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ARC Home > Faiths and Ecology > Daoism :

What does Daoism teach us about ecology?

This ancient temple hangs precariously onto the side of Heng Shan, a sacred mountain where Taoist monks meditate close to nature, and pilgrims come to pray.

Four main principles of Daoism guide the relationship between humanity and nature:

1. Follow the Earth

The Dao De Jing says: 'Humanity follows the Earth, the Earth follows Heaven, Heaven follows the Dao, and the Dao follows what is natural.' Daoists therefore obey the Earth. The Earth respects Heaven, Heaven abides by the Dao, and the Dao follows the natural course of everything. Humans should help everything grow according to its own way. We should cultivate the way of no-action and let nature be itself.

2. Harmony with nature

In Daoism, everything is composed of two opposite forces known as Yin and Yang. The two forces are in constant struggle within everything. When they reach harmony, the energy of life is created. Someone who understands this point will not exploit nature, but will treat it well and learn from it. It is obvious that in the long run, the excessive use of nature will bring about disaster, even the extinction of humanity.

3. Too much success

If the pursuit of development runs counter to the harmony and balance of nature, even if it is of great immediate interest and profit, people should restrain themselves from it. Insatiable human desire will lead to the over-exploitation of natural resources. To be too successful is to be on the path to defeat.

4. Affluence in bio-diversity

Daoism has a unique sense of value in that it judges affluence by the number of different species. If all things in the universe grow well, then a society is a community of affluence. If not, this kingdom is on the decline. This view encourages both government and people to take good care of nature. This thought is a special contribution by Daoism to the conservation of nature.

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Related information

Daoist Ecology Centre
In July 2006, ARC launched a significant new development to protect the sacred mountain of Taibaishan
Daoist Faith Statement
Formal statement of Daoist beliefs about ecology: "If all things in the universe grow well, then a society is a community of affluence. If not, this kingdom is on the decline."
ARC's diary
Link here for key ARC talks, meetings, radio interviews etc.