By Ye Xiaonan (People's Daily Overseas Edition, October 27, 2011)
The closing ceremony of the international Taoism forum and a prayer meeting for world harmony concluded at Hengshan Mountain of Hunan province on Oct. 25. The forum has made the "Nanyue Declaration," which states that "being simple and sincere can help people to secure a peaceful mind, and following the laws of nature will ensure sustainable development," "respecting public lives will generate common prosperity" and "striving to promote harmony between heaven and mankind as well as world peace."
More than 500 attendees from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and 19 countries communicated during the world’s largest Taoist forum and witnessed the profound Taoist culture.
Spreading Taoism across the world
Chang Cheng, president of the Taoism Society of Taiwan, said that the book Tao Te Ching has become the second best-selling book in the West, only after the Bible. It has been translated into about 500 languages in the world.
A Japanese Taoist said during the forum that Japanese Taoist temples are working on the collection, analysis and research on the Taoist materials that were written in Chinese and preserved by Japan's first generation of Taoists during the country's Edo Period. Japanese people have not only built Taoist venues across the country, but they have also published clear and simple modern versions of the Tao Te Ching and popularized the book through the Internet.
Lin Zhou, deputy president of Chinese Taoist Association, said that Taoism has taken root in many countries and regions, and Taoist believers and followers can be seen in many places around the world. Overseas Chinese make up the majority of Taoist believers outside of China. Wherever there are a large number of Chinese people, there will be Taoist believers. Many Taoist temples have been built in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the United States, France and other countries. Moreover, many Westerners have become Taoist believers, and a lot of foreign universities and academies have been doing extensive research into Taoism.
Why Taoism is so attractive to foreigners
A foreign believer with the Taoist name "Jingxiang" said that Taoism clarified his confusions and became his spiritual home.
"When proselytizing abroad, I have found that Westerners can easily accept Taoist concepts, such as the harmony among all things and the integration of Yin and Yang. Many of them are also interested in the Taoist theories of preserving one's health, so Taoism is becoming increasingly attractive and popular," Taoist priest Huang Shizhen said.
Experts said that Taoism, which originated and developed in China, has a long history and rich doctrines. Currently, the whole world faces a series of issues, such as energy crises and the deterioration of global ecological environment, which have drawn many people's attention to the Taoist principles of following the law of nature and being kind to all living things.
Further promoting Taoism in the world
Respecting Taoism, cherishing virtues and co-existing harmoniously are the themes of the Taoist forum. After discussing Taoism for three days, the Taoists from China and foreign countries all had a deeper understanding about subjects such as "following nature," "valuing and enjoying the life," "being kind to all lives" and "returning to the original simplicity." Meanwhile, they also widely discussed the issue of further promoting Taoist culture in the world.
The director of the China Taoism Association Ren Farong said that China has proposed the strategy of sustainable development and the great goal of jointly building up a harmonious society and is calling for international communities to harmoniously co-exist with their neighbors and achieve win-win situations. It is a good medicine for treating the various contradictions of the current world, which has attracted a lot of attention and achieved quite good results.
Martin Palmer said that, with the powerful modern media, they could use books, the Internet and audio-visual products to introduce the Taoism to Westerners so that more Westerners will know about and like it even if they have never been to China.