Have you seen the stairs of rice paddies in the mountainous region of China? How did they develop these fertile fields in the dry and barren hills of southwestern China? How could Chinese people in the old days, on one hand, plough an artificial field, and on the other hand, maintain a naturally sustainable farmland? Indeed, those rice paddy stairs are just the perfect example of the Chinese anthropocosmic view – tianrenheyi (unity of heaven and humanity).  The article, “Chinese Cosmology and the Environment,” written by Robert P. Weller in the volume Chinese Religious Life (Oxford University Press, 2011), offers a brief overview of Chinese ideas about the relations between humans and their environment as seen through the various religious traditions. For more information, please read the full article.

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Robert P. Weller: Religion and the environment

Robert P. Weller, the author of the above article, elucidated the concept of “anthropocosmism” in his writing, showing the harmonious relationship between “human” and “nature” in Chines tradition. However, we should not ignore one simple fact, as Weller said, “the environment is a mess in China.” Media often files reports on river dried up, poisonous smog and excessive coal mining… Is Chinese people now living an “anthropocosmic” way? Can Chinese religious traditions help improve the environment? Please watch how Weller explains.

Robert P. Weller: Daoism and the environment

Some westerners believe that Daoism teaches people to live at one with the nature. This stereotypical perspective, as Robert P. Weller comments, is an “abuse of Daoism” which takes a “particular western idealized vision of humanity and nature.” Then, what is the Dao? How can Daoism be related to the environment? In the interview, Weller brings up his unique viewpoint and tells the story of “The Dexterous Butcher” by Zhuangzi.