being natural, natural, simplicity, Taoist

MAN AND NATURE

The Chinese characters Tao Te Ching mean “Nature’s way”, “human virtue”, and “book”. The book itself is a highly condensed attempt to reconcile Man and Nature. In other words, Taoism seeks to marry the best of being human with the best of being natural. Clearly, this presupposes that we know what we mean by “being human” and “being natural”.

A useful starting point is to look at all other creatures, because in their own ways they are all Taoists! They qualify on both counts. They are natural, and they are fully who they are – fully eagle, fully wolf, fully dolphin, and so on. We have much to learn from them, because few of us qualify on both counts. We are neither natural nor are we fully human. Indeed, we think it is human nature to be imperfect!

It need not be this way. We could, if we chose, be both fully human and fully natural. Man and Nature need not be in opposition to each other. More than any other philosophy and practice I know, Taoism points the way to this much-needed reconciliation. It shows that, by being more natural, we become more fully human. It does this by showing us to be like Nature, think like Nature, tune into Nature, and trust in Nature. When we learn to do this, our true humanity illuminates the world.

Taoist

Introducing Chris Thomson

Introducing Chris Thomson – A Catalan Scot

Perhaps I should say a few words about me

I am Scottish, from Glasgow, and I live in the Pyrenees in northern Catalunya. Although still part of Spain, the people here are keen to have their freedom and independence. It’s not unlike Scotland. The countryside is rugged and beautiful, and the people reflect this. They are not easy to get to know, but they are worth getting to know!

I have had an eccentric career, and this no doubt reflects who I am. I spent a short while trying to be an economist at the Bank of England, often wondering what my role was. As much to escape London as anything else, I moved north to do research in scientific Chinese. By this time I had a young family and this is why I looked for something that seemed more stable…so I became a lawyer in Scotland. I never really felt comfortable doing this, so it came as little surprise when, in 1985, I found myself Chair of the Natural Medicines Commission. That changed a lot, because I was able to explore “new” initiatives, such as the New Economics and the New Physics. I even trained as a psychotherapist!

Arguably the biggest change came in 1998 when I was invited to join a new think tank in Scotland. In theory, it was about new thinking and new ideas. In practice, people are resistant to most things new, and I discovered this painfully. Although a lot of people talk about change, very few actually do it. There are a host of reasons for this, and I am sure we will encounter some of them as this blog develops.

I find it hard to describe myself these days. In fact, I prefer not to be categorised. I would rather be thought of as just a human being. I realise that this probably goes against the tide, but again this is who I am.

What interests me most these days? Many things…primarily the people I love…my daughter and my son, my three grandchildren, and my partner Ana. And I love flying down the mountains on my skis.

Am I interested in world affairs…Trump, climate change, grotesque inequality, and so on? Of course I am, but I don’t let it get to me. The main thing, I believe, is to try to live wisely and well, to be as fully human as possible, and to have a lot of laughs.