global change, human being, Intelligence, Uncategorized

The Shortest Era

You will know that the history of our home planet is divided into “eras”, such as the Precambrian and the Palaeozoic. They are very long – millions of years. As it happens, the mainstream media (e.g. the Guardian two days ago) has just woken up to the fact that some people have been talking about the most recent era for many years. It is called the Anthropocene Era, reflecting the fact that the human species now seems to be dominant on this planet. Although there is no general agreement about its commencement – some date it from the beginning of agriculture 15,000 years ago, while others like to believe it started with the first test of an atomic bomb in 1945 – one thing does seem clear, this era is unlikely to last long. I say this simply because we do not deserve to dominate. Our domination will soon be revealed for what it is – false, and therefore transitory.

Having laid my cards on the table, one could easily imagine a species that did deserve to be dominant. Above all, that species would be intelligent, in the sense that it would behave wisely and well. For instance, it would not overpopulate. It would not degrade the natural environment (all this planet’s life-support systems are in serious decline). It would not preside over an unprecedented extinction of species. It would not destroy its own members on an industrial scale (just think 20th Century!). And it would ensure that none of its members had too little because a few had far too much. I hardly need add that none of the above can be said about our own human species.

Of course, it need not be this way. As a species, we clearly have the potential to behave wisely and well. The very obvious problem is that there is an immense gap between our potential and our actual behaviour, and this gap is not closing quickly enough (if it is closing at all) to avert dangerous climate change, serious damage to our life-support systems, nor the terminal social breakdown that will inevitably follow huge inequalities.

Until quite recently I believed that we would become a truly intelligent species, and avert catastrophe. I now believe that any change for the better will be too little and too late. End of Anthropocene!

being natural, global change, human being, Intelligence, natural, simplicity, Taoist, Uncategorized

Being a Taoist Today

Taoism began about 2500 years ago, with a short book, the Tao Te Ching, written by an unknown author (in Chinese Lao Tze just means “the old guy”). That was a very different world. Today we have unprecedented problems. The list is alarmingly long: climate change; serious decline of all natural life-support systems: rapid species extinction: the threat of nuclear war; gross inequalities; and overpopulation.

We therefore need unprecedented solutions. This means several things: taking our problems much more seriously; acting with urgency; addressing the deeper underlying malaise of materialism; and approach our problems at all levels.

If we were all 21st Century Taoists, we would not have any of these problems. Why? Because we would be fully human, fully who we are capable of being. And we would act naturally, in accordance the the timeless principles of Nature. Unlike a Taoist 25 centuries ago, we would also be planetary, because we would be conscious of the planet as a whole, and of the global interconnectedness of everyone and everything.

I have today decided to write a book about this, about what it means to be a 21st Century Taoist

 

 

being natural, human being, Intelligence, less is better, natural, Taoist, Uncategorized

A New Central Purpose

There was a time when I wrote a lot about the importance of having a clear, heartfelt central purpose.  The central purpose of anything – a nation, a business, a colony of ants, a human being – largely determines the nature of that thing, its parts, its processes, as well as its ethics and its qualities. I woke up this morning remembering that I need to apply this to myself!

Recently, I seem to be drifting. Perhaps it is the aftereffect of last year’s double trauma – Ana’s broken leg and mine. Perhaps it is because I am a kind of polymath, with wide-ranging knowledge and too many interests. In any event, it is time I focused. It is time for a clear, heartfelt central purpose. But how will I find it?

I know that I could focus on intelligent simplicity. After all, I have written much about it, and it is a natural sequel to my book Full Spectrum Intelligence. Not only that, it is pregnant with ideas and practises that will be new for many people…such as “being fully human”, the Law of Reverse Effort, “being natural”, and being a 21st Century Taoist. Yes, it would clearly be interesting, and no doubt useful, to produce a book, as well as podcasts and videos. But the question remains: is this my central purpose? Perhaps a better question would be: is this my central purpose for the moment? It could well be. However, this still leaves me wondering whether there is something deeper going on, something even more heartfelt.

Writing these words brings to mind the Galileo Commission, which I initiated in 2016, and in which I was actively involved for a while. Too actively, I think, because it led to a nervous breakdown at the end of 2017, and my leaving the Commission. What I originally intended the project to be was to find practical ways to bridge the immense gap between science and esoteric knowledge. I had felt, even since the early 60s, that this was my life’s mission. That was when I discovered that esoteric knowledge could be accessed directly through one’s “inner senses”. These are organs of perception, dormant in most of us, that enable us to have direct experience of the non-physical aspects of the world/Cosmos and the human being. Some would call these aspects “spiritual”, but this word can be misleading.

I am giving you the highly condensed version when I say that science, as it is currently understood and practised, gives us only parts of the picture, the physical parts. Esoteric knowledge complements this, by giving us the other (non-physical) parts. As it happens, the project (the Commission) quickly morphed in “expanding the range of science”, to include paranormal phenomena and experiences, as well as some aspects of mind and consciousness that science currently struggles with. I was very disappointed that esoteric knowledge was not more explicitly included. I believe that this remains a crucially important bridge to be built, but I wonder whether I have the energy and will to reinitiate it. That said, it does feel like my heartfelt central purpose.

 

christhomson1000@gmail.com

global change, Intelligence, Uncategorized

The Devil’s Delusion

This is the title of a book by David Berlinski. As the title may suggest, it is a refutation of the arguments set out in Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion”. I have read quite a few good refutations of Dawkins, but none as good as this one. It is short, always to the point, and well argued and written. I highly recommend it.

If you know Dawkins’ work, you will know he is a militant atheist. He is at pains to show that God does not, and cannot, exist. I do not think it an oversimplification to say that his argument is as follows:

There is no scientific evidence for the existence of God.

In any event, there is no need for God, because science has shown how the universe began, how life got stated, and how we human beings have evolved to what we are today.

Science may not have all the answers, but it will eventually. (I believe that the inference is that science’s “truths” are the best truths)

Berlinski refutes all of this, with very compelling arguments. I am much more convinced by Berlinski than by Dawkins. But this raises an interesting question: why are Dawkins’ book and arguments so well known and so widely accepted, and why are Berlinski’s book and arguments so little known? Is it because of the zeitgeist? Is it because we are living through very materialistic times, this reflected in the current predominance of the beliefs and worldview of science? There is no doubt that this is part of the reason. However, I think it is also because we non-materialists tend to be quiet. We tend to keep our beliefs to ourselves, rather than trumpeting them loudly in books, conferences and on YouTube.

All this puts me in mind of the “intellectual dark web”. If you have not come across this, you could do no better than explore the videos put on YouTube by Rebel Wisdom. While some of the content and some of the personalities (notably Jordan Peterson) make compelling viewing, one is left with the impression that much of it is just scientific materialism dressed up in new clothes. For example, much time is devoted to evolutionary biology, of which Dawkins is a big part. To be fair, Jordan Peterson is clearly a fan of Carl Jung and his archetypes, and he appreciates the significance of deep myth, including some of the stories in the Bible. And I am heartened to see that Rupert Sheldrake is getting the airing that his ideas have long deserved. Overall, however, there is little that is new. Yes, it is true that Ken Wilber has made some recent appearances on the IDW, but Ken and his ideas have been around since 1973, the year of his first book “A Spectrum of Consciousness”.

My thoughts about all this are still not fully formed, but I will end this with just one thought. I do believe that there is a need for some new thinking about the big, important things. But I also believe that this needs to go well beyond what Rebel Wisdom seem to be trying to achieve. It needs to include intelligent, open exploration of those topics and questions that are largely ignored by science. The list is alarming long, and it includes unusual forms of consciousness (not induced by drugs), as well as the whole range of so-called paranormal experiences and phenomena. Now, that would be an intellectual web that I would be proud to be part of!

 

Chris Thomson

 

christhomson1000@gmail.com

 

global change, Intelligence, natural, Uncategorized

Order out of Chaos?

This is the title (without the question mark) of Ilya Prigogine’s 1984 book. He made the radical suggestion that order always emerges from chaos, and he noted that it is impossible to predict exactly what kind of order will emerge from chaos. Specifically, he suggested that this happened when systems were in a “far from equilibrium” state. Although he was writing about chemical and physical reactions, I believe that his findings are equally valid for social and political systems.

 

There can be little doubt that we are living in “far from equilibrium” times. On good days, it feels confusing and dispiriting. On bad days, of which there are many, it feels dangerous. If you doubt this, you have not been paying attention. I will just mention a few items from a very long list. A lying narcissist has direct access to the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal. An extreme right-winger who wants to commercially exploit the Amazon rainforest (“the lungs of the planet”) has just been elected President of Brazil. The UK is committing an act of massive self-harm by exiting the European Union. Economic and social inequalities are now greater than they were in Victorian times. Human behaviour is changing the climate dangerously. As if all this were not enough, all this planet’s life-support systems – yes, all of them – are in serious decline. i.e. clean air, clean water, forests, topsoil, aquifers, fisheries, wetlands, and biodiversity. This is because we human beings (and only we human beings) overuse and abuse them.

 

In these circumstances, it is a matter of astonishment that we continue to believe that we are the most intelligent species on this planet! Yet I believe that Prigogine’s findings give us cause for hope. There is clearly a strong sense of collapse and chaos. Things are very evidently far from equilibrium.  In the domains of chemical and physical reactions, this situation leads to great change – change that cannot be predicted. I suspect that this is exactly what we are going through now, on a human scale. I believe that we are right on the cusp of global changes that we can barely imagine. Yes, it looks dark outside now. But a new dawn is just about to break. Are we ready for it? It means that we have to be prepared for anything, including things we can barely imagine.

 

christhomson1000@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

consciousness, global change, Intelligence, natural, Uncategorized

CONSCIOUSNESS, CHARACTER, AND CAPACITY

Although our behaviour often suggests otherwise, human evolution has not stopped. And although many of us are fat and unhealthy, we are almost certainly still evolving physically. What we will look like, and sound like, in 1,000 years is anyone’s guess. However, my main interest is in the other ways in which we seem to be evolving. In my opinion, we are still evolving in consciousness, in character, and in capacity, and all the evidence suggests that we still have a very long way to go. I will say a few words about each of these.

Consciousness is just another word for experience. We are conscious, for example, that it is getting warmer, and we are conscious that we feel good, or bad. We are evolving in consciousness when we notice more – in quantity and in quality. You notice more about yourself, about other people, and about the world. This is the quantity of your consciousness. But you also notice more about the same things – such as shades of feeling, nuances of meaning, and so on. This is the quality of your consciousness. Ideally, as you become more conscious, you also become wiser. This takes us to the evolution of your character.

You are evolving in character when you behave better, more wisely, more ethically. More often than before, you do the right things, in the right ways, at the right times. It is significant, I think, that the evolution of consciousness and character go hand in hand with the evolution of capacity. They are all closely interrelated. They need each other!

You are evolving in capacity when you can do more things, and you can do them better. For example, you learn to speak Catalan and, eventually, you are able to speak it well. Or you begin to learn to ski and, over time, you become a competent skier. It could be any activity or any ability. The point is that your capacity to do things evolves.

Ideally, as you evolve in these three respects, you will one day become a highly conscious individual, of impeccable character, with the capacity to help make the world a better place. And ideally (yes, I know that this is the third time I have said this!), the whole human race will one day be highly conscious, of excellent character, with wonderful abilities. That day will come, of this I am sure, but not for a while! I do believe that this is the general direction we are taking. Of course, there is evidence to the contrary and, of course, we will stumble and fall many times on the way. But with a good deal of faith and application, it is ever onwards and upwards!

 

being natural, Intelligence, natural, simplicity, Taoist, Uncategorized

FULL OF AWE

I spent my honeymoon in 1970 on the banks of Loch Awe in Scotland. At the time I wondered whether its name had any relationship to “awe”, meaning “wonder, marvel”. It was only recently, when the word “awesome” became ubiquitous, that my mind went back to original meaning of this word.

As you may know, “awesome” is now used in virtually any situation to mean “the best, the greatest”, often when the thing being described is far from the greatest, far from the best. Whereas in Scotland, we might say “that’s not bad”, Americans (and many others) would say “awesome!!!”

Indeed, “awesome” seems to the word of choice in a world of permanent hyperbole. Nothing is ordinary any more!

It may interest you to know that “awesome” and awful” used to mean the opposite of what they mean today. Awful meant “full of awe” – therefore, wonderful, marvellous. Awesome, as the word suggests, meant “some awe” – therefore, not quite so wonderful.

I have no idea when the change occurred, but I can speculate why. I believe it is mainly because we live in a world of topsy-turvy values…where footballers get paid much more than nurses, and where people become overnight celebrities because they say something rude or stupid on Twitter or YouTube.

I had this cultural decline in mind when I organised and chaired a conference in Scotland in 2000 – entitled “Thinking Allowed”. The strapline was “Bring Back Thinking – All is Forgiven”. Of course, this was partly tongue in cheek, but the serious intent was to demonstrate that the quality and range of thinking has deteriorated markedly these last few decades.

A few years later, when I was living in New Mexico, I used to watch a programme called “Thinking Allowed” on Sunday mornings. As its host, Jeffrey Mishlove, pointed out, this was a play on words. He also pointed out that it was difficult to find people who could really think, and whose language reflected this. The fact that he was able to find a few was, of course, awesome!