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Sayings of Confucius

Updated on December 17, 2016
The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions. -Confucius
The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions. -Confucius

Confucius (551-479 BCE) was born into a family of officials in the state of Lu, in the modern - day province of Shandong. He admired earlier wise men and felt sad about the lost ‘paradise" of previous Chinese societies.

He tried to restore old customs and ceremonies through his teachings. His pupils recorded his teachings which later became the state religion of the Chinese government and were followed by every Chinese officials.

Confucius outlined a code of proper behaviour, arguing that if families were strong and untied, the country would also be strong and untied.


The sayings of Confucius were remembered by his followers and were later compiled in a book of "The Analects". Through them we discovered Confucius' sayings on virtues, such as the positive character traits, to which we should aspire, the respect which children owe to parents and wives owe to husbands, sisters to brothers and everyone to ancestors. When such virtue is cultivated in the home, it is supposed to carry over into one's relations in affairs of state as well.

Words of Wisdom from Confucius

  • A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

  • When you say something, say what you know. When you don't know something, say you don't know. That is knowledge.

  • Study the past if you would define the future.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • Forget injuries never forget kindness.

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

  • Study without thought is vain: thought without study is dangerous.

  • To be fond of learning is near to wisdom.

  • The gentleman is calm and peaceful; the small man is always emotional.

  • If one acts with a view to profit, there will be much resentment.

  • Clever words and a plausible appearance have seldom turned out to be humane.

  • One who can bring about the practice of five things everywhere under Heavens has achieved humaneness . . .Courtesy, tolerance,good faith diligence and kindness.

  • Benevolence is the characteristic element of humanity.

  • When anger rises think of the consequences.

  • Listen widely to remove your doubts and be careful when speaking about the rest and your mistakes will be few.

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

Confucius Special Quotes

I hope you enjoy reading some of the timeless wisdoms.

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      thanks for helping me to make my assignment...

      my favorite was ''things that are done, it is needless to speak about....

      things that are past is needless to blame''...

    • profile image

      brian lim 

      7 years ago

      the sayings of confucius are always applicable in our present time how Iwish I wish I was born during his time.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i wish i will live this saying!!

    • viveresperando profile image


      7 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

      I so loved this, there is a great e book available that I am reading right now for a review, you might enjoy. It is available as a free e book, giggles, fyi, since you might. :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I could read these beautiful truths everyday. And I'm bookmarking this hub, so that I can. Confucius was beyond wise. Thank you and voted up and across (not funny) and will share.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      It's all about wisdom.

    • profile image


      7 years ago


    • profile image


      8 years ago


    • profile image

      mikaela svituer 

      8 years ago

      it's so nice i love to read and read and read it again...

    • bohemiotx profile image

      Joffre Meyer 

      8 years ago from Tyler, TX

      Great quotes and pictures. I'm a fan of the Confucian tradition. Check out Tu Wei-ming, the top Confucian scholar of our time!

    • profile image

      arnie lilo-an 

      8 years ago

      gives a lot of lessons

    • profile image

      Lim Keng Keh 

      9 years ago

      Confucius is a great educator! We should look upon his wisdom!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      love it. takin some quotes for a reaserch paper.

    • Ingenira profile image


      9 years ago

      Love the quotes from Confucius. And you presented them so beautifully in this hub ! Well done.

    • profile image

      rizzy roo 

      9 years ago


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      GOOD :)

    • profile image

      Samuel m kariuki 

      9 years ago

      Wise man he was. Some sayings r fascinating to say the least. Viva him.

    • MAAZ SHARIF profile image


      9 years ago from Pakistan

      I really apericiate your efforts, keep it up, i hope you will improve more and more

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      i think it is good but they should give the meanings of what they mean

    • Drax profile image

      des donnelly 

      10 years ago from NYC....

      great stuff... thanks for this, I love the words of Confucius...

    • profile image


      10 years ago


    • profile image

      john paul michael Uy 

      10 years ago

      i was touched when i was reading these words of wisdoms!!! confucius is such a great teacher,,,every lines has it's meaning how i wish i was born in the time of confucius (k'ung-fu-tzu)..the best saying that i'd read was that "study the past if you would define the future"...yah!! this sayin' is really right!!! & would never be wrong!!!! in filipino saying: "ang taong hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi kaylan man makakarating sa paroroonan"!! in translation: "the person who doesn't even know how to look back to where he\she came from can never & will never be arriving to where his\her fate will take him\her"!

    • profile image

      Béla Mongyi 

      10 years ago

      Okay, I should pick something different, but this is my favorite too:

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

      I heard it as a Chinese proverb, but I didn't know to was from Confucius.

    • santoion profile image


      11 years ago

      I believe that YOU are Great !

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      11 years ago from Ohio

      It never ceases to amaze me that truths from long ago are still truths today. Thanks for the collection of wisdom! :D

    • profile image

      johnny yuma1 

      11 years ago

      Doing does teach us most. Hearing most of us won't remember for long, and seeing not much longer I think, but doing impresses something upon our mind so that we remember it much longer and just maybe remember how to do it for ourselfves the next time around without the help.

      I love this piece.

      Johnny Yuma

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      12 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Yes dear this was so good..My favorite was I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.  which sounds like me.  G-Ma :o) hugs I am too simple


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