Confucius, one of the greatest sages of ancient China, never spoke much about God, metaphysics, religion, or the soul. His message was morality, honor, and commitment in self, family, and country. He wrote five books including commentaries on the I-Ching; but four other books were compiled by his disciples as collections of his sayings as they remembered them. One of those four books was called “The Analects”, another was called “The Great Learning”.
In “The Great Learning” is considered to be the most concise summary of his teachings put down into two paragraphs:
“The ancients who wished to illustrate the highest virtue throughout the empire first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, the first cultivated their own selves. Wishing to cultivate their own selves, the first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, the first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.
Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their own selves were cultivated. Their own selves being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole empire was made tranquil and happy.”