daoist religion and ecotourism: a visit to maoshan

Submitted by James Miller on Thu, 09/02/2010 - 12:51
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In May this year I had the opportunity to visit Maoshan (Mt. Mao) a Daoist mountain sacred to the Shangqing (Highest Clarity) tradition of Daoism that I studied in my most recent book. Located in Jiangsu province, it is about an hour’s bus ride south of Zhenjiang, a stop on the main high speed railway from Shanghai to Nanjing. I was interested to visit Maoshan not only because of my historical research, but because it was the site of the Maoshan declaration, which in 2008 committed China’s Daoist Association to a ten year program of ecological protection. The result of my visit is a mixed assessment of the possibilities and problems associated with the practical implementation of Daoism and ecology. I’ll be presenting the full details of my conclusions at the forthcoming SASASAAS conference at Furman University on September 24-25, but I’d like to present some key findings now. First of all, the encounter between Daoism  and Ecology has to be understood from the perspective of China’s engagement with modernity and especially science. “Ecology” in Chinese does not signify a Romantic attachment to nature undefiled by human habitation, but rather a modern, scientific and ultimately technological enterprise. To make Daoist [...]