Thriftiness is a virtue espoused by ancient Chinese. However, its meaning varies somewhat among different schools of thought. According to the Confucian school, thriftiness meant rejecting extravagance and waste. One should practice no extravagance in holding a ceremony or in daily life. Extravagance causes waste of things. Moreover, it would lead people to indulge in the pursuit of wealth and thus deviate from the goal of the ceremony or action. To the Daoist school, thriftiness only referred to thriftiness expected of a ruler. The ruler should not satisfy his own desire by extracting wealth from the people and wasting it. Instead, he should practice thriftiness so as not to impose undue burden on people’s lives.
Lin Fang asked Confucius about the essential meaning of ritual ceremonies. Confucius replied, “What you ask is a big question. For rites, it is always desirable to be simple rather than excessive. In the case of mourning, such rites should be determined by degree of grief rather than by overconsideration of rituals.” (The Analects)
There are three things I keep and treasure. The first is kindness; the second is thriftiness; and the third is not venturing anything no others have done. (Laozi)