The Analects of Confucius


The people can be made to follow a certain path, but they cannot be made to know the reason why.

Without the confidence of the people no government can stand at all.

Tzu Lu asked for a hint on the art of governing. The Master replied: "Take the lead and set the example of diligent toil." Asked for a further hint, he said: "Be patient and untiring."

In matters which he does not understand, the wise man will always reserve his judgement.

If terms are not correctly defined, words will not harmonize with things.

The wise man frames his definitions to regulate his speech, and his speech to regulate his actions. He is never reckless in his choice of words.

If the ruler is personally upright, his subjects will do their duty unbidden; if he is not personally upright, they will not obey, whatever his bidding.

The Master said: "What an abundant population!" Jan Yu said: "Now that the people are so abundant, what is the next thing to be done?" "Enrich them," said Confucius. "And having enriched them, what then?" "Teach them," was the reply.

Government is good when it makes happy those who live under it and attracts those who live far away.

In serving, make the actual service your first care, and only put the emolument second.

When the Empire is well governed, politics will not be discussed by the common people.

It is the spirit of charity which makes a locality good to dwell in. He who selects a neighborhood without regard to this quality cannot be considered wise.

The higher type of man is one who acts before he speaks, and professes only what he practices.

Those who lack moral virtue cannot abide long in a state either of poverty or pleasure. Those who possess moral virtue find their comfort therein.

Wealth and honor are what men desire; but unless they can be rightfully obtained, it is better not to have them. Poverty and lowliness are what men abhor; but unless it can be done in a rightful fashion, it is better not to cast them off.

Those who are wise know the profit of virtue.

Only he who has the spirit of goodness within him is really able either to love or to hate.

The wise man will be slow to speak but quick to act.

The higher type of man clings to virtue, the lower type of man clings to material comfort.

The higher type of man cherishes justice, the lower type of man cherishes the hope of favors to be received.

Better than one who knows what is right is one who is fond of what is right; and better than one who is fond of what is right is one who delights in what is right.

The higher type of man is calm and serene; the inferior man is constantly agitated and worried.

When out of doors, behave as though you were entertaining a distinguished guest; in ruling the people, behave as though you were officiating at a solemn sacrifice; what you would not wish done to yourself, do not do unto others. Then in public as in private life you will excite no ill will.

The nobler sort of man emphasizes the good qualities in others, and does not accentuate the bad. The inferior sort does the reverse.

A father hides the guilt of his son, and a son hides the guilt of his father. It is in such conduct that true uprightness is to be found.

In private life, show self-respect; in the management of affairs, be attentive and thorough; in your dealings with others, be honest and conscientious. Never abandon these principles, even among savages.

The nobler sort of man is accommodating but not obsequious; the inferior sort is obsequious but not accommodating.

The nobler sort of man is easy to serve yet difficult to please. Who seeks to please him in wrongful ways will not succeed. In exacting service from others, he takes account of aptitudes and limitations. The baser sort of man is difficult to serve yet easy to please. Who seeks to please him in any wrongful way will assuredly succeed. And he requires absolute perfection in those from whom he exacts service.

The nobler sort of man is dignified but not proud; the inferior man is proud but not dignified.

A gentleman who hugs his comfort is not really worthy of the name.

A man of virtuous words is not always a virtuous man.

The man of perfect goodness is sure to possess courage, but the courageous man is not necessarily good.

The princely type of man is modest in his speech, but liberal in his performance.

Is he not a sage who neither anticipates deceit nor suspects bad faith in others, yet is prompt to detect them when they appear?

Some one asked: "How do you regard the principles of returning good for evil?" The Master said: "What, then, is to be the return for good? Rather you should return justice for injustice, and good for good."

Be conscientious and sincere in what you say, honest and circumspect in what you do.

The higher type of man seeks all that he wants in himself; the inferior man seeks all that he wants from others.

The wise man does not esteem a person more highly because of what he says, neither does he undervalue what is said because of the person who says it.

Impatience in little things may confound mighty plans.

On a point of morality a man need not defer.

Moral virtue simply consists in being able, anywhere and everywhere, to exercise five particular qualities: self-respect, magnanimity, sincerity, earnestness and benevolence.

[The nobler sort of man] hates those who publish the faults of others; he hates men of low condition who vilify those above them; he hates those whose courage is unaccompanied by self-restraint; he hates those who are audacious but narrow-minded.