The ancients said: “If a farmer refuses to work, some people will starve. If a woman refuses to weave, some people will suffer in the cold.” When the growth of all things is limited by seasons but we consume them as if they will be available without limitation, the resources will sooner or later be depleted. The ancients governed and planned meticulously and they would have had the foresight to ensure the treasury had enough reserves to sustain the nation.
Scroll 14: Han Shu, Vol. 2
Thus, to cultivate oneself in order to rule a country, nothing can be more significant than to restrain one’s desires. The book of Li Ji said: “Don’t give in to desires.” We have seen rulers and senior ministers of the past and present had achieved success through hard work and lived frugally, and that those who failed did so were extravagant and wasteful. Frugal people will restrain their desires but spendthrifts will let their desires run free. Self-gratification will endanger one’s life while moderation will keep one safe.
Scroll 47: Zheng Yao Lun