Translator and essayist David Hinton talks about our relationship with the Earth.

Watch the Video on YouTube


Robes of snow, crests of snow, and beaks of azure jade,
they fish in shadowy streams. Then startling away into
flight, they leave emerald mountains for lit distances.
Pear blossoms, a tree-full, tumble in the evening wind.

~ Tu Mu, 9th century Chinese poet (trans David Hinton)

“We love this world, this living planet: we feel joy when life thrives, grief when it suffers and dies. It is a mystery. We are much more than what we think we are, and that is liberation of astounding proportions. Even simple perception: a gaze into star-strewn night skies… What is that gaze but the very Cosmos looking out at itself? What is thinking but the Cosmos contemplating itself? And our inexplicable love for this world, our delight and grief ~ what is that but the Cosmos loving itself, delighting in itself, grieving for itself?

“We are wild through and through: wild mind, wild earth, wild Cosmos. This is how Paleolithic and ancient Chinese people understood it. And it seems clear enough, even self-evident, once we step outside the cultural assumptions we have inherited.

“Perhaps the Great Vanishing is itself our next teacher. With the suffering and death of mass-extinction already unimaginably vast, perhaps it is these grievous forces that will complete a similar transformation here ~ returning wild mind to wild earth… We are unborn through and through, wild mind wholly integral to the generative existence-tissue of wild earth ~ and accepting this engenders a new understanding of our unfolding eco-catastrophe.”

The ten thousand things are all there in me. And there is no joy greater than looking within and finding myself faithful to them.

~ Mencius, 3rd century bce (trans. David Hinton)