Thursday September 22nd.
All participants at the conference gathered together for the Welcoming Dinner at 5.00 PM. at the San Diego East West Center for Macrobiotic Studies. After the meal all present gave a brief introduction of their names and from where they had come to participate in the second of the semi-annual meetings we hold each year in the Spring and Fall. The weather was clear, warm and balmy. On this occasion we had substantially less people coming to the meeting, thirty six all told, in marked contrast to the over one hundred people attending the conference in Seattle.
There were people from Arizona, Nevada with the largest contingent from California. The mood of the conference was focused, clear, calm and warm with each session covering the topics in depth with translucent perspicacity.
As is the usual procedure, the participants at the confernce decide together prior to each day what we want on the agenda, and after we had completed setting the agenda for Friday, we all dispersed to various activities before retiring.
Friday September 23rd.
Morning Session: 9.30 AM - 12.30 PM
1.) Process of the Meeting.
2.) Rudolf Steiner Presentation.
3.) Vipassana Meditation
4.) National Directory.
Lunch: 12.30 PM - 2.30 PM
Afternoon Session: 2.30 PM - 5.30 PM
1.) Focus on Our Children.
3.) Dietician's Bill.
Dinner: 6.00 PM - 8.00 PM
Evening Session: 8.00 PM - 10.00 PM
After dinner we welcomed new participants and again gave brief introductions before discussing the agenda for Saturday. After doing that Lorenz Schaller, who directs the Kusa Research Foundation in Ojai, California, which is dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of aboriginal grains and knowledge about them, gave a very interesting and informative slide show presentation on them.
Saturday September 24th.
Morning Session: 9.30 AM -12.30 PM
1.) An overview of Macrobiotic Discipline.
2.) Summer Camp Review.
3.) Video Tape: "The Coming Ice-Age"
Lunch: 12.30 PM - 2.30 PM
Afternoon Session: 2.30 PM - 5.30 PM
1.) North American Congress.
2.) Animal Rights.
3.) Flaxseed Oil
4.) Misinformation about Macrobiotics.
Dinner: 6.00 PM - 8.00 PM
Evening Session 8.00 PM - ? Free Time, etc.
Sunday September 25th.
Final Session: 9.00 AM - 11.00 AM 1.) Summary Remarks.
2.) Closing Ceremony.
Farewell Brunch:11.00 AM - 1.00 PM
SUMMARY AND HIGHLIGHTS.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 23rd.
Perhaps it shouldn't be necessary for me to repeat what I always
say at the opening of the reports I do of the conferences. However,
there are always new members who have never received a report
so it as well to say that these reports can at best merely give
a hint of the flavour and mood of the proceedings. Each conference
is unique and different in tone, mood, atmosphere and direction.
You might even regard each conference as being a facet or aspect
of the character of the Pacific Macrobiotic Community, with every
locality in which we hold it lending its particular nuances to
THE PROCESS OF THIS MEETING.
Donna Wilson opened the morning session with the remark "we can only co-operate if we preserve our differences" and "competition arises when there is homogenisation, with everyone thinking alike and having the same attitudes". The subject of her presentation was the process whereby we conduct the Pacific Macrobiotic Community Conference, in that the way we do it is unique and new and experimental. It is perhaps not really appreciated by us that the format, which has gradually evolved over the course of the years and several meetings, is actually a quantum leap forward from the convential format of "the podium and the audience" with the content of the meeting having been decided upon in advance by the "chairman" and the "steering committee". It cannot be emphasised enough that if macrobiotic practices, or any other of the many "new age" impulses now active in the world, are going to make a difference toward changing the course of the world from its present self-destructive path (which can only mean the people of the world are leading self-destructive lives) we must practice it sufficiently differently from the normal or conventional ways of doing any activity so that we actually make a positive, constructive contribution to altering the self-destructive path toward a more coherent, balanced and vitally harmonious future culture.
Our meetings are an authentic attempt, an experiment, which opens up exciting possibilities for active participation by everyone attending. It as well for all of us that we get to the level of consciousness where we can observe ourselves as we participate in the 'experiment'. I am suggesting here that this experiment is one that has been initiated from higher levels than we are normally accustomed to, and it is the quality of our response to the call for a new way of conducting meetings that is playing a significant role in how we direct ourselves to the future, for good or ill. In other words, whether we will be able to meet the future with the appropriate tools or not will determine how we cope then.
Donna contrasted the way we format the meetings as compared with the conventional way: we have a circle (two or more depending on the number of participants), in contrast to the podium and the rows of chairs; the people present at the participate in creating the agenda in contrast to being handed one and being told 'this is what you have to do'. We are trying to learn how to come to any decisions we make by forming a consensus, in contrast to "the tyrrany of the vote". Donna then told us that human culture has very little experience of arriving at consensus; there have been a few religious groups who have learned how to do it, for example, The Quakers. It takes a long time, it takes responsibility and it is very slow and tedious, and a we found at Seattle, it can leave you tired and burned out.
Nonetheless, it is very significant that we do manage to come to consensus on any issues that need it, as opposed to voting on it and thereby instituting democratic tyrrany. Why is it tyrranical to vote? Because you can just stick up your hand and have any old opinion - it doesn't have to be examined, meditated on and considered deeply and many times we each have experienced a vote on some issue and come away with the definite feeling that the wrong decision had been made but there was nothing we could do about it.
What consensus means is that we feel responsible for our opinions and that we carefully consider why we hold our opinions. In the consensus process one person can hold up the whole group if 99% of the group wants a particular decision to be made if that one person feels it is the wrong decision. And the one person who feels there is something wrong in the decision should feel responsible for holding up the proceedings because he or she may see something that the rest do not, and it is important that this is articulated to the rest of participants.
Another significant innovation of these meetings is that anyone
can participate - it has happened on several occasions that the
conference has been the first exposure of a person to macrobiotics
- and that anyone can put a topic on the table for the agenda
setting session. Also, since there is no 'chairman' then each
one of us is responsible for being our own time-keeper when we
have anything to say. And we take responsibility for knowing whether
something we want to say is a personal matter which we can discuss
at the meals between the sessions or whether it is really worthwhile
bringing up before the meeting. For all of us have committed ourselves to being at the meeting and have sacrificed time which we may actually rather spend at home with our families, or doing some long-neglected housework.
Consensus also takes pressure off the group and also everyone can participate fully whether they say anything or not. In fact, people who are so-called 'introverts' do not readily come forward and say anything under such circumstances, but if anyone is attentive and focused they contribute significantly to the proceedings even if they don't say anything.
Then Donna, for the benefit of those who are new to the Pacific Macrobiotic Community, said that as vaguely as it has been articulated thus far, we honour it enough to make it a commitment to come to the meetings at which the PMC's sole function is to provide a space and an opportunity for this celebration, the celebration being the meeting itself. And it is worthwhile enough that we take the time and commit the funds to coming to it, and that it nourishes us in some intangible but definite way. We encourage this open discussion by all peoples at all levels and we have chosen not to endorse any product, or procedure or person for in the long run macrobiotics will be 'certified' by the community it serves.
Donna closed her presentation with re-emphasising that our commitment to this unique, and definitely new, way of conducting meetings is something that the world desperately needs at this time. She then finished with a diagram from an astrological perspective which may be helpful to us as we begin to learn to work to groups. This illustration is to be used as a meditative tool to learn how to attain functional leadership in the dynamics of group work such as a meeting. One note on the illustration is that the words outside the circles indicate what happens when those impulses, i.e. 'Saturn', within the circles, get out of hand.
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Kaare Bursell then gave a presentation on the work of Rudolf
Steiner, a German philosopher, artist, architect, educator, economist,
poet, agronomist, scientist and spiritual teacher born in Austria
in 1861, who died in 1925. There is much than can be said about
Rudolf Steiner, but the essence and profound significance of his
life and teachings was that he brought to light the knowledge
that every human being has latent within his or her human organism,
(not in the physical body) an organisation of "spiritual
sense organs" which have the analagous function with respect
to the spiritual worlds that the physical sense organs have to
the natural, physical world. He also gave specific meditative
exercises and general attitudinal indications as a path that anyone
who so chooses may work with in order to awaken these latent spiritual
The reason why this knowledge is so significant is the natural world and all the mysteries it contains cannot be understood by reason derived from physical sense observation alone. In actuality, a conscientious, accurate and honest attempt to understand the physical world, whether it be the human physical body, the life of a plant, the behaviour of insects or animals, the patterns of weather and climate etc., has to arrive at some point in the investigations at the conclusion: " yes, I can understand how all this is put together but any observations I make leave me completely at a loss if I am to know why it happens the way it does in the case, for example, of the behaviour of an ant, or why it is organised the way it is and functions the way it does in the case, for example, of the human physical body.
Now, in macrobiotics we at least have come to this realisation and we posit these two primal tendencies or forces we call yin and yang as the underlying forces giving rise to physical phenomena. However, even yin and yang do not ultimately explain the why of phenomena. In I Ching, the primary and only treatise on the philosophy of yin and yang, there is a section called "The Great Treatise". In Chapter V., Section 9, it says:
" 'That aspect of it which cannot be fathomed in terms of the light and the dark is called spirit.'
In their alternation and reciprocal effect, the two fundamental forces serve to explain all the phenomena in the world. Nonetheless, there remains something that cannot be explained in terms of the interaction of these forces, a final why. This ultimate meaning of tao is the spirit, the divine, the unfathomable in it, that which must be revered in silence." Wilhelm & Baynes transl., pp 301. RKP Cloth Bound edition, 1961
It must be remembered that these words were put in writing
perhaps 5000 years ago, this book being older than the Bible.
In other words, although one cannot argue against the necessity
for reverence when approaching the spirit lying behind the activity
of yin and yang, now is a time in the development of human beings
that we must fathom the unfathomable. This task is an urgent necessity
for the good of humanity; after all, if we observe all that is
happening in the world today and recognise these are but symptoms,
the 'signs of the times', we must perforce recognise they are
the symptoms of a world culture completeley enmeshed in matter,
materialism. It is an urgent necessity that we perceive and investigate
the spiritual world as spiritual scientists in order to reach
appropriate solutions to the many critical problems facing us
today, problems that arise out of a materialistic world-view.
It is this need that Rudolf Steiner addresses for the individual,
as well as giving practical advice toward its achievement.
Kaare then went on to give a synopsis of the results of Rudolf Steiner's spiritual investigations into the origin and destiny of the earth, the cosmos and humanity. I will not put all that into this report for two reasons. First, the material is extensive and would mean that this report would be very bulky. Second, and more significantly, this material is not for everyone, for reasons having to do with the karma of individuals. Therefore I will point to the source material, a book by Rudolf Steiner entitled "An Outline of Occult Science" (Anthroposophic Press, NY, 1972), and leave it to the choice of the individual whether or not to investigate the material given there by Rudolf Steiner.
There followed after the presentation an extensive discussion of the material which focused on the question of hierarchy. A number of participants did not see the need for any hierarchy and it turns out this concept is upsetting enough that we need at some future meeting to have a thorough discussion on all aspects of hierarchy and clarify what the concept means and how we can observe it every where.
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Muriel Jencks then gave a short presentation on Vipassana Meditation. The word vipassana means " what is so" or "what is true" and it is a process of purification of the mind. It is basically about acceptance of the self by a clear and focused attention on what is actually happening in the body as we observe it, without any kind of judgmental attitude. By training oneself in the process of observing one's body sensations one arrives at a clear perception that the processes of thought result in emotions felt in the body as sensations. Muriel recounted her experiences at a ten day meditation retreat and then lead us through a brief ten-minute meditation focusing in particular on the ingoing and outgoing of breath through the nose. She said that it is recommended that we do the meditation for two hours every day as a regular daily activity. The meditative practice of Vipassana has its origins in India about 2500 years before the time of Buddha (500 B. C.) In the full meditation one starts by focusing one's attention at the top of the head and follow it down the body to the tips of the toes and then up again, repeating this circular movement of focused attention over and over again. The meditation is concluded with a salutation.
After we had finished the meditation we listened to a tape of one Vipassana teacher giving a Salutation in very sonorous tones which consists of various requests such as " I seek pardon from all those I have harmed intentionally or unintentionally " More on Vipassana Meditation may be found in an article by Gil Friedman in the September issue of ' Macrobiotics Today'.
We then had a discussion on the Vipassana in which several participants recounted what they had learned from doing the meditation.
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A NATIONAL DIRECTORY.
Bob Mattson, lately at Mountain Ark Trading Company in Arkansas, now at the Vega Center. As he had been working at Mountain Ark for five years a lot of information had been accumulated about people who are practicing macrobiotics all around the North American continent. He had the idea of compiling all the information, names and addresses and telephone numbers. He thought that the World Directory that the East West Journal was a good idea, but it has lacked any follow through since the initial copy was made available in 1986. The idea is to compile a directory for North America which not only for the usual information on centers, counselling, education but also for all the many services that are available throughout the continent.
This directory would be compiled on a computer database and updated continually and be available as a print-out for people who requested it. Kaare Bursell then related how he had met an already successful publisher, Bill Dalton, who owns and operates Moon Publications in Chico, California, which has published travel-related books for fifteen years, at the French Meadows Summer Camp. Bill had asked around at the camp what people thought about a national directory and had received unanimously positive responses. In the course of ensuing conversations between Kaare and Bill it has been decided that a proposal will be put to Moon Publications to publish an annual directory for $9.00 or $10.00 retail. The listings will be free to those who wanted to be listed and they would be responsible for sending in updates which would be kept on a computer database. Any one who didn't send in an update would be removed from the directory.
Then Carl Ferre of the Vega Center gave us an up-date on the 'Natural Living Directory' in 'Macrobiotics Today', the monthly publication of the George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Directory. 'The Natural Living Directory' has been a regular feature of the publication for several years now and is undergoing a major shake-up arising of the past experiences and these involve people paying for their listings, they would be up-dated monthly and printed in every issue. Listees will receive a complimentary issue of the publication and full membership privileges. If the directory ever got large enough it would be published as a separate publication.
In the discussion that followed the consensus was that a continental-wide directory is a great idea and that if it was a well-done, good quality publication it would be received with enthusiasm around the continent. Also at this point it would not compete with the 'Natural Living Directory' since the latter is limited to members of G.O.M.F. and the circulation of 'Macrobiotics Today' is around 2000 - 2500 issues.
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'WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH OUR CHILDREN?'
David Jackson lead a discussion on how we are bringing up our children with respect to their education and the difficulties that face those of us who have children approaching school age and we wish our children to have an education that is in line with macrobiotic principles. It appears that no-one considers sending their children to public schools, and the alternatives are home-schooling, Montessori Schools, Waldorf Schools, other private independent schools or the possibility of starting macrobiotic schools.
Jean Richardson of GoldMine Natural Foods recounted the experiment
of a group of long time macrobiotics who are several families
living together in Alaska with 30 children, growing their own
food and living as a self-contained entity in which the education
of the children appears to be done by the older children. The
premise here seems to be that as society as a whole is collapsing
and degenerating at a rapid rate we need these strong, self-sufficent
communities which can survive the coming difficult times. Then
several people spoke and the most cogent statement was that if
macrobiotics is about healing, that healing should also include
the society in which one is living, and indeed, where was the
healing needed more than in the degenerating society itself?
Diana Lynn then talked about her experiences and thoughts about home schooling, in which the main advantage is the financial and if you can get a group of families together then each set of parents could share the tasks of schooling the children, say each home being the location of the schooling on different days of the week.
The objection voiced to home schooling is that there is a crucial distinction between a parent and a teacher, with the teacher really being someone who acts as an objective representative of the ideals of the community as a different reference point for the children than their own parents. In other words, the parents of the child have a completely different role to play in the growth and development of a child than that of the teacher and if these distinctions are blurred then the social development of the child is somewhat incomplete.
Of course, the difficulty that presents itself to parents who think that a private, independent school is what is best for their children is financial. However, someone raised the point that as parents one is essentially devoted to the nourishment of their children for a couple of decades parents we are the nourishment of our and this necessarily means some sacrifices have to be made on behalf of the children, including financial ones.
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FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE.
Carlos and Jean Richardson then gave us an account of what
they had been through as a result of an F.D.A. investigation into
their natural foods wholesale distribution company as a result
of a complaint that had been made of them by one of their macrobiotic
competitors. They gave this presentation as an educational exercise
for the participants. Apparently two rice growers are represented
by two different distributors and one claimed that the other was
selling organic brown rice which isn't grown organically, and
GoldMine distributes the rice of allegedly questionable organic
quality. The point was made that if anyone involved in macrobiotics
has an objection to a product or service being offered then it
would be more intelligent for that person to contact the alleged
offender and talk to them directly and avoid dealing entirely
with government beauracracies.
The lessons learnt included that we shouldn't be naive and unaware of all the charlatans that may be and will be operating macrobiotic and organic business in name only. Also we need to know what the laws are in the fields in which we are working so that we are aware of when we are breaking the law. I say this because it appears to me that as long as one is striving to live by macrobiotic principles then one will indubitably be breaking the law. After all, there are 64 million laws on the books, and it is probably impossible not to be breaking a law every minute of the day. The question came up about how as individuals involved in various macrobiotic services do we deal with the necessity of honesty in our dealings with people, honesty that means we will say things that mean we are transgressing federal, state or local law? In Boston, for example, they are refusing to allow people to tape lectures or counselling sessions as a matter of policy. David Jackson said that everything that he did was a matter of personal integrity in his dealings with people; if we come from a position of complete trust and clarity when we are giving advice to people who are coming to us for advice then there shouldn't be any untoward repercussions as a result. And, as far as he was concerned people are free to tape his counselling sessions or lectures.
Kaare Bursell related how a couple of years ago (as of 1984), he was counselling a lady with breast cancer who had not totally ruled out the possibility of having conventional medical treatments done. In her case, although the cancer hadn't gone away after a year or so on macrobiotics, it had stabilised and was a small lump. She had chosen to have her condition monitored by the Oncology Department at the University of California, San Francisco and it turned out that the conventional medical diagnosis was that this cancer was of a type that was particularly invasive, and the pathologist there thought that she ought to have some radical treatments done or things would look very bad for her. The lady was not keen on the idea of radical treatment but kept her options open. Then Kaare received a telephone call from the pathologist who said that he ought to advise his client that she ought to have radical treatment and Kaare's response was that he couldn't do that, it was his client's responsibility to make the decision, and whatever decision she made Kaare would support her. Then Kaare received a letter from the pathologist written in a very aggressive tone making the same suggestion, a copy of which had been sent to the Quality Medical Advisory Board of Northern California, and to his immediate boss in the pathology department.
This was somewhat of a shock to Kaare because he couldn't figure out what the pathologist's motivation was for even engaging in this activity. After a few days of reflection, one morning it dawned on him that the reason the pathologist was doing it was that he wanted to entrap Kaare into recommending that his client should or should not do the conventional medical treatments, for in either case Kaare could be justifiably accused of practicing medicine without a licence. Then Kaare wrote a letter back saying that he couldn't recommend his client to do or not do radiation and chemotherapy because for him to do either would be practicing medicine without a licence. He sent copies to the Quality Medical Advisory Board, to the pathologist's boss, to the pathologist, to his client, kept one on file and hasn't heard anything since.
As far as Kaare is concerned macrobiotics is among other things a tool for transforming society and therefore we should avoid as much as possible doing any activity in the same way society does it; for how can society be changed if we do everything the same way society does? As Bob Dylan sang, "to live outside the law, you must be honest"
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Richard Myers came to the confernce from his home state of
Pennsylvania to address us on the current state of the dietician
licensure bill, State Bill #2078 in the Sacramento State Legislature.
He is not a lobbyist but has been macrobiotic for a year and is
getting involved in this whole process as his macrobiotic social
The bill in question is Bill #2078 in the California Senate in Sacramento. He told us that the way laws are passed is fairly standard in all state legislatures, as follows:
State Senate---------------->Committee1 ------->Bill to State Senate---------------> Committee 2 ------->Assembly--->Governor.
The procedure is that some legislator in the Senate receives
a complaint that somebody thinks needs attention. It is brought
up before the Senate and if it is deemed that something by way
of law needs to be done about it, a committee is set up which
holds public hearings and if the case for a law appears to have
merit, a bill is drawn up and presented to the Senate; if they
find it has merit, the bill is passed on to the State Assembly
who in turn set up their own committee to look at the bill. This
committee then basically rubber-stamps the bill, sends it before
the Assembly who then pass it on to the Governor to be signed
The crucial stage is the first committee stage because once it gets passed that stage the whole machinery of passing the bill is impossible to stop. It takes about two years for the whole business of enacting a bill to be completed from this first committee stage. DIETITdietitThe California State Bill # 2078 is presently in the first committee stage.
The dietitian's are instrumental in bringing this bill into existence and if passed it will mean that anyone who is not a registered dietitian who gives nutritional advice is subject to heavy fines and/or imprisonment. The dietitian's are backed by the California Medical Association and the American Medical Association, for passage of this bill would give these three groups exclusive monopoly of nutritional advice, including the dispensing of vitamins etc. If passed it will become law in January 1991. Twenty one states have already passed similar bills and in 12 of them they are completely restrictive, meaning that anything we say in cooking classes, lectures, counselling sessions, summer camps etc. are completely outlawed.
The committee are holding a public hearing, the one and only public hearing scheduled in California on Wednesday, November 30th at the State Building .,, Los Angeles, from 2.00 - 5.00 PM. That morning, 9.00 AM - 1.00 PM there will be a Health Freedom Rally at the Bonaventure Hotel, 404 So. Figueroa St., Los Angeles.
Richard shared with us his experiences in investigating this whole realm and it can only be described as an excellent example of what someone has called 'endarkenment'. They are very effective in their legislative strategy, . The dietitians have a lot of money and continually deluge the legislators with information designed to strengthen their case. The point in all this is what, if anything, are we going to do about it?
The response of course is that the PMC does not take any stand on any issue - the conferences take place for us to discuss issues thoroughly so that we as individuals are informed and can then make the decisions we want to make as individuals. At this juncture the observation can be made that this bill is probably the first of many that will be brought before state legislatures to guarantee and/or extend the monopolistic privileges of various special interest groups in contravention of the Bill of Rights.
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SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24th.
OVERVIEW OF MACROBIOTIC DISCIPLINE.
Stages of Mastering Macrobiotic Discipline.
Stage Focus Level Chakra
I Transition Chewing Physical 1st
(Rite of Passage)
II Adjustment/ [sweets-snacking-overeating] Emotional 3rd
III Integration Relationship to Food Mental 4th
IV Transcendence "NUTRITION" Spiritual 5th
Mental/Spiritual) (mastery) 7th
Robert Turner of the San Diego East West Center, who has an
extensive background in psychology before coming into macrobiotics
in a committed way about four and half months before the conference,
shared with us what he calls an overview of macrobiotic discipline.
The term transition refers to the stage of acute transition a person experiences when adopting a macrobiotic way of eating in a disciplined and focused way. The overview is an attempt at giving a coherent structure to the practice of a macrobiotic way of life which is, incidentally, one example of hierarchy. Robert essentially shared with us his experiences to illustrate how he had arrived at this overview. He presented it as a useful tool for us to be able to experience the macrobiotic way of life as a way for us to develop ourselves spiritually with the focus on "nutrition" in the deepest, highest and widest sense, so that our perception of food includes emotional, mental and spiritual nourishment. The outcome of approaching macrobiotics in this way is that the initial intense focusing on physical food will gradually recede into the background as one develops along this path, and one begins to transcend it in the sense that physical nourishment is understood to be a small, if crucial, aspect of nourishment.
Robert's presentation was followed by a wide ranging discussion of the points he had raised with various comments being made including that the Japanese ideogram for chewing is made up of the words meaning 'God' and 'work', meaning that chewing is God's work. The presentation was well received.
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SUMMER CAMP REVIEW.
We then had several reports from people who had attended various summer camps - 'Three Creeks' near Eureka, California which is sponsored by Patrick and Meredith McCarty, 'French Meadows' in the Tahoe National Forest sponsored by Herman and Cornellia Aihara, and the one sponsored by the Kushi Foundation at Bard's College in Western Massachussetts. All camps had the largest attendances yet, 150 at Three Creeks, 220 at French Meadows and over 600 at Bards College, and all reports indicated that they were well received. The Three Creeks camp may not be held at the same site next year but they are looking for another site and as I write this Patrick and Meredith are intending to host one next year.
If you haven't been to a summer camp it is well worth the effort. Both camps in California are tent affairs and fairly rugged with no showers and primitive toilets. This does in fact put off people who would like to experience an intensive macrobiotic 'atmosphere' for several days but don't want to camp. It appears that this combined with the interest in macrobiotic camps means another camp is probably a good idea. So Donna Wilson, Joel Huckins, David Jackson and Kaare Bursell have decided to sponsor another camp next year in California and they are looking for a site with cabins, hot and cold running water, flush toilets, showers etc. Announcements will be posted in Macrobiotics Today, East West Journal and Utne Reader in the new year.
David Jackson reported that for four afternoons during the Bard College Camp he hosted a two hour session which used the format we have here at the PMC conferences. He said that it went off well, and that the people who participated in it, who were restricted to people who had practiced macrobiotics for at least four years, were very excited by it. The only disappointment was that only one senior teacher attended these sessions.
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"STOPPING THE COMING ICE-AGE." (A video-tape.)
We finished up the morning session by watching a video-tape produced by the Institute for a Future and having a discussion on it. The video is a presentation on the current climate changes, the various possible causes, and the likely outcome. It is based largely on the work of John Hamaker, who wrote a book called "The Survival of Civilisation", which discusses the consequences of the burning of fossil fuel and the use of chemicals in modern agribusiness on the climate. Essentially the consequences will include, in this scenario, a global warming followed by a global ice age and these will have such a devastating effect on the climate and weather patterns that all sources of food will be drastically reduced. The way to stave off this disaster, which will mean a reduction of the world population to 10-25% of current levels, not to speak of the social dislocations that will arise, is to undertake a world-wide programme to re-mineralize the soil by spreading finely ground rock dust everywhere.
This work is being extensively reported on in "Solstice" magazine in its regular feature Climate Crisis Update . "Solstice" is published by John Mann, former teacher at the Kushi Institute, and available at 1110 East Market, Suite #16E, Charlottesville VA 22901. (804) 979-4427. Incidentally, the magazine has recently taken over "MacroMuse", and the editorial focus of the new magazine will be a combination of the "Macromuse" focus on the individual and the "Solstice" focus on the climate and environment. (2000 Note - MacroMuse is no longer active)
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NORTH AMERICAN MACROBIOTIC COMMUNITY CONGRESS.
David Jackson told us that there had been a North American Macrobiotic Congress every year for several years with the last one had been held about two or three years ago. David's view was the last one was the best one because all the people in attendance had in essence changed the original format to one which was more like the way we conduct PMC conferences. The original format had been one which had been set up by Michio Kushi in which he decided what the topics of the different sessions were and committees were set up to discuss the topics. The committees then wrote up a "white paper" making recommendations on each topic which were then presented to the congress. The idea was then to present these "white papers" to the relevant federal agencies as recommendations. Michio Kushi controlled the congress and it was his will that held sway.
When in the last congress the participants decided to change this format to one more like the one at PMC, and to become more involved in the setting up and organising of the congress, it apparently didn't go down very well and the congress has been, at least temporarily, dropped.
The idea of a congress has been revived but more as a community endeavour and a proposal has been made which is as follows:
"We, the people practicing macrobiotic principles, create the North American Macrobiotic Community Congress. It is proposed that the initial purpose of the North American Macrobiotic Community Congress is to explore all the ways we can actually live the Way of Life known as Macrobiotics."
This initiative had come from David along with Stephen Uprichard
and it had been initially thought to hold this congress, if enough
people showed interest in it by sending their names and addresses
to Stephen, somewhere in the Mid-West in 1989. However, since
the PMC conference Stephen has been in touch and after sounding
out various people on the East Coast it is thought that a North
American Macrobiotic Community Congress is somewhat premature.
The initiative has been changed to see if there is any interest
in setting up regional conferences along the lines of the PMC.
To this end Stephen has sent letters out to people all over the
eastern seaboard to see if there is indeed any interest in doing
a New England Macrobiotic Community Conference, a Mid-Atlantic
Macrobiotic Community Conference, a South-Eastern Macrobiotic
Community Conference etc.
Donna Wilson then shared with us that any kind of social endeavour goes through stages with the first stage being the one in which the initiators get things going, working 24 hrs a day, doing everything by the seat of their pants. If they are sufficiently inspired and their vision sufficiently inspiring then they attract many "members" and the second stage begins after the original pioneers have died.
This second stage is the most difficult, a struggle of communication, of setting up the "nervous system" of the social impulse, as the second and third generation individuals begin to interpret the initial vision and set up the various networks. This is a time of chaos and can last from 20 to 50 years.
The crucial question is whether or not the original vision, dream of the pioneers will ever reach the third stage and begin to serve the community in the context in which they are living so true community can be a reality. Most organisations, whatever kind they may be, business, religious, etc., never get beyond the second stage. This stage is the one in which the impulse dies because of differing interpretations, conflict among different groups within the impulse, changing times and poor communication. Donna thinks that macrobiotics is in the second stage and the challenge facing macrobiotics now is whether we are going to fall apart, split into different factions etc., or whether we can hang in there and keep trying to communicate with all the people involved in the social development of macrobiotics.
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Diana Lynn lead a wide ranging discussion on the deeper aspects of animal rights and the ethics of treating animals for consumption and entertainment. There is not much that I can report here because the nature of the discussion was such that it required you to be present to gain full value from the discussion. In summary, all of us present obviously did not support or condone factory farming and the use of animals for the testing of drugs and cosmetics. That this whole problem is another symptom of a culture that is degenerating, in a state of decay, and as a result has no fundamental respect or reverence for life in any of its manifestations. The significance of the discussion is that it brought clearly to our attention the need for us as we go about daily life to stay focused on holding and expressing a deep reverence for all forms of life.
Also the long term process of the social development of macrobiotics, if we manage to sustain ourselves in being able to communicate and establish 'the nervous system' of macrobiotics over the next several decades, is that one of the aspects of macrobiotics that needs to be manifested during the third stage is the culture will be in harmony with the kingdoms of nature in the way it conducts its affairs, in sharp contradistinction to this present culture, which is grotesquely arrogant in the way it treats nature.
In order to introduce some levity into the mood of the conference at this point we had a session of dancing to some polka music. Then several couples got up and cavorted around the floor while the rest watched and chatted and we did this for about twenty minutes or so. We also went around the 31 participants to find out their birthdays to see if any two people in the group had the same birthdate, in day and month, and in fact we did. We also sang a song "May There Always be Sunshine".
Miriam Criscenzo-Berger then gave a short presentation on Flaxseed Oil as she had read a book on fats and oil and this oil was touted as the most beneficial oil. This books says that cold-pressed oils are not in fact cold-pressed, having to be heated at some point in their processing and heating oil made oils indigestable. However, a method had been found to process flaxseed oil without using heat. However, the oil had to be kept in a dark bottle as it broke down under the influence of sunlight, was shipped refrigerated and had to be kept in a refrigerator. We figured out that this meant the oil was too yin and should not be used regularly. It is $10.00 for a 8 oz bottle. It is produced by Spectrum. It is recommended that it not be used for cooking, only in salads and by itself. It is claimed that it stabilises the metabolism, and helps overweight people lose weight and thin people gain weight. Anyway, if you want to experiment let us know what the results are. Miriam said that it hadn't helped her gain weight and she merely wanted to know what we thought about it.
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DEALING WITH MISINFORMATION ABOUT MACROBIOTICS.
Cathy Albanese from Santa Barbara brought this up because she had been handed a magazine, "American Health", containing an article on macrobiotics which had some accurate information but was also full of half-truths and was very pompous and condescending toward macrobiotics. So, the issue was what do we say to someone who hands us this article. David Jackson then asked how many people in the room had had similar experiences and every one present had at some point come across similar articles in various magazines.
These articles have been written by people who have no knowledge or understanding of the subject talking to people who practice macrobiotics and then going to so-called experts who also do not have any inkling about the subject to have their expert opinion on whether the people who actually practice macrobiotics, in some cases for many years, are accurate in their statements.
In so many words, a journalist goes to a laser physicist to ask questions about the benefits of laser beams, for example, has some doubts about the responses he gets from the laser physicist, and then goes to a tree surgeon to verify whether what the laser physicist had said about laser beams was in fact accurate! This type of sloppy, irresponsible journalism is the norm for the mass media today.
For example, just three months ago there was an article in 'US News & World Report' that was a very accurate account of what the macrobiotic way of eating consists of and then the journalist went to a nutritionist who works for the 'Center for Science in the Public Interest' who said that macrobiotics had no scientific validation and it shouldn't be adopted by people. So, the problem is that people who have no idea about macrobiotics are passing opinions on it which are widely disseminated.
The question is again, what are we to do about it? The best response was from Carl Ferre who said that we should put out more of our own good, accurate information into the various information sources including libraries, computer on-line databanks, etc. Also the very fact that macrobiotics is getting more and more into the mainstream of America means that there is likely to be defensive postures taken by people simply because we are dealing with food and food is probably the last activity which everybody still engages in, on a primal sub-conscious level, as a sacred activity.
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 25th
The final session consisted of the participants giving feed-back as to their responses to the conference and then we decided on the location for the XIXth Conference which is Berkeley/Oakland in the Fall of 1989. The specific dates will be decided at the conference at Vega. We finished up with a meditation and a prayer of thanksgiving.
Also we read a letter that Rich and Kristine Turner had written to the participants of the conference to explain that the reason why they didn't attend was the area in which they live, Grass Valley, had been subjected to a ravaging fire which is an example of the consequences of the climate changes. They decided to stay home and help with the rebuilding of the community after they had put out the fire, which they described as effecting in the community a 'stripping of the illusion of separateness' and as a community 'we have discovered a new identity...........through the test of fire, we've found hearts of gold'. They also requested that if anyone of us had been experimenting with rock dust and know where some of the fineness recommended by John Hamaker could be obtained in California, please call them at 916/477-2400. They finished their letter, 'We are deeply grateful for the invaluable training macrobiotics has given us, to ride the waves of these challenging times. The message is getting louder and clearer now - unify our hearts and spirits! We are with you in spirit, friends, with much love, Kristina and Richard Turner.
And so another inspiring, informative, and nourishing PMC conference came to a close, and we all departed for home after the Farewell Brunch.
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Profound thanks are due to Molly Underwood and her helpers, Michael and David for providing six wonderful meals which really helped to set the tone and mood of the conference - clear, simple, colorful and focused. Also to David Jackson and the people at the East West Center in San Diego for hosting the conference.