An international forum on Daodejing
, the hailed Taoist
classic, opened in Xi'an of Shaanxi Province
yesterday with officials
predicting that the event would help bolster efforts to create a
harmonious society through the wisdom of Taoism.
A dazzling opening ceremony lit up the city's Nanmen Square last
night through a magnificent art performance titled "Limitless Tao."
The show blended together elements of song and dance, opera and
kung fu as well as Taoist choirs and the angelic voice of folk
soprano Tan Jing. Thousands in the audience absorbed the
atmosphere, including senior officials, top Taoist scholars and
guests from 17 countries.
Liu Yandong, vice chairwoman of the National Committee of the
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), addressed the crowd during the opening
ceremony, saying that "the wisdom of Daodejing transcends
time, space, ideologies and countries, and is as fresh as ever
She said that the path to a harmonious society lay "in the
guidance of a concept and culture of harmony. As globalization and
modernization become ever more present, we must as always promote
the fine traditions of the Chinese nations, including tapping the
full extent of the Daodejing. We must display its full
relevance to the modern world, its pursuit of the law, its
advocating of friendship and self-discipline. In this way, this
cultural classic, passed down the ages across religious and
national boundaries, will play a new role in the new era."
Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee Jia Qinglin sent a congratulatory message to
the forum, which read, "Daodejing is part of the critical
canon in Chinese traditional culture. The rich contents, broad
philosophy and concepts enshrined therein, have captured the
attention of the nation for over 2,000 years."
"It gives a clear moral compass for the concerns of life,
society and the environment. It will surely reveal its importance
as we move toward a harmonious society and further to a harmonious
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former French President Valery
Giscard d'Estaing, and Buckingham Palace's Prince Philip all sent
messages of congratulations, praising it for its efforts to bring
about "world harmony and peace."
Zhang Jiyu, vice chairman of China Taoism Association,
exclusively told China.org.cn yesterday afternoon, that widespread
misconceptions about Taoism had prevented it from being truly and
correctly understood. He dismissed the claims that Taoism was
simply a matter of fortune-telling, exorcisms and other mystical
matters. The Daodejing was chosen as the forum's central
topic since it would allow Taoists to spread the book's philosophy
in a way to positively influence popular opinion on Taoism.
"Its culture belongs to the entire world," he said. "We should
be proud of Daodejing and Taoism since it can increase our
own cultural self-confidence as a nation."
Qi Xiaofei, vice president of China's Religious Culture
Communication Association and deputy director of the State
Administration of Religious Affairs, agreed but argued that the
Daodejing stretched back further even than Taoism. The
Daodejing's focus is to enable the celebration of a
central philosophy that has impacted on a plethora of old Chinese
schools of thought over many centuries.
However, as a religion native to China, Taoism must still
develop further. Experts have pointed out the growing number of
political and economic forums in China such as the
recently-concluded Boao Forum for Asia, but decried the lack of
cultural and religious equivalents.
Zhang Jiyu confessed that difficulties remain, but said that
Taoism was enjoying its most prosperous time since the Ming Dynasty
The Daodejing's value was first brought to the Western
world in the 16th century with German philosopher Wilhelm Friedrich
Hegel hailing it as revealing "the fundamental principle that the
Chinese people recognize is reason, or the Way (Tao). It is the
foundation of heaven and earth, the source of all
things. Chinese people respect all methods that praise Tao as
the most advanced scholarship. In particular, the
Daodejing by Laozi has earned the highest esteem."
The forum, jointly sponsored by the Chinese Taoism Association
and the China Religious Culture Communication Association, will run
from April 22 to 27 in Xi'an and Hong Kong, the first such event
organized in China for 50 years.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Zhang Rui, April 23, 2007)