Home » Publications » Books » Religions of the World and Ecology Book Series » Daoism Introduction » Here

Daoism Introduction - Part 2


Constructing Nature

Daoism proposes a comprehensive and radical restructuring of the way in which we conceive of our relationship to nature and our cosmic environment. This imaginative act does not readily lend itself to the solution of the problems of modern society except inasmuch as it challenges the very foundations of our economic, political, scientific, and intellectual structures. At the same time, however, as Daoism becomes more influential in the West, even as it is misunderstood, it surely exerts a positive influence with respect to understanding what it means to be embedded in a cosmic landscape. In such an understanding, “nature” is not something outside of us to be dealt with after the fashion of a mechanic repairing a car, but is both a mental attitude to be carefully cultivated and the true condition of one’s body, which contains the infinite dimensions of cosmic reality within itself. Ultimately, nature is to be constructed and visualized time and again. The terrain of our most authentic ecological concern, therefore, is first and foremost the landscape of the religious imagination30

Imagining Daoism Today
Having set out a preliminary sketch of a particular biospiritual worldview of traditional religious Daoism, we are still left with questions about the relevance and creative application of such perspectives to contemporary ecological problems in China and the world. Perhaps, however, these questions should be framed in another way. Thus, it might more fruitfully be asked, “Who speaks for Daoism today?” The answer is not as obvious as it may seem, since exactly who or where the Daoists are today is no easy matter, except to say that there are various fragmentary traditions that continue in China and in the Chinese diaspora, as well as a rudimentary and acculturated Western or American-style Daoism and several related “Daoist” practices. Given the disjointed and sometimes dispirited world of modern-day Daoist practitioners, perhaps it is more properly the “cultured elite,” the scholars, who speak authoritatively for Daoism. Certainly, when it comes to a historical and textual understanding of the tradition, the scholarly community has a lot to say that is important and salutary. In fact, what has been called the partial “resurrection of the Daoist body,” after the disastrous vicissitudes of modern Chinese history, owes much to the labor and influence of scholars during the past quarter century.31 Finally, it may be asked whether even popular commentators have something to offer to the contemporary appropriation of a kind of global and ecologically aware Daoism. As we have already indicated, on the one hand there is much that is simply silly and simpering about many contemporary Western popularizations of the Dao. On the other hand, there is a world of difference between the Pooh Bear perspectives offered by Benjamin Hoff and those much more rigorous and unsentimental literary fabulations envisioned by Ursula Le Guin (see in the this volume the chapter by Jonathan Herman and the epilogue). This is a difference that finally has to do with the hard alchemical work of the human imagination (solve et coagula)—that is, the creative deconstructive reinterpretation and ritual transformation that gives new meaning and ongoing life to any human tradition.32

When it comes to who legitimately speaks for Daoism today, we are too often left with a kind of Dao Wars. The popularizers ignore the scholars; the scholars mock the popularizers; and the practicing Daoists, whether in China or the West, remain mostly quiet (as maybe they should). There is still much to be learned about the history of Daoism, but let us be wary of blithely replacing the “purely” philosophical and mystical Daoism of an earlier generation of scholarship with the “real” religious and scriptural Daoism known today only by a few scholarly experts. Neither the trope of the “spiritually ‘pure’”or the “historically ‘real’” completely captures the imaginative “truth” of Daoism in the past and present. Moreover, the ongoing life of the tradition in both China and the West today confronts a public crossroads of ecological concern that requires a reinterpretation of the past in relation to the contemporary situation. This calls for a creative reappropriation in the present of the earlier Daoist tradition that is both deferential and differential.

During this chaotic period of millennial turning, when virtual worlds are replacing the natural world, the time seems ripe for some Daoist perspectives on the ecological problems of our current situation. Assuredly, these perspectives will be neither definitive nor redemptive, but they may contribute to the gradual and periodic ritual renewal of life on this planet. Furthermore, in a post-Tiananmen Chinese world of Coca-Cola communism, the Daoist tradition, in both its past configurations in China and its contemporary global transformations, has something important to say about the ecological role of the religious imagination for a young generation of Chinese studying at Beijing University and working at McDonalds. It is unlikely that such young urban Chinese will be perusing the canonical Daoist scriptures. But the danger is, perhaps, that the Tao of Pooh will be read in Chinese translation before Le Guin’s The Dispossessed. Finally, it may be said that all of us—urban Chinese and global citizens of the twenty-first century—need the important repository of Daoist efforts to envision the embeddedness of human life within a cosmic landscape. We require a Daoist perspective on these matters if we are to have the creative resources necessary for imagining and realizing a new, and more “translucent,” world of ecological harmony.

The Way Taken
In this volume we have tried to create a flexible structure that respects the current difficulties in the discussion of Daoism and ecology and yet moves toward a productive engagement of the issues. The sectional groupings are somewhat artificial, but, in keeping with the multifaceted nature of the tradition and our inclusive concerns, they serve to organize a rather diverse assortment of papers. There is, however, some logic to our arrangement. After setting forth the mythic landscape of the traditional Daoist vision of organic life as generated from a bipartite cosmic gourd (Stephen Field’s epic poem in the prologue, “The Calabash Scrolls”—a work that evokes much of the agrarian rootedness of Chinese tradition, especially in the metaphorical sense wherein all the “ten thousand things” are but the offspring of a cosmic wonton or primordial man known fondly by Daoists as Hundun or Pangu),33 we proceed from a consideration of the general problems compromising any discussion of Daoism and ecology (section one) to an analysis of perspectives found in Daoist religious texts (section two) and within the larger Chinese cultural context (section three). The papers in section four build on the earlier papers by delineating some of the key issues found in the “classical” texts. These papers then lead to a set of ecological observations on the applicability of modern-day Daoist thought and practice in China and the West (section five and the epilogue). As a coda to each of the major sections, we have appended some synoptic discussion of the themes and questions raised by the individual papers. These short concluding statements on each of the sectional groupings reflect both our own editorial concerns and also some of the commentary provided by respondents at the Harvard conference. At the very end, we have included an annotated bibliography of works on Daoism and ecology.

The first sectional grouping of papers (“Framing the Issues”) specifically takes up the theoretical and historical complications associated with a Daoist approach to the environment. Jordan Paper’s presentation (“‘Daoism’ and ‘Deep Ecology’: Fantasy and Potentiality”) gives us a provocative overview of these difficulties while at the same time suggesting some corrective strategies. Joanne Birdwhistell’s contribution (“Ecological Questions for Daoist Thought: Contemporary Issues and Ancient Texts”) critically addresses some important ecological themes as problematically related to the earliest texts and pointedly raises further questions from a feminist perspective. Michael LaFargue’s paper (“‘Nature’ as Part of Human Culture in Daoism”) extends Birdwhistell’s discussion with an insightful and “confrontational” hermeneutical appraisal of the meaning of “nature” as seen in the Zhuangzi and Laozi. Closing out this section and expanding the discussion beyond the ancient “proto-Daoist” texts are Terry Kleeman’s suggestive reflections on cosmic “order” as found in the Daoist religion (“Daoism and the Quest for Order”).

Following this section is a series of important papers (“Ecological Readings of Daoist Texts”) devoted to the analysis of Daoist religious scriptures. The discussions in this section by Chi-tim Lai (on the Taiping jing, or Scripture of Great Peace), Robert Campany (on Ge Hong), and Zhang Jiyu and Li Yuanguo (on the Yinfu jing, or Scripture of Unconscious Unification) are all pioneering explications of particular religious texts, but it can be said that Kristofer Schipper’s paper on some early Daoist ecological “precepts” (found in the text known as the Yibaibashi, or The One Hundred and Eighty Precepts) has special historical significance and contemporary resonance. Speaking both as an initiated Daoist priest and a renowned academic scholar, Schipper affirms the proposition that religious Daoism traditionally “did not only think about the natural environment and the place of human beings within it, but took consequential action toward the realization of its ideas.”

The papers in section three (“Daoism and Ecology in a Cultural Context”) constitute an especially eclectic grouping inasmuch as they deal generally and comparatively with various cultural themes and folk practices that have some traditional “Daoist” affinity or significance. Thus, Thomas Hahn (“An Introductory Study on Daoist Notions of Wilderness”) interestingly lays out some of the crucial historical and cultural context for understanding the ideas of “nature” and “wilderness” in Chinese tradition and Stephen Field (“In Search of Dragons: The Folk Ecology of Fengshui”) discusses some of the origins of fengshui as one of the “longest lived traditions of environmental planning in the world.” From a broad cultural perspective, E. N. Anderson (“Flowering Apricot: Environmental Practice, Folk Religion, and Daoism”) gives us a perceptive anthropological meditation on agricultural tradition, aspects of Daoist practice, and Chinese folk religion as related to both the past and present. Finally, Jeffrey Meyer’s paper (“Salvation in the Garden: Daoism and Ecology”) evocatively suggests the relevance of Chinese “gardening” as a creatively “inventive” metaphor for a modern Daoist approach to ecology that stresses a collaborative relationship between the natural and the human.

Building on some of the insights brought forth by the earlier papers, the next section, “Toward a Daoist Environmental Philosophy,” includes a series of speculative reflections on the significance (or lack thereof) of the “classical” texts for a contemporary ecological philosophy. David Hall’s and Roger Ames’s papers (respectively, “From Reference to Deference: Daoism and the Natural World” and “The Local and the Focal in Realizing a Daoist World”) are especially intriguing postmodernist reinterpretations of the Daodejing and Zhuangzi. These papers (by authors who are frequent philosophical collaborators) are powerfully illustrative of how ancient Daoist texts can lend themselves to creative philosophical appropriation. Russell Kirkland (“‘Responsible Non-Action’ in a Natural World: Perspectives from the Neiye, Zhuangzi, and Daode jing”) and Lisa Raphals (“Metic Intelligence or Responsible Non-Action? Further Reflections on the Zhuangzi, Daode jing, and Neiye”) more argumentatively take up the contested discourse surrounding the ancient meaning and contemporary moral relevance of wuwei (“non-action”). Kirkland’s hard position concerning the radical non-interventionist implications of wuwei, though contrary to what some would say is the “scholarly consensus,” is nevertheless an important reminder of the difficult “otherness” of ancient texts. In keeping with LaFargue’s perspective on these matters, Kirkland provides us with a “confrontational hermeneutics” that resists too easy (and gravely anachronistic) appropriations of ancient Daoist texts and ideas. Raphals effectively supplements and extends Kirkland’s argument by discussing various forms of “non-interventionist” or “indirect” action in the early Daoist texts and in ancient Greek tradition. On the other hand, Liu Xiaogan (“Non-Action and the Environment Today: A Conceptual and Applied Study of Laozi’s Philosophy,” a paper interestingly augmented by Zhang Jiyu’s Daoist “declaration” in the following section) not only finds a more activist ethic present in the ancient texts, but also provides us with his own interpretive application of ziran (“spontaneity” or “self-so”) and wuwei to modern ecological problems.

The final section (“Practical Ecological Concerns in Contemporary Daoism”) includes papers that theoretically and practically “apply” various aspects of the Daoist tradition to the contemporary ecological situation. Thus, James Miller articulates the ecological implications of Daoist visionary experience as seen in the Highest Clarity tradition (“Respecting the Environment, or Visualizing Highest Clarity”), and Jonathan Herman cogently argues for the significance of the American novelist Ursula Le Guin’s imaginative redaction of Daoism. From a more pragmatic perspective are Zhang Jiyu’s “Declaration of the Chinese Daoist Association on Global Ecology” and the fascinating roundtable discussion by contemporary Western practitioners of various Daoist and quasi-Daoist arts (“Change Starts Small: Daoist Practice and the Ecology of Individual Lives,” a discussion with Liu Ming, René Navarro, Linda Varone, Vincent Chu, Daniel Seitz, and Weidong Lu).

The volume concludes with an epilogue made up of Ursula K. Le Guin’s haunting remarks on her life as a self-styled American Daoist and literary ecologist. This is followed by Le Guin’s plaintive “Tao Song,” a short poetic refrain that picks up and extends Stephen Field’s initial cosmogonic epic about gourds, organic life, and the Dao. In Le Guin’s trenchant sense of things, we are left with a dark yet hopeful song of organic life—verses which tersely and wisely capture much of the Daoist roughhewn celebration of nature.

Ways within a Cosmic Landscape
To conclude these introductory comments, we return to the thematic metaphor of the “landscape” of life, especially as embodied in traditional landscape paintings, gardening, and the cultivation of miniature gardens (penjing) in China. Typically, a Chinese landscape painting (or the microcosm of a garden within a basin) is expressive of the dynamic interrelatedness of the cosmic (the celestial “frame” or “space” of the painting or container), natural (mountainous forms, vegetation, and water), and human (both individual wayfarers and expressions of social life, such as roads and buildings) spheres of life—particularized manifestations of the biosphere that often transparently merge into an organic whole by virtue of an all-pervasive cloudy mist or vaporish qi. Important in these “small worlds” or multiperspectival tableaus of the unity and particularity of life (the manifest or named Dao) is a kind of double irony. Thus, what is “natural” is always in relation to the constructed, imagined, or artificial presence of humanity. At the same time, the natural artificiality of the “landscape” of life, unlike Greek artistic tradition, primarily refers to the profoundly humbled significance of humans in relation to the greater whole. The craft of Chinese landscape art and miniature gardens achieves its “natural” effect and “humanistic” significance by being conspicuously artificial and nonanthropocentric.34

It is this necessary but subdued role of humanity in cooperative relation with nonhuman nature and the cosmos (the “gardening” theme brought out so effectively by Jeffrey Meyer) that hints at the mythological story of creation associated with the cosmic giant known as Pangu (or Pon Ghu in Field’s poem) born of the primordial egg, wonton, or gourd (see the prologue to this volume). The human world is in fact the dismembered body of Pangu from whose body lice are spawned human beings.35 From the very beginning, therefore, humans have infested the greater landscape of life and are cooperatively responsible for the overall health or disease of cosmic life. The question becomes, then, whether this relationship will evolve parasitically and destructively, or symbiotically and productively. What comes to the fore when reflecting on these images is the ubiquity of organic, agricultural, and medicinal metaphors that valorize an intimate cooperation of the human and natural worlds. In some ways, these ideas (as with the overall traditions of landscape painting and gardening) are more pan-Chinese than specifically Daoist.36 Nevertheless, it can be said that Daoists—more so perhaps than either courtly Confucian bureaucrats or sophisticated Buddhist monks—tended to remember ancient mythic themes and ritual practices as ways to rearticulate, temporarily, imaginatively, and artificially, the original unbroken wholeness of individual bodies, particular social worlds, and the infinite cosmos.

The collaborative or participatory relationship with nature generally promoted by the tradition of landscape painting and gardening in China is not a prescription for passivity. As in the broad Daoist spirit of wei-wu-wei, or effective nonegotistical action, humans should respond actively and creatively to the sinuous and often degenerative turnings of life. Thus, a landscape painting commonly depicts the humbled, yet responsive, wayfarer who is consciously striving to find an ascending path up (and into) the mountain of life. Both the destination and the journey have significance in landscape painting. And as Schipper has reminded us, Daoists may even provide us with precepts, signs, and talismans along the way—passports back to an interconnected cosmos. Here again is suggested a kind of generalized Daoist lesson about negotiating the byways of contemporary ecological concern. In many ways, the brokenness and dis-ease of bodies and spirits, as well as the devious bypaths of the mountainous body of life, must be accepted. But this means that it is incumbent upon all of us who inhabit this increasingly fragmented cosmic landscape to walk (together with other wayfarers) a path that cherishes and cultivates the healing interrelatedness of all the “ten thousand things.” We embrace the unnamed Dao of the cosmos only through the myriad speciated de’s of our own local environment—our own patch and parchment of garden.

Daoists may not always be the first to act in times of crisis, nor are they likely to work out elaborate theories of engaged social action, but they have always known that it is imperative to take up a way of life that responds in a timely and imaginative fashion to the dangers of neglect, imbalance, distortion, and degradation that inevitably affect human relations with the natural and cosmic worlds. What is needed is a bodily and spiritual resurrection of what Tuan Yi-fu calls a “topophilia”—that is, an aesthetic respect and a practical love for one’s particular life-scape, a love that has general ecological import because of its rootedness in the specific topography of a lived body and local environment.37 Coming to the end of our journey within the confusing realms of Daoism and ecology is, then, only to be in a position to begin the work of knowing and healing again. In time and because of time, all things—including the natural world itself—require attentive cultivation and responsive care. This, after all, is the “natural” way of things. It is one of the ways—which might be called a “Daoist” or transformative way—to live gracefully, reciprocally, and responsibly within the cosmic landscape of life.

 

Endnotes

1 Concerning the “easy” and “natural” assumption of a special affinity between Daoist tradition and ecological concerns, see, among other examples, J. Baird Callicott, Earth’s Insights (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1994) 67–75. As Callicott says, “contemporary Western environmental ethicists scouring Eastern traditions of thought for ecologically resonant ideas and environmentally oriented philosophies of living have been drawn chiefly to Taoism” (p 67).
Return to text

2 See Benjamin Hoff’s two best-selling “new age” commentaries on Daoism, The Tao of Pooh (New York: Penguin Books, 1982) and The Te of Piglet (New York: Dutton, 1992). On the whole fascinating topic of Americanized “pop” Daoism or Dao-Lite, see N. J. Girardot, “My Way: Teaching the Tao Te Ching and Taoism at the End of the Millennium,” forthcoming in Teaching the Tao Te Ching, ed. Warren Frisinia (New York: Oxford University Press).
Return to text

3 On the experiential “Suzuki-Zen” see Robert H. Sharf, “The Zen of Japanese Nationalism,” in Curators of the Buddha: The Study of Buddhism under Colonialism, ed. Donald S. Lopez, Jr. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 107–60.
Return to text

4 Concerning the checkered history of Western regimes of knowledge concerning Chinese tradition, see J. J. Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought (New York: Routledge, 1997) 37–53; and N. J. Girardot, The Victorian Translation of China: James Legge’s Oriental Pilgrimage (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, forthcoming). Especially important is J. J. Clarke, The Tao of the West: Western Transformations of Taoist Thought (London: Routledge, 2000).
Return to text

5 See also the versions of a particularly popular scatological “definition” of Daoism in relation to other religions; for example, “Shit Happens in Various World Religions” at http://www.ee.pdx.edu/~alf/html/shit-religions.html and the “Canonical List of Shit Happens” at http://www.humorspace.com/humor/lists/lshit.htm.
Return to text

6 See Nathan Sivin, “On the Word ‘Taoist’ as a Source of Perplexity,” History of Religions 17 (1978): 303–30.
Return to text

7 On the nineteenth-century cultural history of the “Protestant,” “missionary,” and “postmillennial” agenda inherent in much Orientalist discourse and comparative religions, see Girardot, Victorian Translation of China. Specifically with regard to Daoism, see N. J. Girardot, “‘Finding the Way’: James Legge and the Victorian Invention of Taoism,” Religion 29 (1999): 107–21. An illustration of some of the difficulty and silliness inherent in the conflation of quasi-religious environmental apprehensions with an enlightened reform of “traditional” and “superstitious” Chinese religious practices is seen in the heavily Westernized Chinese community of Taiwan. Thus, an “environmentally friendly” governmental minister in Taipei recently urged people to stop the wasteful practice of burning wads of imitation spirit-money for the dead. Hsieh Chin-ting, head of the Department of Civil Affairs suggested that using a credit card system in temples would be more ecologically and religiously efficacious since the dead could charge as much as they desired in the afterworld without causing the living to pollute the earthly realm. Directly linking these environmental interests with the traditional “three teachings” of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, Minister Hsieh, as a kind of latter-day Confucian bureaucrat, said he was acutely concerned that “the tons of imitation banknotes burned each year [were] a waste of natural resources.” His solution to this problem was his strong recommendation that “Buddhist and Taoist temples take the lead in bringing about the change” to ghostly credit cards. This article appeared as a syndicated “News of the Weird” item and appeared in the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call, 2 October 1993, under the heading of “Give Dead Credit; Save a Taiwan Tree.”
Return to text

8 On the “depth” of the contemporary ecological movement, see especially Michael E. Zimmerman, Contesting Earth’s Future, Radical Ecology, and Postmodernity (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1994), and The Green Reader: Essays Towards a Sustainable Society, ed. Andrew Dobson (San Francisco, Calif.: Mercury Books, 1991). The best known of the deep ecologists is the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess; see his “The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement: A Summary,” in The Deep Ecology Movement: An Introductory Anthology, ed. Alan Drengson and Yuichi Inoue (Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books, 1995). For an interesting discussion of the Daoist implications of Naess’s deep ecology, see Vanessa Phillips, “The Tao Te Ching and Its Relation to Deep Ecology,” Lehigh Review 7 (spring-fall 1999): 31–39.
Return to text

9 Among other works, see especially Buddhism and Ecology: The Interconnection of Dharma and Deeds, ed. Mary Evelyn Tucker and Duncan Ryuken Williams (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, 1997).
Return to text

10 On the contemporary Daoist concern for the destruction of China’s holy mountains, see Martin Palmer, “Saving China’s Holy Mountains,” People and the Planet 5, no. 1; URL: http://www.oneworld.org/patp/vol5/feature.html.
Return to text

11 Much of the material in this section was contributed by Liu Xiaogan.
Return to text

12 On the situation involving the Three Gorges Dam, see Wu Ming, “A Disaster in the Making,” China Rights Forum, spring 1998, 4–9. A recent discussion of the problem of air pollution in China is found in the Associated Press story on the Beijing “Blue Skies Project” by Elaine Kurtenback, printed in The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.), 23 March 1999, D1, D6.
Return to text

13 Zhang Kunmin, “China’s Environmental Strategy and Environmental Literature” (paper presented at the International Conference on Humankind and Nature: Literature on the Environment, Singapore, 27–30 February 1999).
Return to text

14 Richard Louis Edmonds, “The Environment in the People’s Republic of China Fifty Years On,” China Quarterly 159 (1999): 644.
Return to text

15 According to an official report in 1997, desertification of land throughout China had increased to 27.3 percent. In the 1960s, desertification expanded at the yearly rate of 1,560 km2; by the early 1980s, this had increaed to 2,100 km2. See Diqiu, Ren, Jingzhong [The earth, humankind, and the alarm] (Beijing: China Environmental Science Press, 1997) 153. In the western provinces, the percentage of forested land has been greatly depleted—e.g., 0.35 percent in Qinghai, 0.79 percent in Xinjiang, 1.54 percent in Ningxia, 4.33 percent in Gansu, and 5.84 percent in Tibet. See the article in Lianhe Zaobao, 27 December 1999. From the 1950s to 1970s, deforestation to create new farmland caused the percentage of the forested land in Xishuangbanna to be reduced from 70 percent to 26 percent, and from 35 percent to 26 percent in Hainan. Similarly, because of the movement to reclaim farmland from lakes, the area of the second large Dongting Lake shrank by 60 percent, and the first large Poyang Lake by 50 percent. (Fu Hongchun; “Hongxing Chuqian de Jingjixue,” Lianhe Zaobao, 1999.) The seven major river systems were considered badly polluted or barely acceptable according to the test in 1997, and groundwater and coastal regions are polluted to various degrees. See Zhang Kunmin, “China’s Environmental Strategy and Environmental Literature.”
Return to text

16 Edmonds, “The Environment in the People’s Republic of China,” 641.
Return to text

17Dao Fa Ziran yu Huanjing Baohu, ed. Zhang Jiyu (Beijing: Huaxia Press, 1998) 200–201.
Return to text

18 Most recently during his trip to the United States in April 1999, the Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji participated in a forum on the environment and “spoke frankly of ‘the devastation of Mother Nature’ in China as a result of soil erosion, deforestation, and emissions from factories, cars and coal-burning furnaces, the country’s main source of heat”; Joseph Kahn,”Two Accords with China Billed as Icing Become Part of a Simpler Cake,” New York Times, 10 April 1999; http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/asia/041099china-us.html. For additional discussions of the environmental situation in contemporary China, see the bibliography on energy and environment in China and East Asia, compiled by Timothy C. Weiskel, found on “East and Southeast Asia. An Annotated Directory of Internet Resources,” http://newton.uor.edu/departments&programs/asianstudiesdept/china-science.html
Return to text.

19 On the international organization of “sino-ecologists,” see the following URL: http://sevilleta.unm.edu/~yyang/sino-eco/about.html.
Return to text

20 See, in this volume, Roger T. Ames, “The Local and Focal in Realizing a Daoist World,” and David L. Hall, “From Reference to Deference: Daoism and the Natural World.”
Return to text

21 See, in this volume, James Miller, “Respecting the Environment/Visualizing Highest Clarity.”
Return to text

22 Also see Palmer’s discussion of these developments in his “Saving China’s Holy Mountains,” p. 2.
Return to text

23 Important new translations of Daoist religious scriptures are found in: The Taoist Experience: An Anthology, ed. Livia Kohn (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1993); Steven Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1997); and Eva Wong, Teachings of the Tao (Boston: Shambhala, 1997).
Return to text

24 See Isabelle Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, trans. Phyllis Brooks (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1997).
Return to text

25 On Orthodox Unity Daoism practiced in Taiwan today, see especially Kristofer Schipper, The Taoist Body, trans. Karen Duval (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1993).
Return to text

26 For an engaging fictional portrait of the founders of the Complete Perfection school, see Eva Wong’s translation The Seven Taoist Masters (Boston: Shambhala, 1990).
Return to text

27 There is still no reliable discussion of these Westernized forms of Daoism, but see Solala Towler, A Gathering of Cranes: Bringing the Tao to the West (Eugene, Ore.: Abode of the Eternal Tao, 1996). See also the Frost Bell, the interesting newsletter of “Orthodox Daoism in America” published in Santa Cruz, California. Liu Ming (= Charles Belyea) is the leader of this organization. On Liu Ming, see, in this volume, “Change Starts Small: Daoist Practice and the Ecology of Individual Lives.”
Return to text

28 Most of this section (“The Ecological Landscape of Religious Daoism”) was originally published by James Miller as “Daoism and Ecology,” in Earth Ethics 10, no. 1 (fall 1998): 26–27.
Return to text

29 On the phenomenology of Daoist “immortals,” see especially Isabelle Robinet, “The Taoist Immortal: Jesters of Light and Shadow, Heaven and Earth,” in Myth and Symbol in Chinese Tradition, ed. N. J. Girardot and John S. Major, symposium issue of the Journal of Chinese Religions 13–14 (1985–1986): 87–106. Concerning the origins of the Highest Clarity tradition see also Isabelle Robinet, Taoist Meditation, trans. Julian Pas and N. J. Girardot (Albany, N.Y.: State Universtiy of New York Press, 1992).
Return to text

30 From a comparative perspective see, for example, Simon Schama, Landscape and Memory (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995).
Return to text

31 For a discussion of some of these issues, see N. J. Girardot, “Kristofer Schipper and the Resurrection of the Taoist Body,” in Kristofer Schipper, The Taoist Body, trans. Karen Duval (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1993) ix–xviii.
Return to text

32 For an interesting discussion of how the “bad scholarship” of popular interpretations of Daoism may sometimes result in “good religion,” see Julia M. Hardy, “Influential Western Interpretations of the Tao-te-ching,” in Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching, ed. Livia Kohn and Michael LaFargue (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1998) 165–88.
Return to text

33 On these mythic themes, see N. J. Girardot, Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism: The Theme of Hun-tun (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1988).
Return to text

34 See, among other works, Mai-mai Sze, The Tao of Painting: A Study of the Ritual Disposition of Chinese Painting (New York: Pantheon Books, 1956); Dusan Pajin, “Environmental Aesthetics and Chinese Gardens,” <http://dekart.f.bg.ac.yu/~dpajin/gardens/> ; Lothar Ledderose, “The Earthly Paradise: Religious Elements in Chinese Landscape Art,” in Theories of the Arts in China, ed. Susan Bush and Christian Murk (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1983) 165–83; and Kiyohiko Munakata, “Mysterious Heavens and Chinese Classical Gardens,” RES 15 (1988): 61–88. On miniature gardens, see the classic work by Rolf Stein, Le Monde en petit: Jardins en miniature et habitations dans la pensée religieuse d’Extrême-Orient (Paris: Flammarion, 1987), translated by Phyllis Brooks as The World in Miniature (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1990).
Return to text

35 For some discussion of the Pangu mythology, see Stephen Field, “In a Calabash: A Chinese Myth of Origins,” Talus 9/10 (1997), particularly pp. 52–55. See also Yuan Ke, Dragons and Dynasties: An Introduction to Chinese Mythology, trans. Kim Echlin and Nie Zhixiong (London: Penguin Books, 1993); and Anne Birrell, Chinese Mythology: An Introduction (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993).
Return to text

36 See Miranda Shaw, “Buddhist and Taoist Influences on Chinese Landscape Painting,” Journal of the History of Ideas 49 (1988): 183–206; and Shen Shan-hong, “The Influence of Tao in the Development of Chinese Painting” (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1978)
Return to text

37 On the theme of “topophilia,” see Tuan Yi-fu, Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974). It should be noted that the geographer Tuan is not at all sanguine about organized religions (including Daoism) contributing to a revived topophilia in the contemporary world. For a statement from the “sociobiological” perspective concerning the interconnectedness of all life forms, see Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984).
Return to text

    Copyright © 2001 Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School.
Reprinted with permission.