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Daoists announce first ecology workshop on sacred mountain

June 22, 2006:

Groundbreaking ceremony at the Taibaishan Tiejia Ecological Daoist temple in October 2005

Daoists in Shaanxi province are planning their first conservation workshop on the sacred mountain of Taibaishan in central China.

It is the first step in Taibaishan Tiejia Ecological Daoist temple becoming an important base for raising environmental awareness among Daoists all over the country. The temple, destroyed in the Cultural Revolution, was rebuilt this year by the monks of Louguantai and the Black-river Forest Park, with support from ARC, Ecological Management Foundation (EMF) and WWF.

The two-day event in late July will combine discussions on Daoism’s traditional teachings about ecology with practical suggestions of how to tackle specific problems faced by Daoists today - for example, ecological issues around the ingredients in Traditional Chinese Medicine. A fuller is at the bottom of this page.

Some 14 Daoist monks from all over the province will be invited to discuss the role that their faith has played, and can play, in caring for nature – and in how they can teach and encourage other people to do the same. The workshop will also be attended by representatives from the Chinese government who will come to learn about how Daoists can be empowered to act as conservationists.

Dr He Xiaoxin, ARC’s project manager and herself an expert in Daoist architecture and conservation, will lead a discussion about how to raise awareness about environmental concerns within the Daoist community, as well as giving background information on how other faiths have tackled similar issues.

Professor Fan Guangchun of Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences, and a leading expert on Daoism, will give a special presentation on how Daoist temples have traditionally made contributions to their surroundings – including three case studies of temples in Northwest China, which have acted positively to protect the ecology of their area. As well as his academic role, Professor Fan is also an advisor to the World Bank on protecting and developing temples in Shaanxi Province.

"In Daoism, everything is composed of two opposite forces known as Yin and Yang. Yin represents the female, the cold, the soft and so forth; Yang represents the male, the hot, the hard and so on. The two forces are in constant struggle within everything. When they reach harmony, the energy of life is created. From this we can see how important harmony is to nature. Someone who understands this point will see and act intelligently. Otherwise, people will probably violate the law of nature and destroy the harmony of nature." Daoist statement on ecology.
This workshop is the first step in a long-term educational programme on ecological issues conducted by Daoists in China. It is hoped that the next workshop, to be held in early summer 2007, will be open to monks from all over the country.

It will be hosted by Louguantai Daoist Academy - with head of Louguantai and Secretary-General of the Daoist Association of Shaanxi Province Master Ren as the major organiser, and with support from ARC, EMF, WWF and the Daoism Research Centre at the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences. Dr He will co-ordinate the event.

THE DESIRED outcomes of the first Taibaishan Ecological Workshop include:

* Enabling the Taibaishan temple to became a base for raising environmental awareness in China

* Working with the Daoists on making leaflets and educational materials for pilgrims to read on site and to take home, to teach them how to look after nature, in line with their own beliefs.

* Enabling each participant to return home with some agreed, achievable action points.

* Preparing for a second workshop in early summer 2007, attended by Daoist priests from all over China. This workshop will be part of the official opening ceremony of the Ecological centre.

PROVISIONAL AGENDA FOR THE JULY 2006 WORKSHOP AT Taibaishan Tiejia Ecological Daoist Temple, Shaanxi Province, China


* Case Studies: The workshop will look at Daoist temples that are already helping protect their surroundings - as well as looking at the underlying Daoist philosophy and sense of social responsibility that has inspired their activities.

* How Chinese Daoists can make contributions towards the environment today. Master Ren of Louguantai Daoist Academy will discuss the social responsibility of Daoist priests today – to protect nature themselves and also to introduce ideas about caring for nature to other Daoists.

* Faiths and Conservation: Dr He Xiaoxin of ARC will lead a general discussion how other religions deal with ecological issues, as well as discussing why environmental concerns should be part of Daoist practice and what are the most effective ways of addressing these concerns.

* Key Actions: ARC’s two consultants - Dr He and Peter Zhao - will lead discussions on key actions that Daoists can carry out in order to protect their landscape. These are expected to include energy-saving, reassessing landuse, protecting watercourses and (one of the most important roles of Daoism on the current world-map of conservation) making sure that Traditional Chinese Medicine practices and ingredients do not threaten rare and endangered species.

* The Story of the Taibaishan Tiejia Ecological Daoist Temple. ARC will lead a discussion about the Taibaishan Ecological Temple - firstly in its role as a model project which Daoists might duplicate on other sacred mountains, and secondly in its own right – as a temple and ecological centre that needs its own individual management plan to ensure that its work will flow along the true path of Daoism.


* INDIVIDUAL CASES: Each Daoist talks about their own temple, describing their experiences in conservation issues and the problems they are facing. Discussions include how to take action on raising awareness within local communities.

* SUPPORT NETWORKS: Everyone discusses the practicalities of setting up a network to allow them to share their experiences with each other in the future.

* THE FUTURE: The workshop ends by discussing future projects - on both practical and educational issues

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Related pages

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."
November 3, 2005:
Daoists dedicate temple and ecology centre on Taibaishan
Through astrological dances, chanting, processions, invocations and offerings, the three great gods of Taibaishan blessed the site of a Daoist ecology centre on their sacred mountain.
June 22, 2006:
Daoists announce first ecology workshop on sacred mountain
Daoists will hold their first conservation workshop at the end of July 2006 - on the pilgrimage mountain of Taibaishan in central China.