World Cultures:



Chinese philosopher, moralist, and reformer (B.C. 551 - 479)

"The superior man is firm in the right way, and not merely firm." Confucius 



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

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.

If a man withdraws his mind from the love of beauty, and applies it as sincerely to the love of the virtuous; if, in serving his parents, he can exert his utmost strength; if, in serving his prince, he can devote his life; if in his intercourse with his friends, his words are sincere although men say that he has not learned, I will certainly say that he has.

Character & Personality

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

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

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.

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

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

Success, Failure

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

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.

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


Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

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

To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.

There is one single thread binding my way together...the way of the Master consists in doing ones best...that is all.


Knowledge, Learning

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

Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as though you would be in fear of losing it.

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

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

Study the past if you would divine the future.

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

I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.

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

Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.

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

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

The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it.


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

[The superior man] acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his actions.

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.


Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors.

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.

Respect yourself and others will respect you.

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

It is not the failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your failure to appreciate theirs.

When anger rises, think of the consequences.

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


To govern is to be correct. If you set an example by being correct, who would dare remain incorrect?


Confucius Quotes

Confucius on Virtue

Confucius on Knowledge and Learning

Confucius on Communication

Confucius on Relationships


Wonderful China

Chinese Proverbs

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Why Chinese Language Became a Great Competitive Advantage Today

Chinese vs. Americans

Wei Di (Great Emperor)

Pearls of Wisdom

Buddha's Path To Liberation

Love to Live


The Leader Is the Best, When...

One World, One Way, Many Paths

One World Quotes





About Confucius

Confucius, or Kung Fu Tzu, (born Kong Qiu, styled Zhong Ni) was born in the village of Zou in the country of Lu in 551 B.C., a poor descendant of a deposed noble family. His original name was K'ung Ch'iu. His father, commander of a district in Lu, died three years after Confucius was born, leaving the family in poverty; but Confucius nevertheless received a fine education. He was married at the age of 19 and had one son and two daughters.

As a child, he held make-believe temple rituals. Later on, he worked as a keeper of a market. Then he was a farm worker who took care of parks and farm animals. When he was 20, he worked for the governor of his district. As a young adult, he quickly earned a reputation for fairness, politeness and love of learning, and he was reputed to be quite tall. His mother died in 527 BC, and after a period of mourning he began his career as a teacher, usually traveling about and instructing the small body of disciples that had gathered around him.


Living as he did in the second half of the Zhou (Chou) dynasty (1027-256 BC), when feudalism degenerated in China and intrigue and vice were rampant, Confucius deplored the contemporary disorder and lack of moral standards. He came to believe that the only remedy was to convert people once more to the principles and precepts of the sages of antiquity. He therefore lectured to his pupils on the ancient classics. His fame as a man of learning and character and his reverence for Chinese ideals and customs soon spread through the principality of Lu.

Confucius is famous for his philosophy because he made many wise sayings in ancient China that helped many people learn about nature, the world, and the human behavior. He also helped the government and the emperor by teaching them lessons on how the emperor should rule his kingdom successfully. He traveled extensively and studied at the imperial capital, Zhou, where he met and spoke with Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism.

Upon his return to Lu, he gained renown as a teacher, but when he was 35, Duke Zhao of Lu led his country to war, was routed and fled to the neighboring country of Qi; in the disorder following the battle, Confucius followed. Duke Zhao frequently came to him for advice, but upon counsel of one of his ministers, he decided against granting land to Confucius and gradually stopped seeking his counsel. When other nobles began plotting against Confucius' position, Duke Zhao refused to intervene, and Confucius returned to Lu. But conditions there were no better than before, and Confucius retired from public life to concentrate on teaching and studying.

At age 50, he was approached by the Baron of Qi to help defend against a rebellion, but he declined. He was later made a city magistrate by the new Duke of Lu, and under his administration the city flourished; he was promoted several times, eventually becoming Grand Secretary of Justice and, at age 56, Chief Minister of Lu. His administration was successful; reforms were introduced, justice was fairly dispensed, and crime was almost eliminated. Neighboring countries began to worry that Lu would become too powerful, and they sent messengers with gifts and dancers to distract the duke during a sacrifice holiday. When the duke abandoned his duties to receive the messengers, Confucius resigned and left the country. Confucius left his office in 496 BC, traveling about and teaching, vainly hoping that some other prince would allow him to undertake measures of reform. In 484 BC, after a fruitless search for an ideal ruler, he returned for the last time to Lu.

Confucius spent the five years wandering China with his disciples, finding that his presence at royal courts was rarely tolerated for long before nobles would begin plotting to drive him out or have him killed. He was arrested once and jailed for five days, and at 62 he was pursued, along with his disciples, into the countryside by a band of soldiers sent by jealous nobles, until he was able to send a messenger to the sympathetic king of a nearby country, who sent his own soldiers to rescue them. Once again, Confucius was to be given land but was denied it upon counsel of another high minister. After further wanderings, he eventually returned to Lu at age 67. Although he was welcomed there and chose to remain, he was not offered public office again, nor did he seek it. Instead he spent the rest of his years teaching and, finally, writing. He died at 72.

After Confucius died, he was buried in a grave in the city of Ch'uFu, Shandong. Today the site of his final resting place is the beautiful K'ung Forest.

Yet, when the philosopher died, many people honored all of Confucius' work by building temples in every city in China to honor Confucius. Since Confucius' teachings and philosophy was so advanced, it was the education for China for 2,000 years. It is called Confucianism.

Confucius did not put into writing the principles of his philosophy; these were handed down only through his disciples.

The Lun Y (Analects), a work compiled by some of his disciples, is considered the most reliable source of information about his life and teachings. One of the historical works that he is said to have compiled and edited, the Ch'un Ch'iu (Spring and Autumn Annals), is an annalistic account of Chinese history in the state of Lu from 722 to 481 BC. In learning he wished to be known as a transmitter rather than as a creator, and he therefore revived the study of the ancient books. His own teachings, together with those of his main disciples, are found in the Shih Shu (Four Books) of Confucian literature, which became the textbooks of later Chinese generations.

Confucius About

Confucius taught in his school for many years. His theories and principles were spread throughout China by his disciples, and soon many people learned from his wise sayings. One of his rules said, "If you governed your province well and treat your people kindly, you kingdom shall not lose any war. If you govern selfishly to your people, you kingdom will not only lose a war, but your people will break away from your kingdom." He had also said a wise phrase called the golden rule that is still being used as a rule today. It said, "A man should practice what he preaches, but a man should also preach what he practices."

One day, his students and he passed a grave where they saw a women weeping at a gravestone. She told Confucius that her husband, her husband's father, and her son were killed by a tiger. When Confucius asked her why she didn't leave such a fated spot, she answered that in this place there was no oppressive government. Confucius said," Remember this my child. An oppressive government is fiercer and more feared than a tiger." That meant that the government in the woman's province did not rule the province well. So Confucius said that the government was more feared than a tiger. This was one of the many events he had to give a person a lesson.

Confucius taught the great value of the power of example. Rulers, he said, can be great only if they themselves lead exemplary lives, and were they willing to be guided by moral principles, their states would inevitably become prosperous and happy. Confucius himself had a simple moral and political teaching: to love others; to honor one's parents; to do what is right instead of what is of advantage; to practice "reciprocity," i.e. "don't do to others what you would not want yourself"; to rule by moral example (d) instead of by force and violence; and so forth. Confucius thought that a ruler who had to resort to force had already failed as a ruler. "Your job is to govern, not to kill."

Confucius thought that government by laws and punishments could keep people in line, but government by example of virtue (d) and good manners (li) would enable them to control themselves (Analects II:3). "The way the wind blows, that's the way the grass bends" (Analects XII:19). Self-control, indeed, is the basis of all the industrious virtues that have made the Chinese people economically successful whenever they have been allowed to prosper. Unfortunately, although Confucius himself says, "Wealth and high station are what men desire" (Analects, IV:5), later Confucians turned warnings against the temptation of profit (l) into a condemnation of profit, which meant that their influence was often turned against the development of Chinese industry and commerce. Thus, Confucians themselves were perfectly happy to seek "high station," while stiffling the ability of ordinary Chinese to produce "wealth."

While the essence of morality is the limitation of self-interest, Confucius is clear that this does not mean complete denial of self. We have already seen a hint of this with Analects XV:23, which begins with the character for "self" and ends with the characters for "others" (or "persons"). If what you don't want for yourself, you shouldn't to do others, then you would like others to do for you what you would indeed like for yourself. Helping oneself and others at the same time is characteristic of the "worldliness" of Confucianism and Chinese civilization.