73 Best Confucius Quotes

For these 73 best Confucius quotes, we’re tapping into the Chinese philosopher, teacher, politician and editor. He lived before Christ. Confucious’ principles had a foothold in Chinese traditions. Better known as Master Kong in the day, he tried to lead people to a more virtuous way of life by passing along key learnings of wise men. Some of Confucius life sayings were put into a book titled The Analects. His views and principles helped shape Chinese civilization, personal dealings and the sciences. They continue to do so. We’ve put together our list of some of his best sayings.

Top 10 Quotations by Confucius

  1. Study the past if you would define the future.
  2. The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
  3. Ask yourself constantly, “What is the right thing to do?”
  4. Silence is the true friend that never betrays.
  5. Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
  6. Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
  7. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
  8. Behave toward everyone as if receiving a great guest.
  9. Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.
  10. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

Words of Wisdom

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.
Confucius

The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action.
Confucius

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

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

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

When you see a good man, try to emulate his example, and when you see a bad man, search yourself for his faults.
Confucius

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.
Confucius

Confucius Quotes image

Funny Confucius Quotes

  • Ability will never catch up with the demand for it.
    Confucius
  • The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.
    Confucius
  • Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.
    Confucius
  • A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.
    Confucius
  • When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.
    Confucius

On Self Improvement

The object of the superior man is truth.

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

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

What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.

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

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

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

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

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

It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.

Confucius on Common Sense

To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.

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

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Confucius Sayings

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.

Respect yourself and others will respect you.

To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage.

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

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

On Life

When anger rises, think of the consequences.

Heaven means to be one with God.

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.

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

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

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

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

On Living

NOTE: A Confucius quote was noteworthy in his day and time.

Those who are firm, enduring, simple and unpretentious are the nearest to virtue.

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

He who merely knows right principles is not equal to him who loves them.

We take greater pains to persuade others we are happy than in trying to think so ourselves.

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

Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.

This equilibrium is the great root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue.

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

On Wisdom

  1. Review the old and deducing the new makes a teacher.
  2. You cannot open a book without learning something.
  3. Learning without thought is labor lost. Thought without learning is perilous.
  4. Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
  5. Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.
  6. If one learns from others, but does not think, one will be bewildered. If, on the other hand, one thinks but does not learn from others, one will be in peril.
  7. A man who does not think and plan ahead will find trouble right at his door.
  8. Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.
  9. It is not possible for one to teach others who cannot teach his own family.

Amusing (but not authentic)

Sometimes referred to as Confucius Say quotations…

  1. Man who pushes piano down mine shaft get tone of A flat miner.
  2. Man who jump off cliff, jump to conclusion
  3. Man who put head on railroad track to listen for train likely to end up with splitting headache.
  4. War not determine who is right, war determine who is left.
  5. Man who fall in vat of molten glass makes spectacle of self.
  6. Man who eats photo of father, soon spitting-image of father.
  7. Man who eat many prunes get good run for money.
  8. Man who sneezes without tissue takes matters in own hands.
  9. Man who sit on tack get point.
  10. Man who fall in vat of molten glass make spectacle of self.

———

10 More Notable Confucius Quotes

  1. In his errors a man is true to his nature. Observe the errors and you will know the man.
  2. Go before the people with your example, and be laborious in their affairs.
  3. Look at the means which a man employs, consider his motives, observe his pleasures. A man cannot conceal himself.
  4. If we don’t know life, how can we know death?
  5. To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.
  6. It’s nice to be important, but it’s always important to be nice.
  7. In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
  8. An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger.
  9. What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.
  10. Faced with what is right, to leave it undone shows a lack of courage.

If you have any suggestions for Confucius quotes, please let us know via the Contact page. Thanks.

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