5 Confucius Quotes to Focus Your Mind, Heart & Soul
One of the markers of a great teacher is an ability to apply deep, practical wisdom to different dimensions of life seamlessly, which is why the below 5 Confucious quotes apply to building a strong, healthy mind, a pure heart and a clean, peaceful soul.
This piece continues the recent Recovering Man focus on Chinese masters, after the well-received previous offering on the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who acts as something of a predecessor to the more famous Confucius.
Confucious’ name has become synonymous with instilling a sense of nourishing order in a chaotic world, with his teachings still prevalent in personal conduct and political thinking in modern China today.
Who Was Confucius?
Born in 551 BC, Confucius was a Chinese philosopher that is arguably more renowned and foundational than any other in China, perhaps even Asia.
During his lifetime, Confucius placed a strong emphasis on personal morality and social order, with a persistent recourse to notions of justice.
His work was originally suppressed as tribal and ethnic groups warred relentlessly before the Han became dominant, thereby allowing a flourishing of his work long after his death.
This school of thought became known as neo-Confucianism and Confucius himself became credited with all manner of historical works which scholars debate the authorship of to this day.
Regardless of the exact authorship of given texts, Confucian values still govern China and remain hugely influential worldwide.
One of the core values Confucius put forth was strong family loyalty, including the respect of elders by their children and of husbands by their wives.
This led to the family becoming the core unit for the state, a belief echoed in Judeo-Christian culture and Western conservatism.
Confucius also famously stated the well-known aphorism, “Do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself”, another instance of the Golden Rule.
He is also so revered that he is seen as a deity in Taoism.
And with that in mind, we move onto the 5 Confucius Quotes to Focus Your Mind, Heart & Soul:
1. Life is really simple, but men insist on making it complicated.
This quote reads like it could come from a spiritual master today, echoing the teachings of an Eckhart Tolle or a Mooji, yet remember that Confucius was born before The Buddha, meaning his insights offer the first flowering of the great awakening.
In the span of around 500 years, we saw Confucius, The Buddha, Socrates and Jesus, marking a huge shift in human history, as civilizations sprang up on the back of these figures.
Each of the aforementioned figures articulated the above quote in one manner or another, yet Confucius was one of the first and it takes us straight to the essential truth of life: that life takes care of life.
In our modern highly scientific age, we are incredibly powerful and capable, yet it has also spread a tacit belief that we have to work everything out to ascertain a sense of meaning.
This is a grave error.
The intellect is a powerful tool, but when relied on alone it can befuddle the most genius of men and tie anyone in knots.
This is because life has created us in its wisdom and our minds are one facet of that creation, incapable of ascertaining the full-depth of life itself intellectually.
This is why Socrates said: “All I know is that I know nothing” and was thus proclaimed the wisest man in Greece.
2. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
Recovering Man has always been about recovering that which we have lost, that which we may never know we had, be it inner peace, cultural and spiritual meaning or a path of purpose.
Without these things, men are prey to issues such as addiction, depression and despair.
As I recently argued in the video below, men without a core sense of meaning and purpose, personal, cultural and spiritual, decay:
What this quote symbolizes is the central tenet of the Recovering Man life, whatever you’re issue, be it despair, addictions, depression or just a lack of meaning and male community in your life, we must address these issues and create a forward path which to traverse.
We may falter on this path, we may even go backward at times, we may even be frozen in fear – we may sprint all the way to inner meaning and peace – yet we cannot stay still for too long.
Staying in the same position, never challenging yourself and festering in the stagnant waters of fear is an act which is against life itself, the law of which is always change.
By combining the two quotes above, we can source a central piece of life advice: keep it simple and keep moving forward.
3. I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
To return to the foundations of Recovering Man again, this quote highlights another central truth in that we, as men looking to grow into harmony with ourselves and life itself, must work from experience and hard truths.
This is the foundation upon which true growth, grit, and character are built.
As I’ve been eager to point out before, while difficult experience, addictions and anxieties feel soul-destroying at the time, they are actually obstacles life places in our way to challenge us to evolve.
The idea that we can learn from others’ mistakes is wishful thinking in the most part.
Sure, there are a few surface-level things we can learn from observing others – how to talk to girls, how to swing a racquet, and so on – but the vital stuff, the life-giving nourishing lessons are things you cannot imbibe by listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos.
We must do.
4. Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.
This quote seems contradictory, especially when considering quote 2 on how we must never stop.
Yet this quote contains an internal wordplay in which two paths are laid out for men.
Firstly, we have the fool, he who doesn’t change despite his behavior and approach to life causing him great suffering – the definition of insanity, according to Einstein.
Then we have the wisest man, he too never changes, yet he is wise, but why?
One explanation for this is the famed spiritual-axiom of the highest form of wisdom being a pure acceptance of life itself, a realization of the fleeting, changing nature of life as experienced through the senses, but an inner knowing of the stillness of consciousness itself. That which gives rise to all forms.
When one rests in this place, the place of the Unmoved Mover, as Aristotle put it he is at one with life itself and doesn’t need to take action, but purely accept what is.
Henceforth, the fool never changes in the dynamic fleeting realm of life, which is subject to change, while the wise man never changes in the essence of life as consciousness before identification with form, where stillness is the ultimate reality.
5. Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.
Each of these quotes has been positioned to follow on from the last, and this quote takes its meaning from the state of the wise man as explored in quote 4.
The role of a recovering man is to move from the place of the fool to the place of the wise man, and while that may be a long lifetime of a journey, as we make progress the world’s beauty unfurls to us as we move forward.
As Jesus stated, ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand’. It is not far away and the only thing that makes it seem that way is our level of spiritual growth.
Henceforth, when we sit in the pulse of being instead of relying on the dynamic world of change as outlined in quote 4, we are opened up to the majesty of the absolute miracle of existence.
Many today carry great cynicism towards the notion of miracles, and in our scientific age their position is evidently understandable, yet it ignores the one great miracle that’s so obvious and evident we don’t even notice it any longer.
That miracle is life itself.
From this position all life is beautiful, ingenious and miraculous, as we begin to see with eyes that travel beyond the labels, perceptions and intellectualizations we have foisted upon the world.