Here is the complete Fragments of Confucian Lore: A Selection of Short Quotations with the Original Text, edited by Thomas T. H. Ferguson and translated by James Legge. Shanghai: North-China Daily News & Herald, 1920.
The books from which these quotations have been culled are the Confucian Analects, the Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean. In the translation the rendering of Dr. James Legge has been mostly followed, though somewhat freely adapted. The arrangement in chapters [here] has been made without any regard to the order (there being no such order anyhow) in which the subjects are treated of in the original books.
Some words below are updated.
Everything under Heaven is subject to the Order of Things.
The Importance of adhering to the Order of ThingsThings have their Origin and Development; affairs their Beginning and End. A knowledge of the proper sequel leads to the Path.
No solid Structure possible on decayed FoundationsThe Origin being disordered, no good result can spring from it.
Necessity of PreparationWhatever has been previously arranged will succeed; without preparation failure is bound to follow.
And of GroundingConfucius said: For the laying on of colours a plain ground is needed.
The Survival of the FittestThe flourishing tree is nourished and the tottering one overthrown.
The Natural RouteConfucius said: Who can go but by the door? Then why not follow that route?
Force MajeureWhen the wind blows, the grass must bend to it.
The Artisan and his ToolsThe Artisan who wishes to produce good work will begin by giving attention to his tools.
The Need of ForesightHe who neglects distant precautions will have trouble near at hand.
Sincerity the Alpha and OmegaSincerity is the Beginning and End of things; without it nothing can exist.
Its Seat both in Heaven and in ManSincerity belongs to Heaven: its attainment to Man.
Knowledge of SelfSincerity of mind consists in brooking no self-deception.
And the RemedyIf at fault, do not hesitate to correct yourself.
The Futility of the Mean Person trying to hide his Inner Self"He is seen through as if lungs and liver were exposed."
Truly Impartial Vision rareHence to see the bad points of the beloved ones and the good qualities of those one hates, is a quality rarely met with in this world.
A Warning against superficial ImpressionsA ready tongue and prepossessing appearance seldom go with true virtue.
The Futility of Self-DeceptionThe Book of Poetry hath it: Though a fish may try to hide at the bottom, yet it is clearly visible.
TruthfulnessConfucius said: I do not see. how a man without truthfulness is to succeed.
A Damper for the LoquaciousConfucius said: The Ancients were spare in speech lest their actions might not bear out their words.
Beyond RedemptionRotten wood cannot be carved; a mud wall cannot be plastered.
Where the Name exists without the RealityConfucius said: A three-cornered vessel without the corners a strange vessel indeed!
Dying ConfessionsTsengtzu said: As a third about to die emits plaintive cries, so does a man at death's door speak nought but the truth.
Adversity the Test of SincerityConfucius said: As the weather turns cold we perceive how the pine and cypress are the last to shed their foliage.
Confucius' Aversion of Sophistry"That is why I hate your glib-tongued people! "
Something in a NameConfucius said: Above all, let names be made true!
Because:Misleading names lead to insincere language. Insincere language shuts out success.
To the Verbose of all AgesLet the Language be clear, and nothing more!
Ancient MeannessConfucius said: Who said that Wei-Sheng Kao was upright? Someone begged him for some vinegar; he begged it off a neighbour and gave it to him.
The Will as Starting PointIf the Mind be really bent on Virtue, there will be no Wickedness.
Restlessness of the WickedThose who are devoid of Virtue cannot abide (contentedly) in poverty nor live in long continued enjoyment.
Even in those DaysConfucius said: I have not yet seen the love of virtue equal the love of the senses.
Virtuous DeliberatenessConfucius said: The Virtuous are extremely cautious in their speech.
Moral CourageTo shirk taking what is clearly the right course is want of courage.
Power of the WillThe General of Three Army Corps may be carried off by force - not so the will of one simple man.
A Clear ConscienceIf one can find no faults within oneself, what cause can there be for anxiety or fear?
Honest Effort, the one Thing needfulOnly one day of real, honest effort in striving after virtue! I have not yet seen a case in which strength would then prove insufficient.
Hopeless!Confucius said: It is all over!I have not yet met one who, on perceiving his faults, could conduct his own prosecution.
The Ordinances of HeavenConfucius said: He who does not recognizes the Ordinances of Heaven cannot become a Superior Man.
A WarningHe who offends against Heaven has no one to whom he can pray.
A wellknown Utterance by Tze HsiaLife and Death are ordained from Above; Wealth and Position come from Heaven.
When only Man was vileGreat as are Heaven and Earth, man ever finds something to croak about!
Angels or Spirits?We look for them without seeing, listen without hearing them yet they pervade all things and can never be left behind.
The HereafterNot knowing Life, what can we know about Death?
As quoted elsewhereConfucius avoided speaking on the subject (amongst others) of Spiritual Matters.
Humanity the Starting PointConfucius said: The Path does not lie far from Man. He who seeks to follow a path deviating widely from man's nature is on the wrong track.
The Quotation which immediately precedes the Golden RuleHe who cultivates to the utmost the best side of his nature and exercises it towards others on the principle of Reciprocity, is not far from the Path.
The Difficulty of finding the Happy MeanConfucius said: I know why the Path is not trodden; the clever ones overstep it and the stupid ones do not reach it.
Both wrongTo overstep it is as bad as not to reach it at all.
A Truism:Opulence and State are greatly coveted by man.
- and its QualificationBut if they cannot be reached by the Path of Righteousness, they should not be entertained.
The All-pervading Principle of Confucian TeachingTsengtzu said: All that the Master teaches is loyalty to one's best principles and their disinterested extension towards others.
Free-and-easy Ways not to be carried too farChuugkung said: While strictly adhering to Principle the smaller matters in one's dealing with men may perhaps be neglected; but if such neglect should also be extended to the principle itsejf, I certainly hold that it would be going too far!
The Human Starting Point againBy nature man is not far removed (from the Path). It is in the Practice where he goes astray.
What it is worthConfucius said: He who beholds the Path in the morning may die in the evening without regret.
Effort and SuccessAction is what matters - Success a secondary consideration.
Human Intelligence. . . For the Human Intelligence is inseparable from Knowledge.
Foundation of KnowledgeThe extension of knowledge lies in the Investigation of Things.
The Reward of PerseveranceUsing his endeavours perseveringly, he suddenly arrives at the stage of clear-sighted perception.
Preference of Knowledge to FameConfucius said: I would not be so much distressed at men not knowing me as I would at not knowing men.
Learning and Thinking mutually indispensableStudy without meditation is vain; meditation without study is dangerous.
True Knowledge: the Full Realisation of one's LimitationsTo know that which one knows and to recognize as unknown that which one does not know; such is true knowledge!
Absence of MindWhen the mind is absent, we look without seeing, hear without understanding and eat without tasting.
On behalf of some of these SayingsLet not the Reader despise them for their simplicity.
For it is all solid wisdom!
ParadoxesSecrecy is the most visible of everything and minuteness the most apparent.
The Paucity of ConnoisseursAll men eat and drink, but few can distinguish the real flavour.
Various Roads to KnowledgeSome are born with knowledge, some acquire it by study, some by painful experience; but once acquired it amounts to the same thing.
A modest List of DesiderataExtensive Study, careful inquiry, discriminating thought, intelligent analysis and earnest action.
Keeping up to DateHe who can keep rubbing up his old knowledge while acquiring new, is fit to be a teacher.
How to utilise the Example of othersConfucius said: When you see a great man, try to equal him; when an unworthy one, turn and examine yourself!
The Proverb of all NationsConfucius said: The Cautious seldom err.
But don't overdo itChi Wen-tzu thought thrice before acting. Confucius on hearing about this said: Twice will do!
How to make Use of one's CompanionsConfucius said: Whenever I walk with a few others, I look upon them as my teachers. I select their good qualities for a guide and their bad ones for a warning.
A hopeful PromiseConfucius said: It would be hard indeed to find one who has studied for three years without arriving at some substantial result.
For Students of the Chinese Language?Confucius said: Learn as if you would never reach it and always fear lest it escape you again.
Few will deny this:Confucius said: The Knowing ones are free from Doubt, the Virtuous ones from Trouble and the Brave from Fear.
Said of the Disciple Min Tzu-chienThis man never speaks without hitting the mark!
True Worth needs a suitable SettingOrnament and Substance are mutually indispensable. The skin of a tiger without the hair looks like that of a dog or sheep.
No Royal Road to LearningThe Scholar who thinks of his comfort is not a true scholar.
A Hint to ThinkersConfucius said: I have tried going without food and sleep for the sake of meditating, but find that even that cannot replace studying.
Knowledge the great EqualiserWhere there is instruction, classes disappear.
This was said 2500 years agoThe Ancients studied for their own improvement; nowadays, however, all study is prompted by a craving for contemporary fame!
The Golden RuleThat which you do not wish to be done to yourself, do not unto others. [Modernised]
Another VariantNot to bestow to the left what one dislikes receiving from the right, nor to the right what one dislikes from the left - is called Acting by the Golden Rule.
And the Positive Form (the existence of which in Confucianism is usually denied)Confucius said: To set an example in behaving to a friend as I should wish him to behave to me - to this I have not yet attained.
On the Choice of FriendsHave no friends inferior to yourself in qualities and attainments.
Debit and CreditThus curses will return as curses and ill gotten goods will depart in ill manner.
A Warning to ExcentricsTo love that which is commonly disliked by men and to dislike that which is generally cherished, is to act in opposition to human nature; calamities are bound to be the result.
Independence of characterIn a high position he does not oppress his inferiors, in a lowly one he does not truckle to his superiors; he perfects himself without invoking aid of others and, consequently, has no cause for dissatisfaction.
How to obtain the Information one is seekingTze Kung said: The Master is kind, sincere, courteous, modest and accommodating and thus obtains the information he desires. Does he not in this respect differ from others who seek information?
BygonesIt is no use talking about things which have had their course, analysing past occurrences or finding fault with former doings.
The Influence of SurroundingsConfucius said: Virtue should be prized in one's surroundings. To choose a neighbourhood devoid of virtue, how can that lead to wisdom!
The Unpopularity of the EgotistConfucius said: He who acts merely for his own benefit will beget much ill-will.
Danger of being too smartConfucius said: What is the use of being witty? Ready repartee often begets hatred. What is the use of being witty?
Where Familiarity did not breed ContemptConfucius said: Yen P'ing-Chung excelled in his intercourse with men. However long the acquaintanceship, he never ceased to be courteous.
Secret ResentmentTo harbour secret resentment and yet appear friendly wa abhorrent to Tso Ch'iu-ming. So it was to Confucius.
Yet some Polish seems to be needed, for:Straightforwardness without due observance of forms becomes positive rudeness.
Again the Principle of ReciprocityTo be able to judge others by ourselves may be called the essence of virtue.
Tzu Hsia's Winged WordsALL WITHIN THE FOUR SEAS ARE BRETHERN; then why should the Superior Man bemourn his lack of brothers?
The Spoken Word IrretrievableA span of four horses cannot overtake the tongue!
What a Promise meant to one of Confucius' DisciplesTzu Lu never slept over a promise.
Virtue's ExampleConfucius said: Virtue will not remain alone; it is sure to have neighbours.
Charity begins at HomeTo attack one's own faults and not those of others - is that not the right way to correct them?
Advice to ReformersConfucius said: Try to guide to righteousness by honest exhortation. If not successful, stop! Do not make a fool of yourself.
Against Rashness in SpeechThe headlong talker will find difficulty in making good his words.
As to Repaying Injury with Kindness:Confucius said: How are we then to repay kindness? Repay injury with justice - kindness with kindness!
How to become PopularTo be exacting towards oneself and lenient towards others will ward off resentment.
Tact required in DetailsWant of Tact in the details will frustrate the largest schemes.
International Conferences?Confucius said: Where interests differ, it is useless deliberating jointly.
The Pivot of the UniverseHe who governs by virtue may be likened to the Polar Star which remains in its place while all the other stars circle around it.
The Fundamental PrincipleWhere the Rulers observe Propriety, the peoples are easily led.
To show the extreme Antiquity of these Principles:Even Yao and Shun were solicitous about this!
How Confucius forestalled Adam SmithLet there be many producers and few consumers; let the former be active and the latter thrifty and there will never be a lack of wealth.
A Lesson to RulersNot to be able to bring forward - and quickly - a man found to be superior, is neglectful. Not to be able to remove - and far - a man found to be bad, is weak.
Imperial Prerogatives(now exploded)
It behoves only the Emperor to arrange ceremonies, to establish measures, to verify literature!
Advice to AutocratsTo advance the Upright and cast out the Unprincipled will secure the submission of the subjects. A reversal of this policy will breed rebellion.
The Kind of Officer Confucius wantedOne who could pause, think and act.
When the Masses were still ignorantConfucius said: The people may be made to comply but cannot be made to understand.
Ne Sutor Ultra Crepidam [Rendered: "Cobbler, stick to your last," meaning "Do not presume to address matters beyond your competence.]Confucius said: Those not in office should not meddle with Government.
The Master's terse Definition of GovernmentLet there be a sufficiency of food, of military power and of confidence among the people.
When asked which of these three might be best missed:Cut out the military power!
And after that?Cut out the food - for throughout the Ages men have had to die. Without Confidence, however, no state can exist.
Another Confucian Policy on GovernmentDo not aim at too speedy accomplishment, nor give too much attention to petty advantages.
The Ideal DelegateHe who can be trusted abroad without disgracing his Prince's mission, may be called a great officer.
What the Ancients thought of itConfucius said: To be merely thinking of one's salary, whether the government served be good or corrupt, is shameful.
How to commandeerHe only takes when justified by right, hence the people do not resent his taking.
Ancient Opposition LeadersWhat kind of men is the present Government composed of? Confucius said: Pooh! A set of nincompoops, not worth their salt! 29]}
The Main DistinctionThe Superior Man is a Catholic and not a Partisan, the Small Man is a Partisan and not a Catholic.
A Test of ExcellenceThat in which the Superior Man cannot be excelled is what he accomplished unseen by others.
A Test of ModestyThe Superior Man acts within a sphere of his own which he does not wish to overstep.
A Test of AdaptabilityThe Superior Man never finds himself in a position in which he feels at a loss.
The Lasting Influence of a Great MindThus the Superior Man in his Movements points the Way, in his Acts sets the Law and in his Words conveys the Lesson for Ages and a Day.
Another DistinctionThe actions of a great man, though he may strive to hide them, will daily become moie apparent; the mean man's doings, though he proclaim them loudly, will dwindle in significance as time passes by.
IndependenceThe true Scholar is not a Utensil!
Words and ActionsTzu Rung asked what constitutes a Superior Man. Confucius answered: He who first acts as he would have spoken and then speaks accordingly.
The Test of SerenityThe Superior Man has no jealous ambitions.
Discrimination in Acts of CharityHe aids the distressed but does not add to the wealth of the rich.
A Point often overlookedThe Superior Man can be imposed upon but he cannot be made a fool of.
Intellectual LifeTsengtzu said: The Superior Man finds friends in his liter ary pursuits and by their friendship strengthens his virtue.
As an Improver of MankindThe Superior Man strives to bring out the best qualities of his fellow beings and not their bad ones; the Small Man takes just the opposite course.
A gentle InsinuationThe Superior Man avoids speaking on topics of which he is ignorant.
Perspicacity without SuspiciousnessWithout suspecting deceit or unbelief, yet to be able to recognise them when met with, is that not true worth?
The Effect of Want on the UnculturedThe Small Man, when in want, gives way to license.
A few more Traits of the Superior ManThe Superior Man does not raise a man for his words only, nor does he disregard words on account of the person by whom they are uttered.
A dangerous Excuse for those inclined to neglect DetailsConfucius said: The Great Man may not show to advantage in small details, but can be trusted with important matters.
The Small Man againThe Small Man is sure to explain away his faults!
Educational ProgressConfucius said: At fifteen my mind was bent on learning; at thirty it was fixed; at forty I had no doubts; at fifty I knew the Decrees of Heaven; at sixty I (still) had a willing ear; at seventy I could follow my heart's desire without transgressing what was right.
Some Intimate Personal Traits - SlynessConfucius, when in his native village, held himself extremely simple as if he could not utter a word.
Veneration ExtraordinaryWhile passing the seat of his Prince, his countenance seemed to change, his legs to bend under him, his words coming in whispers as if lacking breath.
Fastidiousness in TasteHe ate no meat which was not properly cut, nor that which was not served without its proper sauce.
As to WineOnly in wine he imposed no limit but did not allow himself to be overcome by it.
General DieteticsHowever much meat he might eat, b.e did not allow it to exceed its due proportion to vegetables.
Besides:He never omitted to eat ginger at a meal, nor did he eat much.
The Sage at the TableHe did not converse during meals.
And in BedHe did not talk in his sleep.
Nobody knows whyIf his mat was not straight he did not sit on it.
Not from Fear, but as a Matter of CeremonyAt unexpected thunderclaps or violent gusts of wind, he changed countenance.
(Changing Countenance appears to have been a common act of ceremony or propriety in Confucian days, resorted to under circumstances too numerous to mention).
As a true SportsmanConfucius angled and did not use nets; he shot, but not birds sitting.
What was said of Confucius to his DisciplesMy friends, why thus sorrowful? Long have lawlessness and disorder held their sway; now Heaven is about to employ your Master as a wooden bell-hammer.
What Confucius claimed for himselfIn a ten-family hamlet there may be as sincere and faithful as I, but none as fond of learning.
How Confucius wished himself to be characterisedHe is a man who in his studious ardour forgets food, in his happiness forgets sorrow and does not perceive the advent of age.
And as devoid of OriginalityA transmitter and not an originator, a believer in and lover of the Ancients.
A wasted HintConfucius only spoke on the right occasions; thus people did not tire of his talk.
A typical Confucian ReplyA great question indeed!
Irony or Modesty?Confucius said: I am fortunate indeed. Whatever faults I possess are bound to be known by all.
A startling ConfessionAnd never to be overcome by wine, how can I lay claim to such qualities?
His frequent Themes of DiscourseThe Odes, History and the Rules of Propriety.
And the Topics he avoidedMysteries, Feats of Strength, Rebellion and Spiritual Matters.
Filial PietyConfucius said: To follow a father's wish during his lifetime and to imitate his example after his death without departing from it for three years, such is filial piety.
No longer observed.Confucius said: Do not travel afar while your parents live. If you must travel, let it be to definite and known places.
For FathersHe who does not know the bad qualities of his son is ignorant of the richness of his sprouting crops.
Paternal PartialityConfucius said: Be he talented or not, a son remains a son.
As to GirlsWhoever heard of a girl being taught to bring up children in order that she may be prepared for motherhood?
Filial Love paramountA father concealing his son's crimes; a son shielding his father, this includes righteousness.
The Importance of ProprietyWithout knowledge of the rules of propriety man's character cannot be established.
ButIn matters of propriety it is better to be sparing than extravagant.
Mere outward Show deprecatedIn matters of Mourning, real grief is more in place than a minute observance of form.
The Gravity of the ScholarIf a scholar be not grave he will not be respected, his learning will lack substance.
Decorum as observed by ConfuciusIn a carriage he never looked behind him; he never talked excitedly nor pointed at anything.
Civilisation not necessarily detrimental to Military ProwessConfucius said: A nation civilised for seven years by a virtuous man will also be fit to wage war.
But:To lead an uninstructed people to war is to cast them away.
The Soul of MusicA man without virtue, how can he have anything to do with music?
A Lesson in HarmonyConfucius instructing the Music Master of Lu said: The principles of music are thus: let there be complete accordance at the beginning, then let there be harmony, individuality and continuity till the end.
Some Music!Confucius after hearing the " Shao " performed in the State of Ch'i forgot the taste of meat for three months. He said: I never thought music could produce such an effect!
Against serenading by one's DisciplesConfucius said: What business has Yu with his noisy harp at my door?
Youth's PotentialityConfucius said: A youth should be regarded with awe; who knows but in after years he may excel us.
The Age of Resignation to MediocrityIf at 40 or 50 years of age he has not yet made his mark, he need no longer be feared.
How Confucius reproved a disrespectful YouthIn youth to be disrespectful, in manhood unproductive and in old age to remain alive: that is to be a public nuisance!
A sound View on LitigationConfucius said: In hearing cases I may do as well as the rest. The main thing, however, is to prevent litigation.
The Ability of one of Confucius' Disciples on the BenchTo settle a law case with half a word, such was Yu's ability.
Consolation for the PoorIll-gotten riches are to me like floating clouds.
The greater MeritConfucius said: It is more difficult to be poor without discontent than to be rich without pride.
Practical Advice in TradeConfucius said: Sell it, by all means, but if I were you I would wait until a price was offered for it!
Fragments of Confucian Lore: A Selection of Short Quotations with the Original Text, edited by Thomas T. H. Ferguson, translated by James Legge. Shanghai: North-China Daily News and Herald, 1920.
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