The Analects of Confucius [论语]

Posted: November 8, 2011 in Book Notes, Chinese
The Fine Young Man

A young man should be respectful to is parents in the home, and to his elders outside. His words should be cautious and trustworthy. He should care for people in general and seek company of benevolent men. If having accomplished these he still has energy to spare, he should study.

Understanding Others


Do not be dismayed when others don’t understand you, be dismayed when you fail to understand others.

Words and Actions


A gentleman acts before he speaks, then speaks according to his actions.

Good to All


A gentleman is the same to all without bias; a lesser man is biased without being the same to all.

Study and Contemplation


Study without contemplation leads to confusion; contemplation without study is dangerous.

A Benevolent Neighborhood


An atmosphere of benevolence makes a neighborhood attractive. How is one wise who chooses not to live among benevolence?

Residing in Benevolence


A person who is benevolent cannot live long in hardship, nor can he be happy for long. A benevolent person takes refuge in benevolence; a wise person sees benevolence as advantageous.

The Way in the Morning


If one perceives the Way in the morning, he may die content at nightfall!

The Profit Motive


He who acts according to profit, stirs up great resentment.


A gentleman understands things in terms of righteousness; a lesser man understands things in terms of profit.

Dwelling on the Past


Do not dwell on past ills done to you, and there would be little resentment against you.

The Delight of Study


The one who merely knows the value of study is not so good as the one who takes an interest in studying. The one who takes an interest in studying is not so good as the one who delights in studying.


To everyday realize all the things you don’t know; every month not forget that which you have mastered; this can be called love of learning.

Wealth and Enjoyment


If there were a sure way of acquiring wealth, I would crack a whip if that’s what it took. But since there is not, I will do  what I enjoy most.

Extravagance and Parsimony


If extravagance leads to audacity, and parsimony leads to austerity. I will choose austerity over audacity.

A Gentleman’s Freedom


A gentleman has peace of mind; a lesser man is forever on the edge.

A Gentleman’s Worries


Not cultivating virtue, not studying attentively, not acting according to righteousness, not being able to reform my own faults…These are the things I worry about.

Rectitude Leadership


Governing lies in rectitude. If you lead with rectitude, then who will dare not be upright?


When an upright person governs, people act without being given orders. When the person governing is not upright, he may give orders, but the people won’t follow him.

Lead by Example


If you want the people to act good, you must first set an example yourself. If you work hard, the people will do so as well. Act first and work hard, untiringly.

An Agreeable Person


A gentleman gets along well with others but does not agree to unprincipled actions. A lesser man agrees to unprincipled actions but does not get along with others.

A Content Person


A gentleman is content but not conceited. A lesser man is conceited but not content.

Why Study


Scholars of the past studied for themselves. Scholars of today study for others.



Not speaking with someone worth speaking to is missing an opportunity. Speaking with someone not worth speaking to is misspeaking. A wise person neither misses opportunities nor misspeaks.

Judging People and Words


A gentleman does not recommend people based on what they say; or disregard what is said based on the speaker.

Be Skeptical


When everyone labels a person as good or bad, you must look into it for yourself before accepting it.

The Dao


It is people who can exalt the Way, not the Way that can exalt people.



To commit a transgression and not reform is the real transgression. (People will commit transgressions, and that’s OK as long as they reform.)



Passing on hearsay is the abandonment of virtue.

Benevolence Realized


One who studies broadly and maintains a firm determination; questions sincerely and reflects on things at hand; will realize benevolence in the midst of these.

Crossing the Line


If you refuse to cross the line in matters of great moral import, then in matters of minor moral import, there will be room for a little give and take.

  • In talking about profit, it is easy to lose sight of righteousness.
  • Fate is too mysterious to talk about intelligently.
  • A gentleman sticks to the proper way without getting caught up in petty arguments of right and wrong.
  • A depraved person only worries about what he can get for himself. Before he has attained something, he worries about not getting it. After he has attained something, he worries about losing it. And if all he worries about losing what he has, he’ll go to any length to keep it.

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