Li Ming examines Chinese tourism and sightseeing and how it has transformed over time. In the Volume 19 of the Transmission of the Lamp, a collection of biographies of prominent Buddhist Monks written by Shi Daoyuan in the Song Dynasty, the student asks: ‘How to learn oneself?’ and the teacher answers: ‘Travel in the Mountains and Water.’”
In ancient times travel was seen as an opportunity to merge body and mind with the natural landscape. This natural philosophy between the Yin and Yang is a traditional Chinese view of experiencing the natural world. When ancient people travelled, climbing mountains and watching the sea were full of passion and desire.
Today, in our highly developed modern society, the abundant material economy has made travel very convenient. Tourism has evolved into an industry, where time is spent in landscapes devoid of character and spirit. The natural world is transformed into artificial landscapes by human civilisation, with humans acting as puppets in these landscapes.
The wise men, who like mountains, consider them picturesque. The benevolent men, who like water, consider it boundless. When we travel today, we can’t see landscapes. Without experiencing mountain and water, as one did in ancient times, people have lost their connection to landscape and to their soul.
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