The Dao, And Environmentalism In Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke
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Daoist thought is holistic and universal, based on the observation of relationships among all phenomena (Jung, 1997). The Dao is a concept that is difficult to explain. It is described as that which is within everything, as a certain philosophy of living, and as a “Way” or path to enlightenment. Watts (1993) describes it as “a vast Oneness that precedes and in some mysterious manner generates the endlessly diverse forms of the world” (p.xxvii). The Dao is often explained in metaphorical terms, and through the use of other poetic literary devices such as rhyming and repetition. The Dao is expressed eloquently through the visual images and stories portrayed in Miyazaki’s films. The characters in Princess Mononoke also express attributes of the Dao. In the interpretation of the film, a spotlight is placed on these characteristics of the Dao, although other aspects of Daoism are articulated within the film.
Living in harmony with nature is seen not as a necessity for maintaining nature’s balance, but for preventing man’s destruction, possibly even at the hands of Mother Nature. Lent (2001) describes the relationship known as environmentalism, as portrayed in Mononoke. Dao’s respect for nature is based on awe if not actually fear. It also holds out the hope that nature can be placated. Environmentalism, on the other hand, argues that humanity is capable of destroying nature, or at least, altering it sufficiently so that the planet is no longer habitable. Environmentalism fears