The Words of Wisdom in the ‘Analects of Confucius,’ Part I

Confucius is China's most famous philosopher whose ideas have influenced the civilization of East Asia. (Image: Public Domain)
Confucius is China's most famous philosopher, whose ideas have influenced the civilization of East Asia. (Image: Public Domain)

The Analects of Confucius is a collection of sayings and ideas collected by his students around 500 B.C. during China’s Warring States period. As ancient as it is, the values behind the words withstand the test of time.

  1. Man’s life is full of uncertainty. It might be worries for the future or problems happening at the moment.
  2. People with a smart head prefer water, while people with a kind heart enjoy mountains.
  3. Don’t give or force what you don’t want for yourself onto others.
  4. Keep your word with friends to build your credibility and trust.
  5. A gentleman will get along with others even if he does not share their views. A villain will appear to agree with others’ opinions, but will put his own above everyone else’s interests.
  6. Time passes by like running water without stopping both day and night.
  7. To practice moral culture is like carving jade or sculpting a piece of stone. It takes hard work and a long time.
  8. Don’t try to change the views of people whose views or positions are entirely different from your own.
  9. The life cycle of Confucius was, as he remarked: “At 15, I set my mind on my studies. At 30, I accomplished them. At 40, I had no doubts in life. At 50, I realized the rule of nature. At 60, my ears could take in opposing voices. At 70, I did what my heart desired, never breaking the code of ethics.”
  10. Regularly revising what you have learned can deepen and heighten your knowledge, and ultimately make you a teacher.

    The Analects of Confucius is a collection of ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries. (Image: Public domain)

    The ‘Analects of Confucius’ is a collection of ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries. (Image: Public Domain)

  11. A gentleman joins with others, but never engages in conspiracy. A villain conspires, but never truly unites with others.
  12. The correct attitude is to say you know it when you do and say you don’t know it when you don’t.
  13. It is unethical to spread news that you have heard without seeking proof first.
  14. When bestowed with the truth, even dying soon after is worth it.
  15. Brotherhood is everywhere.
  16. A gentleman understands the value of morals, while a villain knows only personal gains.
  17. When meeting a person of virtue, you should think of how to become like him. When seeing someone with loose values, you should self-examine to see if you have shortcomings like him.
  18. Being poor without a grudge is hard, while being rich without arrogance is easy.
  19. An ethical person is never isolated. People will love to be near him.
  20. If a person becomes like a piece of rotten wood or a wall formed with smelly soil and mud, he can no longer be carved or polished, and is a disappointing character.

Translated by Cecilia

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