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Ideas of Nature in Taoism, Confucianism, and Shintoism

27). The notion of return is bound up with the reverence for nature. Taosim, says one commentator,

It is a philosophy of the essential unity of the universe (monism), of reversion, polarization (yin and yang), and eternal cycles, of the leveling of all differences, the relativity of all standards, and the return of all to the Primeval One, the divine intelligence, the source of all things. (Yutang, 1947, p. 14)

By eliminating from one's experience what is inessential, one is left with what is essential--that is, the Principle, or Way, or Tao. Implicit in that modality of experience is a return to, perhaps a oneness with, nature; reference is often made to the simplicity of newborns in that regard. When nonessential elements of experience are withdrawn nothing remains between the sentient being and the cosmos, which entails the natural world. In that cosmos, there is a presumption of balance. In the usual universe of human experience, however, balance is upset. Thus "all emotion injures nature" (Lao-Tzu, p. 92). For nature to be honored, elements of force, emotion, and even wisdom, such as a commentary on nature, must fall in humility before it. Only then is a balance or complementarity of yin and yang achieved. That nature is involved in these ideas can be seen in the fact that yin and yang originally were conceptualized as the shady and sunny sides of a mountain, a meaning which gives a good idea of the relativi


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