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Purchase "The End of Medicine"
Some Observations on the some Benefits of a Macrobiotic
When anyone has made the decision to adapt himself or herself
to a macrobiotic lifestyle for any reason, the overriding feeling
is one entering of into totally unfamiliar territory. The question,
which most people have, is, "what can I expect to happen?"
And interestingly enough, this is the one question that is barely
answered in any of the many macrobiotic books available, except
"The End Of Medicine", where I give an overview of
the general path of the process of healing as well as giving an
overview of the stages of a macrobiotic journey.
I did not go into the details simply because the whole purpose
of the book is to give people a map, a compass and a method. But,
" the map is not the territory", each individual has
to learn how to use the compass, as well as undertaking the method.
In the book, the map is laid out in general terms. The compass
is the principle of yin and yang and the method refers to the
selection and cooking of food and goes into great detail on the
There are books by people who have healed themselves of various
degenerative illnesses using a macrobiotic approach, most notably
Elaine Nussbaum on her experience with uterine cancer in her
"Recovery from Cancer through Macrobiotics", and Mina
Dobic with breast cancer, in her "My Beautiful Life."
But there is not a lot on the basic question, what is so different
about macrobiotic living anyway? Of course, how different it
is will depend on the background from which a person comes to
changing to living macrobiotically. I suppose I am pretty typical
of most Western people in that I came from a heavy meat and potatoes,
eggs and bacon, milk and sugar diet along with plenty of drugs
of one kind or another like alcohol, cannabis, L.S.D., and other
hallucinogens. Fairly typical of someone growing up in the "60's
and going to university in Western Culture.
As a result I experienced the usual ailments like obesity,
chronic back and hip pain, insomnia, fatigue, chronic dental problems,
moodiness and irritability. At this point I am only 27 years old
and already beginning to feel like an old man. I then find out
about macrobiotic principles and how to apply them.
The basic idea is in order to be healthy the human organism
has to be "in balance" and this natural balance is inherent
in the physiology of the organism. What we need to do to maintain
the natural health and harmony of the human organism boils down
to two factors. One, we quit eating and drinking all those foods
and substances that are extremely imbalanced with respect to the
dynamics of the human organism, in terms of yin and yang. The
other is we start eating foods which promote or support the inherent
harmony of the human organism, according to yin and yang.
The immediate practical step is the change to a whole new
set of foods, most of them either unfamiliar or completely unknown
to you. The first step I took was to get a macrobiotic cookbook.
The only ones I could get at the time (1975) was "Freedom
Through Cooking" by Iona Teaguarden, no longer in print,
and "Cooking For Life" by Michel Abhesera, although
now there are a number of them I recommend "The Natural
Healing Cookbook" by Kristine Turner as the most user friendly.
With the help of the cookbook I made a shopping list of what to
buy. The next step was to get a large plastic bag and completely
empty out my refrigerator and pantry of all the foods I was no
longer going to be eating. So, now I had a completely bare refrigerator
Then I took the bulging plastic bag and took it down to the
dumpster in those days where I was living food banks had
not yet come into existence. More than likely there was no need
as the level of poverty in those days was far less than it is
today for which we can all thank the Federal Reserve and
the US Government, but that is a topic for another place. Then
it was off to the only natural food store, about one hundred miles
away, to load up on bags of whole brown rice, whole barley, oats,
millet, kombu and wakame seaweeds, miso paste, umeboshi plums,
sea salt, kuzu, and bunches of various roots and leafy green vegetables.
I get back home and after unloading and putting all the goods
away, the first thing that struck me when I looked at the receipt
was how incredibly cheap this food is relative to the normal fare.
It was a real delight to realize that my food bill for the rest
of my life was going to be reduced by at least 30-40 %! As an
assistant veterinary practitioner I was earning less than $7000.00
per year, so any place I could reduce my cost of living was welcome
The next problem presented itself. I had to eat and I had
no idea how to cook anything let alone grains and vegetables.
My cooking skills, if you could call them that, were limited to
frying eggs and bacon, and making toast. The task of learning
how to cook whole grains and vegetables was by far the most difficult
hurdle for me to get over.
My first attempts produced results that left me feeling that
there was no way this food could possibly taste of anything!
At first, I just assumed it was supposed to have no taste and
I ate it anyway. Gradually, as I became more at ease around the
stove and my tastes began to change the food became very delicious
to me. Of course, the main problem was finding the time to do
the cooking while working full time, in my case sometimes 10-12
hours a day.
I made the time element more easily manageable by cooking
enough of the whole grains and the soup to last for four days,
and I would cook enough of the vegetables so I had enough for
two meals every day. So, I ended up having to cook for 1-2 hours
only every four days, and the daily cooking amounted to only half
an hour. The rest of the time I simply reheated the already cooked
food for breakfast, lunch and dinner I did not eat vegetables
for breakfast. In the winter I even found I did not have to refrigerate
the food at all, refrigeration only being necessary during the
hot summer months, the cooked whole grains and vegetables keep
As I was having my daily food of whole grains and vegetables,
and I ate very simply in order to keep the cooking as easy as
possible, I spent what free time I had from being a veterinary
practitioner studying any macrobiotic text I could lay my hands
on at the time. There were very few available then, the four titles
I had were "Healing Ourselves" by Naboru Muramoto, and
George Ohsawa's Trilogy, "The Book Of Judgment", "Far
Eastern Oriental Medicine" and "Guidebook For Living",
all essential reading. Muramoto's "Healing Ourselves"
is a classic and is out of print. "The Book of Judgment"
is powerful enough to wake the dead, and since most of the world
appears to be in a deep coma, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
As I pursue my cooking and eating whole grains and vegetables,
poring over these books while working full time, the first change
occurring is my insomnia disappears in about three weeks and I
am sleeping like a baby for the first time in several months.
Soon after my sciatica, which had hitherto been so painful I could
not even walk at all on some days, disappeared. Then the chronic
lower back pain, which I had had for two or three years, is gone
after seven or eight weeks.
Of course, this is all directly related to my weight dropping
from 195-200 lbs to 130 lbs over the course of three months or
so. And I am still the same weight today although I eat a great
deal more widely that I did 28 years ago.
But even these amazing improvements in my physical condition
were not the most impressive of all the changes that occurred
over the first several months, and I do not have the space here
to detail the many, many improvements in the physical aspects
of my health. The most impressive changes to me were the radical
improvement in my ability to think and the improvement in my emotional
state. The improvement in clarity of thought, peace of mind and
calmness of soul were a revelation to me.
So, here it is, 28 years and eight months after I began on my
macrobiotic journey and of all the benefits that have accrued
to me as a result what are the most significant? To me, the most
significant is I have no fear of ever becoming ill with degenerative
illness. Of course, I have not been to a doctor since I started
macrobiotic living, as there has been no need. Also, I have not
needed and have no intention of purchasing health insurance, which
I think is a monumental scam.
To me, purchasing health insurance is saying, in effect: "
I have no idea how to take care of myself, so rather than having
to bother with the effort of finding out, I will purchase a lay-away
plan to fund the costs of treating the inevitable illness which
will arise sometime in the future".
In contrast, a macrobiotic life, which is a journey of understanding
the principles underlying it, the result of thousands of years
of human experience, time-tested and well thought out by
sages of yore, and learning how to apply them to your own specific
situation. The essential feature of life to understand is the
"art of making balance", for the whole of one's life
is really a reflection or symptom of the degree we are "out
of balance" or "in balance" with the order in all
In actuality, this is the purpose of illness and the symptoms
thereof. Yes, indeed, the symptoms of the natural process of illness
are the indicators telling us the degree to which we have brought
ourselves out of balance with the order in all creation. Simultaneously,
the symptoms of illness are indicators of the process the human
organism is undertaking to restore itself to its natural state
of harmony, i.e., health. In other words, the process of illness
is the process of healing. As Lao Tze, the Taoist sage aptly put
it. "Truth is often paradoxical".
Simply stated, macrobiotic living is the art of learning how
to eliminate the factors, physical, emotional, and psychological,
which promote illness and adopting the factors that support the
healing process. And we begin with food, for as the sages of yore
stated, "therefore, for those creatures that have a physical
body, food is the chief of all things. It is therefore medicine
for all illnesses of the body." (In "The Upanishad",
an ancient Vedic text).
e-mail : Kaare Bursell
1041 Kains Avenue
Albany, CA 94706.
The Alchemycal Pages Copyright © Kaare Bursell, 1996