-mindedness. Love of knowledge without love of learning degenerates into utter lack of principle. Love of faithfulness without love of learning degenerates into injurious disregard of consequences. Love of uprightness without love of learning degenerates into harshness. Love of courage without love of learning degenerates into insubordination. Love of strong character without love of learning degenerates into mere recklessness.”

“He who remembers from day to day what he has yet to learn, and from month to month what he has learned already, may be said to have a love of learning.”

“Wisdom delights in water; love delights in hills. Wisdom is stirring; love is quiet. Wisdom is merry; love grows old.”

“I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty.”

“To know it is not as good as to love it, and to love it is not as good as to take delight in it.”

“There is the love of knowing without the love of learning; the beclouding here leads to dissipation of mind.”

Confucius Quotes About Work

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“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”

“He that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages. Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly.”

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals; adjust the action steps.”

Confucius Quotes On Relationships

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“Be strict with yourself but least reproachful of others and complaint is kept afar.”

“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?”

“When a person should be spoken with, and you don’t speak with them, you lose them. When a person shouldn’t be spoken with and you speak to them, you waste your breath. The wise do not lose people, nor do they waste their breath.”

“It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.”

Originally published December 21, 2019, updated October 25, 2021

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