Daoist Prayer for the Day stresses importance of balance

FaithInvest founder and CEO Martin Palmer has released a series of prayers and meditations focusing on climate change through the lens of various faiths. The six prayers have featured on BBC Radio 4's Prayer for the Day throughout the COP26 climate conference currently taking place in Glasgow.


Saturday 6 November saw a Christian prayer, Monday 8 November offered a Buddhist perspective, Tuesday 9 November saw Martin turning to the wisdom of Judaism and Wednesday 10 November provided a Sikh view, which was followed on Thursday 11 November with Islamic teachings focusing on the importance of humankind's balance within the broader perspective.


For his final Prayer of the Day Martin again turned to the idea of balance, this time examining the subject from a Daoist perspective.


Daoism – Finding the balance


A key idea of Daoism, the ancient traditional belief of China, is wu wei. It means 'actionless action.' It is about being, and through the nature of being, making things change but without forcing that change. The word Dao means Way, a Divine, universal Way. If we can be quiet long enough we can hear and see Nature guiding us. For example, how a river will slowly yet surely wear away a giant rock that falls into it. Through this Daoism has been able to work with nature rather than against it for millennia.


The Daoists are one of the major groups working to stop the illegal wildlife trade which threatens to wipe out species such as tigers and pangolins. First of all they pointed out that real Traditional Chinese Medicine never used animals, just plants, and then they set up nurseries to grow organic herbal medicine plants. They have also created eco-towns where the balance between human needs and those of the rest of nature can be ensured.


In other words, they have created the Way of Life, the Dao of Life that enables all of life to find a space to live within. This is captured in this reflective prayer from chapter 11 of Daoism’s key text the Dao de Jing:

Thirty spokes on a wheel Go towards the hub that is the centre But look, there is nothing in the centre and that is precisely why it works! If you mould a cup, you have to make a hollow: it is the emptiness within that makes it useful. In a house or room, it is the empty spaces – the doors, the windows - that make it usable. They all use what they are made of to do what they do but without their nothingness they would be nothing.