Britain's Prince Phillip hosted the first senior delegation of Chinese Confucianists at Buckingham Palace Wednesday, discussing the topic of ecological conservation and sustainable development based on Confucian philosophies.
Prince Phillip, 92, talked about the history and reemergence of Confucianism with his Chinese visitors, many of whom were leading academics of the International Confucian Ecology Alliance (ICEA), created to use Confucian wisdom to address urgent ecological issues.
"Prince Phillip was so eager to meet our Confucianist colleagues. We were due to be there at 12.15 p.m., but at 12.05 p.m., he said: 'Right, come on, let's go and meet them'," recalled Martin Palmer, Secretary General of the Britain-based Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), and a long-time working partner of Prince Phillip.
The relationship between man and nature in the Confucian classics, such as "The Analects," was also discussed, according to Palmer.
"In Confucianism, there is heaven, there is earth, and there is humanity. The role of humanity in Confucian thought is to keep the balance of nature," he told Xinhua. "They were talking about how the role of Confucianism will be to restore the balance through building better cities, through ecological and environmental programs, and through education and research."
The Chinese Confucianists' visit to Britain could help create in the non-Chinese world a new understanding of Confucianism, which benefits China's current restructuring, Palmer noted.
Kong Lingtao, a 76th generation descendant of Confucius, agreed that the visit was a good opportunity to introduce Confucianism abroad.
"As the descendants of Confucius, we should take the initiative to join in the high-level exchanges like this and help the British people better understand the essence of Chinese Confucian culture through direct contacts," he said.
With the assistance of Palmer, Prince Phillip founded the ARC in 1995. The British royal aims to help different religions and philosophies around the world to develop their own environmental programs.
Prince Phillip expressed his enthusiasm for Confucian involvement in the ARC about two years ago when he discovered that Confucianism had not been represented in the alliance, Palmer said.