- 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.
- “The superior man undergoes three changes. Looked at from a distance, he appears stern; when approached, he is mild; when he is heard to speak, his language is firm and decided.”
- What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.
- The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.
- The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action.
- By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.
- Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.
- He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.
- Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.
- The determined scholar and the man of virtue will not seek to live at the expense of injuring their virtue. They will even sacrifice their lives to preserve their virtue complete.
- The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue.
- The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it.
- The superior man is satisfied and composed; the mean man is always full of distress.
- 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.
- 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.
- What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
- 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.
- 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.
- In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
- Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, see to be worthy of being known.
- Look at the means which a man employs, consider his motives, observe his pleasures. A man simply cannot conceal himself!
- No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
- Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.
- Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
- The faults of a superior person are like the sun and moon. They have their faults, and everyone sees them; they change and everyone looks up to them.
- The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.
- The object of the superior man is truth.
—K’ung Fu-tzu, known as Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)
See the life and teachings of Confucius.