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Lai Chi-tim is a professor in the Department of Religions at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His areas of interest are: the history of Taoism, Six Dynasties Taoist classics; Psychology and Sociology of religion, religion and hermeneutics.

 

Abstract of paper given at Taoism and Ecology conference
A Study in the Concept of Zhong-he (Central Harmony) in the Taiping Jing: Human Responsibility for the Maladies of Heaven and Earth

This article attempts to examine the early Taoist concern for the cries and illness of heaven and earth proclaimed in Taiping jing. As its basic concern in the text, the Taoist scripture calls for a restoration of the state of "Harmony" (zhong-he) and "Mutual Communication" (xiang-tong) among the three different realms of heaven, earth and humanity. It strongly criticizes how humans, during the age of lower antiquity, did serious harm to the original harmony between nature and humans (established during the age of upper antiquity). Therefore, in consequence of human mischief, calamities, illness, wars, and natural sufferings resulted. In order to rectify this mischief, the authors of Taiping jing proclaimed that the states of he and hong have to be restored again, which are conceived as the foundation of "great peace" (tai-ping) for the cosmic, natural and human worlds. Most important is that human responsibility for curing the illness of nature is emphasized. This paper aims at a hermeneutics that critically integrates our present ecological concern with the message elicited in this important Taoist text. Above all, I will work out how the Taiping jing calls for human responsibility for harmonious nature-human relationships and for establishing the state of great peace.

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