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Hua Shan to be managed as a DAOIST mountain for the first time in 70 years

July 22 2008:

The northern side of Hua Shan

In a major about-turn in management policy, all the decision-making bodies on the Chinese Daoist mountain of Hua Shan have decided to build their management programme around the fact that this is a Daoist Sacred Mountain, rather than simply an important wild place for tourism.

A management team from the mountain will be coming to Europe in November at their own expense, to discuss water management, sewage, impact of tourism, forest and biodiversity management with European ecological experts – with meetings organised by ARC and our Dutch sister organisation EMF. It will include the Master of the China Daoist Association on Hua Shan who for the first time will be a full member of the management bureau – a sign of the major new partnership between the Communist party and the Daoists, suggested - and then brokered - by ARC.

“This is a major new development,” said ARC’s secretary general Martin Palmer. “Something that we recommended 10 years ago has now come to fruition.”

This news comes at a time when ARC’s 13-year collaboration with the Daoists to help them manage their sacred mountains more ecologically reaches a new stage - with a major conference in Maoshan Daoist Temple (near Jurong City) in November, the opening up of new projects on other sacred mountains following surveys carried out by ARC in 2005 and earlier, consolidation on the lessons learned from the establishment of the first Daoist Ecology Temple two years ago and new collaborations between the Central Government and the Daoists partly brokered by ARC.

We have decided to mark this new stage by publishing a document on the China Sacred Mountains Project, which contains rare information about two of the most sacred Daoist mountains – Hua Shan and Qingchen Shan.

Daoist shrine on Hua Shan
1. The Sacred Mountains Project

The Sacred Mountains Project. Link here for our original document, updated in 2008, including details of how a 10 percent toll to Daoists on one mountain has now led to the renewal of many traditional buildings (destroyed in the Cultural Revolution) and the renaissance of Daoism on the mountain.

2. October 27 to 29, 2008: “Dao follows the Natural Path --- China Ecological Daoist Temple Forum”

Held in Maoshan Daoist Temple near Jurong city, Jiangsu, hosted by the Daoist Association of Jiangsu Province, with ARC, EMF, UNDP and WWF International as international supporter. The event is co-organised by Maoshan Daoist Temple and Taibaishan Tiejia Ecological Daoist Temple with between 60 and 80 Daoist masters from major Daoist temples throughout the whole of China to discuss:

* A review of the ecological Daoist temple

Daoist god on Mt Tai Bai Shan, in the first Daoist Ecology Temple
* Setting up targets for this and for future ecological Daoist temples

* The Seven Year Plan, and how the Daoists will interpret it.

* Experiences of tackling environmental problems (with five Daoist masters representing key temples giving presentations)

* Exploring Daoist thinking and practise on Sacred Land at a theological level.

* Developing Daoist wisdom on nature through Daoist ritual

* Organising the “Daoists Temple Alliance on Ecology Education” at national levels.

Based on these discussion, a draft Seven Year plan will be produced and presented in a completion ceremony of the whole event on 29th October. The China Daoist Association will then have a year to discuss this draft before announcing its official Seven Year Plan in November 2009.

3. Educational materials

These will be passed to Daoist masters to bring back to their temple for wider distribution.

a. “Booklet for the Ecological Daoist Temple”, aimed at Daoist masters with 200 copies printed for distribution to every major Daoist temple and organisation in China. It will also be available as a free download on the internet.

It will include classic quotations from Laozi and other important figures on ecological issues. These will be divided into morning, afternoon, and evening to enable Daoist monks to chant the quotation accordingly so that this booklet could live with and through Daoist monks’ everyday life. It will also contain theological understandings of the relationship between human and nature, a list of traditional Daoist Temples which have instituted good ecological management (in forest protection, animal protection, sustainable architecture etc) and which can act as models for others. It will also contain the story of building Taibaishan Tiejia ecological Daoist temple, and some Simple Advice to the followers of Daoism, appropriate for use as a leaflet.

b. “Simple advice to the followers of Daoism”,

This is aimed at lay people, and will be a two sided three-folded leaflet But before the classic quotation, some simple questions about environmental problems will be asked in the beginning, this will enable readers to think the issues personally, to bring them closer to the issues. Around 20000 copies will be produced initially, on recycled paper.

The back cover will be a diagram like Daoist amulet (charm) so that people would appreciate it and keep it as spiritually significant. This is based upon traditional Daoist practice of combining information with talismanic powers.

Background to the Daoist Sacred Mountains Programme

The Daoist Sacred Mountains Programme was one of the very first ARC undertook. Its origins lie in the China Daoist Association's participation in the Summit on Religions and Conservation held in 1995 in Japan and the United Kingdom, which was launched by HRH Prince Philip and which resulted in ARC’s formation.

During these meetings the China Daoist Association formally joined ARC and committed itself to nature conservation, since "Daoist teaching requires that the Daoist must protect the natural environment ...".

The China Daoist Association initially invited ARC to advise on the state of seven of its sacred mountains. After ARC representatives had visited these seven mountains, it was decided that more detailed research would be undertaken on Hua Shan in Shaanxi Province and Qingcheng Shan in Sichuan, as places of combined and inseparable natural and Daoist significance, in order to establish a broad understanding of the issues and problems confronting all such sacred mountains in China.

This led into a 10-year programme of working with the Daoists and then with the Buddhist Association of China on the protection of sacred mountains.

Since 1996 ARC has continued to work with the China Daoist Association on developing strategies to help them participate in managing their sacred mountains and in creating training and education for Daoists on ecology in general and protection of sacred mountains in particular, culminating in the development in 2006 of the Taibaishan Daoist Ecology Temple and training centre in the Qinling mountains of Shaanxi Province - and at the same time the creation of a Daoist Temple Ecology Organization run by and for Chinese Daoists.


Link here for a story about how the sage Lao Zi has become the first Daoist Deity of Ecological protection.

Link here for a story about the dedication of the Taibaishan Ecology Temple.

And here for more details about the workshops at the Taibaishan Ecology Temple.

Link here for the Qinling Declaration

Link here for ARC's speech at the first Daodejing conference.

Link here for photographs from the opening of the Daoist Ecology Temple, including a picture of the sacred tree at the base of the Tai Bai mountain, and another showing the ritual welcoming of the gods by the monks of Louguantai temple.

Link here for a presentation in Chinese from Master Dao of Louguantai temple, about how he has started to walk the path of ecology.

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