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EMF and the Daoist Mountains

Allerd Stikker of EMF, at Lambeth 2005:

When I was a student in the early 1940s, studying chemical engineering, I was given the assignment to make a particular organic dyestuff in the laboratory for organic chemistry. It took me weeks and many failures to produce this complicated compound. But one day, returning to my room I discovered that in just one day, a plant in the window had produced a flower with a beautiful colour, from just earth, water, air and light. It dawned on me that the ways of nature are very different from the ways of technology.

Later, in the mid 1960s, I read the works of Jesuit Priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and his concept of an evolving universe, cosmogenesis, and the role of the human individual as co-creative in this “work-in-progress” inspired me to do what I do today. In Teilhard’s words: “building the earth”.

When I was a chemical engineering student I was given the task of making a particularly difficult organic dyestuff. It took me weeks and many failures. And one day, returning to my room, I discovered that a plant in the window had produced a flower with exactly colour, from just earth, water, air and light. And in less than a day."
In 1985, I wrote a book on the idea of the interconnectedness of things based on the insights of Teilhard and those of Daoism, with particular focus on ecology and economy and this work earned me a research MA degree at the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Leeds University in 1986. In the late 1980s I initiated an interdisciplinary project in Taiwan on how the economic miracle of the Far East was turning into an ecological disaster.

The report, Balancing Economic Growth and Environmental Protection, published by Taiwan National University in 1989, was officially acknowledged by the Taiwan Government as a guideline for the future.

During this period I became more familiar with the Daoist worldview and became enchanted by Guanyin, the goddess of compassion “who listens to the sounds of the world” and whose image is to be found in so many temples and homes in Taiwan. She represents for me a practical link between spirituality and reality. Her symbol is the Lotus flower, from the White Lotus Sutra.

Based on the experiences with the business sector in Taiwan, I decided in 1990 to set up my Ecological Management Foundation (EMF), initiating projects that promote connections between economic and ecological principles in the world of business.

Having worked with the Dutch Rabobank on sustainable water management, I was invited in 2002 by Jean Pierre Sweerts for a dinner with, I was told, some “very interesting guests”. They were Brian Pilkington and Martin Palmer from ARC. When it turned out that Martin had written a book on Guanyin, it seemed that the laws of serendipity had done their work.

I feel privileged to have been invited to many gatherings of ARC since, and also to be participating in 3iG's “Water Cluster”.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to co-sponsor ARC’s Qinling Sacred Mountain Ecology project in China, together with the China Daoism Association and WWF China. I hope this project will help prevent China from neglecting the ecological aspect of economic growth.

When we visit the completed site and temples in October, it will be a moving experience for me, as all the roads I have travelled over the past 60 years will seem to have converged. It will be a chance once again to remember that student experience with the flower, and the wonders of nature.

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