Home Discussion Forum What is the meaning of this Confucius Quote?

What is the meaning of this Confucius Quote?

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” ~ Confucius.
What does reflection mean here?
Please only serious answers.


  1. i think it means to let someone elses wisdom influence you so you can get a perspective of someone elses thoughts/ words of advice.

  2. He’s saying that looking back on things that have happened…reflecting…is the noblest way to gain wisdom. In other words: The most honorable way of gaining wisdom is by looking back on your life and its events and learning from the things you have done…whether they were done right or wrong.

  3. Reflection: Look at yourself. Examine what you do and why you do it. See if there is something you can do to make better decisions.
    Imitation: Do as others do, who you feel are wise. More often than not, you will acquire wisdom along the way.
    Experience: Live through events and learn from your (and others) mistakes.
    Done that last one too often myself.
    Wisdom is a combination of two things: The ability to know what to do in a situation and the will to do it. — Me.

  4. Reflection is not necessarily introspection. . .looking into yourself but it can be. Just think of the word reflection and it is reality around you being reflected back to you, like the reflections in a pond. It means you pay attention to those things around you and learn from what you see. . .an easy lesson if you heed it. By imitation is to find people that you respect and emulate them and follow their ways. And the hardest is to experience life and you must take the good with the bad as you learn. Failure is hard but it teaches you much more than success.


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