"eyes of process, heart of ecology, and pen of freedom"
Recently, I had the pleasure of reading "Outline of Process Poetry Education Practice" by two Chinese educators, artists, and philosophers: Zhang Yuanyuan and Bai Ya. Zhang Yuanyuan is renowned for her work in animal protection, empathy education, and a novel form of education known as Caring for Life Education. Bai Ya is recognized for his contributions to and leadership in the Process Poetry movement. Its tagline is "eyes of process, heart of ecology, pen of freedom, indicating a threefold emphasis on process philosophy, ecological spirituality, and the writing of poetry, understood as free self-expression.
Their collaborative work combines their efforts to present a vision of a constructive fusion of these two movements, which collectively bring about a significant cultural transition in China and around the world. In the following paragraphs, I will summarize their concepts for a Western, American audience.
The Caring for Life Education Movement
Gaining momentum in mainland China, the Caring for Life Education Movement nurtures compassion, reverence for all living beings, and environmental awareness. It fosters a mindset that acknowledges the interconnectedness of human well-being, animal welfare, and ecological health. By promoting values such as empathy, integrity, wisdom, and the flourishing of all life forms, this movement empowers individuals to make mindful decisions that contribute to harmonious coexistence. Rooted in principles of lifelong learning encompassing intellectual, emotional, moral, and spiritual growth, it advocates for decision-making strategies prioritizing empathy and responsible environmental stewardship.
The Process Poetry Movement
Celebrating the integration of traditional Chinese cultural heritage with the philosophy of process, the Process Poetry Movement flourishes among young poets in mainland China. It embraces the fusion of Chinese and Western cultural elements, emphasizing ecological awareness, the essence of regional poetry, and the guiding principles of process-oriented perception, ecological mindfulness, and creative liberation. In a narrower sense, it reflects heightened self-awareness within the context of an ecological civilization. On a broader scale, it synthesizes Eastern and Western influences to empower individuals in navigating contemporary life.
Combining the Movements
Uniting the Caring for Life Education and Process Poetry Movements in mainland China fosters holistic well-being and ethical consciousness. The principles of the Caring for Life Education Movement align seamlessly with the core values upheld in the Process Poetry Movement. As empathy, interconnectedness, and environmental responsibility are emphasized by the former, they harmonize with the themes championed by the latter.
An Innovative Holistic Educational Approach: Process Poetry Education
This combined effort shapes an innovative educational approach known as Process Poetry Education, emphasizing both poetic and analytical thinking. It unites insights from the humanities and sciences into a cohesive way of being. Embracing the Confucian tradition, it recognizes that education extends beyond the classroom. This synthesis presents an image of holistic education, fostering compassionate and sustainable individuals with a profound understanding of human and natural dimensions.
Living Poetically: A New Way of Being
Process Poetry is not solely about crafting verses; it's about living with compassion, creativity, and sincerity. While writing poetry is one form of self-expression, countless others, like music-making, gardening, and volunteering, also enrich this way of living. This authentic way of life contributes to a new spirit emerging in China and beyond. Collaboration with kindred spirits aims to positively impact society through collective efforts.
Community in a Changing Landscape: Embracing Both Physical and Virtual
In our evolving era, the concept of "community" takes on new dimensions—both local and virtual. Living poetically transcends these boundaries, fostering connections in both physical neighborhoods and digital networks. This holistic perspective emphasizes the interconnectedness of human experiences, bridging evolving community dynamics and creating a harmonious and compassionate global society.
Toward an Ecological Civilization: A Vision of Compassion and Creativity
Participants in the Caring for Life Education and Process Poetry Movements aspire to cultivate an ecological civilization centered on compassion and creativity. This civilization redefines success, emphasizing interconnectedness, sustainability, and respect. Rural and urban communities thrive as hubs of creativity, compassion, and inclusivity, caring for the Earth and all beings. This aspirational ideal invites everyone, regardless of identity, to engage in a poetic way of living.
Freedom, Play, and Wise Decisions: Enriching the Poetic Way of Life
Freedom and play enrich the poetic way of life, complementing verses with wise decisions. The Process Poetry Education movement acknowledges that true liberation lies not only in self-expression but also in authentic engagement with the world. A spirit of playfulness fosters spontaneity and creativity, paired with the wisdom to navigate life's complexities.
Acknowledging New Forms of Community in an Evolving Era
Modern society witnesses new forms of community—both geographical and virtual. Living poetically bridges these worlds, offering connections and shared experiences. By embracing diverse community dimensions, participants contribute to inclusive, compassionate, and interconnected societies that honor the value of all life. Pioneering an Ecological Civilization: A Vision of Compassion and Creativity This aspiration extends beyond personal growth, striving to pioneer an ecological civilization founded on compassion and creativity. This redefined civilization flourishes in harmony with the Earth, transcending cultural boundaries. It invites all to live poetically, weaving a narrative of hope, unity, and transformative potential, impacting not only mainland China but the entire world.