How can Daoism, China's indigenous religion, give us the aesthetic, ethical, political, and spiritual tools to address the root causes of our ecological crisis and construct a sustainable future? In China's Green Religion, James Miller shows how Daoism orients individuals toward a holistic understanding of religion and nature. Explicitly connecting human flourishing to the thriving of nature, Daoism fosters a green subjectivity and agency that transforms what it means to live a flourishing life on earth. Through a groundbreaking reconstruction of Daoist philosophy and religion, Miller argues for four key, green insights: a vision of nature as a subjective power that informs human life; an anthropological idea of the porous body based on a sense of qi flowing through landscapes and human beings; a tradition of knowing founded on the experience of transformative power in specific landscapes and topographies; and an aesthetic and moral sensibility based on an affective sensitivity to how the world pervades the body and the body pervades the world. Environmentalists struggle to raise consciousness for their cause, Miller argues, because their activism relies on a quasi-Christian concept of saving the earth. Instead, environmentalists should integrate nature and culture more seamlessly, cultivating through a contemporary intellectual vocabulary a compelling vision of how the earth materially and spiritually supports human flourishing.
There is perhaps no scholar in the West who could have written such a valuable book on the contributions of Daoism to ecological thought and practice in China. Meticulously researched and clearly written, this is a book that will indispensable for academics and policy makers alike who are concerned about China's future. -- Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale University James Miller's book is a rich and deeply informed exploration of the relationships of Daoist religion and philosophy with nature and the environment. Miller discusses Daoist principles in new and exciting ways, often related to current ecological and ecocritical topics. He applies Daoist principles to current problems and possible futures, arguing that Daoism could help us develop not only sustainability but also flourishing. This is an important book with new and exciting ideas for environmentalists and citizens. -- Eugene Anderson, University of California, Riverside This book breaks new ground and may serve as a model for more sophisticated engagements with Daoism in terms of ecology. It is at the cutting edge of Daoist Studies. -- Louis Komjathy, Associate Professor of Chinese Religions and Comparative Religious Studies at the University of San Diego This book presents a novel interpretation of Daoism as a 'green religion' that can transcend its premodern, Chinese origins and offer to the world a distinctive ecological orientation of wider relevance. Miller is arguably the world's leading scholar of Daoism and the environment, and China's Green Religion makes a striking and important contribution to the field of religion and ecology. -- Bronislaw Szerszynski, Lancaster University