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I know it's a Confucian saying but I'd like to know the meaning behind it. Anyone have a clue?:)

  • I believe a tag [Classical Chinese] would be nice to have in this question. – Daniel Cheung Oct 10 '16 at 9:35
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It comes from 《论语·泰伯章》:

Chapter 7

  曾子曰:“士不可以不弘毅,任重而道遠。仁以爲己任,不亦重乎?死而後已,不亦遠乎?”

The necessity to the officer of compass and vigor of mind

  1. The philosopher Tsang said, "The officer may not be without breadth of mind and vigorous endurance. His burden is heavy and his course is long.

  2. "Perfect virtue is the burden which he considers it is his to sustain;-- is it not heavy? Only with death does his course stop;-- is it not long?

Another version from baidu:

An educated gentleman cannot but be resolute and broad-minded, for he has taken up a heavy responsibility and a long course. Is it not a heavy responsibility, which is to practice benevolence? Is it not a long course, which will end only with his death?

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Here is a good version from "The Analects" by D.C. Lau Zeng zi said," A Gentleman must be strong and resolute, for his burden is heavy and the road is long. He takes benevolence as his burden. Is that not heavy? Only with death does the road come to an end. Is that not long?

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