Tag Archives: Taoism

Chuang Tzu, often described as the ‘do nothing Taoist’, may have been on to something when he seemingly lazed about and lived at his own pace, despite the criticisms of his philosophical colleagues.

Taoism is an ancient spiritual system originating in China. The founder is believed to be Lao Tzu, born around 400 BC, keeper of the archives in the imperial palace of the time. Seeing society decay around him, he chose a solitary reclusive life deep in the mountains. On his departure, he was asked to share his wisdom and experience in writing. He wrote down a collection of 81 short verses, almost poetry, called the Tao Te Ching, that formed the basis of this now worldwide respected path.

So what does Taoism and ‘doing nothing’ have to do with gardening? Well, my garden to be precise. Last year, like any good gardener, passionate about their plot, I tended, fussed, prodded, poked, plucked, dug, watered, fed and watched my garden daily, observing all the things that happen, and don’t happen in gardens, with all the hopes and aspirations of any keen gardener. And of course, I got great results. But I wonder, was all the fuss worth it? Could I have achieved the same results – a thriving, abundant, almost jungle-like space – with a little more ‘doing nothing’? Let’s see.

As a permaculture educator and consultant, of course I design my gardens on those principles, especially with a view to maximum production for little effort. I can report, that since December, a combination of summer heat, travelling, guests over the new year, lots of rain and lack of motivation at times, my garden is doing better than ever, even thriving with absolutely no input from me. I have watered a few potted herbs during hot periods, but the rest has been ‘respectfully, even artfully, neglected’. Yet food production has increased. Soil fertility has increased. New food plants, from self-seeding, are growing everywhere. Old friends are thriving and bigger than expected. Seedlings, once forgotten, are now mature, productive plants. THIS IS PERMACULTURE!

This is biomimicry. This is how nature works and works well it does. There is some work at the beginning, some design and set up. Then a little guidance and maintenance to keep things moving until a certain natural process takes over, and voila!, your garden is no longer a bed with rows of planned edibles. It is an ecosystem, with thriving biodiversity and life beyond anything you could have imagined, and most of it unseen. THIS IS PERMACULTURE. This is Taoist ‘do nothing gardening’- yet pregnant with possibilities, potential and abundant produce – something Chuang Tzu would definitely approve of.

A large proportion of the world’s population live on a vegetarian diet and have done so for many generation, even thousands of years. This lifestyle probably developed as a response to the availability of food, living and storage conditions, as well as religious, cultural, philosophical and even economic factors.

The term vegetarian is not specific. It encompasses a wide range of diets which practice differing degrees of restriction and variety. If you are considering a change of lifestyle to vegetarianism, or at least eating more animal product-free meals, it is recommended that you first discuss your diet with a suitable healthcare professional, such as a nutritionist.

With one of the cleanest and most varied food supplies in the world, it is no wonder that more and more Australians are enjoying more vegetarian meals. Some, as a change once or more times per week, and others, exclusively.

The availability of an enormous range of fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as an ever-increasing range of breads, cereals, dairy products and other non-animal foods, make planning and enjoying vegetarian meals easier than ever.

Food for a well-balanced healthy vegetarian diet can be obtained from regular food stores, such as supermarkets. There is no need to purchase from specialised shops or pay more, unless you want more specialised or organic foods, which are simply not available in most supermarkets yet.

One of the main complaints people have about being or eating more vegetarian is variety, but it doesn’t have to be that way. if you’ve ever been to a really good vegetarian restaurant, or experienced the food from famous vegetarian-style cultures, such as Taoists and Buddhists, or the Hare Krishnas, you’re know that variety is the least of a vegetarian’s challenges.

There is also a myth that vegetarians are less healthy than meat eaters. This is simply not true, and in fact, the oldest living people on the earth, both collectively, such as the Okinawans, and individually, anywhere in the world, are almost completely or are strictly vegetarians. The strongest animals in the world, of any species, are also vegetarian. I was having a discussion with a young woman a few months ago about vegetarianism, and she said, “Oh, my mother can always pick a vegetarian.” I enquired how and said answered, “Because they always look so sickly, weak, tired and anaemic.” Interesting theory, but very wrong.

In future posts on our blog we'll be exploring some interesting (and challenging) concepts, origins, philosophies, practices and theories on vegetarianism. Stay tuned!