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Taoists on a mission to promote ancient lore

chinadaily 2013-11-01

Chinese Taoists will embark on a cultural exchange tour to Europe on Thursday to promote the philosophy, which they believe can encourage world peace and promote environmental protection.

The Chinese Taoist Association said on Monday at a press conference that it will launch its maiden overseas culture exchange in Europe from Sept 26 to Oct 6 to promote Taoist culture.

A delegation of 81 members will start the exchange in Brussels, then go to London and Oxford in the United Kingdom, finishing the trip in Paris.

The delegation will show off Taoist pictures, costumes, paintings, musical instruments and videos. There will also be lectures on Taoist philosophy, as well as musical and martial arts performances.

Taoism is an ancient Chinese tradition with roots stretching back thousands of years. However, the sage Lao Tze (571-471 BC) is often identified as the founding father of the tradition.

According to his famous philosophical work Tao De Ching, everything in the universe is born from emptiness, and a balance must be achieved between human beings and nature.

Meng Zhiling, deputy secretary-general of the association, said the exhibition will highlight both the Taoist cultural heritage and the lives of Taoists today.

Lectures will be presented on the philosophy of ecology and health preservation, issues that are increasingly of concern to people, he said.

Meanwhile, the delegation will present copies of Taoist classics to universities and academic institutions. Several foreign researchers and academics are expected to take part in the European visit, contributing their long experience in the study of Taoism. They will take part in presentations and provide translations of captions for the exhibition.

The association has previously been on cultural exchanges to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and several countries in Southeast Asia, but this is the first time it has organized an overseas exchange entirely on its own initiative, said Yin Zhihua, deputy director of the association's international department.

Wang Zheyi, secretary-general of the association, said: “The purpose of the cultural exchange isn't to make more foreigners become Taoist believers, but to help the Taoist culture to play its role in Western societies in maintaining world peace, protecting the environment, keeping ecological balance and so on.”

Yin said that the appeal of Taoism has been spreading abroad in recent years.

Taoist associations have been set up by foreigners in more than 10 countries in Europe and the Americas, Yin said.

At the request of foreign delegates to the International Taoist Forum in China in 2011, the China Taoist Association is planning to establish a broadly representative World Taoist Association, Yin said. The proposal is currently under consideration by government authorities.


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