Confucius aphorisms


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Respecting everyone as ourselves and treating them as we would have them treat us - there is nothing higher than that.

Manage the people with dignity, and the people will be respectful. Treat the people with kindness, and the people will work with diligence. Exalt the virtuous and admonish the unlearned, and people will trust you.

A restrained man has fewer blunders.

Knowing the truth in the morning, you can die in the evening.

Teaching without reflection is useless, but also reflection without teaching is dangerous.

Learn as if you cannot gain and as if you fear losing.

The teacher said: "My case seems hopeless. I have yet to meet a man who, knowing his mistakes, admits his guilt to himself."

Study as if you were constantly feeling the lack of your knowledge, and as if you were constantly afraid of losing your knowledge.

To learn and, when the time comes, to apply what you have learned to work - isn't that wonderful!

In judging worldly affairs, a noble man neither rejects nor approves anything, but measures everything with justice.

There are three paths before a man to reason: the path of reflection is the noblest; the path of imitation is the easiest; the path of personal experience is the hardest.

Pay for evil with purity, and pay for good with kindness.

Helpful friends are the straightforward friend, the sincere friend, and the friend who has heard much. Harmful friends are the hypocritical friend, the insincere friend, and the talkative friend.

Try to be at least a little kinder and you will find that you will find yourself unable to commit a bad deed.

By their natural inclinations, people are close to one another, but by their habits they are far from one another.

To visit and listen to evil people is already the beginning of an evil deed.

To send people to war untrained is to betray them.

Respect without knowledge of what is proper turns into self-torture. Cautiousness without knowledge turns into cowardice. Courage without knowledge turns into recklessness. Straightforwardness without knowledge becomes rudeness. If the lord honors his parents, the common people will also be humane. If the lord does not forget his old friends, his servants will not be soulless.

A respectful son is one who grieves his father and mother except through illness.

To overcome oneself and return to what is proper in oneself is what true humanity is all about. To be human or not to be human is up to us.

It is beautiful where mercy abides. How can you achieve wisdom if you don't live in its land?

When you meet a worthy man, think of ways to equalize yourself with him. When you meet a low man, look at yourself and judge yourself.

Next to a noble man one makes three mistakes: speaking to him when words do not reach him is rashness; not speaking when words would reach him is secrecy; and speaking without observing the expression of his face is blindness.

The most worthy men escaped the shackles of the whole world, followed by those who escaped attachment to a certain place, followed by those who escaped the temptations of the flesh, followed by those who were able to avoid backbiting.

The secret of good government: Let the ruler be the ruler, the subject be the subject, the father be the father, and the son be the son.

An angry man is always full of poison.

The word must be true, the action must be decisive.

As you serve your father and mother, exhort them as gently as possible. If your advice does not work, remain respectful and humble. Even if you are vexed at heart, do not express your displeasure.

The perfect man looks for everything in himself, the lowly in others.

Archery teaches us how to search for truth. When an archer misses, he does not blame others, but looks for the fault in himself.

The hardest relationships are with women and lowlifes. If you bring them close to you, they become swaggering; if you remove them from you, they hate you.

With a scholar who, while striving for truth, at the same time shunning bad dress and bad food, it is not worth reasoning.

He who does not reflect on distant hardships is sure to be met by near troubles.

Only the truly human person is capable of both loving and hating.

Only the wisest and the stupidest are unlearnable.

He who, when he reaches forty years of age, arouses only dislike, is a finished man.

He who speaks beautifully and has an attractive appearance is seldom truly human.

He who fails to teach good deeds to his fellow-men, fails to teach himself.

He who, in turning to the old, is able to discover the new, is worthy to be a teacher.

He who learns without reflecting will fall into error. He who ponders without wanting to learn will find himself in difficulty.

Sophisticated words ruin virtue. Failure to be discreet in small things will ruin a great cause.

A truly humane man achieves everything by his own efforts.

Anyone can become a noble husband. It only takes determination to become one.

Everyone makes mistakes depending on his or her bias. Look at a man's mistakes, and you will know the extent of his humanity.

How can you deal with a man who cannot be trusted? If a wagon has no axle, how can we ride in it?

How can we know what death is when we don't yet know what life is?

Young people should not be looked down upon. It is very possible that when they grow up, they will become distinguished husbands. Only someone who has achieved nothing by living to the age of forty or fifty is not worthy of respect.

When the state is governed according to reason, poverty and want are common; when the state is not governed according to reason, wealth and honor are common.

When they proceed only from profit, they increase wickedness.

When you do not know words, there is nothing to know people.

Observe the behavior of a man, go into the reasons for his actions, look at him in his leisure hours. Will he then remain a mystery to you?

Don't worry that people don't know you, but worry that you don't know people.

Don't worry about not having a high rank. Worry about whether you are worthy of having a high rank. Don't worry about not being known. Worry about whether you're worthy to be known.

Don't complain about having snow on your neighbor's roof if your own doorstep isn't cleared.

Don't have friends who are morally inferior to you.

Someone asked: "Is it right to say that evil must be paid for with good?" The teacher said: "Then what is to be paid for good? You have to pay for evil with justice, and you have to pay for good with good.

It is not easy to meet a man who, after three years of study, would not dream of holding a high office.

I do not grieve if people do not understand me, I grieve if I do not understand people.

Don't be sad that no one knows you, but strive to be the one who can be known.

To not talk to a person who is worth talking to is to lose the person. And to talk to a person who is not worth talking to is to lose words. The wise one loses neither people nor words.

Only the highest wisdom and the lowest foolishness do not change.

Without knowing destiny, one cannot become a noble husband. Without learning what is proper, one cannot find a footing in life. Without learning to understand the true meaning of words, one cannot know people.

Without learning propriety, one cannot establish oneself.

Nowadays honoring parents means being able to feed. But horses and dogs can get sustenance, too. So how can one be distinguished from the other if there is no reverence itself?

One day Confucius was passing near a mountain. Some woman was weeping loudly over a grave. Leaning in reverence on the front of the chariot, Confucius listened to her sobs. Then he sent his disciple to the woman and he asked her: - You are grieving so much - it seems that you are not the first time?

- It is," the woman replied. - My father-in-law was once killed by the claws of typhus. They killed my husband afterwards. And now they have killed my son.

- Why don't you leave these parts? - Confupius asked.

- 'There are no cruel authorities here,' replied the woman.

- Remember this, disciple," said Confucius. - Cruel authorities are fiercer than a tiger.

Give instruction only to one who seeks knowledge by discovering his ignorance. Give help only to one who cannot articulate his cherished thoughts. Instruct only the one who is able, after learning about one corner of a square, to imagine the other three.

Even in the company of two people, I will certainly find something to learn from them. I will try to imitate their virtues and learn from their shortcomings myself.

A noble man expects no one to deceive him, but when he is deceived, he is the first to notice it.

It is enough that the words express the meaning.

A worthy man does not follow the footsteps of others.

A noble man helps people to see what is good in them and does not teach people to see what is bad in them. An inferior man does the opposite.

A noble man is above all honor to duty. A noble man who has courage but does not know his duty can go rogue.

A noble man who is attached to his home is not worthy to be called a noble man.

Let not friendship blind you to the faults of your friend, nor hatred to the good qualities of your enemy.

Humanity is more necessary for the people than fire and water. I have seen men killed by fire and water, but I have not seen anyone killed by humanity.

A noble man awaits heaven's commands with dignity. An inferior man fidgetingly awaits good fortune.

The noble man endures adversity with fortitude. The wretched man blossoms when he is in trouble.

A noble man knows only duty, a low man knows only profit.

Blessed is he who knows nothing: he does not risk being misunderstood.

When you are away from home, behave as if you were receiving honored guests. When you use people's services, behave as if you were having a solemn ceremony. Do not do to others what you would not do to yourself. Then there will be no dissatisfaction in the state and the family.

Be hard on yourself and soft on others. That way you will protect yourself from people's displeasure.

In ancient times people studied to improve themselves. Nowadays they learn to amaze others.

To own oneself enough to respect others as oneself, and to do unto them as we would have them do unto us, that is what we might call the teaching of humanity.

In a country where there is order, be bold in your actions and in your speeches. In a country where there is no order, be bold in action, but circumspect in speech.

Virtue will not be alone. She is sure to have neighbors.

A worthy man cannot but have breadth of knowledge and firmness of spirit. His burden is heavy and his way is long. Humanity is the burden he bears: is it heavy? Only death completes his journey: is it long?

If you have the opportunity to show mercy, do not skip ahead even to the teacher.

If you have no bad thoughts, there will be no bad actions.

If a person is firm, determined, simple, and unspoken, he is already close to humanity.

To complain about an unpleasant thing is to double the evil; to laugh at it is to destroy it.

Of all crimes, the gravest is heartlessness.

Noble people live in harmony with other people, but do not follow other people; low people follow other people, but do not live in harmony with them.

When the ways are dissimilar, do not make plans together.

The wise knows no excitement, the human knows no worry, the bold knows no fear.

We trust our eyes, but they cannot be trusted; we rely on our heart, but we should not rely on it either. Remember, disciples: it is indeed not easy to know a man!

A noble man is serene at heart. An inferior man is always preoccupied.

People in ancient times did not like to talk much. They considered it a shame for them not to keep up with their own words.

People fear poverty and obscurity; if both cannot be avoided, one should not lose oneself.

People want wealth and fame for themselves; if both cannot be gained honestly, they should be avoided.

Silence is a great friend who will never cheat.

The wise man is ashamed of his shortcomings, but is not ashamed to correct them.

A noble man blames himself, a small man blames others.

The only real mistake is not correcting your past mistakes.

If you are overzealous in service, you will lose favor with the sovereign. If you are overly cheerful in friendship, you will lose favor with your friends.

If a man's nature eclipses his upbringing, he will be a savage, but if his upbringing eclipses his nature, he will be a scholar of scripture. Only he in whom nature and upbringing are in balance can be considered a worthy husband.

If we know so little about life, what can we know about death?

If he himself is straight, everything will be done without orders. But if he is not straight, they will not obey, even if they are ordered to.

A noble husband must beware of three things in his life: in youth, when vitality is abundant, beware of infatuation with women; in maturity, when vitality is strong, beware of rivalry; in old age, when vitality is meager, beware of avarice.

A noble husband thinks of the righteous path and does not think of sustenance. He can toil in the fields - and be hungry. He may devote himself to learning - and receive generous rewards. But a noble husband worries about the righteous path and does not worry about poverty.

The noble husband knows his superiority, but avoids competition. He gets along with everyone, but does not collude with anyone.

The noble husband does not strive to eat his fill and live richly. He is hasty in business, but slow in speech. Communicating with people of virtue, he corrects himself.

In dealing with friends, advise them to do only what they are capable of doing, and lead them to do good without violating propriety, but do not try to act where there is no hope of success. Don't put yourself in a humiliating position.

At fifteen, I turned my thoughts to study. At thirty, I gained independence. At forty, I got rid of my doubts. At fifty, I knew the will of heaven. At sixty, I learned to distinguish truth from untruth. At seventy, I began to follow the desires of my heart.