China at a Tipping Point: Ecological and Spiritual Awakening

There is the China we hear about in the news: largest economy in the world; lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and into urban areas; largest CO2 emitter; entrenched corruption; toxic air; poisoned food and water; growing disparity; political uncertainties; global expansion and entanglement…

Yes, that’s perhaps all true. But, on my recent 4-week trip across the country, I saw a different China – different from my impression just a year ago, and different from what I thought I knew. Yet deep down, it felt strangely familiar.

I sensed an ecological and spiritual awakening in the country, at a tipping point. I saw countless people and groups doing their small and inspiring parts. Many of them do not know each other. But they are essentially doing the “same work”: being the change they want to see in the world.

Below are some snapshots of the emerging landscape of change.


Rain Flower Hut: 300+ gift-ecology, vegetarian cafes in China

Starting about a year ago, here and there, I start to hear mentions of a blossoming vegetarian restaurant network in China, called Rain Flower Hut (Yu Hua Zhai 雨花斋). I heard it was started by an old Buddhist monk (now called the Rain Flower elder by many), who gave his whole life’s savings of 50,000 Yuan (about USD 8,000) to create a free, all-volunteer-run, vegetarian cafe for the elderly and (financially) poor members of the community. And the model spread across the entire country like wildfire – or more appropriately, like rain and flower!

Having been a volunteer at Karma Kitchen, a pay-it-forward restaurant in Berkeley, I am eager to experience firsthand the sister endeavor in my homeland :)