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XVIth Conference.
March 24-27th,1988.

Thursday March 24th.

As is our normal practice we began the week-end's proceedings with the welcoming dinner at 5.30 P.M. After the meal all those present gave a brief introduction and we discussed what we all wanted to have on the agenda for Friday. We again had substantial participation with people attending from as far away as Nevada, Massachusetts, Vancouver,B.C., California, Oregon and Washington State from where the majority of the more than 100 people attending the conference hailed.

On this occasion we held all the meetings at rented space at the Urban Horticultural Center for part of the conference, and the Visitor's Center
at Arboretum for the rest, which appeared to work well. The agenda for Friday having been set by around 9.30 PM, everybody retired to various places for the evening.

Friday March 25th.

Morning Session: 9.30 AM - 12.30PM.






Lunch: 12.30 PM - 2.30 PM.

During the lunch break several tables were set aside for discussion of several topics of interest to few so that those who were interested could get together and discuss Case Histories of AIDS, Candida, Think Tanks and there was even a 'silent table'.

Afternoon Session: 2.30 PM - 5.30 PM.

1.)Personal Biographies.

Dinner: 6.00 PM - 8.00 PM.

Evening Session: 8.00 PM.

The evening session is devoted to welcoming new participants, brief introductions, and discussing the agenda we want for Saturday. We also had a personal message and report from Michio and Aveline Kushi delivered by Haruo Kushi.

Saturday March 26th.

Morning Session: 9.30 AM -12.30 PM.


2.) Small Group Session Reports:
a.) Body and Spirit.
b.) Explore ways we can help each other
c.) Ritual.

d.) Charging for counseling.
e.) Ways to stay connected.

3.) Reading.

Lunch: 12.30 - 2.30 PM.

Afternoon Session: 2.30 - 5.30 PM.




Dinner: 6.00 - 8.00 PM.

Evening Session: 8.00 PM - ? Party etc.

Sunday March 27th .

Final Session: 9.00 - 11.00 AM.

1.) Summary Remarks.

2.) Closing Ceremony.

Farewell Brunch: 11.00 - 1.00 PM.


Morning Session.

I need to reiterate that these reports of the conference can only at best give a hint and perhaps capture some of the flavour of the conference proceedings because there is so much going on both visibly and tangibly as well as in the realm of feeling and the spirit of the meeting that it is virtually impossible to give a true and thorough account.


We began the day's session in the Urban Horticultural Center on a grey, cold windswept morning, the weather remaining cold, rainy and bleak throughout the course of the conference, even snowing on occasion! For those of us from the south it was bracing and invigorating weather for the week-end. The room was large and well appointed and the arrangement of the chairs in concentric circles accomodated the largest attendance of these semi-annual meetings to date.
Robert Wambaugh lead off the morning session on the subject of "New Frontier's and Black Holes in Macrobiotics", in which he suggested that there are perhaps definite limitations to macrobiotic thinking and we would be better off if we went outside of macrobiotics if, for example, we want to go more into relationships, psychology or spirituality. The other side of the coin was to discuss whether or not there had been any recent break -throughs in macrobiotic practice or thought. For about an hour or so the floor was open and various points of view were aired, all fundamentally within the two schools of thought that

1.) macrobiotics in America is still in its infancy and is developing and looks everywhere for ideas, concepts and techniques which may be incorporated into a macrobiotic lifestyle.
2.) macrobiotics has everything in it and that everything and everyone is macrobiotic.

The session then proceeded according to the mood of the moment which turned out to be participants giving their own personal interpretation of what macrobiotics meant to them individually. These ranged from a characterisation of macrobiotics as a way of life where one is learning to live in harmony with the order of the universe, macrobiotics being fundamentally a programme of dietary hygiene or purification, to seeing it as a process of individuation incorporating a lot of depth psychology. What really came out of the session was the tremendous range of individual expression of what macrobiotics means to each person and one could see that for everyone it is largely a liberating and positive experience. There is two sides to this that are immediately apparent, that on the one hand there is little danger of macrobiotics becoming some sort of monolithic dogmatic programme but on the other hand there is the possibility that it will evaporate into the ether because there is not sufficient clarity and depth of thought being brought into it.

No summary or synthesis of the session was forthcoming from anyone and we were all left to continue reflecting and thinking about what macrobiotics actually is.

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Then Donna Wilson brought forward the subject of think tanks as a resource for the community to indeed develop our level of thinking in order to raise it up from our normal low-level habitual reactive thought patterns.
A think tank is an environment set up so that individuals from many different disciplines address a specific issue. The idea has been incorporated by Donna along with her husband Al, and Kaare Bursell for the last three years, and in the last six months David Jackson of the San Diego East West Center and Joya Sexton of Santa Barbara have been participating.Donna brought it up in order to urge everyone in their own localities to begin having think tanks. The marvellous possibility of participating in a think tank is that at some point it develops into a "group mind" whereby insights and ideas and synthetic understandings and integrations of the subject matter can occur which are not possible with the individuals thinking on their own.
It is necessary, in order for a think tank to occur that the individuals concerned commit themselves to a certain time period, such as one morning a month and keep doing it on a regular basis without having any expecations that anything is going to happen. From the experience in Woodland Hills one can say that it is an enriching experience as well as being a tool to develop one's level and clarity of thinking.


Patrick McCarty brought to our attention a magazine called "The Freeman". The magazine is free and you can send them money if you like the content and wish to support it. Patrick said that it had a lot in common with macrobiotics and if you are interested you can call him or write.
Patrick also informed us as to the existence of the International Macrobiotic Shiatsu Society, founded by him and Shizuko Yamamoto.
Meredith McCarty talked about the World Society of The Prayer for Peace and their 'Peace Pole' project which is world wide and their 'Global Link' Newsletter which may be of interest. She shared that they have a Peace Pole planted in front of their East West Center in Eureka.
David Jackson announced he was distributing seasalt.
Jacgues de Langres told us of the growing of a wheat which produces a superior bread than that to we have been accustomed, that he hopes to develop a relationship with the growers of the wheat and further announcements will be forthcoming. [Various tables were set aside at the periphery of the room where items for sale were set up for those of an entrepreneurial bent. If people were interested in these items they could talk about them during the breaks so that the conference itself doesn't degenerate into a marketing convention].
Patrick also announced the Three Creeks Summer Camp.

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Carl Ferre of the Vega Macrobiotic Center talked about changing the PMC Switchboard and incorporating it in the Natural Living Directory as an enhanced listing in the Directory which comes out every four months, in the pages of 'Macrobiotics Today'. However, there was some feeling that the Natural Living Directory better served the community if it came out every month, but that people who list themselves in the directory need to update their listings at least once a year if they wish to remain on it.


Renee Holmes gave us a presentation on the subject of a tape she had heard on the radio of a talk given by a Dr. Katz entitled "Can Doctors be educated to heal?" The talk came out of the experiences the doctor had had while researching the I Kung tribe of the Kalahari Desert. "Boiling Energy" (Community Healing among Kalahari Kung) is the title of the book Dr. Katz has written about his experiences and what he learned from the tribe with regard to healing in community. The present cultural model we have in the west is one of the individual paying the expert for information and/or medicine concerning their illness which isolates both the expert and the individual seeking help and leads over the course of time to a definite powerlessness and helplessness with regard to health and how to heal which impoverishes the culture as a whole. Further, that the human being is a social creature who needs a community context in order to function as a healthy bio-spiritual organism. The suggestion of the talk was that we as a culture would be a lot better off if we shed our arrogance of knowledge about illness and learnt what we could from this tribe living in the ancient, traditional way, and incorporate what we see fitting into our cultural context.

Renee was inspired particularly by the idea that we as a community gathering together twice a year might consider coming together in a ritual celebration on the Saturday evening period, or at least those of us who have listened to the tape and feel there is something of great merit in the idea of a ritual celebration as a healing activity both for the participants in the ritual and the members of the community. We discussed this further on Saturday morning.

We completed the morning session with a ten minute silent meditation.

Afternoon Session.

The entirety of the afternoon session, which actually went on for four hours, was given over to each participant giving a brief biography of themselves. The reason we did this was we had done it at the previous conference in Oakland and it had worked very well. On this occasion it didn't seem to work so well, at least not for everyone, and that probably had to do with the much larger group of people present this time than last. Of course, there is not any possibility of giving a summary of each person's biography here, for if I did so this report would become a book! My personal feeling is that the exercise of giving a brief personal biography is a wonderful community building tool, but that it needs to be done in smaller groups than the hundred or so present. Also we all need to develop the skill of speaking relatively briefly, pertinently and to become our own chairperson when we have the floor.

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Morning Session.


We began the morning session, in the Visitor's Center at the Arboretum, with a brief meditation after which we spent half an hour listening to the tape of Dr. Katz's talk, "Can Doctor's be educated to heal?"followed by a discussion of the ideas he aired. The talk recounted how Dr Katz had visited with the Kung in order to learn what they did as healing for the community. In essence they had a healing ceremony/dance fairly regularly - about once a month - in which the entire tribe (numbering 500 odd souls) participated. The ceremony consisted of dancing and singing during which what the Kung call "boiling energy" is activated, and this acted as a purifying agent for the whole community effecting physical, psychological, social and spiritual healing in its members. This is a healing resource for the community which the Kung understand to come from outside the tribe which is renewable, and accessible to all. There are "healers' in the community who are regarded as "trustees" of this healing spirit and they are selected from the population according to their moral character, expressing active courage, commitment, and service. If you wish to get a hold of this tape please contact Renee Holmes (her address will be found in the Pacific Macrobiotic Community Member List accompanying this report).

We then had a small group session where the company broke up into five groups by topic/subject as follows:

a) "Macrobiotic Shaman"
b) Explore ways we can help each other in our avocation.
c) Ritual.
d) How we can stay connected.
e) Charging money for counselling.
f) Healing in community.

This session lasted for an hour and each group elected a spokesperson to convey to the larger company a synthesis or summary of what each group had discussed.

Mim Collins-Drewry presented the summary which is that the group discussed all the various elements of ritual and had come up with a simple form for a fifteen minute closing ceremony at the end of the conference on Sunday.(For description see Sunday's events). She also said that the members of the group had pledged to research and work on a ritual for the Fall Conference, and reiterated the idea that for those participants who are interested at each conference a ritual will be undertaken on the Saturday evening.

Robert Wambaugh gave the report that there are three elements in a healing: that a relationship of care and compassion be established between the provider and receiver; that both parties were in touch with their own healing power, and that there was a method or technique that was used which is both beneficial and effective. And Joseph Trinh read a poem from "A Course in Miracles" about the attitude one should adopt when in the relationship of helping and being helped:

" I am here only to be truly helpful
I am here to represent Him who sent me.
I do not have to worry about what to say or
what to do
Because He who sent me will direct me.
I am content to be wherever He wishes,
knowing He goes there with me.
I will be healed as I let Him teach me to heal."

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Richard Turner presented the summary which was that he and Kristine had been visiting with John Shultz and Alexa Singer in Mount Shasta and they had been keeping connected. Unfortunately I couldn't hear everything he said on the tape except that the four of them gave a moving and spontaneous chanting and singing extempore performance together.

Carl Ferre said that times had changed from the days that George Ohsawa had not charged and went on to dicuss reasons for charging because it was practical if people were going to be able to provide a service. The group also discussed various fee structures.

The person who gave this summary spoke so quietly that I could not make out what they said, but as I remember it the idea is that those of us who are active in some way in macrobiotics should be listed in a directory so that we could all know what our various talents and services are in a form that could easily be tapped into if any local community need or wanted to tap into these resources.

Pat Poggi summarised this disussion in saying that all of us as individuals should acknowledge that we are healers and that it would be of help to every local community if all the members involved would commit themselves to come together on a regular basis to pool our experiences and knowledge.


Florence Yuen then read a passage from a book channelled from a spiritual entity called "Lord Michael" to finish up the morning session.

Afternoon Session.

Nancy Crowell related how in Southern California there is a growing feeling in the Los Angeles area that a major earthquake is imminent in the next few months and we had a short discussion on the implications of this premonition. In essence the feeling is that whether is actually going to be an earthquake or not in the visible, tangible world, there is an 'earthquake' taking place in the psyche or soul of many, many people in the Los Angeles area and that this upheaval of the soul is a symptom of the undeniable reality that the modern, materialistic, consumption oriented culture is over with, and people are becoming dimly, subconsciously aware of this. Therefore, those of us who are aware of this reality should be looking forward to, and working for, the "post-industrial society"; in essence, we are the seed-bearers of the new culture. And the Pacific Macrobiotic Community is one of the many endeavours curently active which is involved in finding our way to the 'new age'.

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Pat Poggi lead a discussion which was essentially to pick the brains of the participants with regard to our experience in organising or participating in our various macrobiotic communities up and down the West Coast. So we gave of our experience with various points coming up including every locality is unique in its climate, weather and topography and that necessarily what may work in one area may not work in another. As an example, the contrast between the Los Angeles area and the East Bay of Oakland/Berkeley was brought up where the center in Oakland is very successful because it is within easy access of many towns and cities; whereas the center idea doesn't work in Los Angeles as evidenced by the collapse of the center five years ago, and where the idea which seems to be more fitting for that sprawled-out city is that of a local neighbourhood network. Here, the local areas in Los Angeles have each their own activities operating out of people's homes and they keep in touch via weekly or monthly meetings and share resources and ideas.
The people in each locality will have to find out what works and what doesn't but the fundamental requirement is that there are one or two people in the area who are committed to developing or furthering intentional community, because that is what is required if macrobiotics is going to have a social dimension. Actually, many of us were under the impression that the community in Seattle is fairly cohesive since we receive a bi-monthly newsletter brimming with news of activities. We hope that the Seattle community got something of value out of the session.

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We finished up day with a session clarifying the relationship of "Macrobiotics Today", the newsletter of the George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation, with the Pacific Macrobiotic Community. Originally, back in March 1985, Herman Aihara offered the members of the PMC a free subscription, along with two pages, called the PMC Switchboard, in his newsletter. At that time we accepted the offer and each member received a monthly issue as a member and any member could have 40 words of free publicity announcing their activities each month in the Switchboard. Then in March 1987 we were asked to give $5.00 of our membership fee toward helping defray the costs of publishing the newsletter. This was at the XIVth Conference in San Diego. We didn't actually come to a decision at that time, and we aired the subject again at the XVth, in Oakland in September 1987 when a vote was taken and it was decided that we should give $5.00 of each $20.00 membership to G.O.M.F.
On this occasion the subject was aired again because of philosophical considerations and also because it was evident that members were not making full use of the Switchboard. The philosophical principle is, in a nutshell, that the Pacific Macrobiotic Community is trying to embody, as a loosely organised company of people in a common endeavour, modes of behaviour which have nothing to do with the prevailing atmosphere in which bodies of people get to-gether. For, the general institutionalised organisation is founded and exists to foist its particular point of view on the unsuspecting public, embodying impulses of authority, legality, and faceless irresponsibility. And one can cite any number of organisations in every city, all very prestigious, acting under these impulses.
The Pacific Macrobiotic Community is trying to embody impulses of an altogether different tenor, non-hierarchical, non-authoritarian, seeking no recognition, with each participant being entirely and personally responsible for their every thought, word and deed. In this context, some participants felt that even agreeing to have a free issue of "Macrobiotics Today" could be construed as an endorsement of the newsletter by the Pacific Macrobiotic Community. And since giving an endorsement is an act of authority, this ran counter to what the Pacific Macrobiotic Community is striving to embody.
This session was probably the most difficult of the conference because a lot of people felt that not wanting to have "Macrobiotics Today" was a sign of disrespect to Herman. This is not what is intended because as individual members we can do what we want, to the extent of becoming G.O.M.F. members or supporting the magazine by buying it. But as a community, or body of people, we want to avoid any relationships with the particular economic endeavours of the members of the community. (We need to avoid degenerating into a trade-group).
Also it was the last session and we needed a complete consensus by all members present if this was to carry, that we do not wish to continue getting "Macrobiotics Today", free or not. (Incidentally, many people left the meeting for this session, and there was a current of tension between those who feel that thinking and philosophising is 'not their thing' and those who are not so artistically or poetically inclined which is actually counter-productive to the spirit of this endeavour.) Well, a consensus was reached and as of this meeting, we do not as a community receive 'Macrobiotics Today' as part of our membership, and the 'PMC Switchboard' is removed from the newsletter.

That was the last session of the day and after dinner people engaged in various social activities.

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Final Session.

In this session we had a summing up of the meeting by various individuals who wanted to have a say, and then we spent some time debating where to have the next meeting. At the session it was decided to have it back in the Seattle area again, but events have transpired since then that have resulted in the site being changed to the East West Center of San Diego, on Thursday September 22nd through Sunday September 25th. Everyone wishing to come must make their reservations with me at (415) 849-0386.
If you wish to have a topic or subject up as a possible candidate for discussion at the conference, please send it or call.
We then finished up with a brief 15 minute ceremony in which we had a altar set up which was a table covered with a cloth and bedecked with various offerings the participants had brought at the beginning of the session. Candles were placed on it and lit, and then Kaare Bursell said a brief prayer, which was followed by a circle 'dance' to the beat of a drum lead by Gabrielle Kushi, and then a more spontaneous dance in a counter-clockwise motion, followed by a period of silence after which we had the farewell brunch. As the ceremony ended, the sun broke through the clouds and we saw blue sky, flecked with great white cotton clouds, for the first time during the conference. After the Farewell Brunch we all departed for our various homes.

July 12th 1988.


Thanks are due to Blake Rankin and the folk in Seattle for hosting the conference, and to Helaine Honig and the people involved in preparing, cooking and serving the meals.

Kaare Bursell.

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