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Confucian Sayings
Submitted by Christine Romeo, Bridgewater-Raritan High School

  1. To govern is to correct. If you set an example by being correct, who would dare to remain incorrect.
  2. Encourage the people to work hard by setting an example yourself. Do not allow your efforts to slacken.
  3. Being good as a son and obedient as a young man is, perhaps, the root of a manís character.
  4. Simply by being a good son and friendly to his brothers a man can exert an influence upon government.
  5. Everyone speaks up for his own son whether he is talented or not.
  6. In serving your father and mother you ought to dissuade them from doing wrong in the gentlest way. If you see your advice being ignored, you should not become disobedient but remain reverent. You should not complain even if in so doing you wear yourself out.
  7. When your parents are alive, you should not go too far afield in your travels. If you do, your whereabouts should always be known
  8. Make it your guiding principle to do your best for others and to be trustworthy in what you say. Do not accept as friend anyone who is not as good as you. When you make a mistake do not be afraid of mending your ways.
  9. Is it not a joy to have friends come from afar?
  10. A gentleman makes friends through being cultivated, but looks to friends for support in benevolence (goodwill).
  11. What you do not wish done to yourself, do not do to others.
  12. I will not grieve that others do not know me. I will grieve that I do not know others.
  13. Do not wish for quick results, not look for small advantages. If you seek quick results, you will not attain the ultimate goal. If you are led astray by small advantages, you will never accomplish great things.
  14. To go too far is as bad as to fall short.
  15. Wealth and rank are what people desire, but unless they be obtained in the right way they may not be possessed.
  16. Feel kindly toward everyone, but be intimate only with the virtuous.
  17. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
  18. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember, I do and I understand.
  19. Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.
  20. By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection which is the noblest; second, by imitation which is the easiest; and third, by experience which is the bitterest.
  21. Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.
  22. When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.
  23. When we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.
  24. A heart set on love will do nothing wrong.
  25. Gentlemen cherish worth; the vulgar cherish dirt. Gentlemen trust in justice; the vulgar trust in favor.
  26. A gentleman considers what is right; the vulgar consider what will pay.
  27. A fatherís and a motherís age must be borne in mind; with joy on the one hand, fear on the other.
  28. Good is no hermit. It has ever neighbors.
  29. Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.
  30. Forget injuries, never forget kindness.
  31. He who will not economize will have to agonize.
  32. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
  33. To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle.
  34. When anger arises, think of the consequences.
  35. Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.
  36. 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 Ė although men say that he has not learned, I will certainly say he has.
  37. Learning without thought is a labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
  38. Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.
  39. The cautious seldom err.
  40. The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue.
  41. The man who is in view of righteousness; who in the view of danger is prepared to give up his life; and who does not forget an old agreement however far back it extends Ė such a man may be reckoned a complete man.
  42. The people may be made to follow a path of action, but they may not be made to understand it.


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