Ripley (Primal Energy, 2014, etc.) offers a path back to nature in this philosophical work.
Humans are farther from the natural world than at any point in history, according to this book; the environment is in a state of imbalance, and the culture is obsessed with ever more complex technologies. Ripley’s text, which is rooted in the Taoist quest to return to man’s original state, seeks to provide “pathways toward reconnecting with nature...for the health and wellness of each of us as individuals, and for the health and well-being of the planet as a whole.” For the author, this includes embracing traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture and other practices that concentrate on the qi (energy) cycle. He also extends the idea to diet: “Some foods help relax the Liver and move qi in the body. They include asparagus, cabbage, lemon, and coconut.” Ripley’s approach is holistic, covering not only medicinal and dietary topics, but also the ways in which a person interacts with the world, physically and mentally. He introduces readers to nature-inspired body/mind practices, such as qi gong and taiji, as well as the Bagua—symbols representing nature categories that one may use to inform and augment the aforementioned practices. Ripley’s influences are rooted in ancient China, but they also include input from the Stoics and modern, ecologically conscious lifestyles and thinkers. He writes in an easy, instructive prose, explaining the underlying reasoning for each of the aspects of his regimen and how they fit together harmoniously. His prescription to return his readers to a simpler, more natural life sounds quite appealing, and the photographs of natural landscapes here do much to sell readers on the shortcomings of cheeseburgers and land subdivisions. However, Ripley’s glorification of man’s natural state ignores, to a certain extent, how scientific developments have made people healthier. The attraction of his recommendations will likely depend on how much skepticism readers hold toward ancient philosophies. That said, his call to slow down, seek balance, and be conscious of one’s role within the larger ecological system is good advice for readers of all belief systems.
An informative, well-presented application of traditional activities and philosophies to modern-day life.