Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nature's Limits

I just came across a very interesting article on nature as it related to economics, sharks and politics.

Nature, in fact, places the most severe limits on animals and their behavior to make sure they stay balanced. Sharks don't have a "stop eating" mechanism in their biological blueprint. Under normal conditions sharks can't catch food fast enough to do themselves damage from over-eating. Nature has limited their ability to catch food. A shark in a feeding frenzy, however, given enough food, will eat until it quite literally bursts open like an overstuffed sausage. Its guts just explode out into the water. In some cases crazed, gut-busted sharks eat their own entrails, unable to distinguish between their innards and their kill.

What's the relevance to Chinese medicine, you ask? Chinese medicine takes nature as the all-powerful regulator. There is absolutely nothing man-made that can withstand the power of nature. If it doesn't drown you, burn you, sting you, gore you or freeze you, nature can wait you out. The power of time is on nature's side. Eventually humans will vanish from the earth, and many millions of years later even plastic will disappear. But the earth will still be here. If not the earth, then certainly the sun. If the sun itself has gone dead, the universe marches on.

Faced with this incredible power, the ancient Chinese tried to learn from and live in harmony together with nature, rather than conquer it (Grand Canal notwithstanding). The ancient maxim 天人合一 tian ren he yi or "heaven and man together as one" is an expression of this admiration and respect for nature.

One of the most basic things we as humans can do for better health is to live in harmony with the seasons. That means eating food that was grown in-season, not flown from halfway around the world. It means taking time out, at least once a season, to get away from the city, to a wilderness area where we can better appreciate nature's glory. It means dressing appropriately for the seasons and not letting our homes or cars become completely insulated from the outside environment - turn off your air conditioning!

No comments: