What do you know about this great man? First of all, you should know that this great man and great teacher was a descendant of the royal house of Shang, the dynasty that ruled China from about 1122 B.C.E. to 221 B.C.E. His family moved to a small state of Lu, which is in the northeastern province of Shantung today. Confucius’s father had divorced his wife because she had given him only daughters and one disfigured son (according to the Records of the Historian by Ssu-ma Ch’ien (145 B.C.E. to 86 B.C.E). After that, he married a fifteen-year-old girl who bore Confucius.
You probably already know that (in his book of teachings, the Analects), Confucius describes how his youth was poor, and he forced to learn different skills. Even though his family’s fortunes were diminishing, he belonged to the aristocratic class known as the shih, which mostly served as court officials, scholars, and teachers. Confucius’s first job was the keeper of the Lu granary, and later became supervisor of the fields. In 518 B.C.E., Confucius met the famous teacher Lao Tzu, who criticized him for his stiffness and arrogance. For several years after Confucius’s return to Lu, he did not accept any governmental position. Instead, he spent his time studying and teaching his growing number of students about ritual, music, history, and poetry.
This great teacher grew up to become a famous philosopher. And yes, we all know that Confucius became a mentor to many people, his name in Chinese in ‘Kongzi’, which directly translates into English as ‘Kong’ meaning Confucious and ‘Zi’ meaning teacher, a direct reference to his professional life. According to Kaizuka et al., ‘The Teachings of Confucius are mainly concerned with politics, personal cultivation and social morality’ due to the times he lived in. He even advocated the right of private property and wealth as well as being highly concerned with the ‘cultivation of personal character with interpersonal relations and ethics’. This is really amazing – this great teacher became a truly important figure in not only Chinese history but also history across the globe as Cranmer-Byng says A man’s greatness must always be measured, in the first place, by the consensus of opinion in his own country; the judgment of foreigners can only be allowed to have a secondary value. Many of his sayings still resonate with modern society to this day.
10 Life-Changing Confucius Quotes
- Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
- If you hate a person, then you’re defeated by them.
- It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
- If they spit at you behind your back, it means you’re ahead of them.
- What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.
- I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.
- Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
- To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge.
- It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.
- The superior man acts before he speaks and afterward speaks according to his action.
And, one last thing – Confucius had a great impact on his country and the entire world, when he was alive! And, the fact that even to this day we can learn from Confucius and actually apply many of his quotes to our lives allows us to understand that. And, one more thing – I will leave you with one final, resonating quote that you can take forward into the rest of your day, month or even year; ‘Confucius says he who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior’. We really hope you enjoyed this article and don’t forget to share it with your friends and family. Thank you and have a good one!