Analects Book 7 features a wealth of quotes from Confucius on himself that give us a deeper appreciation of his passion for learning and teaching. He was a man who could always see room for improvement no matter how much progress he made along the path of self-cultivation.
“Failure to nurture my virtue, failure to discuss what I have learned, failure to follow what I know to be right, and failure to correct my faults: these are the worries that plague me.”
“I have never refused to teach anyone who has asked me to, even if they were too poor to offer no more than a token offering of a bundle of dried meat for their tuition.”
“I instruct only the passionate. I enlighten only the fervent. If a student cannot return with the other three corners of the square after I have shown them the first one, I will not repeat the lesson.”
“If wealth were worth pursuing, I’d go after it even if it meant working as a lowly official. But since it isn’t, I prefer to pursue what I love.”
“Even if you have only coarse grain to eat, water to drink, and your bent elbow to use as a pillow, you can still find joy in these things. But wealth and honors obtained by improper means are like passing clouds to me.”
“If I were given a few more years, I would devote fifty to the study of the Book of Changes so that I may be free from serious mistakes.”
“I wasn’t born with innate knowledge. I simply love the past and am assiduous in seeking it there.”
“Let me take a stroll with any two people, and I can always be sure of learning something from them. I can take their good points and emulate them, and I can take their bad points and correct them in myself.”
“Although my commitment is as strong as anyone’s when it comes to cultural knowledge and refinement, I haven’t yet hit the target of becoming a true leader in how I conduct myself.”
“How could I possibly dare to claim that I’m a man of great wisdom and goodness? All that can be said of me is that I never grow weary of learning and never get tired of teaching others.”
I took this image at the Beijing Confucius Temple.