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Confucius was an ancient Chinese philosopher from the 6th century whose influence is still felt today.
His teachings emphasized the qualities and virtues necessary for good governance, personal conduct, social interactions, success, and family relations.
This collection of Confucius quotes feature 73 of the philosopher’s powerful sayings to help you find meaning in your life.
We hope that these quotes will encourage you to live a virtuous life in keeping with your highest purpose. There are quotes that reflect the wisdom of Confucius, as well as quotes about love, education, and life.
First, let’s explore a collection of quotes showcasing the wisdom of Confucius. These wise words are the philosopher’s reflections on the virtues necessary to live a good life. He also speaks about the advantage of keeping good company.
May these words inspire you to meditate on the value of perseverance and tenacity; living in the moment; living a virtuous life; learning to move forward; living peacefully; and being true to yourself.
Quotes Reflecting the Wisdom of Confucius
- “The man who says he can and the man who says he can not are both correct.”
- “Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.”
- “Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean.”
- “Roads were made for journeys not destinations.” – Confucius
Roads were made for journeys not destinations.”
- “Never contract friendship with a man that is not better than thyself.”
- “The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.”
- “Think of tomorrow, the past can’t be mended.”
- “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
- “A lion chased me up a tree, and I greatly enjoyed the view from the top.”
- “When anger rises, think of the consequences.”
- “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.”
- “To put the world 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.”
- “To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.”
- “Better light a candle than curse the darkness.”
- “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.”
In our culture, when we speak of love, it’s usually of a romantic nature—the feeling between two people who are in a relationship.
In Confucianism, the principle of Jen is how we relate to each other. Jen is present each time we uphold the dignity of human life. It recognizes that humans are naturally perfect. If a person is of Jen, he or she is willing to sacrifice everything in order to preserve this virtue.
Jen is closest in definition to love. For Confucius, love was related to social order. For him, love is an essential virtue that leaders—both in the home and in society—should possess in order to govern properly.
Furthermore, for Confucius, nothing can surpass filial love (that is, the love between a parent and a child).
The following set of quotes is about love, as defined by Confucius. Read on to open yourself to new definitions of love.
Confucius Quotes About Love
- “I want you to be everything that’s you, deep at the center of your being.”
- “To love a thing means wanting it to live.”
- “Love others as you would love yourself, judge others as you would judge yourself, cherish others as you would cherish yourself. When you wish for others as you wish for yourself and when you protect others as you would protect yourself, that's when you can say it’s true love.”
- “Wisdom delights in water; love delights in hills. Wisdom is stirring; love is quiet. Wisdom is merry; love grows old.”
- “Words are the voice of the heart.”
- “Can there be a love which does not make demands on its object?” – Confucius
- “When everyone hates a person, you should investigate thoroughly, and when everyone loves a person, you should also investigate thoroughly.” – Confucius
- “How can you love people without encouraging them? And how can you be loyal to people without educating them.”
How can you love people without encouraging them? And how can you be loyal to people without educating them.” – Confucius
Confucius believed in the importance of education and wisdom. His writings reflect a growth mindset. He was a lifelong learner, and encouraged his followers to be the same.
Through his writings, he constantly reminds us that no matter how educated we think we are, there are still a lot of things we need to learn.
May these Confucius quotes on education, learning, knowledge, and wisdom inspire you to commit to a life of continuous learning and pursuit of wisdom.
Confucius Quotes on Education, Learning, Knowledge, and Wisdom
- “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”
- “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.”
- “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.”
- “The essence of knowledge is, having it, to use it.”
- “Never tire to study. And to teach to others.”
Never tire to study. And to teach to others.” – Confucius
- “You cannot open a book without learning something.”
- “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
- “Learn as if you were not reaching your goal and as though you were scared of missing it.”
- “Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”
- “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”
- “Learn avidly. Question it repeatedly. Analyze it carefully. Then put what you have learned into practice intelligently.”
- “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”
- “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”
- “Anyone can find the switch after the lights are on.”
Anyone can find the switch after the lights are on.” – Confucius
- “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.”
- “If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children.”
In Confucianism, the meaning of life can be seen through the quality of a person’s relationships with other people. Unlike in some other belief systems, where the focus is on gaining rewards in the afterlife, Confucianism focuses on achieving a harmonious existence with other human beings now.
Wei-Ming Tu, a noted Confucian scholar, declares, “We can realize the ultimate meaning of life in ordinary human existence.”
May these Confucius quotes about life add depth to your own perception of your purpose in this world.
Confucius Quotes About Life
- “Your life is what your thoughts make it.”
- “I slept and dreamt life is beauty, I woke and found life is duty.”
- “We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”
- “If there were one word that could act as a standard of conduct for one's entire life, perhaps it would be ‘thoughtfulness.’”
- “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.”
- “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
- “The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.”
- “The wheel of fortune turns round incessantly, and who can say to himself, I shall today be uppermost.”
The wheel of fortune turns round incessantly, and who can say to himself, I shall today be uppermost.” – Confucius
- “Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as though you would be in fear of losing it.”
- “When prosperity comes, do not use all of it.”
- “If we don’t know life, how can we know death?”
- “Consideration for others is the basis of a good life, a good society.”
For Confucius, a person can achieve real and lasting happiness in the following ways:
The following Confucius quotes on happiness gives us a glimpse of how the philosopher applied his teachings to how to become happy himself.
Confucius Quotes on Happiness
- “Act with kindness but do not expect gratitude.”
- “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”
- “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
- “One joy dispels a hundred cares.”
- “He who is really kind can never be unhappy.”
- “With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink and my bent 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.”
- “If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.”
- “They must change who would be constant in happiness and wisdom.”
- “And remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”
- “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius
- “We take greater pains to persuade others that we are happy than in endeavoring to think so ourselves.”
- “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”
Being successful is one of the paths to happiness in Confucianism. This refers to the success that comes after pouring your heart and soul into what you do.
If you need some inspiration to reach your goals, these motivational quotes from the great thinker can give you that extra push.
Confucius Motivational Quotes
- “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.”
- “To be able to practice five things everywhere under heaven constitutes perfect virtue…They are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness.”
- “Respect yourself and others will respect you.”
- “Wealth and rank are what people desire, but unless they be obtained in the right way they may not be possessed.”
- “He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.”
- “The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.”
- “When you are laboring for others let it be with the same zeal as if it were for yourself.”
- “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.”
- “Worry not that no one knows you; seek to be worth knowing.”
- “If you look into your own heart, you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?”
Final Thoughts on Confucius Quotes
Living a meaningful life connects you with your deepest potential. It allows you to realize your true purpose. A life lived meaningfully brings you much closer to real happiness.
Hopefully, these Confucius quotes gave you motivation and things to ponder upon.
If you can’t get enough inspirational quotes from thinkers and other influential figures in history, here are other collections that you can check out:
- 81 Buddha Quotes on Happiness, Life, Love, Death, and Change
- 11 Best Philosophical Books to Expand Your Mind
- 75 Famous Winston Churchill Quotes and Sayings
- 87 Bruce Lee Quotes to Help You Be Like Water
- 51 Success Quotes from History’s Most Famous People
- 83 Walt Disney Quotes About Dreams, Imagination, and Living a Magical Life
- 61 Jim Rohn Quotes on Success, Habits, and Achieving Your Goals
- 57 Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Living a More Meaningful Life
- Deepak Chopra Quotes on Gratitude, Mindfulness, Life, Change, Healing, and Happiness
Finally, if you want to use these quotes to make a lasting change to your life, then watch this free video that details the 7-minute habit for planning your day to focus on what's truly important to you..