Intelligence, natural


We don’t see the unforeseen until it happens. When it does happen, we see just how unforeseen it was! And we realise how little we foresee.

Ana broke her leg yesterday. We were just settling into high summer here in the Catalan Pyrenees and were looking forward to spending time with my son and his family. Suddenly there was a yell from the garden. Ana had fallen from some rocks. Four hours later she was on the operating table, wondering about foresight!

Just as I had to slowly recover my mobility and independence after breaking my leg skiing in March, so Ana will have to go through the same process. A few days in hospital, a few weeks confined to bed at home, and then the uncomfortable part – learning to get around on crutches.

My own recovery made me realise how fragile we are, and how dependent we are on each other. It’s a good lesson. I hope it teaches me not to ski when I am tired…and that I am mortal after all. And I hope it teaches Ana not to fall from rocks!

Yes, it is true that we are fragile and dependent on each other. However, in the spirit of evolution, we bounce back, move forward, and continue taking risks and pushing the boundaries, just as before, but armed with a little more experience and humility.

1 August 2018

being natural


I’d like to answer this question by saying “If you don’t know, I can’t explain it!”, but I am assuming that you do know, although you might not know that you know.
If you were here beside me right now, in my house in the Pyrenees, I would point out the window, at the mountains, the clouds and the forests, and say “That’s natural”. And I would hope that you get it.

In fact, pointing has a very respectable pedigree. It is what Taoists and Zen Masters often do. If you ask them any question, they will do one of three things. They will ignore you completely, and you might think them rude. Or they will throw a question back at you, sometimes in the form of a nonsense riddle (a ko-an). Or, most likely, they will just point at something, without saying anything. Hopefully, you will see what they are pointing at, and assume that the answer is to be found there.

So, to return to the question “What is natural?” For me, the answer is everything – absolutely everything on this planet and in the universe – except us! We have made ourselves the sole exceptions. It is the metaphysical equivalent of being American!

Now, I fully accept that we should be natural. After all, we are just as much part of Nature as a goldfinch or a waterfall. But we are not. We have created all manner of ways to cut ourselves off from Nature. So much so, that “getting back to Nature” is considered a mere leisure activity, rather than the supremely important enterprise it needs to be.


To round off for today, everything is natural, except us. I could point nearly everywhere and say “That’s natural”.

being natural

The Five “Naturals”

I am writing a book about “being fully human”. Why? Because I believe that we all have the potential to be much more fully human, and that would make a big difference. As things stand, we have the odd situation where it seems to be human nature to be imperfect, to make mistakes, and to be less than we really are. In strong contrast, it is the nature of every other creature I can think of not to have faults, not to make mistakes, and to be fully who they are. Dolphins, wolves and eagles immediately come to mind, but there are countless other examples of creatures being fully who they are. I believe that we can trace back many, if not all, of our big problems to not being fully who we are. I will write about this later.

Underpinning all this is the idea of “being natural”. I have written about this before. Today I would like to touch upon five ways in which we and the world would get better if we were more natural. They are: healthier, more intelligent, more powerful, more ecological, and more evolutionary. I will say a few words about each of these.

Perhaps I should lay my cards on the table. I believe that our natural state is to be healthy, intelligent, powerful, ecological and constantly evolving. Indeed, I define health as “our natural state”. Illness is simply any deviation from our natural state. I hardly need add that we can deviate for many reasons – upbringing, schooling, the culture of our society, our lifestyle, our diet, and the physical environment. The more natural we are, in the way we live, work, and interact, the more likely we are to be healthy.

You may know by now that I define “intelligent” as “behaving wisely and well”. For me, intelligence has very little to do with being brainy or intellectual or having a high IQ. There is absolutely no point in being intelligent in theory. “By their deeds you shall know them.” Intelligent is as intelligent does! A moment’s reflection tells that all other creatures put us to shame by their wise behaviour. I am suggesting that the more natural we are (the more fully human), the more likely we are to be intelligent, in the sense I have just described.

Natural power is a little trickier to explain. The roots of the word are helpful. It comes from the Latin “posse”, meaning “to be able”. Thus, power is about the capacity to do things. Within the limits of who they are, all other creatures are typically more able than we are. They are able to fight or flee, according to circumstances. Put them in the wild, and they will survive and thrive. Put most of us in the wild, and we would find it difficult to survive, so dependent have we become on technology and the comforts of civilisation. Not only this, when other creatures do something, they tend to do it perfectly. This cannot be said of many of us. In keeping with the theme of this blog, I believe that the more natural we are, the more able we are, and the better we do things. This is what I mean by “natural power”.

If you are not sure whether all other creatures are ecological, then you have not been paying attention. I do not think it an exaggeration to say we human beings are the only unecological species on this planet. And it shows! That said, I believe that it is our true nature to care for the planet and leave it a better place than we found it.

Last but not least, the more natural we are, the more likely we are to evolve, to develop. In my writings on “conscious evolution” – influencing the pace and direction of our own evolution – I place a lot of emphasis on being natural. In fact, I will stick my neck out, and say that arguably the most effective way to promote one’s own evolution is to be as natural as possible. Those of you who have been following me will realise that this connects strongly with being a 21st Century Taoist. More to follow.

being natural

Being Natural with Bonny

Being Natural with Bonny

Although we may not be able to define the word precisely, we know more or less what we mean when we a say “natural”. It always has positive connotations…such as “it felt very natural” or “it just came naturally”. Being natural certainly seems desirable, but how many of us are as natural as we could be, assuming we even think about it? In trying to understand this, my starting point may surprise you. It is our cat.

Our cat”? That was slip of the tongue! Bonny came to live with us when she was about three months old. She was sitting outside our house here in the Pyrenees. She was at death’s door, so we took her to the vet and then nursed her back to health. Bonny is a great, sometimes challenging companion. Over the months I have learned something important from her. When I am true to myself – being my natural self – she is attracted to me, and we get on well together. There is harmony. However, when I am not true to myself, not being natural, Bonny is very wary of me. She seems to know me better than I do. Indeed, I sometimes use her as a barometer of me.

This assumes that I know when I am not being myself, not being natural. Sometimes I do, in the moment, and sometimes I don’t. The point I want to make is that Bonny always seems to know. Although I have just started exploring this, I sense that there is a kind of “entrainment” going on. Bonny is constantly attuned to herself and to the world around her. When I am equally attuned. to myself and to the world around me, that attunement becomes mutual. There is resonance between us. When I am out of tune – when I am deviating from being natural – the resonance between Bonny and me becomes dissonance.

What I would like to explore in subsequent blogs is the question: what causes us to deviate from being natural; what forms do these “deviations” take, and how can we avoid them or at least keep them to a minimum?