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Nature - Chinese Views

by Barnhill, David L. last modified Sep 20, 2010 07:41 PM

A review of key points.



There is more to reality than we can see or comprehend. In other words, it does not have the limitations that Being does.

That reality is creative. Things of reality emerge out of it, and return into it.

Analogy: waves emerging out of an undifferentiated ocean.


Dao (Tao)

The basic patterns and principles of the “natural world” we see.

The world is characterized by orderly change and harmonious interrelationships.

Example: yin and yang. These are complementary opposites: wet and dry, winter and summer, valley and mountain, dark and bright, female and male.



Not the Heaven of Christianity.

There is one, organic universe, made of heaven, earth, and humans.

2 meanings:

“the heavens,” as opposed to the earth

“the sublime principles of the universe.”


The Creative

The universe exhibits ongoing spontaneous transformations.

These are skillful, beautiful, and creative.

It is an ongoing process that works by itself. There is no separate Creator, only the spontaneous creativity of the universe.



Tranquil observation of nature

Great art arises out of a highly sensitive awareness and appreciation of nature.

The only way we are able to cultivate that sensitivity is by cultivating an inner calm, a tranquility that allows us to see clearly and deeply.


Oneness with nature

The great artist and religious person goes beyond mere awareness of nature.

True consciousness of nature involves the loss of a sense of a self separate from nature.

There is no longer a sense of a subjective consciousness and an objective reality. There is just: nature.

Bringing nature within, or entering into nature

Sometimes artists and sages talked about this oneness in terms of nature (e.g., a mountain) entering into oneself.

Sometimes they would talk about it as entering into an object of nature (e.g., a bamboo).




A sage and a great artist does not act out of desires or will or reason. He acts spontaneously on his true nature.

Poems and paintings come naturally of themselves.


The artist and the Creative

Artistic activity arises in a state of calm, openness, and spontaneity.

The creativity of the artist is the same kind of thing as the creativity of nature.

Since we are essentially a part of nature, and since the artist acts on his true nature, art is one manifestation of the Creative.


The creative process

One of the principle disciplines of the artist is to remove the obstructions that prevent one from acting on one’s true nature.

In general, the process of becoming a great artist and the process of becoming enlightened is one of subtraction.

Sometimes this is talked about in terms of “forgetting” – forgetting the self, its desires, concerns about success or acclaim.

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by Barnhill, David L. last modified Sep 20, 2010 07:41 PM