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« Friday I Ching Blogging: Hope for the New York Yankees! | Main | A Little Tu Fu »

August 05, 2007


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"The Master fished with a line but not with a net; when shooting he did not aim at a resting bird."

"The Master said: 'To conduct the government of a state of a thousand chariots there must be religious attention to business and good faith, economy in expenditure and love of the people, and their employment on public works at the proper seasons.'"

Not to mention the "Confucianism and Ecology" series that Mary Evelyn Tucker edited . . .

Yes, but he did not ask about the horses and said that he cared for Ritual, not the sheep (was it sheep? Don't have my book here with me...)

Zhang Zai expounded the sympathy of all things, on account of the identity of their underlying basis. Confucianist metaphysics is animist. The great emptiness gives rise to qi, which compose all things. Consciousness is a function of the mind. Because the mind is changeable, it necessarily arose from qi. Therefore we know that qi is responsible for consciousness. This doctrine is confirmed by Zhuzi when he said that gods and ghosts arise from qi. It is also because the all things are conscious, that sincerity can move heaven and earth.

The basis of Confucianism is its ritual science. The ancients communed with mountains and valleys, rivers and lakes, and all terrestrial spirits.

Actually, the best way to protect the environment is to curb desires. This is what the Cheng brothers taught when they recommended the extinction of human desires and the preservation of the heavenly principle. All things partake of the heavenly principle. How should I then injure them for my own pleasure!

Concerning Taoism, it seems you make a distinction between daojia and daojiao, which in my view is untenable. If you don't make this distinction, the obvious Taoist approach toward environmentalism would be their study of metaphysics and fengshui.

Because the modern academia is influenced by Enlightenment rationalism, it anachronistically imposes the distinction between philosophy and religion in its study of ancient things. An unbiased approach toward Confucianism and Taoism would reveal their common basis in shamanism and archaic Chinese religion. The relationship between shamanism and environmental protection has been explored by many others, some better than others.

I should have read this comment before I commented on you other comment - then I would have realized that the taojia v. taojiao distinction is not tenable for you. I suspect Chuang Tzu would agree, since all distinctions are untenable for him. But I still find something helpful in it, especially since I tend to accept a more definite notion of death suggested in Chuang Tzu - no after life, no reincarnation as such, just wandering beyond the dust of this world...

Dear Sam:

I thought of more ideas relevant to Confucianism and environmentalism. The two classical narratives are of course Great Yu and water-management, and Tang and the birds. In both instances, there are clear references to sustainability, the dangers of going too far, and the need to balance men and nature's interests.

The other thing is the Confucianist view of tiandao. Heaven is active, whereas men are passive. The world of man is the microcosm, which is ultimately subjected to the macrocosm of heaven. Therefore, men must adjust themselves according to the days and the seasons, as well as astrological influences. It follows that wise men curb their excesses by observing the signs of heaven, before they are stricken by the wrath of nature.

In addition, heaven, earth, and men reflect each other. A vigorous natural environment is a sign of the favour of heaven, whereas pollution indicates moral corruption in the government. Because what is corrupt must be removed in order that good may flourish - pollution is sufficient cause for revolution.

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