Confucius Quotes and Sayings: The Cherished Chinese Philosopher


Who Was Confucius?

If we take a look back at history, there are a lot of people that have shaped the current civilization with their ideas and teachings. Confucius (also known as Kongqiu) was one of those amazing teachers and philosophers. Confucius was born in 551 BCE in the Shandong province of China, which used to be known as the state of Lu.

The Chinese Philosopher Confucius had such tremendous reach and believers that his teachings influenced modern civilizations, especially the ones that would come to shape China and other East Asian countries. Confucius is also the person that invented the philosophy of Confucianism.

Master Kong or Kong Qiu, although was a philosopher, he did not see glory in his lifetime. Many people actually despised him for his teachings and beliefs. The real spread of knowledge started after his death when his students and followers passed on his teachings. Some of his very famous books are The Analects of Confucius and Lunyu.

What Is Confucianism?

Confucianism is an ancient Chinese belief that dates back to the Zhou Dynasty. This is a belief that focuses on the importance of having a good moral character and personal ethics. There is actually more depth to this than it seems.

This is a philosophy and belief system that has influenced the majority of Chinese Culture, although it is debated if Confucianism is a philosophy or religious belief. The main values of Confucianism are ancestor worship and human-centered virtues. You might have heard the famous saying: “Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you.” That is the Golden Rule of Confucianism.

What Made Confucius Famous?

Confucius believed that the government system should solely be based on pure merit rather than wealth. He was dedicated to teaching people the method of virtuous living to have a fulfilled life. He wanted people to realize the importance of moral principles, self-cultivation, and education. 

His teachings are still being followed profoundly in Chinese society even today. Although he passed on a long time ago, his sayings and teachings are still preserved in the book “Analects” up to this day. 

Confucius’s Quotes and Sayings

Confucius was a very wise Chinese Philosopher and his sayings/teachings are still remembered and followed today. Let’s take a look at some of his quotes and sayings.


Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.


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.


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


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


When anger rises, think of the consequences.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.


I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.


Respect yourself and others will respect you.


Silence is a true friend who never betrays.


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.


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.


Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.


Study the past if you would define the future.


Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.


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


Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.


Have no friends not equal to yourself.


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.


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


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


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


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


Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.


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


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


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


He who will not economize will have to agonize.


When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.

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

Lesser Known Facts About Confucius

Although Confucius was a great teacher and philosopher, did you know that he was also known for his sense of humor? Legend has it that he was quite witty. His conversations were very engaging and often used humor to make his students relax and take interest in the teachings. 

One time Confucious was traveling along with his disciples when they came across a man who was drowning in the river. His disciples were hesitating but Confucius quickly jumped into the river without skipping a beat and saved the man. AFter he had saved the man, he turned towards his students and said:

“I suppose none of you noticed that he was wearing a valuable jade ring!”

This story serves as a reminder that even the most serious figures in history enjoyed their share of lighthearted moments. It is possible that wisdom and humor both go hand in hand with joy!

Confucius’s Teachings Are The Need Of The Hour 

Confucius pointed out that respect for elders along with social harmony is a need and not a want. His ideas may seem quaint to some in the modern world but in this era of intergenerational conflict and political polarization, they are the need of the hour. 

Today much of our younger generation feels disconnected from traditional values. There is a visible gap between the young generation and the older generation. By utilizing Confuciuc’s teaching about valuing traditions and learning from the elders, we can reduce this gap significantly. 

This will harbor an understanding between both generations. Shared values bring greater good to the community. This can surely be one of the ways to change the world!


Confucius’s teachings on self-cultivation, education, and moral principles have left a profound effect on Chinese society. His teachings are as relevant today as they were in his own time. Let us gain insight into how we can live a more virtuous life and remember what Confucius said:

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

Also Read: Relationships and Communication: Why One Cannot Work Without The Other

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