Did Confucius say "wherever you go, go with all your heart?"


Senior Member.
This quote is all over the usual trashy places - goodreads, brainyquote, facebook, etc - but I can see no reliable source cited for it, and it's absent from Confucius's wikiquotes page, including anything remotely resembling it. Likewise, looking through The Analects draws a blank.

For early instances on the web, it's pretty clouded by the noise of incorrect dates, but here's one from December 2000:


As far as I can tell, it's not until 2007 that it begins to slowly spread, and 2011 when it picks up speed. But I know others here are better at finding historical examples of quotes online.

Interestingly, a Chinese Q&A site zhidao.baidu.com has quite a few people asking where this quote comes from. The questions and answers are in Chinese, but the quote is generally in English - which leads me to think that they've seen it on English-speaking websites (attributed to Confucius) and thought, hm, I've never heard that before, I wonder where it's from.

No one is able to provide a definitive answer, though three different people say it is from Confucius and that the Chinese is either 既来之则安之。or 既来之,则安之. Google translates these as "if you come, you will be at ease/safe" - and this is, apparently, a popular Chinese saying taken from Confucius, but seemingly misused by them also:



My translation:

Don’t misuse "jì lái zhī, zé ānzhī" - employ the correct meaning.

"Jì lái zhī, zé ānzhī" is a Chinese saying. In our daily life we often use it to say that we are at ease with the situation and not picky. Now that we are here, let us rest our minds here. It is also used to comfort others and to comfort oneself in the face of impending danger. But in fact this sentence comes from "The Analects of Confucius" and his original intention is completely different from the one we use now.


What is this "original intention"? To be honest, I can't quite figure it out. It's from Chaper 16 of The Analects, in which Confucius is counselling/rebuking a ruling family who are wanting to have a scrap with some neighbouring ruling family so they can increase their population. He seems to be saying something like "instead of fighting to try and conquer people, just make everything really nice and then people will come to you. And then once they come they should be made contented and put at ease."

Something like that. But that seems a long way from "wherever you go, go with your heart."


Senior Member.
Nice to see the Chinese have their silly/heartwarming quote sites too. :)

I suspect that one's taken from the modern English quote memes and translated back into Chinese: Google makes it "wherever you go, follow your heart."


Senior Member.
i saw one that had it as

"Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart."
Kong Fu Zi (China, 500 BC)

and one young lady who was answering one of those "is this COnfucius?" questions, answered in chinese that she doubted it was him and then she said (this is the google translation of what she said below)..which seems to be a real quote from Confucius, and to me it kinda goes against the follow your heart thing. and i'm assuming that is why she posted it.
although not being able to read a word of Chinese, let alone have a Chinese understanding of different phrases... i really have no idea.



Senior Member.
Yep, I recognise that one: it's from The Analects, Chapter 2.4:

The Master said: When I was fifteen I set my heart on learning. At thirty I took my stand. At forty I was without confusion. At fifty I knew the command of Tian. At sixty I heard it with a compliant ear. At seventy I follow the desires of my heart and do not overstep the bounds.



The Master said: “At fifteen my heart was set on learning; at thirty I stood firm; at forty I was unperturbed; at fifty I knew the mandate of heaven; at sixty my ear was obedient; at seventy I could follow my heart's desire without transgressing the norm.”



New Member
Rory is spot on. Intransitive verbs like 来 ”come" can't take objects, but since it's followed by an object 之 "them", it forms a causative pattern "cause them to come": "Since they have been caused to come, then they are to be made peaceful". The idea being that remote subjects are hard to control but once they're drawn to your refined culture, you better make sure to keep them at ease and happy. 既 expresses completion of an action which might have given rise to the causative pattern falling by the wayside. Might be worth pinpointing when that took place.

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